Part 56: Wednesday, 20th April 1960, 10.a.m.

Rushed E. off to her 9.30 dentist’s appointment. P. playing quietly in pen (J. gave him his feed, changed him at 5a.m., after which he was quiet till 8.30 or so). Yes, The Caine Mutiny terrific. I was led to the reading of it somewhat deviously. The book, I knew, was a best-seller, the film too. Recently a book, This is My God, by Herman Wouk appeared, from which it seems that H.W. is an Orthodox Jew. H.W. had also written Marjorie Morningstar, also famous, and, I gathered, on the pornographic side. The conjunction of Orthodox Judaism and the ability to write about a mutiny struck me as so remarkable that I got out The Caine Mutiny and, as I say, found myself gripped by it. The closely knit story, the mounting tension leading inevitably to the “mutiny”, the drama of the court-martial scene, superb. I am, obviously, not competent to assess the accuracy of the nautical detail, but the chicanery on board, the young officer “types” were superb. There is absolutely no “Jewish” interest in the book, until the court-martial at the end. I stress this, because it is very rare to find a Jewish author with a deeply Jewish consciousness writing a first-class book of universal appeal. The Jewish touches, when they do come, are brilliant. Greenwald, the Jewish lawyer, defending the mutineer, says (I quote from memory) “He [the President of the Court-Martial] doesn’t like Jews. I noticed the intonation he gave to the name ‘Greenwald’. I have an absolute ear for pitch in these cases. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to love Jews, you just have to give them a fair shake. And we’ll get that.” And Greenwald delivers a convincing apologia for Queeg, the tyrannical ship’s captain, by saying that it was the “regulars” like him, who, notwithstanding the sneers of the intellectuals, ensured that Greenwald’s mum hadn’t been turned into soap with which to wash Goering’s fat behind.

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