restricted access An unsigned review of Totem: The Exploitation of Youth, by Harold Stovin
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318 ] An unsigned review of Totem: The Exploitation of Youth, by Harold Stovin London: Methuen, 1935. Pp. 237.1 The Criterion: A Quarterly Review, 15 (Jan 1936) 363 This is a disappointing book. The title, the documentary method, and to some extent the writing, which is plain and good, suggest that Mr. Stovin is a disciple of the author of The Doom of Youth; but the latter part of the book shows that Mr. Stovin has little in common with Mr. Wyndham Lewis.2 The first part of the book, which is a documented account of the Boy Scouts, Toc H, the Oxford Groupers and such “movements,” contains valuable material and is horrid reading.3 But Mr. Stovin does not leave the factstospeakforthemselves,orleaveLordBadenPowell,“Tubby”Clayton, and F. R. Barry to stew in their own juice.4 He has to bring in an ambitious and doubtful parallel from anthropology, and find something more than an analogy to totemism.5 If the craving that leads to these queer group manifestations is so deep as all that, it is hardly likely to be disposed of by the rationalistic communism which seems to be Mr. Stovin’s nostrum; and indeed Mr. Stovin might have given a better appearance of disinterestedness if he had investigated communism itself for traces of totemism. But he is one of those for whom communism means freedom of the individual, and other forms of association mean slavery. Notes 1. Unsigned, but credited to TSE in the Criterion index. 2. Wyndham Lewis’s The Doom of Youth (1932), a sociological account of youth culture, was withdrawn after the novelist Alec Waugh, author of the autobiographical novel The Loom of Youth (1917), which alluded to homosexual relationships among school boys, filed a libel suit claiming that Lewis’s book contained innuendoes of Waugh’s sexual perversion. TSE refers to The Loom of Youth in a brief review of Waugh’s poetry (1.734, 1.735 n.11). 3. Harold William Riggall Stovin (1909-91) argues that these and other youth movements are “cults of Fellowship” (72) that establish themselves as social semireligions or tribal totems, and that the brotherhood spirit fostered in them suppresses personality and becomes inimical to individual development. 4. Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell (1857-1941), founded the Scouting Movement for Boys in 1907-08; Talbot House, known as Toc H (from signal code), founded in [ 319 An unsigned review of Totem Belgium in 1915 as a Christian respite for soldiers, was established in London in 1920 as a youth center for Christian fellowship and community service by Rev. Philip (“Tubby”) Clayton (18851972 ); Oxford Groups, an evangelical movement focused on “World Revival” and spiritual fellowship that supports the spiritual lives of individuals, was founded in 1925 by Frank Buchman but was later influenced by the modernist writings of F. R. Barry (1890-1976), liberal vicar of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Oxford and chaplain at Balliol College from 1928 to 1933. 5. Stovin states that Barry’s textbook for Christian students, The Relevance of Christianity (1931), shows “the extent to which totemism is an integral part of Christianity. . . . Modernist Christianity, with its pseudo-scientific and deeply utilitarian bias, is really a gigantic ‘quack’ appeal to a waning clientele” (223-24). He also cites W. H. Auden on Oxford Groups in Auden’s “The Group Movement and the Middle Classes” in Oxford and the Groups, ed. R. H. S. Crossman (Oxford: Blackwell, 1934), 89-101: “In an extremely interesting analysis of the Oxford Groups, W. H. Auden, a well-known modern poet, urges that the unself-conscious individual needs to be in a group, to give him ‘emotional security’ and save him from hopeless instability. ‘Onlyinthesmallgroup,’hesays,‘probablynotlargerthantwelve,isitpossiblefortheindividual under normal circumstances to lose himself, for his death instincts to be neutralized in the same way as those of the separate cells of the metazoa neutralize each another’ in the body” (Auden 98; Stovin, 86-87). In “The Intellectuals in Retreat” (1935), Rev. J. C. Hardwick associated TSE with Buchman and the Oxford Groups (5.275). ...


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