Two Under the Indian Sun, by Jon and Rumer Godden. New York: Beech Tree Books/Quill. 199 pp. Illustrated. $8.95. This collaborative account of five years in East Bengal by two sisters (Jon and Rumer were 8 and 7 at the beginning of the period, and just entering adolescence at the end) was first published in 1966. It is now being reissued in paperback in conjunction with the hardcover appearance of the first volume of a memoir by Rumer Godden, ``A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep'' (Beech Tree Books/Morrow, New York, $16.95). ``Two Under the Indian Sun'' covers the period (framed by the narrative of the later book) when the Godden sisters, born in India but sent back to England for school, were granted a reprieve occasioned by World War I to return to the exotic land that they felt was truly ``home.'' A complement to Rumer Godden's new memoir, This is a charming book on its own, a sharply etched portrait of British India and of two unusual young girls who both grew up to be novelists. The Journals of Andr'e Gide, translated and edited by Justin O'Brien. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press. Volume 1: 1889-1924. Volume 2: 1924-1949. 380 pp. each. $14.95 each.
The complex, protean mind of Andr'e Gide is reflected in the wide range of his writings but is perhaps most completely revealed in the journals that he kept from his 20th to his 80th year. Although awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, Gide had long been accustomed to swimming against the mainstream and had not been accorded the array of honors and prizes that are such a central feature of French literary life.
As Justin O'Brien reminds us in the introduction to this abridged edition of the ``Journals,'' Andr'e Gide wrote in the tradition of Montaigne. Critics who condemn his credo of freedom, sincerity, and spontaneity fail to recognize the depths of his moral concern: As one of his characters observes, ``To free oneself is nothing; it's being free that's hard.'' No one who reads these journals can fail to be impressed by Gide's moral and aesthetic passion, the beauty of his writing (even in translation) and the crystalline clarity with which he can express the most complex ideas and emotions. Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian, by John Clive. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 538 pp. Illustrated. $12.95.
The 19th-century belief in progress found one of its most eloquent exponents in Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859). An ``omnivorous reader from the age of three,'' prodigy, parvenu, essayist, poet (author of the wildly popular ``Lays of Ancient Rome''), and author of the classic Macaulay was a vigorous and elegant stylist with an astonishing memory and the nimble wit of a debater. Contemporaries often criticized him as shallow and too dazzled by material progress. The charge has tended to stick, but Macaulay's eloquence and energy also endure.
John Clive credits Macaulay, a Whig member of Parliament and principal author of the Indian Penal Code, with infusing the austere Liberalism of the previous generation (Macaulay's father was an Evangelical reformer) with ``the spacious and sanguine spirit of humanism and history.'' This prize-winning biography examines and colorfully evokes Macaulay's ``formative years,'' from his precocious boyhood, through his term in India, and up to the year in which he began to compose his great ``History of England'': 1839. Written with sympathy, incisiveness, and enormous verve, this book deserves a wide readership.