Van Zanten’s Happy Days, by Laurids Bruun – reviewed by Helen Bevington

vanzantenFrom Along Came the Witch: A Journal in the 1960s, by Helen Bevington:

June 1966

E. B. White says a favorite book of his is a novel by Laurids Bruun, Van Zanten’s Happy Days. Since my favorite book is anything Mr. White writes, I hurry to the library to share his delight.

Ball One for Mr. White. Every man to his own lotus eating, but he is wrong about Van Zanten’s Happy Days. Aside from a good title, it lacks persuasion. Van Zanten went native in a simpleminded manner on a South Sea island among black savages, convinced that Eden still exists and he had returned to it in a bamboo hut. After finding unmixed joy in the arms of a female savage, with her fears, superstitions, indolence, and lusts, then losing her in a typhoon, he hated thereafter all white women, who by contrast appeared civilized.

Mr. White used to dream in print about Dorothy Lamour wearing only a sarong and a hibiscus flower, rising up from a swamp to welcome him to Jungle madness. Or, as he said, to “amorous felicity.”

Van Zanten’s Happy Days: A Love Story From Pelli Island, by Laurids Bruun

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922

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