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New at IWP Books: E. M. Forster, 1936, Abinger Harvest. Which, according to Aldous Huxley, “contains some of the most delicately witty writing of our century.” From the Chapter on Wilfrid Blunt:

Which side are you on, Gog or Magog? O solemn question. Behold the two worthies, each a little moth-eaten but still hale and trailing a venerable beard. Fine work can be done under either banner, but which is it to be? Choose. Gog stands for — well you can see what he stands for, and Magog stands for opposition to Gog. So choose, and having chosen, stick, for such is the earthly destiny of man.

Hypnotized by the appeal, we choose. Sometimes we choose without thinking, sometimes sort our memories, prejudices, interests, and ideals into two heaps, call one Gog and the other Magog, and plump for the larger. In the first case our choice is known as instinctive, in the second as rational, but in either we are duly enrolled under one of the banners. It is seldom, very seldom, that a dreadful thing happens — an almost unmentionable scandal — and one of us refuses to choose at all, says: “I don’t understand,” or “Dummies don’t interest me,” and strolls away. He might, at all events, have the decency to keep away. But sometimes he will not even do that. He strolls back and begins interfering, just as if he had never forsworn his birthright. He sees what shouldn’t be seen and says what shouldn’t be said, he taps Magog’s head and, lo! it sounds hollow; he slits Gog’s breeches and out pours the bran. “Go away,” everyone shrieks, but he won’t go away. There is a flower he wants to pick, and a friend he wants to help irrespective of banners, and menaced by such an intruder Gog and Magog relinquish their hoary feud and make alliance. Here is the real enemy — the man who does not know how to take sides — and they agree that such a man shall never become powerful. He never does — giants can effect thus much. But he may be the salt of his age.

On Wilfrid Blunt, see, too, “Shooting with Wilfrid Blunt,” in Desmond MacCarthy’s Memories (PDF).