A LAWYER WHO REMEMBERED HIM AS A BOUNCY, CHEEKY CUB REPORTER, TOLD ME HE STOPPED H. L. MENCKEN ON A BALTIMORE STREET ONE DAY AND ACCUSED HIM OF SEASONING EVERYTHING HE WROTE WITH PREJUDICES. MENCKEN ACCEPTED THE REBUKE AS IF IT WERE A BOUQUET OF ROSES: "YES, I'M PREJUDICED AND I INTEND TO GO ON BEING PREJUDICED." LIKE MENCKEN, DAVID DAICHES MAKES A FREE DISPLAY OF PREJUDICE. IN HIS MOST AMBITIOUS BOOK, THE TWO-VOLUME "CRITICAL HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE," HE LINGERED WITH A CONNOISSEUR'S AFFECTION OVER SCOTT'S NOVELS AND ALLOTTED THEM AS MUCH SPACE AS THE NOVELS OF DICKENS, THACKERAY AND GEORGE ELIOT TOGETHER. THE DISPOSITION TO BECOME SLIGHTLY DAFFY WHENEVER HE TAKES UP THE SUBJECT OF SIR WALTER IS UNDERSTANDABLE, FOR DAICHES WAS BROUGHT TO EDINBURGH AS A CHILD, LIVES NEAR THAT CITY TODAY, AND PLUMES HIMSELF ON HIS JOINT CULTURAL HERITAGE. HE IS THE SON OF A RABBI AND THE PROUDEST OF SCOTS.

READERS OF "LITERARY LANDSCAPES" COULD DO WORSE, IN FACT, THAT TO START WITH CHAPTER 12, LIVELY GUIDE TO "SCOTLAND IN LITERATURE." BEGINNING WITH OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE COUNTRY'S GEOGRAPHY ON ITS EARLY HISTORY, DAICHES TELL OF A TIME WHEN YOUNG MALES SOUGHT THEY KEY TO MANHOOD IN BORDER RAIDS AND WAR AGAINST THE ENGLISH. HE LOOK AT THE USE OF HISTORY IN "MARMION" AND "WAVERLEY," CONFIRMS SCOTT'S "ENTHUSIASM FOR OUR SCENERY" WITH AN EXCERPT FROM "THE LADY OF THE LAKE," FURNISHES EVIDENCE IN ACES AND SPADES THAT STEVENSON'S "KIDNAPPED" IS "A TOPOGRAPHICAL NOVEL" (WHOSE PLOT IS AN EXCUSE FOR TAKING DAVID BALFOUR AND THE READER A-JOURNEYING), AND AFFORDS GLIMPSES OF EDINBURGH AND ITS PEOPLE BY QUOTING STEVENSON AND A VARIETY OF POETS FROM THE 16TH TO THE 20TH CENTURY.

IT IS A SPECIMENT CHAPTER, HARPING AS IT DOES ON WHAT OUR POLITICIANS WOULD CALL THE LINKAGE OF SETTING, CHARACTERS AND EVENTS, QUOTING GENEROUSLY FROM "SAFE" AUTHORS APPROVED BY ACADEME, AND AIMING AT ARMCHAIR TRAVELERS AS WELL AS A CERTAIN VANISHING SPECIES WITH ENOUGH SENTIMENT AND CASH TO UNDERTAKE A "LITERARY PILGRIMAGE."

LONDON IS, OR SHOULD BE, A CENTRAL ATTRACTION TO SUCH PILGRIMS. THE LONDINIUM OF THE ROMANS WAS A WALLED TOWN WITH NO SIGNIFICANCE BEYOND ITS CAPACTIY FOR TRADE. IN HIS DISCUSSION OF "CHAUCER'S WORLD" DAICHES NOTES THAT THE 14TH-CENTURY ENGLISH CAPITAL HAD A POPULATION ESTIMATED AT 35,000. IT WAS NO GOPHER PRAIRIE OF FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE, HOWEVER; ITS STANDARDS OF CULTURE AND OPULENCE DREW GIFTED PEOPLE FROM ALL PARTS OF THE KINGDOM. DAICHES' CHAPTERS ON SHAKESPEARE'S, JOHNSON'S DICKENS' AND VIRGINIA WOOLF'S LONDON OFFER A PICTURE OF A CITY THAT FOR THE MOST PART RESISTED PLANNING AND "GROWED" LIKE TOPSY. AFTER THE GREAT FIRE OF 1666 CHRISTOPHER WREN REBUILT THE CHURCHES LEVELED BY THE CONFLAGRATION, BUT HIS PLAN FOR REBUILDING THE ENTIRE CITY AND IMPOSING A NEOCLASSICAL PATTERN ON IT WAS NEVER REALIZED.

IN SAMUEL JOHNSON'S DAY LONDONERS WERE PROUD OF THE CAPITIAL'S ELEGANT GEORGIAN ARCHITECTURE. THEY WERE LESS PROUD OF THE STABLES, COWSHEDS, PIG STIES AND "MOUNTAINS OF FILTH" THAT PILED UP IN FRONT OF HOUSEHOLDERS' DOORS BEFORE STREET-CLEANING WAS DEEMED A MUNICIPAL RESPONSIBILITY. FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELER THERE IS PROBABLY ONE LONDON, THE LONDON DICKENS PAINTED, WITH EVER-DARKENING COLORS, FROM "PICKWICK" TO "OUR MUTUAL FRIEND," WHERE SYMBOL DWARFS ALL THAT THE EYE IMMEDIATELY APPREHENDS AND TRANSLATES BUILDINGS AND STREETS INTO "AN ENORMOUS DUST HEAP."

THE CHAPTER ON BATH, THE LAKE POETS, HARDY'S WESSEX, THE BRONTE COUNTRY AND THE ROMANTIC POETS ABROAD OFFER ROUTINE MATERIAL IN READABLE BUT HARDLY STIRRING TERMS. IN HIS PAGES ON "THE BLACKENING OF ENGLAND" DAICHES WRITES WITH MORE URGENCY, FOR THE TEARING UP OF LANDSCAPES AND THE GROWTH OF SLUMS REPRESENTED PHENOMENA OF AN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION THAT IS STILL UNDER WAY AND, WITH EACH YEAR, MORE OMINOUS THAN THE STRONGEST IMAGINATIONS OF EARLIER CENTURIES REALIZED. DAICHES RECOGNIZES THE GIFTED WRITER EVEN WHEN HE HAS NOT BEEN CANONIZED IN LITERATURE TEXTBOOKS, AND QUOTES GENEROUSLY FROM FRIEDRICH ENGELS' ACCOUNT OF INDUSTRIALIZED AND BRUTALLY DISFIGURED MANCHESTER. A HAPPIER PICTURE EMERGES FROM THE CHAPTER ON THE DUBLIN OF YEATS AND JOYCE, FOR THE POET IN EACH TRANSCENDED THE EXTERNAL SHABBINESS.

THROUGH MAPS AND GAZETEERS THE BOOK PINPOINTS THE PLACES WHERE ALMOST 250 BRITISH WRITERS LIVED, DIED AND WERE BURIED. MOST FETCHING OF ALL ARE THE DOZENS OF BLACK-AND-WHITE ENGRAVINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS CHOSEN BY JOHN FLOWER AND REPRODUCED WITH ADMIRABLE FIDELITY. THE TEXT AND THE VERITABLE PICTURE GALLERY OF ILLUSTRATIONS ACCOMPANYING IT MAKE "LITERARY LANDSCAPES" ONE OF THE PUBLISHING BARGAINS OF THE SEASONS.