Fisher, Vardis. No Villain Need Be. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc., 1936.
Reason read: to finish the series started in August in memory of Butch Cassidy robbing a bank in Idaho in August 1896.
Confessional: I could not wait for this series to be over and done with! I found Vridar a very selfish and troubled man throughout the earlier books. He pushes his wife to suicide at the end of We Are Betrayed and then spends more of No Villain Need Be trying to sort out his guilt. Another trait of Mr. Hunter’s that I could quite reconcile is his lack of parenting. True, those were different times but when he moved to Baltimore all I could ask was, what about his sons? This does not get any better in No Villain Need Be. His common law wife at one point asks him if he is going to see his children and he replies that he is “not ready yet” to face them. In case, you are wondering – his parents have his two sons back in Idaho.
But, back to the plot. Vridar is now a so=called grown up. He keeps gin in the bathroom, has written more than half a dozen books and is teaching at a college. He has obtained his doctorate in philosophy and even has a common law wife, Athene (whom I’ve already mentioned). Athene is an admirable character. She seems the most honest, being above the game playing. She helps Vridar behave as a more mature adult. Despite all the drama in the earlier installments, the series ends without much fanfare.
A curiosity: Vridar teaches philosophy while his brother, Mertyl, teaches Psychology. Even more curious, Mertyl lives and teaches wherever Vridar happens to end up.
Spoken by Vridar, these statements have some truth to them – “Love sets out to lick the world and ends up by pushing a baby-buggy to Mobile (p 40) and “I don’t believe in legislating people into heaven” (p 93). Amen, brother. Earlier in the tetralogy I agreed with Vridar’s opinion of Greek life. Now in No Villain Need Be I applaud his stance on academic commencement ceremonies. We both think they are silly.
Another quote I liked, “Pleasure as a manic depressive, asylumed in Manhattan” (p 210).
Finally, I want to thank the University of Massachusetts (Amherst campus) for sharing Vardis Fisher’s tetralogy with me.
Author fact: so far I have told you this about Mr. Fisher: he was born and raised in Idaho and that he was married three times. Last fact: Mr. Fisher wrote a great deal more beyond the life of Vardis Hunter. Sadly, I’m not reading any of it.
Book trivia: No Villain Need Be‘s title came from George Meredith: “Tis morning: but no morning can restore what we have forfeited. I see no sin: The wrong is mixed. In tragic life, God wot, No villain need Be! Passions spin the plot: We are betrayed by what is false within.”
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Idaho: and Nary a Potato to be Seen” (p 121).