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prominent persons in many lands and claims to have "met practically every outstanding figure of my time who has influenced thought and shaped important events". During one interview we find him drinking coffee with Tolstoy in a little white house at Yasnaya Polyana and talking of Darwinism, Henry George, and the decadence in literature; in another he is discussing war with Maximilian Harden; again he is hearing of Bolshevist aims from Trotsky; and now he is with Rodin in Paris. It is an unusual group which Mr. Bernstein has singled out to designate as "celebrities", and one which reveals his Russian inheritance and sympathies. He includes, among others, Sergius Witte, Metchnikoff, Kerensky, Prince Kropotkin, Rathenau, Arthur Schnitzler, Havelock Ellis, and Bergson. The book forms an interesting commentary, from one angle, on the racial, national, and social conflicts of the past decade.
The Princess Bibesco has produced a fascinatingly various book in "Isvor, the Country of Willows" (Stokes), translated by Hamish Miles. It is in substance a series of pictures of Rumanian peasant life, given additional vividness by narration in the first person, in the form of a diary. The author herself defines it as a "memoir, a calendar, a guide, a catalogue, and the story also of a love". The last item is of the slenderest. The charm and the value of the book lie in its description, often exquisite, of the "country of willows" through the four seasons, its transcripts of folk lore, and its record of folk ways. It is still a patriarchal society that the Princess describes: the people trustfully appeal to her for a horse or oxen, for fodder, for minutely specified building material. In manners and belief they are of the past. Many of the tales
are highly picturesque, and there is much material for the student of folk lore.
"Keeping a diary is a childish habit but this childish habit may now be worthwhile", writes Pitirim Sorokin in his preface to "Leaves from a Russian Diary" (Dutton). The habit proves decidedly worthwhile. The book is illuminating and important because it is an authentic first hand narrative of conditions in Russia today. Mr. Sorokin, since he was secretary to Kerensky and editor of "The Will of the People" (the Revolution's official organ), speaks with authority. "If future historians look for the group that began the Russian Revolution let them not create any involved theory. The Russian Revolution was begun by hungry women and children demanding bread and herrings." With this as a premise Mr. Sorokin reviews and analyzes the Revolution, dispassionately. Because of its content and readableness, "Leaves from a Russian Diary" is heartily recommended to Communists and Aristocrats and those who stand midway.
The pleasantest sort of book on collecting is one that appeals both to the connoisseur of antiques and the connoisseur of human nature. You may care little for old faience or snuff boxes, but you can hardly help being diverted by tales collectors tell of finding them. In "Collector's Luck in France" (Atlantic) Alice Van Leer Carrick spins a narrative full of spirited adventure as well as practical advice for the amateur. She gives the reader concrete evidence of the spoils of a leisurely stroll through France, by her excellent numerous photographs. And her descriptions of the quaint aspects of peasant and shopkeeper mind are done with warm sympathy and appre
ciation. What queer and delightful commercial graces the French have! In these small shops she discovered relics of the whole history of Empire and Republic. Whether you want to or not, you find yourself breathless over the search for some bibelot that carries you along through low hung doorways, tiny crooked halls, and up and down flights of ancient steps. If there are some skeptics in the world who find it difficult to imagine why collectors become almost fanatical in their search for hidden treasures, a reading of this little book is very apt to make them wonder whether there isn't a great deal in it after all. The author has called the sport "the one respectable form of gambling", and to lessen the possibility of losing one's all by a too giddy entrance into the game, she has appended a detailed list of dependable shops in Paris and the provinces.
It hardly matters whether Daniel Henderson has learned from Robert Frost or gone back to the earlier lessons of William Wordsworth. The virtues of the poems in "A Harp in the Winds" (Appleton) are those of simplicity of thought and directness of expression. These means are sufficiently subtle to lend charm to everyday subjects such as "The Business Changes Hands", not to speak of material more commonly regarded as "poetical". Of course, simplicity may degenerate into mere jingle. The initial vigor of the series on "American Trails" trickles out into such doggerel as:
It is frequently easier to quote the bad than the good; one cannot judge Wordsworth by "The Idiot Boy".
Magdeleine Marx went to Russia prepared to write a book, and so gathered a considerable body of statistics and related data. But when she came to write "The Romance of New Russia" (Seltzer) she decided to discard these facts and figures. The decision was in many ways a wise one. Statistics about a country where conditions are changing as rapidly as they do in Russia are misleading when a year old. But Mme. Marx did not do so well to disregard the restraint which statistics impose. It is rather too difficult to accept so rhapsodical an account as hers. True, she has not overlooked the hunger, the cold, the poverty which still are widespread in Russia nor has she left unmentioned the filth, the vermin, the disease. True, too, that a revolution is expected to result in something more than an increase in physical comforts. But such a tale of spiritual greatnessof a whole people rising superior to an environment is too incredibly good to be true. The jacket says that the book is "something like a work of fiction". So it is.
"Unmasking Our Minds" by David Seabury (Boni, Liveright) does a real service. Modern psychology is introduced freed from the jargon of any particular school, and made thoroughly entertaining with a quantity of excellent contemporary illustration. The explanation of "objective analysis" as a key to self knowledge, and the optimistic analogy between the late conquest of matter and the future exploration and emancipation of spiritual energy, are perhaps the book's sturdiest qualities. "A great change
will come over American life in the generations that follow", Mr. Seabury prophesies. "They will be protected by this sound mental hygiene from the woeful condition that sickens and sorrows so many minds - the dead weight of experience residue lying like poison in the dark chambers of memory." As a weapon against insanity he quotes Payot's dictum that "we can only control human nature when we obey it."
It is the custom, in this day of mercenary sophistication, not only to gild the drab violet but, sometimes, to turn it into something which it distinctly isn't. "In the Land of the Laughing Buddha" (Putnam) makes a strenuous effort to metamorphose the blatant corn flower into a flower of rare, adventurous, and captivating permanence. Upton Close is one of those wayward souls who are invariably reading adventure and romance into a match borrowed from the corner traffic cop. China, to him, is a mixture of Sax Rohmer, Kipling, and Richard Harding Davis. He wills tense passions from each and every rice bowl. For all of that, his is a book which should interest many particularly those of our more inland cities. Regarding the humor, it is not entirely nasty to venture the belief that, outside of Mr. Close, most of the laughter must rest with the Buddha of his title.
The subject of all verse is the little but significant detail in the action of the great tragicomedy of life. One poet may choose to emphasize the tragic detail while another throws the spotlight upon some comic moment. And there are still other poets who try to show both, or else the one within the other: the tragic aspect of the comic moment. Of the latter group
is Adèle De Leeuw. In her "Berries of the Bittersweet" (Brimmer) we are prepared, by the title itself, for this mixture of life's essential sorrow and happiness. The mise en scène of this collection is entirely domestic. The husband-lover, the children, and the daily tasks are the material from which the garbs of the muse's moods are cut. Here is excellent material for intense poetry; but this intensity is the very quality that is lacking. There is never a line that perfectly contains a magnificent despair or delight. All of it goes rather normally and calmly along, and often the poet can be seen biting her pencil end for the next phrase. Such poetry may be a relief to the author and it may at times please the reader, but it certainly cannot be classed among the deep and moving verse of the day.
Professor Ellsworth Huntington explains differences in the behavior and achievements of groups of people by hereditary differences in mental characteristics. "The Character of Races" (Scribner) is devoted chiefly to showing the part that natural selection has played in producing racial characters, as illustrated by the fact that "the fishing industry tends to eliminate people of a timid disposition". Unfortunately the fishing industry does no such thing, and the results of Professor Huntington's applications of his principle are utterly absurd. There is no evidence worth considering that mental traits are hereditary and can be selected; there is, on the contrary, evidence, by analogy with physical traits, that even inbreeding reduces variability only slightly. The explanation of a certain recurrent form of behavior is, then, more probably the cultural setting in which it occurs. According to Boas, "Our knowledge
A new edition, in one handy volume, of "Modern Russian History" (Knopf) by Alexander Kornilov, as translated and expanded by Alexander S. Kaun, is welcome, since the first issue is out of print, and timely inasmuch as interest in Russian affairs is increasing steadily with the growth of an international consciousness. The book is made up of a series of Kornilov's lectures delivered from 1909 to 1916, covering in detail the history of Russia during the nineteenth century down to 1890, supplemented by an outline history from that date to 1916 by Mr. Kaun. This edition is further enriched by an admirable introduction written by Geroid Tanqueray Robinson, of the Department of History of Columbia University, who has also provided a fairly copious bibliography of works in English, and a few in German and French. Primarily intended as a college text
book, it is much more than such books can usually claim to be, for it may be said to break new ground, at least so far as non-Russian readers are concerned. Kornilov's introductory sketch of the growth of Russia up to the nineteenth century is necessarily brief, since he was writing for students to whom much of that history was presumably known, but its very brevity makes it stand out as a brilliant performance. The body of the volume is a careful, minute analysis and interpretation of Russian life, political, social and cultural, during the century before the catastrophic collapse of the old régime.
It may be difficult for some readers to grant that "The Selected Works of Artemus Ward", edited with a preface by Albert Jay Nock (A. and C. Boni), merits the laudatory and glowing essay with which Mr. Nock acclaims the long dead humorist. Until this book, we had never read Ward, and we never expect to again, for we were unable to find any of the rare and exalted qualities in his work which Mr. Nock so earnestly prepared us to encounter. We hope to be forgiven the expression here of the honest opinion that these selections contain nothing which is of permanent value.
In compiling "The Golden Treasury of Modern Lyrics" (Macmillan), Laurence Binyon is inevitably challenging comparison with the "Golden Treasury" of Palgrave, a work which he admittedly intends to supplement, by beginning where Palgrave left off and including the most notable short English poems from the year 1850 until the present. As might have been anticipated, the verse selected by Mr. Binyon does not on the whole reach the same high level as that contained in
Palgrave's famous anthology; yet the compiler has done a competent piece of work, and has produced a volume which the lover of poetry is certain to appreciate and enjoy. One may be somewhat irritated, of course, by certain inclusions and omissions; one may regret that poets so notable as A. E. Housman and Alfred Noyes are not represented although Mr. Binyon has not failed to devote several pages to his own work; one may note unfavorably the slight attention devoted to lyricists so accomplished as Ernest Dowson, James Thomson, and Arthur O'Shaughnessy; and yet, in general, one must admit that the anthologist has threaded his way with skill through the difficult mazes of poetry, and has given us perhaps as good a collection of recent English verse as has been produced to date.
No phase of American history is more fascinating than the story of the life. and death of a town. In some places in this country it is the chronicle of defeat against insuperable natural conditions; in others it is merely the record of the restlessness of human nature that is forever seeking Utopia round the next bend in the river or on the other side of the mountain. "The Romance of Forgotten Towns" (Harper) is fingerprinted with the marks of many civilizations - English, French, Spanish, German- and pious traces of strange religious sects looking for a haven where they might worship in peace. The author, John T. Faris, has carefully combed the records of pioneer achievement, and collected many photographs of the interesting and quaint relics of these settlements. There were giants in those days, men and women who planted peaceful industrial communities in the midst of the virgin forests. Though in many places there
is now only a brass plate or a statue to commemorate their accomplishments, the thriving cities and towns of today have arisen from the very graves of their achievement, and the fibre of our national life has grown from their bones.
Like most Americans we shall probably see the world by proxy, being too vitally concerned with pursuing the elusive greenback. We therefore nominate Harry L. Foster as our ambassador plenepotentiary to foreign lands, on the strength of "A Gringo in Mañana Land" (Dodd, Mead). By keen observation and a spicy style, Mr. Foster has created a book both informative and entertaining. To wit: Manzanillo is disposed of thus: "One of several places where the traveler, upon leaving his ship, takes one hasty. glance at the dirty black beach and the driftwood shacks, grasps his nose firmly between thumb and forefinger and makes a dash for the daily train that will carry him somewhere else." A quiet family celebration: "Around the corner came a procession of mournful men and wailing women led by three coffins. Excitedly I hailed the proprietor [of the hotel]. 'A bandit, señor? No, indeed. Jose Dominguez had a christening at his house last night. Purely a family affair, señor, nothing more!" Humorous incidents, dramatic episodes, and newsy yarns make up the book, without detriment to an undercurrent of continuity. To usurp the language of the law school, Mr. Foster's work is a 'case book" about our Latin-American neighbor. Underlying principles and philosophical comment are avoided; events and incidents make up the work. The reader is allowed to draw his own conclusions. May Mr. Foster travel again soon and may we have the pleasure of reading his record thereof!