Page images
[ocr errors]

A fragrance of old lavender permeates the pages of Augustine Birrell's "More Obiter Dicta" (Scribner). On reading it old, dusty emotions trip across the threshold of memory, redivivus for a brief instant. The essays are offered by the author without apology. They need none. For Mr. Birrell has a shrewd insight, a quiet humor, and a sound judgment. His style is that of an older day, less rushing, but just as bored as our own. His subjects are the miscellany that torture or delight all reviewers, ranging from humbug and the forgotten Miss Ferrier to Châteaubriand. One reads them with the feeling that one is in the presence of a Tradition. Just the amount of respect one owes it, is a problem. To damn with faint praise is an avoidance of responsibility. To panegyrize is to drown one's intelligence in the well aged Malmsey of a quiet Victorianism. Augustine Birrell has his niche neither too high nor too low. Let us leave him there in peace, meanwhile making our obeisance in the same vein

neither a mere nod nor a deep bow.

Lester Burrell Shippee's "Recent American History" (Macmillan) is a highly satisfying volume. It is satisfying for its completeness, not that it gives every detail as a single volume on the entire period since the Civil War, and as a textbook, it is only a summary which the teacher must expand- but that in selecting details, and in fitting them into accounts of large industrial, social, and political movements, it is governed by a viewpoint not usually to be found in books of its type. Moreover, it expresses this viewpoint with such suavity and apparent disinterestedness as to justify its current appellation of "liberal". If, in fact, the book errs at all it is in its excessive restraint; but this too may be

a necessary fault to be remedied in the classroom.

The translations of de Maupassant's stories which Lafcadio Hearn made for the New Orleans "Democrat" and "Times-Democrat" have been collected under the title of "Saint Anthony and Other Stories" (A. and C. Boni), with an introduction by Albert Mordell. The stories are excellent, but no more so than the translations. Hearn had very high standards, and one may agree that the translations are masterpieces in their own right, having the quality of great English prose and yet preserving the spirit of the original.

"The Book of Friendship Verse", collected and edited by Joseph Morris and St. Clair Adams (Sully), contains not only the most celebrated poems on friendship by writers of the past and present, but also a liberal selection of immortal prose on the subject by such masters as Montaigne, Bacon, Addison, Dr. Johnson, Thoreau, and Emerson. We believe that the inclusion of both verse and prose in a single volume of this kind has been carried out here with most happy results in achieving completeness, breadth, and variety. The present anthology is rendered both timely and valuable by the enduring permanence of its contents.

B. W. Mitchell writes of camping and glorious mountain scenery in "Trail Life in the Canadian Rockies" (Macmillan) with buoyant enthusiasm. He gives many valuable suggestions for other campers and mountain climbers. But the glory of the Canadian Rockies needs more than an enthusiast; it requires, rather, the soul of an artist and the pen of a master hand. Nor do the photographs even begin to do justice to their subjects.


Compiled by Frank Parker Stockbridge, Life Member of the American Library Association, in Cooperation with the Public Libraries of America

Library readers started off the new year appropriately by demanding the three new books which, most commentators will agree, command first attention in their respective fields. In fiction, the newcomer in the Monthly Score is E. M. Forster's “A Passage to India". Watch for it to climb higher. In the general list, Mr. White's Woodrow Wilson" is surely the most talked of biographical work that has appeared in some time, while "The Fruit of the Family Tree", satisfying as it does a growing curiosity as to what science can tell us about life, was certain to appeal to those who had read its author's "New Decalogue of Science". And lest those curious about such things should wonder why popular interest in etiquette has declined, as suggested by the lower position of Mrs. Post's famous work, be assured that there is nothing wrong with this picture. Librarians report as great a demand as ever for guides to perfect behavior, but the demand is spread over half a dozen competitive volumes.-F. P. S.

[blocks in formation]

4. Life and Letters of Walter H. Page Burton J. Hendrick

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]












12. The Fruit of the Family Tree*

Albert Edward Wiggam

*This title has not before appeared in the Monthly Score.



IN past seasons I have read innu- novel, now challenges comparison with

merable bright catalogues of forthcoming books, seeing back of the publication of each volume stern editorial decision or sterner business acumen; hoping that from carloads of printed matter would spring magically rest, relaxation, and profit for the many. At last, however, the catalogue has become merely colored paper and well arranged type, human contact has become a necessity. So this year I have visited as many publishing houses as was possible in a very limited time, and have gathered from the editorial font itself some idea of volumes soon to be seen in shops and libraries.

It is one hundred years since Daniel Appleton found that the book counter in his general store was quite overwhelming other goods in point of sales. In West Thirty Second street, New York, the library of the present day Appleton's where guests are received. is walled by high bookcases and looks as if it were really used for reading purposes. Stairs lead up, rather quaintly, to the editorial offices. Of this list, the most important book is obviously Mrs. Wharton's "The Mother's Recompense". It is the fruit of her visit here last year and deals not only with American social wanderers in Europe but with modern American society here. A posthumously published Emerson Hough will find many readers; for it is a story of love and adventure in the "lonely open spaces". Very much like Michael Arlen in style, with the same desire for plot innuendo and twists of word and deed, is Laurence W. Meynell, whose "Mockbeggar", an English prize winning

"The Green Hat". Jean Cocteau, French, impudent, breezy, gives us a cleanly but picaresque story in "Thomas, the Impostor". Another novel which Appleton's believe promises much is "Last Year's Nest" by Dorothy À Beckett Terrell, a domestic tangle that unravels satisfactorily.

"Unknown Tribes


Seas", a romantic travel book of Albino Indians in Panama by Lady Richmond Brown, is said to bristle with adventure. A nice contrast on the list is Robert Lynd's "The Peal of Bells", a book of light occasional essays by this famous English critic. George Gibbs, the novelist out of Philadelphia, contributes, in addition to a costume novel "The Love of Monsieur", a story in essay form titled "How to Stay Married". Two critical works of importance are Lewis F. Mott's "Sainte Beuve" and Barrett H. Clark's "A Study of the Modern Drama". Many persons will be pleased to know that the poems of Robert G. Welsh, the dramatic critic who died so heroically last year, are to be published under the title "Azrael and Other Poems". Charles Hanson Towne has written an introduction.

On another floor in the same building, with Bibles of various sizes and descriptions naturally much in evidence, is the American branch of the Oxford University Press. Their large list naturally contains many scholarly works, a majority of them philosophical and religious in character and how exquisitely printed! A two volume "Letters of James Boswell" by Chauncey Brewster Tinker is made up of


much hitherto unpublished material. A luxurious travel book, the plates of which are rich in color and interest, is "Tibet, Past and Present" by Charles Bell.

In another building not far away, on Fourth Avenue to be precise, are Stokes and Dodd, Mead. Not so different in general appearance either. Both have library reception rooms, with many books. The Stokes offices are in the nature of individual libraries, decorated with delightful illustrations from old books. Dodd, Mead spread out with more open desk room.

That there should be three business romances on one list (Stokes) is odd. Lucille Van Slyke's "Nora Pays" deals with the penalties for success which come to a proprietress of a Fifth Avenue shop. Horace Annesley Vachell in "Watling's" shows us the proprietor of an English department store in moods of both sentiment and business. And "A Young Man's Fancy" by John T. McIntyre is a dreaming romance of spring and a store window. Those who remember Crosbie Garstin's "The Owls' House" will not fail to read his new "High Noon". In "Dominion" by John Presland we have, apparently, a tense and colorful story of South Africa centring around the life and personality of Cecil Rhodes.

Stokes will bring out also Honoré Willsie Morrow's "The Lost Speech", a new Lincoln story, in a small book some time during the spring. Amusing general books are two by famous business men, concerning their hours of play: Frank Hedges Butler's "Round the World" and Wendell Endicott's "Adventures with Rod and Harpoon Along the Florida Keys". Mothers will find unusual Pamela Grey's "The Sayings of the Children", in which Lady Grey of Fallodon recalls her own children's sayings and the publishers

have left space for fond mothers to record bright remarks of the precocious young. Speaking of the precocious young, "The Prince of Washington Square" is likely to be one of the literary curiosities of the year.

The Dodd, Mead list shows forth a glitter of detective stories; as described to me they sound equally baffling. "The Shadow Captain", a romance of Captain Kidd, sounds vastly entertaining, and if E. B. and A. A. Knipe have written it well it should prove good reading. Then there is a thriller subtitled "a romance of reincarnation", "The Way of Stars" by L. Adams Beck. Fanny Heaslip Lea has long been known for her human, amusing stories in the magazines. "With This Ring" should, from accounts of those who have read it as a serial, prove popular. E. Barrington has chosen another historical figure to make vivid in fiction. This time it is the baffling Lord Byron, and she has called her story "The Glorious Apollo".

A third edition of "The Men Who Make Our Novels" by Charles C. Baldwin really amounts to a new book, for it has been completely rewritten and many names added. Reminiscences that should be filled with unusual anecdotes of the artistic group of the Nineties are those of William De Morgan's sister-in-law, Mrs. Stirling, "Life's Little Day". Edwin Valentine Mitchell of Hartford, one of the best booksellers in the country and editor of "Book Notes", has arranged "The Steamer Book: A Miscellany for Voyagers on All Seas". This is not an anthology of the sea but it is filled with all sorts of fascinating bits of information and with worthwhile articles and amusing anecdotes.

Less than ten blocks downtown on Fourth Avenue is the Century Company. Light grey wood rather fanci

fully carved marks the reception room of this dignified concern, wicker chairs for waiting guests and glass cases filled with books and manuscripts. Gilbert Frankau is the present day Robert W. Chambers of London. His "Life and Erica", most successful as a serial there, will be published as a book simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. The author of "The Plastic Age" has written a story of the California mountains, "Martha"; and Marie Conway Oemler, of Savannah and of "Slippy McGee" fame, gives us a southern girl character in "His Wife-in-Law". "Jungle Born" is a fascinating title. John Eyton is frank in acknowledging debt to Kipling for this story of a boy raised by a mother ape. There will be another small book from Donn Byrne, the story of an Irishman who took a girl from an English convent to make his wife. "O'Malley of Shanganagh" — Irish enough, isn't it?

"Tradition and Jazz" is the provocative title chosen by Fred L. Pattee, whose criticism is becoming known in America as sound yet stimulating. E. Alexander Powell in "Beyond the Utmost Purple Rim" gives African adventures, particularly tales of Abyssinia. "Summer on Dipper Hill" is a companion volume to that popular volume "The Lone Winter", and its author, Anne Bosworth Greene, still lives and writes on her Vermont farm, in spite of the fact that tourists have made it somewhat of a shrine.

On Thirty Third Street, near Fourth Avenue, is the House of Harper. Harper's in their new uptown building have succeeded in preserving something of the atmosphere of old downtown days by means of quaint wall paintings and massive furniture. Two first novels which are believed to be of unusual power are "Wild Marriage"

by B. H. Lehman, an instructor in the English department of the University of California, and "Faith of Our Fathers" by Dorothy Walworth Carman, the story of the life struggle of a young minister. Margaret Wilson, winner of the Harper 1922-23 prize and of the Pulitzer Prize for 1924, gives us a modern problem novel this time in "The Kenworthys". Rose Wilder Lane's other writing will demand attention for her first novel, "He Was a Man". Although the Zane Grey book has been out some time, any mention of Harper books is scarcely complete without "The Thundering Herd".

As a contrast, perhaps, to their "Autobiography of Mark Twain", we have George M. Cohan's "Twenty Years on Broadway and the Years It Took to Get There". The playboy of the American theatre here tells a truly Irish life story. "The Creative Spirit" by Rollo Walter Brown, an idealistic study of creative impulses, it is hoped will appeal in somewhat the same way as Robinson's "The Mind in the Making". Another book which should have a wide audience is "Table Talk of G. B. S.", the conversations of the quixotic Mr. Shaw and his biographer, Archibald Henderson.

Brentano's is a great bookstore, filled always with customers and with an unusually intelligent sales force. In the building above the store are the offices of the publishing firm - light, airy, businesslike. One of the chief efforts of this house will be to revive an interest in Edgar Saltus. They are reprinting his entire works and adding two more volumes, "Mr. Incoul's Misadventure" and "The Anatomy of Negation". "The Virgin Flame" by Ernest Pascal, author of "The Dark Swan", is the story of a young composer in conflict with the jazz of modern music and life. On this list are two

« PreviousContinue »