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FOREIGN NOTES AND COMMENT
of the land that gave them birth.
Moreover, this novel brings out a fact 'N September, 1906, I found myself
that is always overlooked in connecin a proverbial predicament: I was
tion with highway robbery: we conshort of legal tender. Being then a
demn without reserve the practice, graduate student at Columbia, I was
which is natural, but fail to admire the forced to do something about it. In the
skill that wallet lifting exacts of those language of Edmond About, I said to
who engage in it. To be even a supermyself, for when I talk to myself I
numerary in the employ of a Hadji always use what grammarians term
Stavros requires an extraordinarily "the polite form of address": "Com
nimble brain. Such devils should be ment vous vous y prendrez?” Suddenly given their due, especially when manipmy skiff came in: I secured the posi- ulated with the adroitness that was tion of teacher of French and German
part and parcel of Edmond About. in a boys' school directly across the
This novel is found in the Library of Hudson from Morningside Heights.
West Virginia University in no fewer In the French course we took up
than nine different editions. On the Edmond About and read “Le Roi des
library card of one of these editions Montagnes". It is a glorious account of cultured banditry in Greece, quite Library shall be opened at least once a
(1891) there are these words: “The inoffensive to anyone unless it be a
week during the college year, at such Greek of that time who was so literal
time as may suit the convenience of the minded that he was unable to penetrate
Librarian." The Library of the same the subtle difference between a good
institution is now open every day in joke and a bad gibe. The boys liked
the week including four hours on Sunthe tale. And they all passed the Board Examinations. Consequently, lishers are reaching back and bringing
day. No wonder that American pubI for one wish to express my apprecia
out the masterpieces d'antan. tion to the publishers for bringing out
On the other hand, Zamiatin's "We" this story in the esteemed translation
is published in this country though it of Miss Crewe-Jones. “The King of
has not yet seen the light that comes the Mountains" is as good a tale of its kind as I ever read. Old Hadji Russia. In this there is a measure of
from the printing press in its native Stavros, leader of the bandits, is a real
eminent propriety, for the book - it is creation, while his confederates have
hard to designate it more closely since what it is so difficult to give en masse each his own personality. The Eng- United States before
nothing like it was ever seen in the
United States before - depicts life as lishmen, particularly the English- it is to be in a thousand years from now. women, they hold up are choice exem
Well, if life is to be like this in 2025, I plars of those tourists who go abroad
am personally grateful for the assurance because they are not satisfied with the that man lives but three score years run of things at home but who, once and ten. I want none of this machine abroad, stifle the foreigners with praise made love, life, birth and death, though
I am bound to say that for once the pass up his solid academic record and publisher's announcement is intelli- remark that he is a man of notable gent. That bit of selling talk uses boldness in that he essays to fix forever the adjectives "amusing", "satirical", the value of creations that are not his. "bold", "powerful", "modern", and As it is we drop the issue, with this "cubist", in describing the book, and remark: There are two big differences the terms are justified. This book between Lalou's method of procedure should be read, if for no other reason, and that of a typical German historian merely to see the extremes to which the of literature. The German would inhuman mind may go. But I am con- clude his own novels in his history and vinced that the publishers brought it would pass judgment on them; and out in order to show what Soviet the German would never try to explain Russia may be.
his country's literature as a detached There are no name characters in it, product. On the contrary, any Gerand not many numbered ones.
man literary historian feels, indeed personages are so many prongs on the knows, that literature, and particularly ratchet which, in revolving, sends this "contemporary" literature, can neither man up and that one down. There are be explained nor vindicated without a forty chapters (they are termed “rec- running comment on and appraisal of ords”). I believe that Record XII these additional factors in the asthetic is the best: it is on the delimitation of life of a nation: the press, science, the infinite, angels and poetry. But politics, religion, history, criticism, art however this may be, there are two in all its forms — painting, music, similes in the book which I cordially sculpture, stage — and foreign influrecommend to Mr. Wilstach. Of a
ences. When M. Lalou takes this certain young woman it is said that point of view and spends another fifteen her normally alluring mouth, or lips, years on his history, we shall be in a looked, in their pout, “like a crescent position to rank it high. At present, with the horns down”. And of a cer- the most that can be said for it is that tain man it is said that “his Adam's it would make an excellent manual for apple stuck out like a broken spring such college students as wished to against the upholstery of a worn orient themselves in the field. divan”. Anyone who may wish to George Heyer has rendered, admiraknow why the Bolsheviks have forbid- bly though freely, François Villon's den the book up there should read chefs-d'æuvre into English verse. For Record XX on State rights and duties. this he is to be warmly thanked. M.
René Lalou, age thirty five, has Villon (1431-1484) did not write much; passed in retrospect approximately six but he wrote that poem, or ballad, that hundred creative French writers. He closes with the question, Ou sont les has pronounced some quite austere neiges d'antan? probably the greatest judgments: Edmond Rostand's "Cy- verses ever written in French. Conrano de Bergerac" is not a masterpiece sequently, any individual who brings yet he couples Rostand himself, de- his works closer to the hearts of the tached and in the aggregate, with English speaking people renders a Molière and Racine.
magnanimous and magnificent service. Now, were it not for the fact that M. The booklet is beautifully made, conLalou has written four novels on his tains the original French on one page own account, I should be minded to and the somewhat "original" English
on the opposite page. The notes are tory has on its records but compara-
Berlin, Prague and other European
capitals seem to constitute a subject
deserving of attention.
Let it be stated right away that, in
and Leon Company.
1920 from the Revolution and who do translation from the Russian by Gregory not want to return into the Soviet
Zilboorg. E. P. Dutton and Company. Contemporary French Literature. By
realm, lead an active cultural life of René Lalou. Translated from the
their own. They are scattered all over French by William Aspenwall Bradley. the world; their main centres are in
Alfred A. Knopf.
Paris, Berlin, and Prague (which numa Rendering into English Verse of Hui- ber together over half a million Rustains I to XLI of Le Testament and of the
sians) but there are also thousands of
exiles in Shanghai, Peking, and other
cultural crème des crèmes of the old The Eriled Russian Literature
Russia, form as it were a little world of
their own within the world, a state T is an old truth that literature is the within states. They have an enormous
number of Russian schools in which A writer, like a tree, imbibes the sap they educate their children, two Ruswhich feeds and shapes him. Were it sian universities one in Berlin and not so, literatures of different nations the other in Prague — about sixty would have no individual national newspapers, a score of weeklies and characteristics. Yet this comparison monthlies, and some thirty five to should not be interpreted too closely. forty publishing houses which have For unlike a tree, a writer eradicated issued in the course of the last years from his native soil and living out of thousands of new Russian books and touch with his people is not necessarily republished thousands of old ones. fated to wither and die. Plato and Most of Russia's prominent fiction Dante, Victor Hugo, Heine, and Mitz- writers — such as I. Bunin, Kuprin, kewich as well as many others lived Merezhkovsky, Balmont, Artzybashev, and wrote in exile. Indeed, "writer Mrs. Gippius, Shmelyov, etc. — have exiles” might be the subject of an joined the émigrés in their mass exodus. interesting work embracing literatures A mere enumeration of these names of all times and all nations and spar- suffices to prove that the old and kling with a brilliant array of immortal glorious traditions of Turgenev and names.
Tolstoy as well as the younger schools If, however, individual writer émigrés of decadents and symbolists have left have been many in all countries, his- their native country and settled abroad.
I muitrol the ruth th which it is growne
In the first years of their Calvary the only a few books that have appeared exiled writers could not and did not in the course of the last months, write; they were bewildered by the enough to give a concrete illustration catastrophe, shell shocked as it were. of the tempo and the range of the RusBut time heals wounds; their literary sian literary life outside of Russia. output has been steadily increasing The book of the month is undoubtsince 1921-1922, and has attained by edly the first part of “The Birth of now its normal pre-Revolutionary pro- Gods. Tut-ank-Amon in Crete", an portions. Their financial situation has historical novel by D. Merezhkovsky also changed. In the first years of (the Russian version has been brought exile it was almost desperate. In 1920 out by the “Sovriemennya Zapisky”, I happened myself to observe in Con- Paris, and the French has been pubstantinople Mr. Grebenstchikov, a lished serially in the “Mercure de young prose writer, carrying loads on France"). Judging by the title one his back in the dirty and dusty docks of might think that the author has deGalata. Now, since publishing houses cided to enrich the world with one more have opened and the exiled readers roman de boulevard dealing with a fashhave found jobs, the writer can again ionable subject. This is not, however, make his living by writing.
the case. Mr. Merezhkovsky is the In a way Russian writers have even best living Russian critic and essayist, profited by their exile. The Revo- an outstanding poet, a learned linguist, lution, the flight from Russia, a close a prominent philosopher, and the communion with the spiritual life of author of world famous historical novvarious European nations and with els (“Leonardo da Vinci”, “Peter and European authors, have enriched them Alexis”, etc.) translated into all the with invaluable impressions and experi- European languages. His new Egypences. Moreover, exile has broadened tian novel is the result of long study their audience. Their works are usu- and research. A Russian critic justly ally brought out not only in Russian, says of it that Mr. Merezhkovsky has but also in French, German, Czech, etc. found words simple, heavy and old like Almost every short story by I. Bunin pyramids, has worked out a style deeply or Kuprin is published simultaneously original in its primitive simplicity, and in the "Sovriemennya Zapisky" and has succeeded in drawing a painting of in “Le Mercure de France" or "La mystical beauty. His unusually darNouvelle Revue Française". "A ing attempt certainly does deserve the quelque chose malheur est bon”, says the attention of the American reader. French dictum, and in the case of Another event of the month is “The writer émigrés it is undoubtedly true. Rose of Jerichon", a volume of short These writers are not eradicated from stories and poems by I. Bunin (the their soil, for there is as it were a "Slovo" Publishing Company, Paris). Russian hinterland around them, yet at Mr. Bunin is recognized as the best the same time they are, so to say, contemporary Russian prose writer. cosmopolitanized by the conditions in He is, so to speak, the descendant of which they live and work.
the most illustrious literary ancestors, It is impossible even to enumerate in the standard bearer of the best literaa short article the best works of fiction ry traditions. Every fragment, every that the exiled literature has to its story coming from his pen is an event credit. Therefore I shall mention to the Russian reader. His new volume does not disappoint one's ex- and you will see that history really does pectations: it contains real gems and repeat itself, at least once in a while. masterpieces.
ALEXANDER I. NAZAROFF A striking proof of the vitality of the exiled literature lies in the fact that not only old writers continue to write, but also new ones, talented and original,
Notes from France emerge. Such are Aldanov, Grebenstchikov, Lukash, Mrs. Tzvietayeva, as OOKS
I shall in series. This is due, first, to the mention only one of their works - fact that everyone in Paris reads and "The Devil's Bridge" by Aldanov writes. Ten years ago there were a ("Sovriemennya Zapisky”). It also is great many good books written on an historical novel, forming the second various subjects, from various points of part of the trilogy “The Thinker". view, by men, generally speaking, of Its first part, “The Ninth of Thermi- from thirty five to forty five. These dor”, appeared about a year ago and writers are not replaced, they still won the warm praise of Russian and exist, but they are for the time overforeign critics. The two novels cover shadowed by a group of men of from respectively the last years of the great twenty four to thirty who seem to have French Revolution and the Napoleonic sprung up together, at the same time, epoch. History is novelized in them and who have something of the same with a rare art and skeptical elegance, earth about them. Cadmus's army combined with an impeccable knowl- again — and from still more fertile edge and understanding of the epoch. fields. They produce one book after
It is typical that the mind of a another, generally novels — of us, and Russian writer émigré should turn to of now - bearing certain interior signs the French Revolution. There is a of similarity. If I find they share in deep and interesting analogy between the same heredity, that there is some the Russian exiled literature of today relationship among them, I shall be and the French exiled literature of one severely criticized by their indefatigahundred and thirty years ago. His- ble self analysis. They do resemble tory repeats itself. Read (or reread) each other in this: They have had the Châteaubriand's “Mémoires d'outre- same education, and they have done tombe" and you will think that you
Their education has given have read the history of Russian exiles. them the same starting point of purgaChâteaubriand himself, Count Joseph tion, they do not feel obliged to repeat de Maistre, Rivarol, and many others what has been said before; and second, matured into famous writers in exile. all of them have the same instinct, Just as there is now a Russian Paris, idea, hallucination — call it any name there was then a French London with
you can find
that their time is horFrench newspapers, publishers, etc. ribly limited, and that in this short And, before his situation improved, time they must succeed in a concentraChâteaubriand, like almost all his tion, intemperate and desperate, of the Russian colleagues of today, had best they have. passed through months of misery and All these books are something more privations. Add to this the striking than good books. similarity of some ideas and reflections, There is "Etienne" of Marcel Arland