« PreviousContinue »
exhibition which included the works of Gordon Craig, Henry Dixon, Eric Gill, Miguel Mackinlay, and John and Paul Nash.
At the Brummer Galleries, where one can always find pictures that are alive and interesting, there was an exhibition of Seurat, who in the twenty years since his death has come in for great réclame. He is, in many respects, one of the most difficult of French painters for the conventional to understand. The New Yorker found a deep interest in his pictures without being greatly moved by them. And yet they were of greater merit and beauty than the obvious Zuloagas half a block away. While hordes of people trampled each other before the portraits of Julia Hoyt and Michael Strange, the Seurat show went almost unnoticed. Art, perhaps, is but a matter of publicity.
Some day, when the New Yorker feels affluent, he plans to offer a prize for the best translation made of the writings of Scofield Thayer. Mr. Thayer, together with Paul Rosenfeld and one or two others, is commonly reported to be writing English each month in "The Dial". Next to cross word puzzles, the New Yorker has found the writing of Mr. Thayer consistently the most fascinating of games. He writes in the February "Dial" concerning Marianne Moore: "I should here like to expose certain literary fragments, torn jaggedly from the hard contexts, fragments which, being felt out with the hammer of our intellect, return the consistency of rock crystal, fragments which, being thrown upon the hearth of our sympathetic under
"The Nation", by the way, awarded its poetry prize to Eli Siegel for a gem of a verse called "Hot afternoons there have been in Montana". To fully appreciate it, one should read this prize poem. The nearest approach to it is a verse written by Ben Ray Redman called "Hot afternoons there have been in Urbana", in which the closing line, which rises to new heights in crystallizing the character of our times, is "Red Hot Mamma."
Altogether the month has been a delightful one!
THE PUBLISHERS AND THE NEW SEASON
CROSS Fifth Avenue on East Forty Fifth Street are the small but excellently furnished offices of a young publishing firm, Minton, Balch and Company. Their list boasts distinguished and popularly inclined volumes. There is "Lenin", written by none other than Trotsky, an unconventional biography which contains, among many other impressions, a somewhat violent one of H. G. Wells. "The Last Cruise of the Shanghai" sounds like the most exciting of the new travel books. It is written by Judge F. De Witt Wells, and is an account of his voyage in Icelandic regions for four thousand miles in a forty foot boat, his shipwreck in a hurricane on the Newfoundland coast, with tales of heroism and fortitude. Fiction on this list includes Elias Tobenkin's "God of Might", which appears to be an unusual and powerful consideration of certain phases of the Jewish problem in the middle west. The always amusing Richard Connell has a new volume of short stories. V. R. Emanuel's "Middle Years" is said to discuss marriage from the angle of the middle aged man.
On Fifth Avenue is the imposing front of Scribner's bookstore. Nor are the offices less imposing. A quiet library with a long table and comfortable chairs offered solace while I considered this list. Scribner's fiction boasts two of the most brilliant of young Americans, Fitzgerald and Lardner. The former is represented by a novel, "The Great Gatsby"; the latter by "A New Book of Stories
and Sketches". Another collection of short stories which sounds promising is E. Earl Sparling's "Under the Levee". Three Boyds coincidentally appear as members of the Scribner fold: Ernest, the critic, with the first volume of a series of "Studies from Ten Literatures"; Thomas, author of the superb "Through the Wheat", with a collection of short soldier sketches which he calls "Points of Honour"; and James Boyd, a southerner, whose "Drums" is said to be a brilliant story of the south in Revolutionary times.
The Roosevelt-Lodge letters will, naturally, gain international attention. So, too, Edward Bok's additional autobiography, "Twice Thirty". And particular importance is attached to a new edition of Sir Sidney Colvin's "John Keats" because of the Amy Lowell volume on the same subject. Arthur Train's "On the Trail of the Bad Men" has already awakened interest in the legal profession. Among many Russian books this season, "Speckled Domes" by Gerard Shelley is probably the most unconventional in treatment.
Farther up Fifth Avenue, and somewhat similar in dignity and general appearance, are Dutton's bookstore and the offices of E. P. Dutton and Company. "The George and the Crown" by Sheila Kaye-Smith tells the story of the lives and loves of two young Englishmen, great friends but of decidedly different character. In "The Rational Hind", Ben Ames Williams writes another realistic character study with the same background as his earlier "Evered". Louis Joseph Vance sticks to melodrama — “hell
this time of
Still more of Russia its economic policies is told by Edwin W. Hullinger, a United Press correspondent, in "The Reforging of Russia". Even more important, perhaps, is a new Ossendowski book, in which the romantic author of "Beasts, Men and Gods" attempts to show why Russia fell and what her future is. He calls his book "The Shadow of the Gloomy East". Samuel Gompers's autobiography, "Seventy Years of Life and Labor", should have a wide public, appearing as it does so shortly after the great labor leader's death. James Moore Hickson, whose healing work in this country was much discussed, has in "Heal the Sick" written a combination study of spiritual healing in the past and its place in present day religion. Poets and others interested in poetry will watch for Clement Wood's "Poets of America" with unusual eagerness. Mr. Wood is not calm in his opinions, and this series of comments on his contemporaries is likely to cause alarums and excursions in many a Poetry Society.
In the same building which houses several large motion picture companies, on Madison Avenue not far from the Ritz Hotel, is the new home of Harcourt, Brace and Company. The reception room is a lovely one, with walls of soft grey-green, quiet-shaded lamps,
bookshelves well filled. The twenty first American printing of Papini's "Life of Christ", this time in a popular edition, is perhaps almost as worthy of note as Sinclair Lewis's "Arrowsmith". This, his first novel in two years, will be much discussed. It covers a wide range of American scenes and characters, and deals with the life work and hopes of young Dr. Martin Arrowsmith. Three Three college novels prove that Mr. Harcourt believes Percy Marks has not entirely absorbed the market for them. "The Western Shore" by Clarkson Crane gives us coeducational treatment of the University of California, and its sponsors term it "the first grown up treatment in fiction of undergraduate life in an American university". George Shively's "Initiation" is a story of college, war, postwar. Stanley Johnson's "Professor" shows with humor and a touch of bitterness an instructor's life in a small southern university.
Essays, "The Common Reader", and a novel, "Mrs. Dalloway", are announced for the brilliant Virginia Woolf; essays, too, from Charles S. Brooks, whose "A Thread of English Road" is still popular. The author of "Barnum" now analyzes the rather startling career of Brigham Young. Two other general books on this list which seem of particular interest to me are Count Hermann Keyserling's "The Travel Diary of a Philosopher", a book already much read and discussed in Europe, and another study of the great English mystic, titled "William Blake in This World", by Harold Bruce of the University of California.
In the Forties too, but farther west nearer the theatrical district, as befits a publisher who is entering the field of dramatic production, is the elaborately furbished house which shelters Boni and Liveright. A grand piano, stained
glass windows, elaborate brocades, and what not surround this publisher with a Belasco-like setting. From a literary standpoint, Theodore Dreiser's novel, "An American Tragedy", his first fiction in many years, is important. "Replenishing Jessica", Maxwell Bodenheim's new prose effort, is announced as a "tale of a modern Thaïs", which suggests possibilities of one kind and another. On this list, too, is fiction by two American poet-critics. Herbert Gorman's novel of New York's literary smart set is titled "Gold by Gold", while Conrad Aiken calls his collection of short stories "Bring! Bring! and Other Stories".
Hendrik Willem Van Loon found time while preparing his lengthy tome on "Tolerance" to cut a few capers both with writing and illustration in "The Story of Wilbur the Hat", a satirical and humorous sally through modernity. John Macy's long announced "Story of the World's Literature" will appear, and Alfred Kreymborg's autobiography "Troubador". In poetry, one of the most important books of the season is found on this list: "Collected Poems of 'H. D."" offers us a new chance to appreciate this American poet whose work, first known in connection with that of the Imagists, has steadily progressed.
West Fiftieth Street glows with dress shops and tearooms. Among these are the modest offices of Thomas Seltzer. "The Guermantes Way", a two volume addition to the works of Marcel Proust, is quite obviously the most important book on his list. author of "Invisible Tides", Beatrice Kean Seymour, has just completed a new novel, "Unveiled", which is said to be a vivid and detailed study of love and marital relations. D. H. Lawrence has translated some sketches of Sicilian peasant life from the Italian of
Giovanni Verga. He calls them "Little Novels of Sicily". Dr. Ira S. Wile, after many years' work among children, has collected the stories of fifty of his most interesting cases and presents them as "The Challenge of Childhood".
The offices of Alfred A. Knopf and the home of "The American Mercury", while luxurious, are businesslike, with their black and their black and white tiled floor, well upholstered library, and neatly arranged desks. Floyd Dell follows "Janet March" with "This Mad Ideal", a most interesting study of an interesting girl, which I believe to be his best novel since "MoonCalf". This, Francis Brett Young's "Sea Horses", and Geoffrey Dennis's second novel "Harvest in Poland", seem to me to be the most arresting novels on the Knopf spring list, with the exception of several important foreign translations—a Knut Hamsun among them and a first novel by an American, "The Spring Flight". Lee J. Smits is said to have a gift for the picaresque; in fact, so enthusiastic does the genius of the Borzoi become that he claims this work approaches "that somewhat chimerical ideal" — i.e., the Great American Novel "more closely than any other first novel in recent years". I have reviewed in the March number Will Irwin's "Youth Rides West", for which one can find little but the most extravagant praise.
To the growing library of American period literature and biography Knopf adds Thomas Beer's "The Mauve Decade", and a life of Washington Irving by George S. Hellman, extracts from which appear elsewhere in this number. Mr. Hellman's discoveries throw light not only on the character of Irving but on the history and politics of early America. "Paul Bunyan",
by James Stevens, with woodcuts by Allen Lewis, gives us a vivid interpretation of this great American folk figure. Stevens has worked for many years in lumber camps and mills, where the legends of this hero sprang up.
This season, too, Knopf inaugurates a new collection, the Blue Jade Library, the "semi-classic, semi-curious books
books which for one reason or another have enjoyed great celebrity but little actual distribution". The first two titles are "The Life of Henri Brulard" by Henry (Beyle) Stendhal, and "The Diaboliques" by Barbey d'Aurévilly.
One of the recent romances of the publishing business is the stupendous success of Simon and Schuster, with their cross word puzzle books. Two at least of this far famed series will issue from their offices on Fifty Seventh Street this season. "The Celebrities Cross Word Puzzle Book" has several interesting features, among them a thousand dollar prize for the best puzzle constructed on a design given in the book. Among those who have contributed puzzles to this collection are Chauncey Depew, Admiral Sims, Irving Berlin, Harry Houdini, Governor Smith, Will Rogers, etc., etc. The advertising for this volume carries the slogan, "Glorifying the American Cross Word Puzzle." Also with this, or soon after, will be published "The Cross Word Puzzle Constructor's Book", in the back of which will be found a "cross word puzzle dictionary", which shows all possible three letter words beginning in "a", etc. This dictionary, of course, will be useful in solving puzzles. Those who know H. T. Webster's "Bridge" book will be even more amused by this human caricaturist's "Poker Book". Somewhat to offset their puzzling activities, these two young publishers are bringing out
Franz Werfel's "Verdi", a study of the musician heavier in tone, but not unlike, the Maurois "Ariel". Terry Ramsaye's history of the motion picture, "A Million and One Nights", will be an elaborate study of that industry; in fact, the most inclusive and ambitious book on the subject yet attempted.
Two more houses, an old and a young, and we must leave Manhattan. Duffield and Company, long known for attractive children's books, have a number of adventure and mystery novels. Among their general books are explorer Nansen's "Hunting and Adventure in the Arctic", and "Sonata and Other Poems" by Professor John Erskine of Columbia University. The recently established Dial Press offers "Sixty-Four Ninety-Four", a novel by R. H. Mottram whose "The Spanish Farm" won the 1924 Hawthornden Prize. There is also a collection of Gorky stories. On the general list are a volume of essays on present day literary figures, "Men Seen", by Paul Rosenfeld, and collected poems by those modernists E. E. Cummings and Marianne Moore.
Of publishers outside New York City, the nearest - virtually of course, in town-are Doubleday, Page, with their great plant at Garden City, Long Island. Gardens, a restaurant, offices both elaborate and simple, are to be found in this combination press, publishing, and magazine organization. Their "Tales of Hearsay" include unpublished unpublished Conrad material - his first stories and his last. "Love", by the author of "Elizabeth and Her German Garden", ought to be interesting and popular. It is a brave title, at any rate. Ellen Glasgow's "Barren Ground" will be published in a luxurious edition. A light novel, or rather a series of sketches of literary value, is A. P. Herbert's "The Old