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compares the dead wreckages of different civilizations to the decayed flora and fauna of the sea out of which in an ever recurring cycle new and vital growths arise.
If "The Golden Flower" stirs the interest of readers to go on to "The Renaissance" or to learn more of its author diplomat, historian, Roman Catholic, pro-Aryan, Nietzschean - it will have been printed to good purpose. In Europe, Gobineau's thirty odd years of neglect have been turned into an almost excess of eulogy. The Gobineau cult in Germany has an able priesthood in the Gobineau Society, with Dr. Ludwig Schemann as its editor-pope. In England, Dr. Oscar Levy has popularized the "Essai", and "The Renaissance", and in France in recent years all of Gobineau's principal books have been reissued. The Count wrote novels, philosophy, history, and poetry; but however subtle and erudite, he will doubtless always be best remembered for his racial and aristocratic gospel. It is a little odd that few Americans know more of the man than his name.
The ideas which burst out with such energy in the dramatic rhapsody, "The Renaissance", and in "The Golden Flower", were put down as hard scientific dogma much earlier in the essay on inequality. Gobineau sets out with the simple aristocratic thesis that neither government nor environment nor religion nor reform nor any other social force matters in giving genius or vitality to a nation, but race alone. This simplified social theology he still further limits by announcing that only one race possesses the authentic blood, the Aryan. Lothrop Stoddard, Madison Grant, and the Society of Descendants of the Mayflower could go no further. A bulwark of erudition supports the thesis in the "Essai", but it has been battered by time and science. As with
any oversimplified sociology, a skeptical and polyracial posterity has choked it with scorn and evidence.
But it is not so much Gobineau's dogmatic Aryanism, or even his PanGermanism (much denied), that gives him an interest today. It is his insistence, with the emphasis of religious intensity, on the whole catalogue of the aristocratic virtues and his abhorrence of democracy and all her children. It is chastening to any age to be talked about by a man who believes in none of its virtues.
To the above should be added a word of caution for any fellow Fascists and members of the Ku Klux Klan who think they have uncovered a literary Kleagle. They must not look too eagerly to the Count as a defender of the faith. They might find a flaming cross on one page which they could grasp, only to uncover a pitchfork on another in a compromising position. Others, it should be noticed, have tried to bend him to special uses. The "Essai sur l'Inégalité" was published many years ago under the direction of one H. Hotz, an American slave holder. He dedicated the book to the "Statesmen of America", believing devotedly that he had found in it an apology for slavery. The Count is said to have remarked: "Our friends, the Americans, think I am encouraging them to lynch their Negroes, but they cannot abide that part of my book which really concerns them." Care, cave!
In "The Renaissance", the Count drops theory for drama, pageantry, color, and enthusiasm. It is a rhapsodic essay on that violent and masterful period done in the form of a drama of five acts, each built about an outstanding Renaissance hero - Savonarola, Cesare Borgia, Julius II, Leo X, and Michael Angelo. The Renaissance is of course a logical period
wherein a Nietzschean may seek out his giants. The Count uses his material well without allowing history to nudge his elbow. Characters and events blaze and soar across the pages, giving a violent, distorted, fascinating, passionate embodiment of the vitality of the time. Passages are sometimes weakened by overemphasis and a too unbroken flood of eloquence, but an impression of churning energy, whipping back and forth between the bestial and the divine, passes into the reader's imagination.
The reader must make up his mind, however, to the convention of a dra
matic form that is not dramatic. Like Hardy's "The Dynasts", "The Renaissance" could not be staged, and was not so designed. It is much less a play even than "The Dynasts". There being no chorus to drain off geographic and spiritual settings from the speaking characters, these must all be pressed into an overcrowded dialogue. But even with this burden, the form seems to justify itself. Each character is marked off strongly from the others
Whether the Renaissance energy
glows in the fanatic eye of Savonarola who for a space governs luxurious Florence by his power of Puritan fervor, or in the brutal vigor of Borgia rising through crime to the papacy, impression is one of the nobility of energy, the enduring and conquering validity of genius. This is the passionate "message" of "The Renaissance" and "The Golden Flower" of Count Gobineau. Both books should serve to stimulate if not scandalize any republican in good standing.
The Golden Flower. By Arthur, Count Gobineau. G. P. Putnam's Sons.
(though they all, to a degree, speak A NEW LINCOLN BIOGRAPHY Gobineauiste), and there is a strong illusion of action and "progression d'effet".
Above all it is the release of passion, energy, and genius in which Gobineau is interested, and which he communicates to his readers in both "The Renaissance" and "The Golden Flower". Like Nietzsche he is thoroughly unmoral, or rather the Jesuit of a "master morality" which he preaches in the words and violences of his heroes. As, boldly in the words of Alexander VI, defending Cesare Borgia (the latter has just murdered the husband of his sister, Lucrezia):
He is not a monster ... for that kind of person whom fate summons to dominate others, the ordinary rules of life are reversed and duty becomes quite different. Good and evil are lifted to another, to a higher
By Luther E. Robinson
NE by one the legendary bubbles that have been incubating about the name and fame of Lincoln are being pricked and deflated and replaced by the positive or the negative facts of persistent investigation. Many a biographer of the great emancipator, because of the missing links in the chain of his ancestry, has been compelled to employ the warmed over surmises of his perplexed predecessors and to apologize for adding "another" to the roomful of books already to be had on the seemingly unfailing theme. One cannot help admiring, however, the unflagging efforts of those relatively few researchers who have accepted the
challenge of the gaps in the line and have little by little discovered the precious bits of information needed to give completeness to the account.
Every Lincoln student familiar with the status of these investigations has been expectant of the promised biography by Dr. William E. Barton, completing the third of his important contributions to Lincoln history. The first member of the Barton trilogy was "The Soul of Abraham Lincoln", reviewed in THE BOOKMAN almost five years ago. It remains the best and most amply documented treatment that has been published on Lincoln's religion, and at once gave high rank to the author as an investigator able to handle his materials in an interesting manner and with philosophic grasp. Then followed "The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln", made necessary by ever expanding rumors damaging to the good name of Lincoln's mother and threatening to become established traditions in certain sections of the country. The reviewer recalls reading a "learned" paper written by a university professor purporting to identify Lincoln's father, not with the Kentucky Thomas, but with a citizen of North Carolina! Even Patrick Henry and John C. Calhoun came to stand as rivals for the distinction. Dr. Barton's labors reduced these absurdities to their foundations, and the information he assembled in this book gives it the position of a document to be consulted by the future historians of Lincoln.
Outside of these matters, the numerous unsettled points that have been left over by preceding biographers justify this third work of Dr. Barton's, for the reason that he is able to offer a remarkable record of documentary evidence and personal testimony from many Lincoln kinsmen hitherto un
discovered, as well as from persons who knew Lincoln. The result is that the reader finishes this new work with a feeling of admiration for the author and his good humored obstinacy in completing the task he set before himself, and shares the author's satisfaction that he has at last been able to set in their proper place many of the elusive little links needed to piece out the biographical chain.
For example, in spite of the long line of diligent fact finders from Herndon and Mrs. Hitchcock to such important investigators as Miss Tarbell and Waldo Lincoln, the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln had not been traced with unbroken evidence. Elements of conjecture have long lingered around the half legendary figure of Lucy Hanks, whom Dr. Barton establishes as Lincoln's maternal grandmother, whose existence and relationship have been suspected since Lamon's blunt intimation of irregular paternity in 1874, and since the publication of John Hanks's letters to Herndon bade fair to leave a perpetual cross word puzzle to the world. Although this discovery has no value whatever for its connection with the personality or the limitless service performed by Abraham Lincoln, it is highly important as setting at rest the unleashed effort of a whole generation of search for the identification of the enigmatical woman who became the premarital parent of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and the faithful spouse of Henry Sparrow, as well as the forebear of a large nest of Sparrows still living their uneventful lives in Kentucky and elsewhere.
Among the most interesting original discoveries of Dr. Barton is the fact that, during the campaign for the presidential nomination, Lincoln became the proprietor of the German-American "Staats-Anzeiger" of Springfield,
Illinois, as a result of the financial difficulties of its editor, Dr. Theodore Canisius, to whom, after the nomination, he resold it for the modest sum of $400. Close to this is the author's discovery and reproduction of another "lost speech" of Lincoln's, delivered at the conclusion of the 1858 campaign and unnoticed by the newspapers. Dr. Barton was given access to the original manuscript of this speech, which is in every sense worthy of Lincoln, by its owner, Oliver R. Barrett of Chicago.
One is gratified to see, in this work, that the traditional affaire de cœur with Ann Rutledge has been robbed of much of the melodramatic increments which have lately been exploited by the uncritical, and again restored to sanity. The author refutes Herndon's assertion that Lincoln never loved anyone but Ann and shows convincingly that, despite their occasional moments of seeming incompatibility, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln needed each other, and that the latter did much to spur her husband into the presidency. There are many interesting points of information in this biography of Lincoln that are either new or given a new and more adequate treatment many, in fact, that one is tempted to wonder whether Dr. Barton has not given us the definitive biography of the Civil War President.
If somehow those thousands could be led to discover the new edition of Bessie Graham's "The Bookman's Manual", book buying might assume a different complexion, and selections for the home library, at least, would be based upon definite knowledge and not mere hearsay. The material in its six hundred pages is of inestimable value to a larger group than those who sell books. Its subtitle, "A Guide to Literature", indicates the broad field of those to whom it will render direct and adequate service. Librarians have already evidenced their interest in the book by buying it; the general reader will find it an "ever present help in time of trouble" when seeking elusive information about books. Its lists will save much time and vacillation for reading circles, literary clubs, and professional men and women attempting to map out a definite course of reading. But in a review the book must be considered from the bookseller's angle.
There is a growing number of bookstores in these United States in which the working force is animated by certain ideals, and upheld by a sense of rendering a professional as well as a commercial service. Although these ideals have nowhere been definitely stated, observation of such stores leads to certain conclusions. Usually the bookseller who looks upon his work as a profession is in the business because he loves books and cannot resist the fascination of working among them. The basis of his efforts necessarily becomes commercial, since it has been inevitable for him to transmute his passion for books into a living. His stock is selected with discrimination, for one of his fundamental tenets is to spread good literature in his community. He believes a large part of his duty is to let visitors to the store know
what new work has appeared on the market. With this duty in mind, he displays the best of recent publications and directs the attention of his clients to the books pertaining to their interests, their tastes, and their hobbies.
His greatest work, however, is in meeting the demands of the uninformed, those who seek this, that, or something else with a concept as vague as the wordiest book on philosophy. To him it is often given to meet the worried, perplexed, or blasé individual and urge upon him a book to meet his need. The questions he receives in a day rival in variety, peculiarity, and number those received by a reference librarian in a big city library. his knowledge he has acquired from following the difficult advice of Jared Bean, who wrote in 1774:
First of all matters, 'tis your greatest need
Turn then your whole Attention to the
Unfortunately the bookseller cannot read everything, and rarely does he have time to look back and read the books of yesteryear. His task is to read next week's books. But as the days hurry through his shop, he picks up much miscellaneous information about old books, early editions, neglected titles, authors, dates, and publishers. Heretofore he has been almost entirely dependent upon his own researches and memory to acquire needed information. Today he has found an ally in "The Bookman's Manual".
Concrete evidence that booksellers are improving the quality of their service lies in the fact that such a book as this demands a second edition within three years. The book is the result of Miss Graham's "course of lessons on book salesmanship, given at the William
Penn Evening High School, Philadelphia". Later this course of lessons appeared serially in "The Publishers' Weekly" as the "Home School for Booksellers". That anything composed of lists of books and authors' names could be made fascinating reading has been proved, for these pages bristle with the adventure of discovering long desired facts, searching for omissions, chancing upon bits of humor or unfamiliar sayings about books.
Every week the bookseller is called upon to answer such questions as: "What is considered the best encyclopædia?" "Who made the best translation of "Faust"?" "Where can I find a good list of biographies?" "Who wrote this, that, or the other?" "Where can I find 'When You Were a Pollywog"?" "Where can I find Soand-So's 'Such-and-Such"?" "How many 'Utopias' have been written?"
- for in
Answers to nearly all of these questions and scores of others are found in the Manual, besides directions for locating quickly "mornamillion" in addition. These facts are not given in a dreary, professorial manner stance: "To be told what head means in twenty-seven different connections, and then to be told what headache, headdress, and head-work means as well, seems to show that unabridged dictionaries are made for the stupidest of mankind." And so they are.
No doubt Miss Graham's task of selecting what should or should not be included was difficult. With space limited and information unlimited, it is surprising to find so much contained in so few pages. But why, we wonder, are the names of Eunice Tietjens, Edward Carpenter, Holbrook Jackson, J. G. Frazer, and Frank Harris entirely lost? Surely Frank Harris's "Life of Oscar Wilde" deserves a place in any list of biographies, and the other