« PreviousContinue »
many French critics, was extremely appreciated and admired in France. The"Nouvelle Revue Française" did for him what it had done for Charles-Louis Philippe and for Marcel Proust, devoting an entire number to articles written about him, correspondence and posthumous works of his. André Gide and G. Jean-Aubry, who translated Conrad, and Chevrillon, Larbaud, Jaloux, Ramon Fernandez, J. Kessel, were among the principal contributors to this number, which also contained articles by John Galsworthy, Cunninghame Graham, Estaunié, Saugère, and others. PIERRE DE LANUX
What's Doing in Germany
RITZ VON UNRUH, scion of an old aristocratic family, son and grandson of soldiers, and now for many years leader in the forefront of militant pacifism, has written an important new book in the service of the great cause of mankind. "Flügel der Nike, Buch einer Reise", published by the Frankfurter Sozietätsdruckerei, might in other hands have been only one of the many travel books. In his hands it has become a spiritual document of high significance. He has sublimated and individualized his material, memories, impressions, discussions, results of results of visits to and talks in Paris and London. Out of the chaos of the present he sees the dream of the future dimly arising. "We must be the engineers of peace!" cries von Unruh; and in another mood: "Let us always try to be someone's elder brother." Winged victory, winged peace of the few men whose active ardency really brings the ideal nearer to realization, von Unruh takes a place of honor.
Professor Lujo Brentano, famous far
beyond the borders of his native land as a prophet of democratic ideals of social justice, has just celebrated his eightieth birthday. All the camps of acrid German public thought have joined to honor the venerable leader, whose energy is unabated despite his age.
Emil Lucka, a novelist far above the average, and author of "Frontiers of the Soul", a noteworthy attempt to found a modernized 'psychology, has now written a most thought provoking book intended in a fashion to serve as a counterblast to the pessimism of Oswald Spengler. It is entitled "Urgut der Menschheit" (Man's Early Beliefs), published by the Deutsche VerlagsAnstalt, Stuttgart, and is an attempt to follow the origin and course of mankind's belief in the myth through the rationalistic period of the present, when the feeling of communion with the spiritual forces of nature is practically extinct, to a future which he predicts when this "primæval inheritance of man" as he calls it will attain a new renaissance. It is this confidence which sets him in a position of sharp opposition to the ideas of Spengler. The question is one for posterity to decide.
German towns frequently contain several well preserved specimens of the old square towers, furnished with walls of immense thickness, which formed part of the wall encircling every mediæval city, or served purposes of storage. Many of these old erections are today stronger than a modern house and far more picturesque. In such a tower, left standing in the up to date city of Frankfurt-am-Main, Fritz von Unruh is to live. He has a particularly romantic tower, with five turrets, dating from the fifteenth century.
Elisabeth von Heyking has died of a stroke. This bare fact leaves nobody
the wiser; but when one explains that she was the onetime anonymous author of "Letters that Never Reached Reached Him", the literary sensation of many a year ago, the interest is explained. For most people she was the author of one book. It was her first, published in 1903, and ran into a hundredth edition in Germany as well as being translated into various languages. Elisabeth von Heyking was descended from the famous Bettina von Arnim. She was twice married, both times to distinguished diplomats, and herself took the liveliest interest in foreign politics. Her last years were lonely, for, widowed for the second time, she had lost both her sons in the Great War. But she was a woman of untiring energy who filled her great country castle with war victims and young literary men in need of help, comforting her own sorrows in appeasing those of others.
The firm of Buchenau and Reichert has begun the publication of a twelve volume edition of Robert Louis Stevenson. The first four volumes are already on the market. A peep at "The Master of Ballantrae" shows that the translator has contrived to convey a good measure of Stevenson's peculiar charm. Thomas Mann has written a glowing appreciation of the edition.
A splendid book which, first published in the tumult of the war, did not receive the notice it deserved, and is now receiving renewed attention, is Paul Wiegler's "Figuren" (Hyperion Verlag, Berlin). In extraordinary clear, glowing German, Herr Wiegler masses together a multitude of small significant details about each character under his microscope - details of dress, of habits, of events, of persons met and ideas encountered. When the reader, a little out of breath mentally from the rapidity of the sketching hand which he has been following, arrives at the
end of an essay, he finds that he has absorbed a perfect picture of the subject. Châteaubriand, Cagliostro, Rachel, Renan-such are a few of the great names whose bearers come to life under the author's hand. One of the most brilliant studies is that of Marie von Mouchanoff-Kalergis, the great grandmother of the Count CoudenhoveKalergi whose richly epigrammatic books on the meaning of aristocracy, "Pan-Europa", modern technique, etc., reveal an unusual and truly cosmopolitan mind. Much of the remarkable personality of the great-grandson becomes illuminated in the light of the personality of the wonderful greatlady who was his ancestor. Wiegler's book ought to be translated. It is a substitute for many a ponderous book of biography.
Bruno Taut, protagonist of color in the modern house and the modern city, has written a little book "Die Neue Wohnung" (Klinkhardt and Biermann, Leipzig), a "Kampf-schrift" or "fighting pamphlet" to promulgate his ideas. He appeals to the women, the homemakers, to help him in his fight for simplicity. "Die Frau als Schöpferin" (The Woman as Creator) appears six times as subtitle on his front cover. With sixty five illustrations and plans, the little book is a challenge to think and to dare. Bruno Taut's simplicity is too radical for most, but the mere raising of the question is a breath of welcome fresh air in the maze of arts and crafts which overload most houses. Discussion and lively opposition the little book will certainly arouse, but probably a good deal of agreement and some real constructive discipleship. Taut's most convincing argument lies in pointing to the simple colorlessness of the Japanese house, in which the Japanese moves in brilliant garments and disports himself on gorgeous cush
ions. We in our clothes of grey and black need rich and varicolored walls and furniture, contends Bruno Taut.
We all know that the Germans are a nation of philosophers; but how very much this is the case we are amusingly reminded when we observe that a recent number of "Die Literatur", the leading German book review, contains criticisms of no fewer than forty new philosophical works, ranging from new theories and reprints to histories of philosophic movements in weighty tomes.
Karin Michaelis, of "The Dangerous Age", who has practically become a German author, has written a new 'novel called in English "The Seven Sisters" (Kiepenheuer, Potsdam). The remarkable gift of Mrs. Michaelis (whose husband is an American) for portraying feminine emotions has not deserted her in her latest book, and the interweaving history of the seven sisters, told in their letters to one another, is most cleverly done. The most appealing thing about the book is its true femininity; the story is of little account, the gradual revealment of the seven personalities most fascinating.
Professor Ernst Barthel, whose new philosophy has already been mentioned in this place, has founded a Gesellschaft
für Lebensphilosophie (Society for the Philosophy of Life) in Cologne to promote the spread of his ideas of thought, "with special reference to the literary philosophers, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Strindberg".
He is issuing a special magazine, entitled "Antäus". Professor Barthel is the recipient of this year's Strindberg Prize. The Nietzsche Society has reelected its Supervisory Committee, to which Thomas Mann belongs. Thomas Mann in his turn has founded, or helped to found, a society of poets of lower Saxony under the title of Die Kogge. Karl Lange and Dr. Hans Friedrich Blunck are the best known of the other members. The new society was founded in the old Ratsstuben or council rooms in Bremen.
The German Society for Science and Art in Prague has appointed Dr. Karl Hans Strobl and Walter von Molo as corresponding members.
The Deutsche Schiller-Stiftung, an excellent institution founded in memory of Schiller to aid struggling authors, received a gift of ten thousand marks from President Ebert, just before his death. His intention was to make the benefice an annual one.
ETHEL TALBOT SCHEFFAUER
THE GOSSIP SHOP
WO southerners of note in letters,
in a school rapidly passing, have recently died: George W. Cable and James Lane Allen. Mr. Cable was born in Louisiana in 1844, Mr. Allen five years later in Kentucky. In Cable's pictures of plantation life, in his story of the French civilization absorbed in our south, there were a charm and an importance that are perhaps not fully appreciated now. His stories will undoubtedly form a definite part of the permanent American literature of local color. His novels were never so good as his sketches; but his sketches were fine indeed. James Lane Allen was a man of different stamp. His quiet style was excellent, his bursts of true sentiment, varying at times with sentimentality, achieved for him a wide popularity with "The Choir Invisible" and "The Kentucky Cardinal". A new collection of his short stories has appeared this season. Again, they may seem dated to many, but they represent a period of sweetness and repose in our literary development of which we may well be proud, and which we shall remember with kindliness and a measure of pride.
We were at luncheon recently with Louis Untermeyer and Floyd Dell. They talked violently throughout lunch to each other and we really could learn little of what they were saying. Old friends, it seems, renewing friendship after Mr. Untermeyer's year in Germany — ah, well! they may be permitted this indulgence. We met, too (it was at an affair given for Sherwood Anderson), Stuart Pratt Sherman.
That modest, retiring individual wore a brown suit and a pleasant smile, and made clever little remarks rather bashfully. What a contrast to the bluff, hearty Mencken, with his Babbitt handshake and his clear blue eyes. Gertrude Atherton has been in town, correcting proofs of her new novel, "The Crystal Cup", before she sails for Europe. Ernest Boyd is so lively these days that one finds oneself wondering just when he sleeps; after all, perhaps he doesn't. He was much excited over the appearance of a little sheet called "Esthete, 1925", which appeared as a reply to his own effusion included in "Portraits: Real and Imaginary". The young æsthetes, or those who consider themselves such, have here libeled those whom they choose to call critics. At least one of those libeled certainly never has thought of himself as a critic; but there, there! They did an amusing job. So, also, the editors of "The New Yorker", although we suspect that succeeding numbers will vastly improve upon the initial effort. Getting out the first number of a magazine that attempts to be funny must be a chilling job. There are only a very few people in the world who know when a thing is universally funny, anyway. No taste, except the taste for poetry, differs quite so much as that which distinguishes between one joke and another.
The other evening we saw Fannie Hurst in her studio, with its tall windows, its red covered Italian chairs, its dim lights, its high ceilings. What a place to work in. We are envious. Miss Hurst was dressed to match the
room in flowing red silk, red stockings, red shoes, with red bracelets, and a high red comb in the black, tightly drawn back, shining hair. Stefansson the explorer was there, quiet, with little talk of reindeer meat and the great but habitable North. He was about to start on a new lecture trip; in fact, he is in New York very little these days. Miss Hurst is at work on a new novel, a novel of which we could learn little at a formal dinner except that there is a nun in it. We wanted to hear of Russia. We mentioned briefly that a friend of ours just back from Germany had told us with horror of conditions there. Miss Hurst smiled. "Germany? Wait until you hear about Russia." We are waiting. Is the novel to be about Russia? Then America? Fannie Hurst will have a hard task to write another book so striking as "Lummox". She will never write another play, she says, and then smiles; and that smile always means that an author is conscious of an idle boast. A year ago Jesse Lynch Williams told us, proclaimed publicly in fact, that he had retired from playwriting to devote himself to short stories. Then, he wrote a short story that was so obviously a good play that many managers were interested. Someone to dramatize it? Months
Who with the Jesse Lynch Williams touch? At last the ideal dramatist was found. Who? Jesse Lynch Williams! Accuse him, this most urbane gentleman, of backsliding, and he smiles benignly. "Not going back to playwriting", he assures you. "Just dramatizing my short story!"
wild young seasons of ours! Just now, however, the cold is snapping and we open "Slants", a volume of poems by Clifford Gessler published in Hawaii, with something like jealousy. These are languorous and rather lovely verses, some of them, and the illustrations are 80-80. It is the poem on the title page that is making our turbulent soul bubble a trifle more. Shouldn't the Honolulu "Star-Bulletin" be ashamed of itself to send us on a cold morning anything written by its literary editor that reads like this:
... And I would bring you by some southern water
Where winds are kind and airs are sweet That the scent of unfamiliar blossoms might bring solace
From the cold stars of pain that are too sore a burden,
That the insistent viols might mute their throbbing,
The dark drums cease, and I might hear again
The harp notes of your laughter, trickling through
The ivory mesh of dreams.
The sixth annual O. Henry Memorial Dinner of the Society of Arts and Sciences was bigger and better than ever. On the dais, grouped about chairman Blanche Colton Williams, were such notables as the Honorable and exceedingly handsome - Richard Washburn Child, Will Irwin, editor Bridges of "Scribner's", Ernest Boyd, Allan Nevins of the New York "Sun”, Russell Doubleday, Frances Gilchrist Wood, and Ellis Parker Butler, the cheery toastmaster. There were also the three prize winners: Inez Haynes Irwin, who won first award with "The Spring Flight" (McCall's); Chester Crowell, whose "Margaret Blake" (Century) came in second; and Frances Newman, to whom went a special prize for a brief short story, "Rachel and Her Children" (American Mercury). The dinner marked the publication of