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Signor Vincenzo Nitti's recent vindication of his father's policy as prime minister, "L'Opera di Nitti" (Turin: Pietro Gobetti). Nitti, not without some justification, is regarded today with considerable hostility in Italy and elsewhere. His lukewarm war policy, even when he was a minister, is chiefly responsible for the feeling.
This vigorous defense is based on Nitti's speeches during the critical years. He became premier in June, 1919, when Italy was in a very unsettled state. The peace negotiations were unpopular and the Communists were actively exploiting the general discontent. "He was convinced", says his son, "that the fever of strikes, proletarian violence, revolutionary and reactionary folly were transitory phenomena of the postwar period, states of mind rather than well defined proposals." Acts of sedition went unpunished; strike leaders held the upper hand and their demands, however preposterous, were always granted. Nitti's passive attitude brought trouble in its train.
Signor Vincenzo Nitti bases his case on the ex-Premier's public speeches, but his actions cannot be overlooked. In spite of this volume, it is probable that the Nitti régime will continue to be regarded as disastrous.
From China comes the interesting news that the Chinese are modernizing their schools and have decided that the learning of the English language shall be obligatory. The industrious thoroughness of Eastern peoples is well known, and this step may be followed by a greatly increased demand for English and American books in China. The possibility raises a point conceivably of importance to English and American authors and publishers.
There is no copyright in China, and English books have been freely pirated in the past. What will happen in the future if the rising generation in China demands more and more English books?
American travelers who have made the journey from London to Paris by air and are acquainted with the well known British airlines, may not be aware of the network of foreign air services over the face of Europe. While Europe is the most important continent from the point of view of commercial aviation, it does not possess any monopoly of organized air services. Civil aviation is growing so rapidly and significantly that the publication of the "Jahrbuch für Luftverkehr" (Munich: Richard Pflaum Verlag), the first production of its kind, is worth noting. Comprehensive and thorough, this yearbook (the first issue is for the year 1924) covers geographically the whole world, contains complete lists of aerodromes and a mass of other useful information.
The discovery of a dusty portfolio of manuscripts preserved in the famous Mazarin Library reveals an interesting collection of love letters written by François Talma, the great French actor, to Napoleon's sister, Pauline Bonaparte. An amazing clandestine wooing this. For the purpose of correspondence the Princess became Mlle. Sophie, and Talma's letters were called for by her butler at an arranged address. It ended in bitter disillusionment for François Talma. These letters of his to the beautiful Pauline were found with a label, bearing in Mme. Le Brun's handwriting these words:
"Would it not be better to destroy them? That remains to be seen."
Susan Glaspell's novel, "Fidelity", which went the rounds for several years in England before finding a publisher, is to be issued in Germany by the firm of Griffel. "Fidelity" is now in its fifth impression in England. Other books which are to appear in German include Shaw Desmond's "The Drama of Sinn Fein", Stacy Aumonier's "Overheard", and Margaret Kennedy's "The Constant Nymph".
The Scandinavian rights of Michael Arlen's novel "The Green Hat" have been disposed of; as have the Swedish rights of Stacy Aumonier's "Miss Bracegirdle and Others". The Dutch rights of "Arnold Waterlow" by May Sinclair and "The Custody of the Child" by Sir Philip Gibbs, the German serial rights of Booth Tarkington's "Us" and the Czecho-Slovakian rights of Gene Stratton-Porter's "A Girl of the Limberlost", have all recently been sold. "Blanco y Negro", the Spanish magazine, has acquired the serial rights of Howard Carter's story of "The Tomb of Tutankhamen".
The Tauchnitz Continental Library has made some interesting acquisitions, which include Rose Macaulay's "Orphan Island", Zane Grey's "The Thundering Herd", and "The Son of Tarzan" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
many to appear in print. M. Bellessort has an admirable biographical gift; in addition, his critical survey is not impaired by his ardent admiration.
Balzac's output was enormous: in four years he produced fifteen or sixteen volumes, at least thirty short stories, and a vast amount of daily journalism; and his best work was to come later. His industry was equaled only by his ambition. M. Bellessort's book gives us a vivid picture of Balzac the man as well as Balzac the novelist, and one hopes it may lead to an increased critical appreciation of Honoré de Balzac in his own country.
IN THE BOOKMAN'S MAIL
I work weeks, and sometimes months, on a short story. Sometimes the idea for a short story is carried around by me for years before I feel that it is sufficiently developed to take the written form. Why should take this story which I sweat blood to write and reap the benefit of its book publication? If he is going to continue to publish an annual book of short stories written by others, he should be made to share his profits equally among the writers contributing to his book. .. I think the whole symposium and anthology practice is bunk. It is on the increase. It should be stopped.
I am not defending the compiler of short stories. I believe Miss Ferber is partially right, at least from the commercial standpoint. I am not a reader of short stories, agreeing with Samuel McChord Crothers that "the short story is invented for people who want a literary quick lunch". I am not a writer cannot write a poem, an essay or a story. I am a reader, pure and simple. When I take into my hand a book to read my first impulse is a caress, because I love a book, its paper, cover, the printer's ink and all. Then I turn to the preface, if it contains one. Often I find there some gem of thought worth preserving. That gives me the key to the book, where I feel sure there are more gems awaiting me. I am rarely disappointed. These I call my thought breeders. As a booklover I emphatically echo the thought expressed by Christopher Morley in his "Pipefuls":
There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import. Even as the tranced swain, the booklover yearns to tell others of his bliss. He writes letters about it, adds it to the postscript of all manner of communications, intrudes it into telephone messages, and insists on his friends writing down the title of the find. Like the simplehearted betrothed, once certain of his conquest, "I want you to love her, too!"
Take the viewpoint of a compiler: He pays his two dollars for a book and absorbs it. It becomes his. It has gone out of the hands of the author into the hands of the reader without whom the book would be useless! He finds fresh thought in that book and jots it down for future study. Such thought broadens one, gives depth to character. As he continues reading he
accumulates these valuable selections the very epitome of the author's thought life; and in time finds that he has the "makings" of many volumes of quotations. Shall he keep these to himself, giving perhaps occasionally to friends who chance to know of his rich stores? Perhaps a demand comes from others who have little time to read - cannot hope to read the full works of these great master minds. His longing is always to share this beauty with all who need it and the world does need all the beauty it can get.
I have always been a compiler of quotations, and have been importuned by educators, students, clergymen, public speakers, public men and women everywhere, to make accessible to the general reader these treasuries of thought. Are books of quotations to be included in Miss Ferber's bunk"? If so I am wrong in trying to help humanity to find beauty in the works of great writers, including those of Miss Ferber herself.
There is something to be said for the anthologist. Think what the world readers would miss without William Stanley Braithwaite's annual "Anthology of Magazine Verse" or Marguerite Wilkinson's book "New Voices", with their exquisite prefaces and bits of interpretation adding beauty to poetry.
It takes two to make a book: its writer and its reader. As Gerald Stanley Lee says in his "The Lost Art of Reading" (page 121):
The orator and the listener, the writer and the reader, in proportion as they become alive to one another, come into the same spirit- the spirit of mutual listening and utterance. At the very best, and in the most inspired mood, the reader reads as if he were a reader and writer both, and the writer writes as if he were a writer and reader both.
If the prime object of the writer is money -royalties - his book is short lived, isn't it? But if he has a message, irrespective of money, then his is a true book and it belongs to us all! The reader appropriates its message and passes it on to others. Henry Seidel Canby, in his Second Series of "Definitions" (page 188), makes clear this relationship between writing and reading:
Too much is said about writing, and not enough of reading. It would seem that whereas only a few can write well and those only when they are prodded until their brains turn over at the proper speed, anyone who can spell can read. Not at all. There are 10,000 bad readers for every bad author, and if the number of good readers in proportion to the good writers proves to be as much as 500 to one the Authors' League should give
DE I tried to publish a newspaper in my
home town but I was unable to get the
doing so and regardless of any "emotional influence" I might be exerting? May I repeat the question of the junior clerk, with a slight variation: "The doctor may think all those things, but, tell me, why should he write it down?'
ONE OF US WOMEN.
DEAR MR. FARRAR:
people interested enough to advertise and MY Is there any one thing in the writing therefore could not get the money needed to start the enterprise. So, this is what I did:
First, I secured a wooden picture frame in which I placed a cardboard that was large enough for 12 regular typewriting sheets (3 across and 4 down). The news and the editorials were then typewritten on these sheets which were after pasted on the cardboard.
This "framed up" newspaper I hung up on a pole in front of the local post office. While waiting for their mail, the townspeople gathered before the pole and read the paper. Twice a week I placed in the frame a new cardboard with new news. At first I also placed a glass in the frame to protect the news from the winds; but that proved too great a temptation for the town kids. They would have no news under cover! So, believing that the boys' will was more determined than the winds' will, I removed the glass.
But, when I began to "expose things", the "old folks" took to throwing stones. Everything went well for a while: I launched many daring and futile campaigns for better curbings, paved streets, a library and scholarships, etc. Then, one day, I read Edgar Lee Masters's "Spoon River". The next day my news poster" was devoted entirely to a writeup entitled "Local Characters Caricatured". Yes that was the end! I am now safely 150 miles away from that town and am looking for a job. Can you help me?
(I am 21 years old.)
Y DEAR MR. FARRAR:
Would Mr. McFee's Doctor (see "The Lady and the Carpet"- March BOOKMAN), if he saw me reading THE BOOKMAN on the deck of his steamer, decide that I was consciously "acquiring culture", "seeking self expression "improving" myself, "dramatizing" my "personality", being a "highbrow female" or merely another one of those "intense spinsters"? Do you suppose the thought would occur that I (heaven forfend!) was reading it, as usual, just because I enjoy
world more difficult to achieve than a foursquare biography?
I found Mr. Steuart's "Robert Louis Stevenson" very easy reading, but throughout the two volumes I was conscious of a loss an intangible something that summed itself up in the feeling that a true biographer has need of a boundless affection for his subject and a rare talent for creating a bond of understanding between the reader and himself. Such a compelling combination will enable them to stand loyally by a mutual friend while dissecting his life in order to make it whole.
I do not doubt Mr. Steuart's sincerity, but his method of presentation of his material seems to me to lack the power to express the deep feeling that should sponsor it. It is difficult to understand why such stress is placed on writing, as a piece of new knowledge (for the general public), that Stevenson was not an example to be emulated in every way by young men. The average person, who has read Stevenson's non-fiction, has never felt that he was a model or that R. L. S., himself, wished to create such an erroneous impression.
Mr. Steuart's greatest fault is a lack of proportion, as in his conception of Stevenson's mother. It seems to me a lamentable error to convey the impression that the relationship between mother and son was one of close companionship. Who is there who doesn't wish it were true? But, with next to no evidence, false chivalry toward the mother is injustice to the son. Stevenson been blessed with such helpful mother-understanding, what a different life in some ways his might have been. I recall from memory a letter to Mrs. Sitwell in which R. L. S. wrote that a child of lovers was an orphan — surely a cry from a lonely heart.
Persons who have never read Stevenson will, doubtless, find Mr. Steuart's biography of interest; that larger body of appreciators who have read everything available concerning R. L. S. will find a few new items; but up to date, the true Stevenson with all his faults and vibrant charm is to be found in his own Letters, Verses and Essays.
E. F. JOHNSON.
EAR MR. FARRAR:
As a technician would put it, “What motivating influence makes us buy a book?" THE BOOKMAN puts the question editorially, "How Sell, Why Buy?" As one engaged in the "literature of commerce", advertising, or as some wit put it, "that other field of fiction", I interrupt the day's dull drudgery at the desk's dry wood to mount my hobby in reply.
We read books either because they bring into our lives emotions, sensations, or qualities with which we would have had kind Providence endow us more liberally, or because we live vicariously in them the kind of life which circumstance, environment, conscience, physique, or chronology denies us. We buy books because, by the act of possessing, we make more wholly our own the cherished qualities which the book crystallizes for us, or the facts it brings to us.
An advertisement for a new book by a new author need be no less successful than one which features a writer of fame already established. Books are bought for their context. A writer's name may be used to add lustre to the context appeal. But it's not nearly so much a question of "What's Hergesheimer's or Rinehart's latest", as it is this: what's a good mystery story, detective story, romance, historical novel, western story? What's a good work on political economy, biology, radio, biography? How you answer these questions with advertising is more important than flocking big names to your bindings.
Sampling is one of the most potent forms of getting a product across. For many commercial articles, this form of advertising is too expensive. I don't think Charles Schwab has yet found it feasible to give a Southern American country a sample battleship with the hope that it will produce an order for a fleet. But, as John B. Stetson Company brought out in one of the most effective sales aids ever printed, "Getting your product into the prospect's hand is a large part of 'Making Headway Selling Hats'. The same is not only true of books, but a thousand per cent simplified in selling books.
You can give a sample of the context of
a book in an advertisement. you can often dramatize the sample you select with an illustration. One of the biggest shortcomings of today's book advertising is the lack of dramatization, either in words or with art.
The major appeal in selling a book is emotional. A favorite ingredient of the commercial advertising writer's copy is so called "reason why" text matter. In most of the books to be sold, the appeal is not to the intellect or the reasoning powers but to the emotions. Visualize and dramatize - these should be the guiding shibboleths of the book publisher's "ad"-ept.
Picture a thrilling situation, hairbreadth escape, tense moment, a climax typical of the character of reading the book promises to deliver. Quote the suitable passage descriptive of the illustration, as your headline. Build up on the appeal of incident or plot in your advertisement context, whet appetite with a taste of terror intensified, clinch action with urge.
That's one way to do it. But how to dramatize biography, political economy, poetry, biology? Let us suppose the biography is of Napoleon. How many people know that had Napoleon not refused Fulton's offer of his steamboat invention, he might have successfully crossed the Channel and invaded England? That suggests new information and new angles on Napoleon. Lead off your ad with it, then. Political economy? How many people know that an early plan in this country's history was to make George Washington King of America, and that he not only refused but broke and disgraced the man who had the movement under way? Suppose a book promises such unusual revelations of blocs, subtle movements and bureaucracy as this - have you not dramatized its appeal? Any subject lends itself to this method of exploitation. At the same time, the advertisement itself takes on the aspect of informative literature. It does not set up the reader resistence to claims made and the atmosphere of selfishness which are usual factors in commercial advertising.
F. ROMER, President, Samson Service.