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public thanks, for the right kind of reader enters sympathetically into the very purpose of the book he possesses, shares its emotions, and plucks out its thoughts. He is rare.
EMMA ERWIN COOLEY.
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.
I tried to publish a newspaper in my home town but I was unable to get the
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 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" 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.
DEAR 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.
THE GOSSIP SHOP
WO American poets within
month reached the age of fifty: Percy MacKaye and Robert Frost. Both, curiously enough, have at one time or another taken New Hampshire as their home. Both have studied mountain peoples as a basis for some of their work, Mr. MacKaye in Kentucky, Mr. Frost in Vermont and New Hampshire. Here are two men who have had a notable influence in American letters, as their friends and admirers told them at various dinners given to celebrate their half century of attainment. Mr. MacKaye has done much for amateur theatricals by his great interest in the little theatre movement, and his connection with pageantry. The pageants that have swept over New England have actually been of considerable service, not only as artistic expressions of community life but as developing influences toward real community feeling. His "The Scarecrow" and "The Canterbury Pilgrims" were fine pieces of work; likewise, in the opinion of many people, "This Fine-Pretty World", produced by the Neighborhood Playhouse last
He is planning now to write much more of the Kentucky peoples he has studied so assiduously. A poet of distinction and a propagandist for art and beauty is Mr. MacKaye. Robert Frost has led a far less active life. He has farmed and dreamed and indulged his desire to be a fine teacher. Slowly, the public and the critics realized that here was one of America's great poets. The Pulitzer Prize was awarded him last year for his volume, "New Hampshire". His dramatic lyrics of farm life, his poems of country places
and thoughts, are becoming well known all over this country and Europe. Not so well known, I suppose, as those of Eddie Guest - but then, you know! Frost goes now to Michigan as a permanent resident member of the faculty of that university, an arrangement made by the late President Burton, a sturdy and brilliant organizer and educator. This will give Mr. Frost the whole country, in a sense, for he was born in San Francisco and has made New England his own. Now he will be taken to the heart of the middle west, a cordial heart, to be sure. I could not but remember, as I read Sir Philip Gibbs's excellent tale, "The Reckless Lady", my experiences in Grand Rapids. Although he may be just as right in his picturing of the middle west as I am, there is room for disagreement. All luck to Mr. Frost, then, and congratulations; also to Mrs. Frost, whose grace and dignity have made a rich family life a constant aid to the progress of a poet.
Two interesting Lincoln items come to my desk, both having to do with speeches. The one is Honoré Willsie Morrow's "The Lost Speech", a short story reprinted in a most attractive book format; the other, "Lincoln's Last Speech in Springfield in the Campaign of 1858".
Campaign of 1858". The latter is published for the first time by the University of Chicago Press, with introduction and other Lincoln matter. If you like large flat books, it is one which you will find interesting. Speaking of large flat books, the loveliest of their kind lie before me, facsimile reprints by the Oxford University
Press of early English first editions. They are fine examples of printing and of taste in binding, although they are covered only with heavy marbled paper, of unusually attractive color and design. The best of them all, I think, is Pope's "Of the Characters of Women", 1735. Do you know it? I like particularly the "Advertisement", as follows. What a model of discreet writing!
The Author being very sensible how particular a Tenderness is due to the FEMALE SEX, and at the same time how little they generally show to each other; declares, upon his Honour, that no one Character is drawn from the Life, in this Epistle. It would otherwise be most improperly inscribed to a Lady, who, of all the Women he knows, is the last that would be entertain'd at the Expence of Another.
Some of our American critics were inclined to belittle "Arrowsmith", Sinclair Lewis's new novel. The obvious stand to take on it was that, having written two successes, this energetic writer would try to do the trick again and fail. If you think that he has failed you should read the English reviews of his book. (Lewis is not content to write successful books; he is a hard worker and an honest artist/ He will, I think, never write a bad book. The attitude of childish bumptiousness has never been better illustrated than in an editorial on Joseph Hergesheimer or something of the sort in the first issue of the Harvard "Crimson's" Literary Supple ment. It is smart, silly, and thoroughly worthless. The general makeup of the sheet is good, however, and there is an excellent review by Mr. Hillyer, whose winning of the Dahlia poem contest I note elsewhere. David McCord, '21, patronizes Miss Lowell's "John Keats". All in all, it is the sort of literary snobbery one would expect from a publication issued by collegiate
intellectuals. However, more power to them! We were all in their shoes once upon a time.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at first gives an impression of coldness and formality. I found myself terrified by the atmosphere of this ancient and honorable town, with its fascinating rows of old houses, with doorways that leave one breathless. Then, it has a fashion of suddenly becoming hospitable and totally winning both the heart and the imagination. It is old and it is young. It is quaint and it is proud. Here are made more umbrellas than in any other city in America. Here, too, our largest silk mill. Yet commerce does not affect the picturesqueness. A prominent lawyer takes you to his office, in the same age-old building with a fascinating bookstore (there are at least three excellent purveyors of literature in the town); and after you pass through a corridor, you find yourself in a building modern in every way, with a law library and light, airy offices. These people preserve their atmosphere, yet are determinedly up to date. There is Demuth's, the oldest tobacco store in the United States, handed down since 1770 from one Demuth to another. The original sign is preserved, but the store vies with Dunhill's on Fifth Avenue for sedate luxury. I bought a cigar from a dark haired, smiling Mr. Demuth, Jr., and was much impressed by him and by my own act. The "oldest" hardware, drug, and department stores cry out their combination of age with modernity. In the public markets are the farmers with their wares. A gander is tied to a post and does not like it. Eggs are remarkably reasonable in their baskets. The sales people themselves seem from a different world.
They are of the curious religious sects which inhabit Lancaster County, the Amish, for instance, with clothes on which it is sacrilegious to wear buttons, with habits of intermarriage which are as rigorous as they are alarming, with faces serene and sometimes beautiful. Motoring out through their country, along rolling fields of wheat (winter wheat just then covering the brown with tender green), tobacco not yet in evidence, one sees houses, two doored, twin doored rather, for the two entrances are side by side. Why? No one could answer. The window shades are bright blue; some of the houses themselves violet; and the gates painted in bright colors different from all the rest. Mennonites there are, and Dunkards. Descendants, all, of South Germans come here in preRevolutionary times. Returning to town we passed Franklin and Marshall College, and President Buchanan's home. I was told of the tomb of Rebecca Gratz, a friend of Sir Walter Scott who "lives in Ivanhoe", Mary Warfel remarked, "although she is buried in Lancaster". Then there was Miss Warfel's harp, one of the loveliest ever manufactured, on which she renders charming minuets, modern French or old English. Her brother plays the violin, and there are few lovelier combinations in music than violin and harp. Lancaster is a place which has not yet found adequate interpretation in literature. Elsie Singmaster, nearby in Gettysburg, has written delightful stories of the simple Pennsylvania folk; and Mrs. Fiske of course immortalized Helen R. Martin's "Barnabetta", dramatized as "Erstwhile Susan"; but there is still a great story waiting the right hand. Joseph Hergesheimer is not far away in West Chester.
"Uncle Sam Needs a Wife" by Ida Clyde Clarke, the brilliant writer of editorials for "Pictorial Review", opened my eyes to many things. I have known Mrs. Clarke for some years, and found her a charming and forceful woman, but I shall from now on be exceedingly timid in her presence. She is certainly a feminist. Why not, you ask? My reply is why not? Nevertheless I shall be timid. Among other things she writes a piece called "Sauce for the Goose":
What do we women really want? What would satisfy our feminine unrest, end our hectic seeking, and cool our feverish energies so that we could settle down to the business of living richly and fully our individual lives and contributing our maximum to our communities as citizens? In other words, what is the touchstone of our desire, now that public opinion has conceded that women, as well as men, have those "certain natural and inalienable rights" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence?
Before we can answer that question we have got to purge the whole situation of waste matter, of those unsound and nonconstructive theories that have so long glutted and congested our main channels of thought. When the woman movement was still young, and when only a few people had taken the time and the trouble to think things through clearly and thoroughly, any semblance of an argument was seized and held fast echoed in rhythmic phrases, adopted as a slogan, and passed along down the line to be repeated by the ever-swelling chorus of raw recruits.
Among other things, Mrs. Clarke attempts to answer this all-important question. Hers is a book with many ideas well worth considering, if they are, to a mere male, at times a trifle upsetting.
Among the visiting English novelists this season there have been few tragedies. So far they have been liked, and have been gracious enough to appear to like us. James Stephens arrived with his lilt and his dramatic method of reciting his own verses, and captured everyone. "The Crock of