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him with Mary Austin after 'Main Street'; and he gave me 'Babbitt'."
Table-Talk of G. B. S., Conversations on Things in General between George Bernard Shaw and His Biographer. By Archibald Henderson. Harper and Bros.
HENRY JAMES DISSECTED
AN WYCK BROOKS is a sensi
tive, scholarly, sympathetic student of literature. In his new book he attempts to explain why Henry James made a failure of life. If it be urged that the word "failure" is too strong, then why, during the last years of his life, did Henry James express frequently to his friends a dissatisfaction with his accomplishments, and allow the world, which was interested in him, to discern that it had not brought him the beer and skittles that he had anticipated - yes, let us say it boldly that he deserved?
Mr. Brooks would have us believe that Henry James had a delusion which conditioned his conduct: that somewhere in the world he could find a cordial, inviting culture; a people who would have urbanity, understanding, and charm; an arena from which vulgarity of speech and conduct were not only rigorously excluded but would die of inanition did they succeed in getting in; where there would be no jostling, elbowing, or hurrying; where no one was better than his neighbor; where boasting was barred and boosting prohibited; a land where every prospect pleased and not even man was vile; the ideal land for which no one searches. Then Mr. Brooks thrusts an illusion on him as well, an optical illusion: he sees England as such a land.
We are asked to believe that after
nursing this delusion for more than a quarter of a century, and after having lived intimately with the illusion for a similar period, the cloud began to lift from James's mind, the scales to drop from his eyes. The delusion gradually left him and the illusion faded and vanished. Then his mind became the prey of a question: whether he might not have developed more harmoniously and survived more effectively had he remained in America. The question obsessed him and, strangely enough, since obsessions do not usually condition deliberate conduct, it compelled him to formulate a plan to "go back to America, to retrace the past, to see for himself, to recover on the spot some echo of ghostly footsteps, the sound as of taps on the window-pane heard in the glimmering dawn". He had been in cotton wool too long, he must experience some of the perils of exposure, otherwise he would succumb to the first draft; moreover, he was hungry for material, for an "all-round renovation of his too monotonized grab-bag"; he needed shocks.
Had I not such a high regard for Mr. Brooks as author and interpreter, I should reply to him as M'liss did to the school examiner who sought to humble her beloved school teacher by posing the question: "Has the sun ever stood still in the heavens?" But since I have such esteem of him, of his sincerity and artistry, I content myself with saying, "It is not true." To bring Mr. Hueffer (I assume he means Ford Madox Ford) forward to give corroborative testimony does not bolster up the case. Mr. Ford is a discredited witness; his reputation for veracity has had a tremendous dent put in it recently by Mrs. Conrad. I am in as favorable position to give testimony as even Mr. Gosse. When Henry James made this back" attempt which Mr. Brooks
elaborates in the chapter entitled “The Altar of the Dead", the arterial disease to which he finally succumbed had already so progressed as to give to give great anxiety and concern to his intimates. He put himself under my professional care and I saw him at close range nearly every day for two months; I talked with him or listened to him on countless subjects. I believe that it would not have been possible for him to harbor and essay the plan that Mr. Brooks credits him with having, or to ruminate on it as Mr. Brooks says he did, without my having become aware of its existence in his mind.
Henry James did not dislike America, but the people he met here with few exceptions did not interest him, and most of them annoyed him, sometimes to the point of explosion. He had had many pleasant experiences in Italy and in France, and he treasured them as a prima donna treasures programs and testimonials. He often took them from the strongboxes of his memory and reinvoked the pleasurable sensations that he had had in acquiring them. Above everything in the world he valued good form, and all that it implies: good taste, good manners, good breeding, good conduct. He had convinced himself from taking thought and from experience that it was to be had in England, even without the asking. He took his tree of life there and planted it and only one root developed, the social root. The political, the scholastic, the religious, the Marathon roots, did not develop. In other words, the roots that make the tree of life so admiration-compelling in England did not grow from the tree that Henry James planted there. The tree that did grow was, however, sturdy and majestic. It has given shade and protection to many travelers since its full growth. The man who planted it assured so far
as he could its permanency by making a few months before his death the supreme genuflection to the country of his adoption. He forfeited citizenship in the country of his birth and obtained citizenship in the country that had sheltered him during the years of his fruition. How could any such thesis as that of Mr. Brooks be maintained in view of this last great gesture of Henry James, and why is it not mentioned in a book that aims to describe his pilgrimage?
To uphold as a major thesis that, by forsaking the land of his birth, he had not given an adequate earnest of his talent, that he had failed to saturate himself with life, that in his old age he found himself astray in the gloomy wood, and that "it had been too much for him over there", must appear contrary to common sense or sound judgment to anyone who knew Henry James, who admired him as an artist and loved him as a man.
Is it not natural that a sensitive man, supremely susceptible to the seductiveness of society, should, when the pulse of life begins to intermit, dwell upon the terrors of loneliness, become apprehensive of a future that would find him bereft of the sympathy that is the balm of life, of that understanding which is the support of the inelastic artery? Henry James knew that such society, sympathy, and staff were in Cambridge, that they were composited in the family of his brother William, that he might have to go to them, as we all have to go to the spring if there is no one to bring us the water.
Any pilgrim who sets out on a journey may properly anticipate the necessities of life even though he does not take them with him, but it would be fatuous for him to hope for the comforts, and beyond belief that he should expect the luxuries. Henry James in
his pilgrimage found the necessities, the comforts, and the luxuries, and we can never be sufficiently grateful to the country of his adoption for having given them to him without the asking.
The Pilgrimage of Henry James. By Van Wyck Brooks. E. P. Dutton and Co.
THE WORLD'S DIARY By James Melvin Lee
ITERATURE dealing with world's diary as the newspaper may quite correctly be described was most scant and jejune until journalism was added to the curriculum of many of the universities. This fertile field, which has so long lain fallow, is now being tilled.
William S. Maulsby of the University of Iowa turns over one furrow in "Getting the News". Some of his chapters do not go very deep, but those dealing with the eye for news and the selection of a background turn up practical material for the members of the working press. Other chapters outlining the way a modern newspaper gets its entries for the world's diary will interest lay readers. The chapter "How to Handle a Beat" reaches subsoil. A blue pencil would have helped the text materially.
Another furrow was turned over by M. Lyle Spencer of the University of Washington. His furrow, editorial rather than reportorial, is called "Editorial Writing". In addition to discussing editorial composition he outlines somewhat in detail different types, such as the interpretative editorial, the human interest editorial, the controversial editorial, and the editorial paragraph. ("Salt and pepper" is the term used in a newspaper office to describe the type last mentioned.) The edi
torial page is considered, not only from the viewpoint of policy, but also from that of mechanical makeup. A bibliography of collections of editorials is given in the appendix. Mr. Spencer has plowed a straight furrow.
Nelson A. Crawford, of Kansas State Agricultural College, calls his furrow "The Ethics of Journalism". As its title implies, it aims to set professional standards to regulate the material given in the world's diary. The volume is stimulating, and is a distinct contribution to the literature of the subject, even though it does take too seriously without confirmation the charges brought by Upton Sinclair in "The Brass Check".
Henry W. Sackett of the Pulitzer School of Journalism endorses rather highly the work of Samuel Arthur Dawson, a young student to whom was assigned the task of plowing the furrow "The Freedom of the Press". Occasionally Mr. Dawson lifts his plow and carries it over a piece of hardpan. But he had a long furrow to trace: the story of "qualified privilege", not only in this country, but also in England. At the end of the furrow he found that freedom of the press is a requisite of democracy.
Casper S. Yost, the editor of the St. Louis "Globe-Democrat" and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, has gone over the field with a harrow in "The Principles of Journalism". He devotes several chapters to the getting and handling of news, gives two chapters to the editorial page and the responsibility of the editor, and sets aside a chapter for the freedom of the press with another one for ethics of journalism. Without belittling his work elsewhere I may state that he is at his best when dealing with editorial policy and editorial construction.
By special invitation Ivy L. Lee addressed the American Association of Teachers of Journalism on the general subject of publicity and propaganda. One half of his furrow, "Publicity", is this address; and the second half is his address, delivered before the American Electric Railway Association, which dealt with publicity as applied to public service. Glancing down this furrow, one can see that the essential evil of propaganda is failure to disclose the source of information.
With the field plowed, harrowed, and planted, Joseph Anthony has gathered a rich harvest, so to speak, in "The Best News Stories of 1923". In the preparation of this volume he invited some 400 newspaper editors to submit examples of their best news stories. In this and other ways he tried to give every newspaper full opportunity to offer entries. The stories selected seem to prove that the difference between journalism and literature is simply a matter of classification.
By way of a postscript I might add that Mordecai Soltes spades up interesting material in "The Yiddish Press". Making a special study of some 1,500 editorials, he found that two thirds of them dealt with American issues. announces the somewhat startling fact that constant readers of these editorials are found, for the most part, among the laboring class. He calls attention to the large amount of space given in the Yiddish press to a discussion of industrial problems. He believes that the Yiddish newspapers will disappear when other papers print more Jewish
In the limited space at my disposal I have had to write in headlines in order to cover the ground. The mere number of books which are published on different phases of journalism is rather a positive proof of the interest of the
HERE is a boy I don't know his name who is today idly and rather impatiently turning the pages of Upton Sinclair's "Mammonart". He is about eighteen years old, and he knows that he is going to be a writer some day. He is in rebellion against the world in which he lives, but he does not understand the nature of that rebellion; or rather, he interprets his emotions according to the aesthetic fashion of the moment. That is to say, he thinks of himself as a rebel against Puritanism, not against Capitalism. His defiance of tyranny would never conceivably take the form of getting arrested for joining with striking waiters to picket a restaurant; it takes the form, rather, of paying excessive prices for teacupfuls of bad gin in such restaurants. He is indifferent to economics, scornful of politics, and utterly bored by moralists of all sorts. He is an artist. He feels within himself great powers struggling to come to utterance. And he is right in thinking of himself as an extraordinary person.
He has been endowed with sensitive perceptions, deep emotions, and the gift of expression and these are rare. He is among those who will be our American writers of the immediate future. He has not written much of anything yet, except perhaps a few things confessedly imitative, a tribute to the newest influences in the literary world.
The truth is, he has not yet found himself, and his mind is in a muddle. He doesn't quite know what he wants to do. It is a symptom of his secret uncertainty that he finds himself reading "Mammonart" today instead of "Ulysses". He is rather ashamed to be reading "Mammonart" almost as
much so as if it were the Family Bible. He would not like to be caught reading it by his sophisticated friends. He had always understood that Upton Sinclair was a "propagandist", and what is worse, a Puritan. He is only condescending to read it now because he has seen it praised in ridiculously enthusiastic terms by somebody like Floyd Dell-who, though apparently become sadly reactionary in his middle age, nevertheless did write a novel which was suppressed by the censorship, and is therefore entitled to some respect from the young. But, reading "Mammonart", the boy shakes his head, and yawns. "This will never do!"
It is true, the boy reflects, the book has gusto, and a turbulent, reckless humor a kind of cosmic satire which has its affinities with Anatole France in his later period. It might be, but for its obvious animus, a scandalous masterpiece, this irreverent history of literature and its makers, in which unmentionable matters are mentioned in plain terms, and the part played by them in the lives of some of our eminent men of letters not glossed over; yes, and
hypocrisy and cowardice exposed in plenty among the dwellers on Parnassus. But the book is so directly purposeful - the author is not doing this for the sheer fun of it, "as an artist should", nor even to shock the bourgeoisie. Upton Sinclair has a theory, a very disturbing theory about the relation of art to economics; and finally, he has a purpose in life, to which he wants to convert everybody in general and young writers in particular. "Upton Sinclair is too Puritanical, that's what's the matter!"
It isn't that he believes in conventional morality for he doesn't; his ideas on sex are as radical and subversive as his ideas on politics. But he isn't tolerant! He doesn't believe, as a genuinely freeminded person must nowadays, in letting everybody go to hell in his own sweet way. No, he believes in something, and wants young writers to believe in something; he wants them to be courageous about their beliefs. He wants them, among other things, to respect themselves because they are writers; to understand what their relation to society is, why they have their difficulties, and why nevertheless they must go on telling the truth in what they write. In a word, Upton Sinclair wants them to behave like heroes, instead of like bums. He is eloquent and savage and funny and grimly sad about the matter. It seems to hurt his feelings to see the persons who can as he thinks interpret life's best values to the world, idly proceed to entangle themselves in the very sillinesses they despise, and eventually destroy themselves with meaningless dissipations. Upton Sinclair does not hesitate to speak of "virtue" and of "religion": "Let me put it briefly," he says, "that some day there will be yet another generation, which will realize that no man can get along