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that if he escaped being sent to Bethlehem Hospital, which was vulgarly called Bedlam, he is entitled to our belated congratulations.

When Mr. Bruce ceases to be annoying about adjectives, he is sometimes amusing and often amazing. "William Blake had the neurotic's need for dependence on someone outside himself." Aneurotic is an individual who has some nervous disorder or disease, functional or organic. A typical nervous disorder is migraine, sick headache. I could easily enumerate a score of the world's great men and women who have been thus afflicted. What was their need for dependence on someone outside themselves? "He had the neurotic's sense of time." What can that possibly be? Was it the sense of time that Dostoyevsky had just before the convulsions that attended his epileptic attacks appeared. Dostoyevsky was a neurotic one of the most typical that ever lived, perhaps. He maintained that the few seconds previous to the motor manifestation of an attack were a timeless eternity. If it lasted another fractional part of a second, he could not possibly survive it. Did William Blake have this kind of sense of time?

He could not tolerate a pedantic, pretentious, stupid, pachydermatous

patron, William Hayley. According to Sinclair Lewis there are only two races of people, the neurotic and the stupid: William Hayley was stupid, William Blake was neurotic. At least, it can be said of this reasoning that it offers a better foundation for Mr. Bruce's thesis than that which he has heretofore provided.

William Blake was a happy man, for he believed in himself. He was a lucky man his wife believed in him. He was a courageous man; he threw a trespassing sailor, emboldened by strong drink, out of his garden and was tried for high treason. Yet he patiently tolerated the inquisitive visits of the greatest bore of his time, Crabb Robinson, without even threat of assault. He did not get his just deserts from his contemporaries, but posterity has more than made up for their niggardliness, and Mr. Bruce has given posterity a leg up. Had he dwelt more on the value and significance of Blake's art and less on his "neurosis" he would have served us better. But his book is a snappy, concise, readable account of a man who had faith in himself and who, finally, compelled others to acknowledge his merit.

William Blake in This World. By Harold Bruce. Harcourt, Brace and Co.

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The Publishing Season

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"Listening in" — Popularity Max Beerbohm The Most Popular Authors in England R. M. Ballantyne - A Duel between D. H. Lawrence and Norman Douglas - New Volumes for the “English Men of Letters" Series.

LONDON, June 1, 1925.

T is possible to look at the spring publishing season with a kind of definiteness at this stage; and I regret to say that it has been a bad one. A few good books have been issued, but the sales of all books have been poor. From every side I hear the same tale, and I am told that even the best selling class has sold less well than was to have been expected. The cross word puzzle is in some quarters blamed, and in others the wireless, although I think the real cause may be that old books have been read more than new ones. Personally, I have not done any cross word puzzles, and upon a few occasions I have listened with a good deal of impatience to the wireless; but books have been the mainstay of my leisure hours during this season as they have been in other seasons. Most of my reading, however, has been of old books. This, not solely in order to save money, but because the new books did not seem to me to be specially attractive. I am therefore inclined to blame the new books for their own lack of success. But I must not forget to include among the reasons for a bad season one which was given to me by a publisher. He said that new books were not selling because the public taste had deteriorated. This sounds rather like the change in human nature which Mrs. Woolf recently discovered to have taken place in or about the year 1910.


I said just now that I had listened in upon several occasions with discontent. One reason for this discontent is that the circumstances under which I have listened have been less favorable than those enjoyed by others. What in England are called "atmospherics" have interfered with the transmission; and a great deal of Morse dotting and dashing will spoil one's enjoyment of the finest program in the world. thought that I should like to hear Mr. Chesterton speak about Sadler's Wells Theatre, that I should like to hear Mr. Squire read some modern poetry, that I should like to hear Mr. Gilligan tell something about the conditions of cricket in Australia. I listened to all three, but without satisfaction. Mr. Chesterton spoke clearly and characteristically, but one missed the swaying motion of his body and the cheerful solemnity of his demeanor. His voice sounded deeper than usual. Mr. Squire's selection of poems was perhaps a little lugubrious, or his manner of reciting the poems was a little gloomy, or perhaps I wanted my dinner. At any

rate, although I thought the notion of giving the poems a good one, I was not uplifted by the occasion as I ought to have been. have been. Mr. Gilligan was a disappointment. He told listeners nothing that they did not know already, and he did it in a sort of journalese which I found painful. I do not know what I expected of Mr. Gilligan, who is a cricketer and not a lecturer, but I

thought we might have had a really personal effort. Mr. Chesterton I have heard so often in the flesh that it may be I expected too much of him. Mr. Squire I thought might have been less serious than he was. From these experiences, and from an attempt to hear understandingly a selection from "Hamlet" given by Mr. Barrymore and others, I am prepared to say that Bernard Shaw's threat to theatrical managers that unless they looked about a little more the ordinary playgoer would prefer to hear his plays over the wireless rather than go to the trouble of visiting the theatre at all, seems to me to be nonsensical. Mr. Shaw has evidently not grasped the fact that people go to the theatre not only to see a play but to put on their best clothes, to dine at a restaurant, and to see the world in the remaining stalls of the theatre. Moreover, it was quite impossible to grasp what was happening while "Hamlet" was being performed. The Poet Laureate, by the way, said in the preface to his latest anthology of poetry that common humanity would learn the best manner of English speech by hearing English spoken in the best manner over the wireless. In this the Poet Laureate was in error. Apart from the speakers whom I have mentioned, all of whom were men of some reverence for the English language, the pronunciations. I have heard over the wireless have been exceedingly queer. They have not been pure at all and in fact such mispronunciations as "perinotitis", "athaletic," "guvverment", "reppertwah", and "preppertory" (all of which have been heard during the last few months, along with others which I do not recall) tell against the Poet Laureate's theory. Something better will have to be done if intelligent readers of books are to be lured from their preference. No; on the whole I

think the books must be blamed for their own lack of success. The considerable sales of such works as "The Constant Nymph", "A Passage to India", and "Those Barren Leaves" make it appear that a good book can still have a public.

I am not saying that all books which sell well are good, or that all good books sell well. It does happen that some good work does not immediately appeal to minds of its own age. But I think there may be some cant about the whole question of sales. Books are like men. Some of them are more popular than others. Our friends find us likable for different reasons, and we do not appeal to all men as we appeal to our friends. Some people, in fact, find us the reverse of agreeable. I was talking to a man the other day about a well known English critic. I objected that this critic's manners were distasteful to me. I said that he was personally rude, and that I did not enjoy the company of rude people, since to me a degree of courtesy is an essential of any polite intercourse. My friend, who condemned the critic as a writer, replied to my criticisms of the critic as a man by saying that he was "a rough diamond". Now this rough diamond does no doubt displease by his demeanor many who would be ready to respect his integrity if he were not so harsh in manner. His work, which is more mannerly than his normal carriage, would no doubt attract readers more than it does if he had the grace of some other critics. It is on the whole able and sincere work, but it is not attractive. Accordingly, it is not very popular. There is a dryness about it which does not please. This dryness, however, is no more deliberate than is the charm of many other writers. Is

it not a fact that in all cases we are attracted or repelled by the personality of the writer rather than by any virtue or wisdom in the work itself? I think this may account for the relative rewards (in the sense of popularity) of writers whose talents are not altogether incomparable. As for myself, I find Shakespeare an attractive writer, and I should read his plays if they were much less commendable than they are. I find A. A. Milne an attractive writer. I find Sterne and Jane Austen and Remizov, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Chesterton, attractive writers. There is something in all these writers which touches a vein in me which is the natural vein. Some other writers I admire more than one or two of those I have named; but if I had my way (that is, if all or a great number thought as I think) these writers would be the most popular writers in the world. They are not the most popular writers in the world. Other people have different tastes. Therefore, when I write analytically, I have to say that I think these writers are good writers. "Good" is a term which means what the reader makes of it, and I expect that I instinctively take precautions not to suggest that my favorite writers (those with whom I have temperamentally most kinship) are the best writers in the world. As a rule, they are writers whose particular kind of humor I most relish. Other people do not relish them. I know one esteemed critic at the present time who abominates Jane Austen. I have seen people walk out of the theatre during the performance of plays by both Mr. Shaw and Mr. Milne. I have no doubt that Mr. Chesterton and Sterne and Remizov are all disliked by a section of their readers. Accordingly, I suggest that since it is the personality of each of these writers which produces its effect, it is that personality which creates pop

ularity or the reverse in the men and in the work which they produce. Any other explanation will have my respectful attention, but until a better notion is brought to my notice I shall persist in thinking that unpopularity is caused by some unattractiveness in the personality of the writer, some lack of charm. It is thus beyond our control, and popularity and unpopularity will continue to arise, not from the æsthetic interest of any man's work but from the peculiar radiations of the author's personality.

Take, for example, Max Beerbohm. One has only to glance at any newspaper at this moment, one has only to visit the Leicester Galleries, to be assured that Mr. Beerbohm has the sympathetic and charmed attention of a considerable and representative part of the British public. The new exhibition of his caricatures is a big success. The drawings, in the majority of cases, are already sold. Everywhere, "Max's" arrival in London in connection with his show has been greeted with a kind of writing which could spring only from affection. The one discordant note has been struck by Sir Owen Seaman in "Punch". Sir Owen objects to Mr. Beerbohm's "malice". Aside from the fact that Sir Owen Seaman's writing always strikes me as being full of that very quality, and therefore as something less humorous than it should be, I must draw attention to the fact that nobody else seems to have noticed "Max's" malice. I have myself seen the exhibition of cartoons, and most of them are the most friendly, laughing little exaggerations anybody could wish to see. My comment upon them would be that they are rather too much like small, polite family jokes (if family jokes can be im

agined ever to be polite) to have any true importance. I agree that the political cartoons are the worst, but that is because Mr. Beerbohm is evident`v not a politician. Indeed, the carica

re of Lord Milner, to which Sir Owen Seaman particularly draws attention, is probably the most meaningless of all the drawings to be seen at the Leicester Galleries. It has a slight astringency (almost, possibly, a bitterness) which I did not notice anywhere else. A friend who went with me to the exhibition said, of the drawing of Sir William Joynson Hicks, "I have sat opposite that man on a committee for months, and it is not in the smallest degree like him." The inference was that Mr. Beerbohm did not know Sir William Joynson Hicks, and had depended solely upon photographs or descriptions for his models. The same might be said of all his political subjects. They are not like the originals, because Mr. Beerbohm has never seen the originals. Similarly, in many cases, they are not appropriate, because Mr. Beerbohm has obtained his political knowledge by hearsay. It is impossible for a man to live far from England and to keep in touch with the feeling of the country or even with the appearance of its citizens. Take the portraits of Bernard Shaw. It is clear that Mr. Beerbohm has not recently seen Mr. Shaw. The drawings are not in the least like him. One of them shows Mr. Shaw incredibly burly. He remains in fact the same thin wiry figure that he always was, but Mr. Beerbohm, dreaming in Rapallo, has put flesh upon Mr. Shaw's bones, and he is forgiven. The actual drawing in several of the cartoons is terrible. Beerbohm's drawing has always been his own, and it does not improve. There are probably not half a dozen caricatures in the whole gallery which reveal him at his artistic or whimsical


best. And yet it is a delight to look at these drawings. It is delightful to con the little jokes, so devoid of sting and so goodnaturedly funny. Mr. Beerbohm is having a good "press", and he is having steady gatherings of the public each day. The catalogue of the exhibition is in itself likely to become a treasure, so charming is it to recall the delicate text which appears under each picture and which is reprinted in the catalogue. And the reason of it all is that Mr. Beerbohm has succeeded in getting the whole of the press, and the whole of that section of the public which can be reached by such subjects as interest Mr. Beerbohm, to accept his personality. He does not pander to the public. He does not put this in or that for the purpose of pleasing any special taste but his own. His cartoons are nearly all of men he has already caricatured as frequently as he has any need to do. And yet we are his servants. For how long? I shall not venture to prophesy. I shall only note that there is a charming (though not especially veracious) sketch of Lytton Strachey, that the Arnold Bennett and George Moore are as good as ever, and that the Sitwells make a notably successful first appearance. The drawing of the two Sitwell brothers, indeed, is held by some to be the best thing in the exhibition. I shall neither accept nor contradict this, but at least it shows that Mr. Beerbohm can really catch a likeness when he has seen the persons whom he is depicting. The point I want to make is that whether his caricatures are good or less good, Mr. Beerbohm is very much liked by many people who have never seen him, who have never seen the originals of his caricatures, and who do not really think his caricatures are as good (particularly the political caricatures) as those of David Low, the Australian cartoonist whose work appears regu

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