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THE DRAMA SHELF
"The New Way" by Annie Nathan Meyer (French). Capably written attempt to dramatize a philosophy.
"Viewpoints in Modern Drama" by Francis K. W. Drury (American Library Association). A good check list of plays and books about plays.
"A Player Under Three Reigns" by Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson (Little, Brown). A book filled with anecdote and information by this great and dignified figure in the drama.
"Our Fellow Shakespeare" by Horace J. Bridges (Covici). Human and readable essays on old themes.
The great novelist's two shorter plays interesting study.
"Wild Birds" by Dan Totheroh (Doubleday, Page). This prize play from California has poetry in it and reads rather better than it played.
“Glamour” by Stark Young (Scribner). More of this remote critic's speculative but provocative essays.
"They Knew What They Wanted" by Sidney Howard (Doubleday, Page). The year's Pulitzer Prize play and well worthy of the prize.
"Rebel Smith" by Spencer Brodney (Siebel). A play of Australian life involving industrial as well as amatory problems.
"Dramatic Illustrations of Passages from the Second Part of 'The Pilgrim's Progress"" by Mrs. George MacDonald (Oxford). Seven scenes from the classic, as played by the MacDonald family between 1877 and 1887.
erted the usual charm for which all else must be excused her; but she was, in the midst of a French cast, not very French, and at times we feared that she was on the verge of giving Napoleon a performance of her admirable imitation of Charlie Chaplin. Eleven years ago in a small town in the middle west we saw a movie of "Madame Sans-Gêne" in which Réjane played the title rôle. She was then an old woman and the sets were of cardboard. The gardens of Fontainebleau were painted on a
backdrop and the furniture must have come out of a second hand shop on the Boulevard Raspail; but as drama it was far better stuff than New York paid five dollars a seat to witness at the Rivoli.
The Revolutionary scenes were excellently handled in Miss Swanson's picture, but they carried no more menace than the mob outside the theatre which waited in the street for three hours until the gilded doors disgorged their procession of Bendel
clothes, dyed hair, lip sticks, and other Hollywood equipment. And the court which surrounded Marie-Louise in her unhappy lifetime was a cold blooded affair in comparison to the mob of admirers which escorted Miss Swanson breathlessly to the stage at the moment of her "personal appearance".
It is no intention of ours that these remarks should be interpreted as disparaging Miss Swanson. She understands her business perfectly. She is one of the few movie stars who carry their laurels well. She has a great flair for clothes. Indeed, she is altogether admirable. It is the rest of the human race (or the ninety nine per cent of it represented by the mob outside the door and by most of the mob inside) which discourages us. The movie producers, we fear, can never do anything free from hokum so long as they must depend on this mob for the quarters and half dollars that are the red corpuscles of the industry. Certainly life in America must be pretty terrible more terrible than even Sinclair Lewis and "The Nation" would have us believe if the need for escape is as violent as this spectacle seemed to indicate.
Two books came our way during the past month which gave us unusual pleasure. One was a gem called "Se-, rena Blandish, or The Difficulty of Getting Married", ascribed to A Lady of Quality, and the other was "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf. Serena is a priceless picture of the kind of lady who has existed since the beginning of time and has a great number of sisters here among us in America. The book is laid in London and the author, whoever she may be, has every right to be described as A Lady of Quality. It is our wager that she is a lady by birth, an extremely intelligent woman, and
one to whom life offers little more in experience. It is, we might say, the only completely sophisticated book we have ever read. By its side the works of Mr. Arlen might serve as textbooks for a Sunday School class. It is related as a fable. It is well written with an admirable restraint, and it possesses a civilized humor of the sort we have seldom encountered.
As to "Mrs. Dalloway", we hesitate to recommend it carelessly, believing as we do that in order to appreciate it fully one should attend a school of some sort established to educate readers for the works of this astonishingly clever writer. In period of time the book covers, in the fashion of Mr. Joyce, the events of one day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, but the difference in the methods of Mr. Joyce and Mrs. Woolf is enormous. "Mrs. Dalloway" is a small, beautifully cut emerald and "Ulysses" is a large mass of uncut amethyst crystals. The author is a literary descendant from Henry James, twin brother in a fashion to Marcel Proust, another descendant of the Old Pretender. But here again there is a difference; Mrs. Woolf is as economical as Proust is prodigal. Her books are the distillations of a cold and brilliant intellect, while those included in "A la Recherche du Temps Perdu" are the diffuse and patterned records of a sensuous and sensitive nature.
Mrs. Woolf has developed a method of her own which, beginning vaguely with "The Voyage Out", runs through a series of novels and culminates in the crystal perfection of "Mrs. Dalloway". Much credit is due "The Dial" for the work it has done in this country in her behalf. "Mrs. Dalloway" is not "hammock novel". It requires thought and intelligence to read, but to us it seems worth any effort. We fancy that the novel of the coming generations
will be not unlike "Mrs. Dalloway", and that one might as well begin at once to understand the changes. There is an interesting pamphlet available which sets forth the credo of Mrs. Woolf. It is called "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown" and is the spark which set a fine controversy under way in London.
Not long ago we read in the "World" an article by Mr. Mencken on the regional sources of material which has come to him in the course of his editorial duties. It was a stormy article, and one which looked very bright but Idid not wash so well a thing that is true of many yards of the calico printed in Baltimore. Barring the fact that there is undoubtedly a vast amount of material which by virtue of Mr. Mencken's own loudly announced tastes is not likely even to be sent him for consideration, he was not quite fair nor very convincing. He had his usual fling in the course of the article at the barrenness of New England. What leads us into this discussion is the death, not many days afterward, of Amy Lowell, a product of this same "barren ground". Mr. Mencken, it has been said, is a critic. In this we disagree, believing him to be far more a politician (baffled perhaps in his first
youth by a leaning toward bad poetry); but that is beside the question. Granting him the title of "critic", we remain convinced that in the years to come, when Mr. Mencken is where it is no longer possible to be bumptious, it is Miss Lowell who will be remembered for her critical contributions and Mr. Mencken as a clever journalist known once as the Sage of Baltimore. Aside from her contributions to American poetry and the encouragement which extended to other and younger poets, the death of Miss Lowell is a serious loss. We have in America far too many journalists and far too few critics.
In writing this we wish to say that we do not come from New England. We are from the middle west, which the Sage of Baltimore seems on the eve of abandoning to oblivion in behalf of a south which stands girlishly on the threshold of a career rosy with a promise as brilliant as that of the Chicago school. (God rest its soul!) Chicago has been betrayed by Mr. Mencken; it is, he tells us, no longer the literary centre of America. The centre is slipping rapidly in the direction of Atlanta, home of the Ku Klux Klan.
THE BOOKMAN'S GUIDE TO FICTION
THE BOOKMAN will present each month tabloid reviews of a selected list of recent fiction. This section will include also the books most in demand according to the current reports in “Books of the Month", compiled by the R. R. Bowker Company, the Baker and Taylor Company's Retail Bookseller", and THE BOOKMAN'S Monthly Score". Such books as the editor specially recommends are marked with a star.
THE CARAWAYS George Looms Doubleday, Page. A well handled, realistic novel with an honest-to-goodness plot. (See page 587.)
ORPHAN ISLAND Rose Macaulay Boni, Liveright. Another island kingdom but with a satirical quirk that is daring.
THE MYSTERY OF RED MARSH FARM Archibald Marshall - Dodd, Mead. More remarkable for the excellent character drawing than for the negligible mystery.
*THE PAINTED VEIL-W. Somerset Maugham Doran. A psychological thriller that is as soundly written as Mr. Maugham's best.
*GOD'S STEPCHILDREN - Sarah Gertrude Millin Liveright. The marriage of missionary and Hottentot gives rise to an effective chronicle of four generations of mixed blood.
*THE MOTHER'S RECOMPENSE - Edith Wharton Appleton. Beautifully told is the age old story of mother, daughter, and the same lover.
HELEN- Edward Lucas White Doran. The Trojan flapper lives and conquers hearts anew.
BEAU GESTE - Percival C. Wren Stokes. A jewel and the three Gestes make a fantastic gesture readable.
SEA HORSES - Francis Brett YoungKnopf. Portuguese East Africa is the theatre of a romance that will appeal to a wide range of readers.