Page images
PDF
EPUB

beginning to end. Of itself, it is strong; but if the least ray of humor or modernity be allowed to touch its gloomily intense fabric, it becomes anachronistic, almost absurd. Nevertheless one must admire it as a sustained, consistent effort.

Ladislas Reymont's four volume epic of Polish rural life, "The Peasants", is a study of earthbound souls. It won for its author the 1924 Nobel Prize. It is integrated about a very ancient plot, that of "Phædra". Boryna, a small landowner, took for his second wife the prettiest of the village girls, Yagna. She was already attracted by Boryna's son, Antek, though he too was married. Antek's reciprocal passion led to a violent quarrel with his father. Thus far the tale was unfolded in the first volume, "Autumn". "Winter", just issued, brings the unnatural struggle to another climax of despair.

Antek and Yagna could not be kept apart. Antek's wife and old Boryna made common cause against the lawless lovers. The father came near to murdering his son and his young wife, by setting fire to the barn in which they met secretly. Antek was driven into sullen outlawry. Natural ties reasserted themselves when the father was injured in a contest with the local nobility over communal forest rights. Antek rushed to his father's aid, but the old man was severely injured, perhaps fatally so. At the close of the second volume, Yagna seems likely to receive the full punishment for her own sin and that of her paramour. The narrative can hardly work out to any happy ending.

A novel of great elemental force, it is occasionally overstrained. The author piles on the agony, rubs in the impression of the dirt and dumb ignorance of the peasants, makes nature not only

inimical but malicious and filthy. Even the clouds become "a black seething flood of squalor and grime". Still, it is an achievement in the grand style, a true epic.

Irving Bacheller is better at writing mildly fictionized history than Jeremiads against the younger generation. There are some quite charming pages, transcripts of wilderness scenes and pioneer domestic interiors, in "Father Abraham". And luckily, there isn't much moral indignation. Mr. Bacheller can make allowances for the sins of the fathers; it is the unripe grapes in the vineyard of the children which set his teeth on edge. A reminiscent mellowness pervades the pages of this Civil War romance, in which Abraham Lincoln figures as protagonist of the rising greatness of America.

The plot is certainly historical, not to say antique. Young Randall Hope, a New Englander by birth and middle westerner by preference, loved Nancy Thorn, daughter of a proud southern family of slave holders. The Civil War reared a red barrier between them. In the course of four weary years, Nancy was persuaded that her lover had been killed. She married a southern suitor. There wouldn't have been any happy ending if Mr. Bacheller had not commissioned a sharpshooter to pick off Nancy's husband on his wedding day. So the widowed bride came to Randall's arms honorably. It is a very arbitrary proceeding, but old fashioned moralists are apt to be highhanded. This, of course, is a very brief summary; there are many excursions and alarums, glimpses of historic incidents, and sketches of notable figures woven into the narrative with passable skill.

Sir Philip Gibbs has lately expressed a defiant pride in being classed as a journalist. "The Reckless Reckless Lady"

shows no evidence of a change of front. In it Sir Philip again surveys mankind from Monte Carlo to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with the facility and verve of a trained reporter. It is a travelogue of Europe, England, and America, the latter viewed approvingly through a Pullman window. All the catchwords of 1924 are caught in it. An international marriage furnishes the climax of the wandering story. Sylvia Fleming, daughter of a declassed English lady living on the Riviera, after various vicissitudes found a safe haven with Edward P. Hillier, heir of a Grand Rapids furniture factory. Afterward, she came near repeating her mother's mistake by running away from her too correct young husband; but thought better of it, and finally adapted herself to her new allegiance. It is amusing to observe how, in the lighter sort of English fiction, the rich American has taken the place of the long lost uncle, for the purpose of paying off mortgages and generally pensioning the poor aristocrats. Some sort of fairy godmother they must have, apparently. Philip draws a harsh indictment against his countrymen, showing so many of them as incompet、nts, parasites, or arrogant snobs. One would be sorry for Edward P. Hillier, i' he were a little more real. This is a well intentioned tale, making up in cordiality what it lacks in distinction.

Sir

[blocks in formation]

IBANEZ WRITES A BOOK

By Alan Rinehart

T was in September that word came

editions of several American newspapers, that Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Spain's most noted literary light of the present day, was about to dethrone the king, reorganize the country nearer Trotsky's heart's desire, and all by a subtle propaganda. The propaganda had to be subtle, for Ibáñez announced it was to be dropped from airplanes, and he did not want anyone, outside the king, to be hurt.

As a journalist I was delighted, and asked Ambassador Moore to send the clippings to the king; he presented them on his next visit to the palace and came back laughing. Although he would never tell me what happened, I learned from a Spanish friend later that His Majesty had read them through hastily, smiled, and remarked:

"Ah! Ibáñez must be writing another book!"

Evidently he was, for here it is, bearing the title "Alfonso XIII Unmasked". One can only say for it that it is well done, which means as a piece of writing, not as propaganda. It was only natural that the king should have resented Ibáñez's proposal to exploit him. Others, like Maurice Hewlett and George Barr McCutcheon, have done well by their kings, using them for their qualities of courage and romance, and but seldom for their villainy. But there are royalties and royalties. Ibáñez himself makes the choice when he heads his last chapter: "The King Must Go!"

Through the official channels I forwarded to the king a message that any reply he cared to make would be cabled at once, but he sent word that he wished to make none. Then un

officially he remarked, "Why should I help Ibáñez? I don't want to give him that much added publicity." So journalism went empty, and the court went on with its business, dressed in tweeds, sitting at mahogany desks, mining, investing, building roads and schools, and fighting that desultory war in the Rif.

"So often," writes Ibáñez on page nine, "after those sleepless nights, as I watched the sun rise on one of the loveliest scenes of the Côte d'Azur, I would feel a sharp twinge of remorse, as though I had committed an evil deed

I had said nothing!" But now he has said it, so he must feel better. Only it is the belief of some of us that he has done a grave injustice to a great man. Perhaps it is ridiculous that an American should be so troubled by it or should take pains to deny it; yet I have been in Spain, I think, since Ibáñez has, and undoubtedly I shall return before him! They have a military censorship there just as we had during the war, and a law against sedition.

The writer has made his attack curiously personal, as if he carried about with him a hatred of the man greater than of the king. He decries the ath

spect even as a work of fiction. "Alphonso's Ambitions" and "Alphonso's Accomplice" as chapter headings are sufficiently childishly malignant to inspire a reviewer to reply in kind. It is a grateful thought that they can do the monarch little harm.

"Alfonso?" exclaimed Ambassador Moore one day in Madrid. “Why, if

there were ever a revolution and a republic, he would be instantly elected president!"

Zuloaga, a great painter and a greater patriot, stands for the public. mind in Spain; he is happy, he wants to see no change. To illustrate his point he waved his long arms and declaimed:

"Send your tourists and business people to Madrid and to Barcelona where there is no grass! I should like to put fleas in all the trains so that nobody would come to disturb us! Why, in my beloved Segovia they even ha a hotel with a bath!"

Alfonso XIII Unmasked, The Mil**. Terror in Spain. By Vicente BRISCO Ibáñez. Translated by Te, Ogley. E. P. Dutton and Compary.

letic and sporting tendencies of Alfon- JOHN MUIR, LOV, ROF NATURE

so's younger days, forgetting entirely the fact that at seventeen a delicate boy found himself a king, and more, a ruler; and that his wise mother drove him to sport to strengthen him for the labor. Subtly, Ibáñez indicates that the court is vague in morals, neglecting to mention that any breach of law or rule among members of the court circle results in the permanent ostracism of both the man and the woman.

It is impossible, in what purports to be a book review, to make a refutation of all the matter in a book; yet Ibáñez's new publication is, for all its heralding, only a brochure; it commands no re

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]

far afield and finally went to California, it was due to her insight and encouragement that he at last wrote for publication, and became acquainted with literary and scientific men of the day. In these volumes are many of Muir's early letters to Mrs. Carr, of the greatest poetic beauty. All are of remarkable interest to the general reader as well as to the student of his life.

Professor Badè was long a friend and fellow worker with John Muir in the Sierra Club of California. In critical situations they have stood firmly for the preservation of our finest scenery from commercial ruination. Eventually, all will realize that spiritual values are always of greater importance to mankind than are merely material considerations. Meanwhile, the privilege and the responsibility of this great service to present and future generations must rest upon such clear seeing prophets as Muir and his associates.

In many ways the great range of the Sierra Nevada is the most beautiful in America. Upon its sunlit, snowy heights and in its grand and songful canyons, the Creator has lavished such wealth of beauty that only the stonyhearted can fail to see His love for man. If one roams alone, or with congenial friend, amid this paradise, he will long to return again and again that his soul may grow young in such companionship. John Muir was instant in his recognition of this opportunity. His experience with man had been a hard one. With God in nature, he felt at home; and he joyfully abandoned all that man could offer, in order to make this sacred mountain temple his home. For years he rambled over the range, climbing its highest peaks, rejoicing by its glorious streams and falls, worshiping amid its unequaled forests, sleeping upon its carpets of heather, and ever praising God with all his soul. Into his books he has brought this abundant life and joy, which forever will guide the traveler to a true appreciation of the beautiful in nature.

With an almost religious fervor, Professor Badè has for years collected the incidents and letters that cover many little known portions of Muir's life; and he has now sympathetically woven them into these eagerly awaited biographical volumes. Their literary quality is of high order, and all lovers of Muir's work are indebted to their compiler. There should be strong public demand for early publication of all the remaining material.

Tonse L

George

The Matt

Early in Muir's life, his parents moved from Scotland to a farm in Wisconsin. Concerned with the stern realities of an ancient theology, they failed completely to understand the divine possibilities in their son. Though

A. Knapt
Dusdame,

Hesday, Pag

a willing worker, he was driven by them early and late, and he received many chastisements for the good of his soul. It was only by arising from one to three o'clock in the winter's cold, that he secured the time to study and to develop his interesting mechanical inventions. Later at college he became absorbed in

Muir's adoration of nature was enhanced by the closest scientific study of tree and plant and flower. He was especially the friend of glaciers, revealing their agelong, beauty-creating work to a skeptical world. He won the attention of the nation to our incompa

grandeur of the Kings and Kern river regions. For their recognition and pro

Bent botany, and found an understanding rable Yosemite, and to the supreme Fate Abraham riend in Mrs. Jeanne C. Carr, the wife

The Peasants

Botte-Merrill C

The Backden Laty

George H. Doran C

a professor. When Muir wandered

officially he remarked, "Why should I help Ibáñez? I don't want to give him that much added publicity." So journalism went empty, and the court went on with its business, dressed in tweeds, sitting at mahogany desks, mining, investing, building roads and schools, and fighting that desultory war in the Rif.

"So often," writes Ibáñez on page nine, "after those sleepless nights, as I watched the sun rise on one of the loveliest scenes of the Côte d'Azur, I would feel a sharp twinge of remorse, as though I had committed an evil deed -I had said nothing!" But now he has said it, so he must feel better. Only it is the belief of some of us that he has done a grave injustice to a great man. Perhaps it is ridiculous that an American should be so troubled by it or should take pains to deny it; yet I have been in Spain, I think, since Ibáñez has, and undoubtedly I shall return before him! They have a military censorship there just as we had during the war, and a law against sedition.

The writer has made his attack curiously personal, as if he carried about with him a hatred of the man greater than of the king. He decries the ath

spect even as a work of fiction. "Alphonso's Ambitions" and "Alphonso's Accomplice" as chapter headings are sufficiently childishly malignant to inspire a reviewer to reply in kind. It is a grateful thought that they can do the monarch little harm.

"Alfonso?" exclaimed Ambassador Moore one day in Madrid. "Why, if there were ever a revolution and a republic, he would be instantly elected president!"

Zuloaga, a great painter and a greater patriot, stands for the public mind in Spain; he is happy, he wants to see no change. To illustrate his point he waved his long arms and declaimed:

"Send your tourists and business people to Madrid and to Barcelona where there is no grass! I should like to put fleas in all the trains so that nobody would come to disturb us! Why, in my beloved Segovia they even ha a hotel with a bath!"

Alfonso XIII Unmasked, The M
Terror in Spain. By Vicent
Ibáñez. Translated by Tex dadley.
E. P. Dutton and Compary.

letic and sporting tendencies of Alfon- JOHN MUIR, LOV, KOF NATURE

so's younger days, forgetting entirely the fact that at seventeen a delicate boy

found himself a king, and more, a ruler, AMONG ali jescriptive writers on

and that his wise mother drove him to sport to strengthen him for the labor. Subtly, Ibáñez indicates that the court is vague in morals, neglecting to mention that any breach of law or rule among members of the court circle results in the permanent ostracism of both the man and the woman.

It is impossible, in what purports to be a book review, to make a refutation of all the matter in a book; yet Ibáñez's new publication is, for all its heralding, only a brochure; it commands no re

By Iy Jeffers

[merged small][ocr errors]

Muir is the most materialist, his mes, delicate for enjoyment; .ue attitude of scientific ghature is far different fro. very

of a few years ago. We are all fy ex

the facts of a spiritual uni as of h we are more or less consciot of nota our thinking on unseen Irrative w is certain that the day i

Muir will be generall lately expre our foremost interpeing classed scenery. His love Reckless L

[ocr errors]

ng It

when

ated as

mountain J and for

« PreviousContinue »