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February 19, 1922 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1922-02-19

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Books and Authors
"MODERN MEN AND MU"MERS" information on Frank Harris, one will-
By Hesketh Pearson do well to consult this book of Pear-
(A Ioelew by G. D. E.) son's. Harris is a man fully as much'
combated as Heucken, hut he has not
After a whole month of exceedingly the latter's grace of wit, and he has
dull books I find one so good that it a far greater egotism. From what one
makes up for all the bad ones I have ordinarily hears of Harris, one would
ever read. It is "Modern Men and say that his egotism is without justifi-
Mummers" (Harcourt Brace), hy Hes- cation, but when one looks into his
literary achievements during his so-
keth Pearson, journ in England, one can hardly es-
The author was entirely unknown cape the conclusion that, after all,
to me, but his book was, in the main, Harris might be far worse. Harris's
so clever that I immediately wrote to pathetic endeavors with the shabby
the publishers to find out something old Pearson's magazine, of which he is
of him. The/ mistook my inquiry and the editor, are more than anything
went into the man's pedigree nearly else the things responsible for the de-
as far back as William the Conqueror. rision which he is accorded in Amer-
I found out that he was related to ica. The literary bearing of Harris,
Darwin, Sir Walter Scott and half the reflected through the unaristocratic
other English high lights of the past pages of Pearson's, Harris's egotism
century. This was not precisely what of achievement, appearing In this per-
I meant. I knew Pearson only vague- odical, take on an atmosphere of un-
ly as an Englishman and some sort warranted coxcombery. Hesketh Pear-
of an actor. What I was trying to son's book shows the truth of the
find out was what else he had done matter. It reveals the pathos of a
in a literary way. It seems that he real and sincere artist, his glorious
has done nothing at all other than fighting days past, of a man surround-
,Modern Men and Mummers.' ed and nigh overwhelmed with a cheap
Well, it is enough. I do not know environment and buried under the
when I have so enjoyed a book. There tons of mediocre stuff flooding from
are some bad spots in it, of course, American publishing houses, a man
some very bad ones. But I shall get who is, at heart, sympathetic and full
around to them in a general way later. of a wistful eagerness that he be read
The book consists of a series of and appreciated.
articles on various men, mostly Eng- But the thing which most delighted
lishmen, and mostly gentlemen of the me in "Modern Men and Mummers"
stage. was the way in which the author as-
Nevertheless, probably the best ar- sailed many of the human demi-gods.
ticle in the book is on Frank Harris, He swooped on Horatio Bottomly in
an American and a writer-a rare a manner that did my heart good.
combination. If one wants some realiHoratio having been disposed of in

a couple of pages, Pearson went on and will read Pearson's book with a deal
similarly disposed of- the Conrad en- of pleasure. Pearson is not as sound
thusiast, H. G. Wells, Hall Caine, and a critic of literature as Mencken, but
a half dozen other British bombasters. he seems to know the stage, and the
He slit a half dozen or more actors fact that he. is an actor seems in no
and producers from esophagus to mid- way to prejudice him.
riff, and from midriff to the metatar- He falls down in two or three essays,
sals. I read 411 such attacks in glee. most notably in the one on George
No more efficient work has been done Bernard Shaw.. Here Hesketh is al-
since Mencken's "Prejudices, First most an idolator. He dives into the
Series." sea of Shavian maxims and epigrams
Pearson is not as noisy as Mencken, and emerges, blowing mouthsful of
but his work is none the less deadly, them right and left, insisting that
and those who find Mencken a little Shaw is the greatest artist that Eng-
too vociferous and blunt, but who, land has seen in a devil of a while.
nevertheless, like an agressive writer, Again, Pearson takes up Sir Francis
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