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February 19, 1922 - Image 17

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

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Galton who, it stems, was .some sort
of a relative. Pearson then launches
into a retailing of a lot of little char-
acteristics which might belong to a
bricklayer, ?all 'the while parading
them as evidence of a greatly superior
being, of, in brief, a veritable whale
of a man.
But I am running on at length. I
urge that my readers buy this book and
read it. If my personal friends don't
do it within ten days I shall greet
them with a mere nod; if they don't
do it in twenty, I shall cut them dead.
(A Review by R. D. S.)
At a time when the output of the
ncvelists is almost entirely confined
to naturalism, diluted realism, and un-
inspired trash, the fiction of James
Branch Cabell is somewhat of an iso-
lated phenomenon. For Cabell is a
pure romancer. He stands apart from
modern commerce, politics, and "mid-
dle-class morality" and writes of pic-
turesques figures of the Middle Ages.
One quality alone does he share with
hig contemporaries, and that is a
certain amount of materialism. It is
not, however, the materialism of a
Dreiser, but rather that of a Rabelais,
a Boccaccio, or a Casanova. It con-
sists of a slightly gross sense of hu-
mor and a profound disrespect for
any form of sentimentality.
For he is thoroughly disillusioned:
he is a cynic, a mocker, an impish
jester. Romantic though his charac-
ters may be, they do not deceive him.
They are not wax figures in fancy-
costumes, nor the knights and ladies
of children's picture books. They have
very much the same ambitions, lusts,
and defects that a traveling sales-
man has. Their love affairs, at bot-
tom, are no more idealistic than the
Main Street cases of today. Cabell
suffers no illusions anent love. This
natural phenomenon which, despite
continual evidence to the contrary, is
usually regarded as a sacred thing,
is as often, as not the butt of a Cabel-
ian jest., The supreme evidence of
this is "Jurgen."
This is but one of the proofs of
Cabell's remarkable originality. It
is not an originality of subject matter
as much as of treatment. His ma-
terial is very often "old stuff," his
phrises and ideas are often trite But,
under his treatment, they become so
individualized as to be scarcely recog-
This is, in fact, what has happened
in many of the stories that make up
"The Line of Love" and "Chivalry,"
two early Cabell books which have
lately been reissued in revised form by
Robert M. McBride & Company. Here
the author takes the courtships, the
wars, the intrigues, the grawls, and
the rest of the familiar claptrap of
medieval and Elizabethan days, and
subjects them to an effectual revivify-
ing process. The result is two excel-
lent books of short stories.
The subject of all these stories is
love, and Cabell's fertile imagination
has concocted a score of rather beau-
tiful affairs. Some of them center
about such real personages as Villon
and Marlowe. Falstaff is the hero
of one. The others are historical
characters and figures from the pseu-
do-historical lore which Cabell attri-
butes to the fictitious Nicolas de Caen.
The conclusions are not uniformly
happy or tragic, there is a great deal
of heroism and an equal amount of
cowardice, and there is more than one
piece of extraordinarily clever dia-
But Cabell's primary interest is in
themanner in which his stories are
He is a word precisian. This

is plainly evident when one compares
the new editions with the early ones.
Scarcely a page is unchanged. A dull
adjective gives place to a bright one,
a sentence is changed about, a whole
paragraph is left out, another added,
a happier turn of phrase substituted.
All this shows his scrupulous atten-
tion to the imagery and harmony pro-
duced by the sound and rhythm of his'
words. And the result is an exquisite
prose which is matched by very few
of his contemporaries.
In these love stories one misses the
allegory, the subtle irony, and much
of the impudent humor of "Jurgen"
and "Figures{ of Earth.' Yet the
quiet humor is not altogether lacking
even here. It is seldom one finds a
score of stories of more even quality.
The wealth and brilliance of episode
together with the exquisite workman-
ship make a literary tapestry which is
a permanent contribution to our litera-
All manuscripts for the Sun-
day Magazine short story con-
test must be in by the first day
of March. They should be ad-
dressed to the Literary Depart-
ment of the Michigan Daily, and
stamps must be enclosed for
the return of the manuscripts
in event of rejection.
If no acceptable manuscripts
are received the idea will be
abandoned. On the other hand,
although but two or three good
stories are received, the writers
of these stories will be given an
opportunity to write the rest of
the ten desired stories.
"Memoirs of a Midget," Walter de la
Mare's prose romance, has been sent
to press by the publisher, Alfred A.
Knopf, for a second printing.

James Elroy Flecker, whose "Col- In "The Critic and the Drama," to
lected Poems" Alfred A. Knopf is be published next week by Alfred A.
bringing out next week, belongs to the Knopf, George Jean Nathan leaves
group of younger Englishmen which temporarily his discussion in book
includes Middleton and Brooks. Like form of current theatrical enterprises
them, Fletcher died during the war. and formulates for the first time his
He was only thirty years of age at entire dramatic credo. "The Critic and
the time, but he had been writing the Drama" is a consideration of the
for fifteen yars, and the poems in this various theories and standards of crit-
volume are arranged in chronological icism with special reference to the
order, making an interesting record function of the criticism of the drama,
of his development. J. C. Squire, edi- together with an appraisal of drama
tor of The London Mercury, has writ- and acting arts, and a survey of dra-
ten an introduction to the book. matic friticism in the United States.
All Departments
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