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June 04, 1922 - Image 16

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1922-06-04

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Books

and Writers

"PATCHWORK" THE LAST WHIMSIES 1
By Beverly Nichols (By G. D. E.) -
(A Review by Delbert Clark) In addition to the fairly competentb
Beverly Nichols, a new English survey of Whimsies in last Sunday's
writer just out of Oxford, a former Magazine by Delbert Clark, I wish to
president of the Oxford Union, has add a word or two. But only a word;
contributed "Patchwork," (Holt) a the number was, without doubt, the
novel centered around a single char- worst that Whimsies ever produced t
acter, with Oxford in the main as the and I consequently doubt my ability
setting, to do justice to the situation., t
The story is an attempt to do two However, I want to commentI
things: to portray Oxford since the on a poem by Forman Brown, whicho
War, and to delineate vividly a char- was beyond question the poorest thing
acter whose whole brilliant life is a in the issue. I have no quarrel with
'patchwork, a man who, highly 'in- Frman nor do I Aoubt his technicalf
dividualistic, exceedingly versatile ability; in fact, I know so little of thed
goes his way at Oxford after emerging technics of poetry, that I hesitate toI
fom the chaos of War, living in the condemn any poetry on that score un-H
past, andstriving to bring back the ls itbobiouy freakish, obvious-
idealism, the leisurely glamour, which ly without poise r music. And Brown 4
has gone forever, certainly did not annoy me on these
The interesting thing about Nichols' points. But the utter puerility of his k
work in this respect is that after mak- theme! Mon Dieu! ,
ing a careful study of the character, It seems that he had seen a naughty
letting us see all of Ray Sheldon's word written on a wall and that he
many sides, he leaves him without any turned sick at heart at the sight of it.
attempt at solving tht which admits Unfortunately he was so squeamish
of no solution. Ray, forming in his as not to tell us, not even to indicate
first term at Oxford the determination of what nature the word was. I
to bring back if possible the old style therefore go on the supposition that
of life, which he does not realize can 'it was biological in character, related
never return, gathers about his com- to matters of sex, of digestive or other
pelling personaliy a group of admir functions of the body, or perhaps
ers and friends, and together they set downright profanity. At any rate he
about to bring back the brilliait pol- called it "squalid."
ish and artificiality of years before the Herein he shows the typical bun-
War. The novel centers around their, dred-per-cent American attitude, the
or rather Ray's, sensational attempts attitude that has forced our youngsters
to recreate this pre-war atmosphere, to secure their liberal educations from
and his complete failure and final con-I chalk-written sidewalks and fences,
version to the very thing he has been from secret and "smutty" congrega-
fighting. 'ions of boys-and even girls.
-It is cnaracteristic, however, that ' Any biologist will tell you that the
atfer he has left college at the time of words we commonly think dirty and
his mother's death, and has come to "squalid" are nothing of the kind. Only
see vividly that the age is one of in- a moral people could make them1
tense realism, of facing' naked facts dirty, only virtuous people could con-
unashamed, his nature 'still yearns for vert them into obscenity. Were the
the life which is more to him than all youngsters taught their meaning,
the downrightness which he is forced taught that they are no better nor
to acknowledge. worse than other words, there would
" Ray is essentialy an epicure in the be no especial purpose in writing
best sense, living for the sheer joy of them on the wall, no obscene and spe-
it, yet not without -a purpose, and in cial significance in them.
his surrender to the inevitable, which Briefly, Forman's wail is an act to-
is shown in the closing ciapter, he ward the perpetuating of such things.
smothers much of what has been life Such' objections make the deed of
itself to him. He is one of a multi- writing these words a little more a
tude of "young men all ovr Europe, defiance of authority, a little more
who had seen the ideals for which they gaudy in daring, a little more appeal-
had given their blood mocked and ing to the boyish mind.
trampled upon by a cynical and dis- And now I begin to question Brown's
illusioned band of senile diplomat- own sincerity. He balks, without
ists," and who, failing in their lofty reasoning why, at the word. Unless I
attempt to restore that which had gone am vastly mistaken it is because he
forever reverted to the other alterna- has been protected from "squalid"
tive, and became stern realists. words, from their definitions, from the
He expresses to himself his own at- reasons that make them a part of our
titude, "Self, 'self-that was what his spoken, if not our written language.
life was now. Me loved only himself." In short, he has a reaction to the
The other developments were only in- words, when he runs across them. I
,cidental. He was a genius and he wonder if he has ever heard of Dr.
realized it, gloried in it, and in the Sigmund Freud, of Havelock Ellis, of
power it gave him over people's minds. Kraft-Ebbing, of Forel, of a half dozen
other men of extraordinary mental
The story is distinctly 'English, the caliber. If he has, has he ever studied
characters are all English, and in the the results of their hard and consci-
opening chapters we are a little over- entious work? I am certain he has
whelmned by the deluge qf Anglicisms. not. If he had he would know, with-
The story does not start well....it is nout my telling him, that less than a
hard to get into, but after the first hair's difference In his character would
hundred pages it is absorbing, as the turn him from objecting to words on
character unfolds. A unique feature the wall to covering the wall with
of it is the absence of a love interest, them himself.
Ray is a target for the slings and ar-' Let me warn Forman that no man
rows of women uncounted, but none so squeamish ever yet wrote anything
of them reach his level, and his affec- worth reading. No man a celibate in
tion is poured out upon his mother and thought, even thougl a celibate physi-
himself. cally, ever has contributed a single
With the exception of the distinctly thing to the literature of the world.
localized character of the story, it is It is too bad that, by Forman's tenets.
entirely worth reading, after you get the great literati become the blackest
past the labored conversational pass- of scoundrels, Shakespeare leading the
ages at the beginning. It is a rather lot.
good study of a remarkable man. But the thing is not without its

bright side. I picture Forman in an winner, showing him in the-intimate
army barracks, especially at night, un- setting of his home, and revealing in
able to escape the lurid and "squalid" his "opinions" the quintessence' of
talk of the inmates. I think of his, that ironic, brilliant and humane phil-
outraged ears and I giggle. osophy which Anatole France has in-
- fused into all his writings.
Boni & Liveright announce a new Among the notables who attended
book by George Moore, entitled "In 1 these meetings were Rodin, Remy de
Strict Singleness: Theme and Vari- Gourmont, Sarah Bernhardt (the story
ation." Iof whose attempts to get France to
write a play for her is told), Boris
,One of the most important publica- Savinkov, the Russian nihilist, and
ions of the Spring is "The Opinions Father Gapon. And others of the ac-
of Anatole France" translated from quaintances of these people fill the,
he French of Paul Gsell by Ernest pages-Artistide Briand, Flaubert,
Boyd, which Alfred A. Knopf has an- Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, and leaders
nounced for publicaton May 26th., The of the Esperantist movement.
original French title is 'Propos d'Ana- Some idea of the wide variety of
ole France." A company of France's the subjects covered is given by a'few
'riends met at his house every Sun- of the sections: The Secret of Genius,
day morning for a number of years. The French Academy, Esperanto, War,
Paul Gsell, a well-known Paris jour- The Russian Revolution, The Omnipo-
nalist, was one of their number, and tence of Ideals, The Credo of a Scep-
se made it a practice to set down the tic, etc.
conversations which transpired. Con- This book has attracted widespread
sequently this book gives a unique attention in France where it has re-
kind of biography of the Nobel Prize r cently been published.
999TTAXI I
35 C'ENTS

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