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November 27, 1921 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1921-11-27

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Books and




(By R. D. S.)
James Huneker, a steeplejack of the
Arts as he aptly termed himself, was
the dean of American critics. Wider
in range of interests than Poe, more
the man of the world than James, and
less the man with a purpose than

(By G. D. E.)
SAuthors But a few days since I wandered in-
to the periodical room of the Library
final round-up of names, Huneker with my Czeko-Slovak grammar under
found little room for that personal my arm seeking a quiet place to study.
life which would have been so inter- The place was quiet enough-it was
esting to his many admirers. only eight-thirty in the morning-and
It is not until one goes to "Painted I fell to assiduous effort. But in front
Veils," issued in a small edition, that of me on one of the tables was a wick-
one comes into contact with Huneker er wire basket that disturbed me con-
the man, the adventurer in life, art, stantly.
and intellectual pursuits. Even here Finally, in a fit of exasperation, I
it is only when one is allowed to see threw my Rumanian grammar aside
the character and thought processes and turned the basket upside down to
invPEti ta it- rn t nt A ,n tof thin

Mencken, he stood, a dignified, a cul- of Ulick Invern that onF finds the1
tured and authorative critic. A man author. Such things in his life as his a
without a country, he was a man of four marriages, the last a reunion withI
every country, Re turned to France his first wife, remain yet to be chron-
icled. And how important such things C
for Flaubert, Stendhal, Baudelaire; to are in the biography of a great maU L
Germany for Wagner, Nietzsche; to It, is to be hoped that someone under-- r
Norway for Ibsen-but too catholic takes a biography of him. There is p
were his tastes to be represented by material, in abundance and much of it
remains unpublished. w
a few names and boundary lines. He
was a thorough _cosmopolite, immersed Readers of Huneker may have some
wanthoroughcosmoptofalintimsedo misgivings concerning a posthumous n
in the life and art of all nations. Pos- volume of his critiques. Publishers'f
sessed -of an impressive store of too often throw together cast-off
knowledge; equally versed in all the scraps and publish them after an au- a
arts; apparently familiar with every thor's death.
movement, every work of art, every "Variations," which has just been ti
artist the world over, Huneker was published by Scribner's, is not a total e
disappointment. True, it is not.Hunek-
far from being a pedagogic recluse. er at his best, but it is Huneker; and
Quite the opposite: he was distinctly he always has something to say. Sev-
a man of the world, an aristocratic eral of the articl as "Chopin or the
bohemian, a true intellectual. The Circus?", are obviously written to fill
night-roving man about town, the gen- "assignments," while such remnants
ial imbiber of Pilsner, the erudite con- as a sycophantic account of a visit to
versationalist, was one of the biggest Roosevelt-which wanders off into an
figures in American letters of the appreciation of George Cabot Lodge-
twentieth century. and an extract on Nietzsche might well
Astonishing as was his scope of in- have been omitted.
formation,- little less so was the The first half dozen critiques are
breadth of his acquaintance. But, in particularly good. Many of the others
his personal contact, as in his writ- are on music, a subject which is not
ings it was first-raters with whom he for me to discuss. The remaining deal
dealt. It would be difficult to mention with various topics. In an article on
a celebrity of this century or last who "Eili Eili" he soon has done with
does not figure in the pages of Hunek- Jacob Sandler and takes up the sub-
er's books. And the percentage of ject of the Jews, a race whom, as he
these whom the author knew person- has frequently mentioned before, he
ally is amazingly high. Through his especially admires. in this, as in many
volumes runs an imposing parade of of his writings, he strays from his
great men and women-painters, poets, subject, a fault easily forgiven a mind
singers, philosophers, sculptors, mu- so filled with ideas and knowledge as
sicians, psychologists, dramatists, poli- his.
ticians. His eighteen published books Like most writers of the past few
are indeed a liberal education in the years, Mr. Huneker takes advantage
arts. of the opportunity to state his opinion
And yet, Huneker, for all his cul- of Prohibition. In "Art and Alcohol"
ture, his brilliance, his worldliness, he says, "Alcohol has been the, ours-
his extensive contact with famous peo- ing bottle of genius, and of many com-
ple, never quite got over being daz- monplace citizens may not the'same
zied by the rays of the limelight. be said? Woe to him who abuses the
Names were at once his stronghold priceless gift. He is doomed. And
and his stumbling block. Again and doomed,, too, is the prohibitionist who
again they stand out from his pages, overindulges in flapjacks and fried
one on this, forty on the next; scarce- steak. Native cookery has slain more
ly ever a page without a name. He is than the rum mills of the universe."
forever boasting, often quite irrelev- "Variations" will not add much to
antly, of a post card form this person- Huneker's name. Yet these articles,
age, a letter from that, a word of con- written during his last two years, show
gratulation from another. And he him as enthusiastic in his apprecia-
marched the whole regiment into his tions and as fresh in his'observations
"Steeplejack." The subject index of as ever he was. He is reported to
this book looks like an international have said that he was nauseatedt at
"Who's who." the thought of any of his books except
This weakness was what kept "Egoists." But in "Variations" there
"Steeplejack" from being the auto- is no hint of ennui. It would seem to
biography it set out Ito be. His last reveal him as going his nightly round
work but one before his death, its two in much the same spirit as in the
volumes should have given the real earlier days; as leading, to the last,
Huneker; for his was a life fully de- the pleasant, eventful life of the art
serving of an autobiographry. But lover. With Hazlitt, he might have
instead he made the book a list of ob- said, "So I have loitered my life away,
servations and reminiscences, a long reading books, looking at pictures go-
artistic catalog. His personality is, ing to plays, hearing, thinking, or
of course, the leitmotif; but, in this writing on what pleased me most."

nves iga~e is conens. A o oz Ln
rnd flimsy magazines came forth, and
examined them one by one.
Delight overwhelmed me as I pro-
*eded. I forgot completely all about
ithuanian refiexives. Below I list the
esults of the pastime, pamphlet for
First there was "The Key, the offici-
l organ of Kappa Kappa Gamma,"
hatever that is. Being an ardent
ember of the Ku Klux Klan, I re-
used to look at the thing. Next came
The Yellow Strand," a twelve page
dvertising document. Some of its
hrases are ringing in my ears yet.
"Ambition, a Journal of Inspira-
ion to Self Help," next smote my
yes. But hold, you who are about

ready to laugh-and laugh harder!
Its masterpiece was an article head-
ed "The Silkworm's Greatest Ally!"
Danged if this looks like Self Help
to me!
"The Balance Sheet, a Magazine of
Bookkeeping" followed; - then "The
Strand" of London. Next, "The Uni-
versalist Leader, a Journey of To-
morrow," apparently a syndicated
Sunday school sheet. As I worship
Zeus, Elagabalus, Zoroaster and Baal
in my spare time, I dared not look
into this worthy bit of print and
"The Leatherneck" told me that the
marines were "refighting the famous
civil war battle." This interested me,
but I could not but reflect on man's
savargery. It all seems so unneces-
sary after Appomatox.
"Linoleum Logic," another adver-
tising pamphlet. This is the first time
that I knew that linoleum had a ner,
vous system and a conscious center.
Then the "Monthly Review," issued
by the Federal Reserve Bank of Bos-
ton. I'll wager that they are after
the hard-earned money of the widows
and orphans. I wouldn't trust none
of them skunks!
"Pere Marquette Service," was the
name of another. I didn't know there
(Continued on Page 7)

LCalkins - Fletcher
L Drug Co.

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