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October 29, 1922 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1922-10-29

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Gargoyles h that is stup
By Ben Hecht, tudes that
(Boni & Liveright)}x ture. ButI
To the middle western literary world an importa
Ben Hecht looms large on the horizon. ( must recog
For since the publication of "Erik the groupl
Dorn" he has stood, to the select tihought o1
group of rebellious spirits in the haze ditioned by
and humidity of our steaming social dispassiona
life, for clarity and vision, for the of his cha
direct penetration that may some day derstandini
clear the air for the wianderings of free
thought. After "Gargoyles," Heclit's
recent novel, his position may not re-
main undisputed, for we are growing
accustomed to the flare of his icono-
clasm and lesser lights spring up day
by day. But in spite of obvious faults
and fiissions "Gargoyles"'is a most t
satisfactory studyo,' our idtttrial
society, valuable at least as a record. t
Ben Hecht, it seems, is still disil-
lusioned. Like the rest of his brothers I '>
in dissent, filled with a whole-hearted
and permanent despair, he makes us
occasionally wonder how tenacious is
the illusion of disillusion. But of his
sincerity there is no doubt-he has
looked out on life and found it exceed- t
ingly bad. It is a serious charge
against him that, having seen,'he has'
failed tb understand, but we can be thought an
well satisfied that his acute percep- her the el
tion and penetrating analysis have al- and herd
lowed him to see. 4 melancholk
In "Gargoyles" we sense the same!, happy, hop
futility that made "Erik-Dorn" com- humanity.
plete, this time the futility of a tre- Thy mat
mendous wasted force. Hecht has reasoning
taken some two dozen reprebentatives feelig, In
of our middle-class moralists and al- lyrical nt
lowed them to strut, prance, and pos- attacks the
ture through several hundred pages. cerous be
They are hypocrites or prigs one and society, fes
all, tasting in secret their bestial joys ity of aI
and ignorant of how great a power He can see
they are perverting and destroying by structurev
their unreasoning repression. It is the buzzo
the howl of despairing animalism, for the fre
hopelessly submerged by the wll of through it
the herd. hasten to
It is with such material that Becht weak and
shows his mastery of the staccato j di coloring hi
naleak style, of brilliant phraae and liness.
fast-moving thought. His wit is su- But Heel
perb and his agility most remarkable youth sour
as he hops in and around, poking his is an exc
first digit. It is for his sardonic grin, shary anal:
furning occasionally into a sour smirk, phrase. 'W
that one likes him most. For the in- goyles" is
ner sanctity of the human soul has novel and1
little appeal for Hecht-he merely and hasty
pokes his finger and gives a delighted the journal
chortle. a charge th
It is easy, of course, to quarrel with ial critics
his statement of our life. It is a life for a stac

inevitable. And we might assert with- able, but they are human beings and
out temerity that the chief object of act consistently.
writing is after all to express thought. The story might well have been
"Gargoyles" has been heralded by named "Patricia's Choice," for the au-
shis optimistic press agents as a "de- thor's chief concern is with a young
vastating novel." It is hardly that. woman's struggle to adjust herself to
But it is the work of a mature and an environment which is foreign to
highly intelligent man who feels for her; and to be recognized, not merely
our petty morality and ill-grounded as a woman, but as an individual.
egoism nothing but a hearty skepti- Patricia Quinn is a fit subject for
id, all too bestial, and based cism. On the whole he is rather psycho-analysis. Twenty-two years
ally on the group plati- charitable . of age, she is youth incarcate, withiher
have determined its struc- B. P. J' inexperience, her vain longings to be
his psychology is based on understood and loved, her egotism,
nt fallacy that he timself and her resdy sympathy. She is a
nize. His very analysis of The Three Lovers mystery, an enigma. She acts on im-
processes that underlie the By Frank Swinnerton pulse, and later despises herself when
fhis individuals is .con- (Doran) she attempts to justify tsar actions,
r a well-reasoned study and , tHer worst fault is her esnity, and
te observation. In but one The Three Covers," by Frank Swin- there is no happiness sior p.se for
racters do we find an un- nerton, is a romance; but its roman- her until her egotism hsr rec e ed a
g of the mechanisms of ticism "walks on four feet." This type fatal blow. Her parenst, sod relatives
of story makes one wonder if the beinsg dead, she finds hssel a~I lone isa
English novel is not acquiring the London, dependent o Ihs few hun-
realism of Russian and French fiction. dred pounds left by her usI', nd on
The sook has certainly no emotional the scant income .frosi I' citing,
nor imaginative sterility. Its realism at w'ich she is nor to adept.
repels, at tisoes. However, tse author sThrough a friend of ar stho Ad ys,
so;wvinCes one that, hc has seen'life A - yi tobrts, a wo id-h. a'tist sho
clearly, and he has sonething to say. retseisaI with a set ,. m certain
Tie narrative progresses easily, and writer ias caL ad' T otis . The
is stopped only occasionally to afford I generations of Puritanic tr;rotng hack
a more intimate glance at some of of her receive a jolt h(en she is en-
the characters, most of whom are countered by the sophisite life of
vividly portrayed. The story is dra- Londoss studios. Patricia, a' child at
natic with the straggle of youth to heart, is required to play a woman's
attain self-realization, alive with real game. I-ter intuition saves her from
characters,original with wellturned situations where her inexperience
phrases, and artistic with brief glimp- would have failed. She is attracted
ses of nature in her varied moods. The to three men. At first, she believes
author is not moralizing; he is cre- that her romantic dreams are to be
(HiTating characters, vital beings, pulsat- realized in Harry Greenlees, a hand-
ing with life. He turns a mental X-ray some, healthy, masterful man. Since
A human reladfons-and in on them, so we know their inmost graduating from Oxford ten years ago,
fort of battering tradition thoughts and motives. The characters he has "experimented ' in earning a
thought results in acute are not altogether pleasantsnor lik- living without exertion," principally

a. All are bitterly un-
eless, twisted figurines of
ter is not the product of
but of deep and powerful
passages that approach the
ensity of Neitzsche Hecht
stupid moralism and can-
tiality of our tabu-ridden
tering in the feverish activ-
middle-western metropolis.
e no order in the rambling
we have built, no beauty in
f our social hive,tno path
ee wandering of the spirit
s bewildering maze. We
assure ourselves that he is
morbid, a moral invalid
s world with his own sick-
ht is more than a petulant
ed by his own futility. Hel
eedingly keen observer, a
yst, and a master of cutting
then we admit that "Gar-
practically formless as a
that he has the inaccuracy
grammar characteristic of
istic school we have stated
at may cause his professor-
to swell with wrath. But
cato thinker his method is

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