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February 17, 1935 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1935-02-17

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PAGE SIX

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1935

IN THE WORLD 6F BOOKS

Luigi Pirandello's Latest Stories

Put New Seal

BETTER THINK TWICE ABOUT IT.
By Luigi Pirandello. QIutton. $3.
By DOROTHY GIES
Luigi Pirandello, the enigmatic lit-
tle Sicilian, winner of last year's
Nobel award, stamps a new seal onj
his genius and artistry with this most
recent volume of short stories. In
the thirteen lively tales another ar-
ray of Sicilian folk parade, the simple
and ignorant, the wise and visionary,
each one sharply conceived, sympa-
thetic, inimitable.
Yet with all the infinite variety of
the novelle included here, there is a
certain homogeneity of tone and style
that is peculiarly Pirandellian. Each
one is marked by ,a naked simplicity
of plot, an elemental quality of char-
acter, and that particular salty hum-
or that is Pirandello's own. Clear-
cut, sharply drawn, concentrate, from
the very barest of outlines is achieved
the intensity of a richly packed nar-
rative. From one, two, or three char-
acters, rarely profound, often child-
like and naive, emerges the whole
gamut of human experience and emo-
tion.
It is again characteristic of Pir-
andello that the majority of his short
stories could be dramatized. He is
a master of marionettes, and his own
chuckles over their antics are not too
carefully masked. He is sometimes
tender and full of pity - but he is
laughing. Always there is some note
of humor, and he touches every key
from merry to grim. There is humor
even with tragedy superscribed, with
laughter contorting to a grimace.
I' The Most Complete f
LENDING
LIBRARY
in'Ann Arbor
YOU WILL FIND NEW BOOKS
IN OUR LIBRARY ON PUBLI-
CATION DATE I
WITHAMS
Corner S. Univ. and Forest
Phone 2-1005

On His Genius1
In The Jar the pure comic element
is at its best. Don Loblo, a miser who
is forever taking legal action against
someone for something, has ordered
a huge new jar for his olives. But
after it has stood in the' shed for a
day or two, it is discovered split in
two halves, and the old pottery mend-
er, Zi' Dima, must be sent for. He
proceeds to cement and rivet the jar
together until it is as good as new,
except that, working from the inside,
the old man has sealed himself in.1
There is no alternative: the jar must
be broken to release him. A difficult
spot for the skinflint Don Lollo, for
who is to pay the costs of the jar?
It is a baffling legal question, that
makes a merry tale.
In The Call To Duty a new prob-
lem is presented in the eternal tri-
angle plot, which is not settled with -
out an amusing interlude. Piran-
dello delights in twisting the age-
old marital theme toward a new and
surprising angle. Another instance
occurs in the title-story, Better Think
Twice About It, woven around a most
amazing Sicilian "design for living."
An old man has married a pretty
young girl, in order to taste the
charms of domestic bliss during his
last days. But, being a' very wise
old man, Professor Toti realizes his
wife's youth and provides for her
happiness with a handsome young
proteg6 of his. All the implications
of tragedy and comedy are contained
in the slight events narrated.
In The Quick and the Dead, a sea-
captain returns home to find himself
married to two wives. His first wife,
long believed drowned, has come back,
and all the complexities of a biga-
mist's life confront the old skipper.
He meets the problem nobly and
solves it smoothly, and even this
seemingly sober situation is fraught
with comedy.
"Writers," Pirandello once said,
"may be divided into historians, who
are content with mere representation
or narration, and philosophers, those
who feel the spiritual need of giving
to their characters a certain universal
signification. I, unfortunately, be-
long to the latter class." And in-
deed, the philosophic, the reflective
element, is never wholly divorced
from Pirandello's work. In the pres-
ent collection, it is best represented
by Chants the Epistle.
Perhaps the most beautiful, thek
most profound and moving tale in
the group, it is steeped in the mysti-
cism of Assisi. Tommasino Unzio,
nicknamed "Chants the Epistle," be-
cause such was his duty as sub-deacon
before he was unfrocked, is derided
and despised at home and in the vil-
lage. Gradually isolating himself
more and more in the depths of na-
ture, he feels the inconsequence, the
triviality of life and toil before the
unconscious and impassive beauties
of cloud and leaf and stone. At last
he loses himself in a passionate and
tender pity for the tiny ephemeral
things, that live and die alone in the
midst of tremendous nature. He con..
ceives a deep love for a tiny blade
of grass, in which for him the whole
universe is parabled. When Signor-
ina Fanelli carelessly plucks it, Tom-
masino calls her a stupid fool, is
challenged by her fianc for the in-
ult, and mortally wounded. But to
no one can he reveal the reason for
his temper:
"The priest care to the dying man's
bedside and asked:-
"'But why was it, my son? Why?'
"And Tommasino sighed and smiled
very tenderly, and, with half-closed
simply:-
"'Father, it was for a blade of
rass....'
"Everyone believed that he re-
mained delirious up to the very end."
Occasionally one discerns a point
in Pirandello's lashes. And not the
gentlest is the chastising he inflicts

on the religious superstition of the
,peasant-folk, ever bent to "the will
of God," to whom every event is a{
divine ordainment.
Artistically notable, dramatically
moving, this new collection adds an-
other asterik to Pirandello's literary
achievement. With him it will never
be a case of Characters in Search Of
a Reader.

The Real Morality
Reprinted, without even aking for permission (for which we hope
no one sues us) from Friday's The Conning Tower, edited by F.P.A., in
the New York Herald Tribune.
Of all the penetrant bon mots that pierce and blight and kill,
It's hard 'to beat the favorite saw of my old Uncle Bill-
A sly and trenchant saying of a shrewd and canny man,
A devastating epigram- and this is how it ran:
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
It isn't for your vice, my son, the crowd will bruise and hurt you,
But only for your pestilent, intolerable virtue.
They love you for your weaknesses, they hate you for your strength;
To keep you on their level they will go to any length:.
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
If you'd be safe and happy you must do what others do.
Conformity is popular, nobility taboo.
The worm must show the color of the stalk he feeds upon;
The geese will always rally to the murder of the swan:
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
The boys of your fraternity will let you soak in wine
And putrefy the midnight air by singing "Adeline";
But cut the booze and cigarettes and go to bed at ten
And skim the prom to study math, and see what happens then:I
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
A girl may turn a cartwheel to the strains of Boop-a-Doop
And sift a little strychnine in her Aunt Maria's soup;
But if she has the least regard for what her friends may think
She'll never read a serious book or scrub the kitchen sink:
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
"He should have gone" 's permitted when the guests are strictly
highbrow,
But usually "He'd oughta went" precludes a lifted eyebrow.
It will not do to let your culture seem the least emphatic;
It's always safer to be crude and bluff and democratic:
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
Does any upstart speak the truth to liars in high places
And call the theologic bluff before the deacons' faces?
In spite of holy creeds and bulls does he presume to doubt?
Go get a pair of red-hot tongs and pull his toe-nails out!
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
Keep quiet while the grafters, like the termites in our walls,
Consume the pillars of the state and topple down its halls,j
And lynchers toss mankind aside, a charred and blackened ember;
But you, my son, do what you please, - so long as you remember:
We're punished not for sins but for offenses.
-HOMER C. HOUSE
Arnold Gingrich's First Novel
Is In Many RespectsUnique

FOSTER

'Forgive Adam' Has
K ,,,,. ,+.A v -,r

Perhaps Another

Caesar'

Itsl

Just A Little Too Subtly Done

ivuomenr s nd rO t i
Restraint
FORGIVE ADAM.
By Michael Foster. Morrow.
At last one of those novels which'
take form in the tormented minds of
reporters in slack moments has
reached print. One might add "thank
Heaven."
This novel is Michael Foster's. It
is called Forgive Adam, it is about
a lonely and fine man, it nas moments
of greatness-and it is written with
cool restraint. This somewhat scram-
bled list of virtues is incomplete, but
indicative.
Anton is the man's name, and we
first catch him on the rebound after
the departure of his wife, the final
departure. Anton's own story runs
rather simply toward tragedy. His
wife marries again. Anton finds him-
self suddenly interested in a girl who
has been betrayed in not quite the
usual way by Anton's managing edi-
tor, and Anton loses the girl trag-
ically.
Against Anton's story are two others+
of first importance - the girl's and
Anton's son Terry's. It is possible that
Mr. Foster does not appreciate his,
success in making Terry live; with
the simplest materials he has drawn
a boy this reader will not forget for
a long while. The cooly self-con-
tained girl is almost an equal triumph.
And behind these chief actors there
is a host of supers - the typical cru-
sading preacher, the typical pussy-
footing editor, the typical amorous re-
porter, and so on. Even the scenes
in the city room of Anton's paper
come off, which will delight such
newspaper men as may read the novel.
Mr. Foster has made stock characters
seem living acquaintances.
But the chief values of the novel are
its quiet emotional power, its simpli-
city and, its honesty. It deserves to be
"discovered," and made much of.
Local Best Sellers
HEAVEN'S MY DESTINATION.
By Thornton Wilder. Harpers.
$2.50.
GOOD BYE MR. CHIPS. By
James Hilton. Little, Brown.
$1.25.
THEHFORTY DAYS OF MUSA
)AGH. By Frank Werfel. Vik-
ing. $3.
A HOUSE DIVIDED. By Pearl S.
Buck. Reynal & Hitchcock.
$2.50.
WHILE ROME BURNS. By Alex-
ander Woollcott. Viking. $2.75.
HALF A MILE DOWN. By Wil-
liam Beebe. Harcourt, Brace.
$5.
Lending Libraries
NEW FICTION: Three cents, five
cents a day. Washington Birthday
Cards. Francisco Boyce, 732 North
University.
READ BOOKS reviewed in today's
book section, five cents a day. Blue
Bird Book Nook, Arcade.
Newspapers and Magazines
NEW YORK TIMES: New York Her-
ald Tribune. All famous Newspa-
pers, daily and Sunday. Miller Drug
North University at Thayer.

By JOHN SELBY
ANOTHER CAESAR. By Alfred
Neumann. Knopf.
The historical facts of Louis Napo-
lean's life seemed. to Alfred Neumann,
not enough to make a good story. So
he has made a novel out of them.
IR is a long, meticulous novel, and
it is so subtly done that even a man
acquainted with Louis' life down toI
the last detail might have difficulty
separating history from Mr. Neu-
mann's imagination. Perhaps that
is one trouble with the novel.
For Mr. Neumann has given almost
a day by day account of Louis' life,
beginning even before his probably il-
legitimate birth, and continuing down
to the coup d'etat by which he seized
the throne of France and wrecked
the republic, after the fall of Louis
Philippe. He has done even more
than that -he has written a popular
history of Europe for the period, bend-
ing his chief character to fit his his-
torical conception, or vice versa.
All this makes an almost irresisti-
ble book, and a fairly dangerous one
too. The casual reader is likely to
be so persuaded by the fluent Mr.
Neumann as to forget that a good
deal of the novel is pure imagination.
In any case, Louis Napoleon de-

Is

served some such treatment, for he
was so contradictory and obscure an
individual personally that nobody un-
derstands him. A large share of An-
other Caesar is given to Louis' child-
hood and youth, in an effort to recon-
cile some of the later contradictions,
doubtless. His mother, Hortense, wife
of the puny King of Holland, is like-
wise treated in detail. Louis' older
brother. Charles, is somewhat sum-
marily dismissed - it is possible that
the general reader might wish that
much of the political background had
been cut off short in the same fashion.
Nevertheless, if one has the time
and inclination, it is possible to get
the feel of France and Europe, be-
tween the first and second Napoleon,
from Another Caesar as from few
other books.

__

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THE
Colonial Book Shop
Old and New Books
303 North Division Street
Telephone 8876

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READ THE WANT ADS

JACQUES GORDON, 1st Violin PAUL ROBYN, Viola
DAVID SACKSON, 2nd Violin NAOUM BENDITZKY, Cellist
- - - - -

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CAST DOWN THE LAUREL.
By Arnold Gingrich. Alfred A.
Knopf. $2.
By PROF. EARL L. GRIGGS
(Of The English Dept.)
Arnold Gingrich, author of Cast
Down the Laurel, was graduated from
the University of Michigan in 1925.
His first novel is in many respects
unique. It lays before the reader not
merely the finished product but also
a share of the materials from which
the book is made. We are, as it were,
taken behind the scenes. Wakefield
Speare, whose novel Apollo's Young
Widow forms the central portion of
Mr. Gingrich's book, receives from a
friend a series of dossiers or character.
sketches. Out of these .(all included
in the book) the novel Apollo's Young
Widow is constructed; then the orig-
inal friend speaks again, to condemn
Wakefield Speare for spoiling the
story, misrepresenting and re-naming
the characters, and generally render-
ing the material salable.
The whole story deals with artistic
temperament, as represented by a
group of musicians. The master, Karel
Telec, (or Karl Taussig) is thwarted
by a perfectability complex, which is,
as someone in the book remarks, a
philosophy of futility. Among the
greatest of musicians, with a tech-
nique seldom exceeded, he fails as a
performer. The applause of the critics
and audiences at the very time he is
most conscious of incompetence drivesr
him from public concerts to a small
town, where he undertakes to give in-
struction in music. He seems obsessed
with the idea that perhaps he can
teach another the perfection he him-
selfs lacks.'
The book impresses me as a curious,
mixture of naivete and sophistication.

Mr. Gingrich knows a good deal not
only about human beings and musi-
cians, but also about music. Yet his
characters seem wooden, in both the
dossiers and in the novel. Nor are
the occasional vulgarities skillfully
handled; rather they seem to be sud-
denly (and awkwardly) thrust into
the picture.
We have long had the play within,
a play. Mr. Gingrich has given us
the novel within a novel. In so doing
he might have given us a real view
of the creative process; he might
have satirized typical modern novel-
ists; he might have told us something
valuable about the artistic tempera-
ment. Carlyle failed in Sartor Resar-
tus (which is made up of notes from1
a friend) because his message was
too profound and his humor too gross;
Mr. Gingrich fails because he is
neither profound nor humorous.

!.
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Used

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Wed ,Feb. 2 3:15,
Choral Union Series Hill Auditorium
TICKETS $1.00 - $1.50 - $2.00
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
ORATORICAL ASSOCIATION
Presents
America's Foremost Traveler
and Raconteur
at 8:030 P. me
A Screen Tour of Unusual Distinction
WE LOOK AT
VIENNA and AUSTRIA
* Not to know the land of the Beautiful Blue Danube and its
grandiose Capitol - the former Kaiserstadt -- is to miss one
of the great travel thrills that Europe offers us today.
* It was an ultimatum from Vienna that precipitated the
World War in 1914. Events of 1934 in Vienna seemed for a
time, to presage another great conflict. Vienna is never
unimportant.
o It was in Vienna that Johann Strauss the Elder wrote his
immortal waltzes. From Vienna, Johann Strauss the Younger
poured forth the glorious melodic flood of the Beautiful Blue
Danube. Vienna is always fascinating.
* Austria was the heart and center of one of the greatest of
modern empires. Austria is today the most consistently and
completely beautiful of Continental countries.
* A visit to Vienna and Austria under Burton Holmes' knowl-
edgeful guidance is an introduction to places and people of

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