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October 06, 1935 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1935-10-06

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PAGE TEN

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6* 1935

IN THE WORLD OF BOOKS

Y

Ellen Glasgow Achieves Beauty
And Permanence In New Novel

James Stephens, Irish Lyricist, To Give Readings

. Echoes Post-
War Despair
THEY SHALL INHERIT THE The cards are stacked against Mike essential meaning of the novel. Mr.
EARTH. By Morley Callaghan. pretty thoroughly. As a fourteen- Callaghan at times makes the very
Random House. $2.50. ( year-old he sees his father bring into just generalization that men in these
times have chaos in their souls, and
By MR. THEODORE HORNBERGER the house as a nurse for his mother, he is quite reasonably insistent that

VEIN OF IRON by Ellen Glasgow.
Harcourt & Brace. $2.50.
By PROF. ERICH WALTER
(Of the English Department);
Last year in an essay for The Sat-
urday Review of Literature, Ellen
Glasgow wrote, "As time moves on, I
still see life in beginnings, moods in
conflict, and change as the only
permanent law. But the value of
these qualities (which may be self-
deluding, and are derived, in fact,
more from temperament than from
technique) has been mellowed by long
saturation with experience - by that
essence of reality, which one distills
from life only after it has been lived."
That quotation explains the power
of Miss Glasgow's new novel, Vein of
Iron.
Grandmother Fincastle who to her
dying day believes that God would
not have sent trials of faith if they
were not for our good represents a
point of view which is challenged
by her granddaughter, Ada. In try-
ing to answer the question, "Why
didn't Mother or Grandmother tell
me that self-respect doesn't help you
when you've lost happiness?" Ada
Fincastle finally realizes that her
father, the philosopher "who reject-
ed the God of Abraham but accepted
the God of Spinoza" had achieved
a spiritual contentment whichewas
truly enviable. These main characters
together with the necessary minor
ones are presented in a story of the
last thirty years which, unlike Willa
Cather's beautiful but fugitive book,
Lucy Gayheart, is a permanent record
of life as it touches every one of us.
Those readers who applauded Miss
STUDENT REVOLT PICTURED
James Wechsler, militant editor of
THE COLUMBIA SPECTATOR last
year, is the author of REVOLT ON
THE CAMPUS, to be published Oct.
29 by Covici, Friede. The book, which
will have an introduction by Prof.
Robert Morss Lovett of the University
of Chicago, deals with the current
temper of the student bodies in scores
of the country's leading colleges.

Glasgow's treatment of the adoles-
cent girl in The Sheltered Life Will
wonder where she found the reserve
power to heighten the treatment of
a similar problem in this new book.
Whether this novel be read for its
beauty of structure and language, or
whether it be read for its unforget-
table story, it will leave the impres-
sion of permanence upon the reader's
mind. At sixty-one Ellen Glasgow
is more aware than ever of "life
in beginnings, moods in conflict, and
change."
LUARD
Corking Sea Story Tells
Of Fishers' Lives
On Trawler
CONQUERING SEAS, by L. Luard,
(Longmans, Green).
BY JOHN SELBY
It's a two to one shot you have not
read a sea story like "Conquering
Seas" for a good many moons, a story
so brief, so pungently written and so
entirely without affectation.
It is not only without affectation,
it is without one excess sentence.
Nothing could be more succinct, or
more directly expressed. The author
is a former British navy man. His
training may partly account for his
style, and certainly his signature
bears out the impression of economy.
It is not Lawrence Luard, or Leonard
-just "L. Luard."
The feeling of compression is bol-
stered again by a peculiarity of the
speech used- the book is a story of
the trawlers which supply Britain
and' other lands with fish, the fleet
which makes port for 36 hours, and
then spends three weeks in the
neighborhood of Iceland scooping up
fish, icing them, battling gales and
cold and kindred dangers. And ap-
parently the ships are manned by
men who speak telegraphically; their
common speech as reported by Luard
dispenses with all articles, and
sounds, until one is used to it, like
a series of cablegrams.
But everything fits into the scheme.
Luard is writing of a David and Jon-
athan relationship between two young
trawler men. Their captain "swal-
lows the anchor" and John takes his
command, with Alf as his boatswain.
But there is a hitch; John is pitted
against "Strangler Rule," and the
man with the best record keeps his
command. The race thus begun ends
tragically. There is no point in de-
tailing the plot, for it has very little
to do with the effect achieved.
This is one of genuineness. Great
moments are presented in taut prose,
a fine and manly friendship is told
with no mawkishness whatever, and
the sea itself is put into words which
somehow seem to suit it perfectly.
' 'I

(Of the English Department)

* * * *

Verse Of Celtic Poet Reflects

A

Sensitive,

Portraits

that satisfy
and stand
the test of

By DR. ARNO BADER
(Of the English Department)
James Stephens, who is to read his
poetry in Ann Arbor Tuesday evening,
is making his second tour of America.
His first appearance in 1925 intro-
duced his poetry to many who had
known him only as the author of The
Crock of Gold, for his reputation was
and probably still is, greater as a
writer of prose than as a poet.
Stephens' poetry is chiefly lyric.
He is no poet of towering passions or
savage energy, but writes best of
simple things and simple people - a
rabbit caught in a snare, a loquacious
old Irishman who suddenly sees God
-in simple, almost conversational
fashion. The extent of his love poetry
may be inferred from his acid com-
ment concerning "the mighty appe-
tite which the Nineteenth Century
displayed for the absurd and more
than plebian sensuality called Love."
Many of the same qualities to be
found in his prose characterize his
poetry. There is the vein of humor
-ironic, whimsical, fantastic. There
is the same occasional and fleeting
undercurrent of reflective thinking,
the sudden flow of serious, sometimes
profound observation into what began
as a light and delicate lyric. Some
readers of Stephens' most recent vol-
ume of verse, Strict Joy, have dis-
cerned in his later work an increase
in this tendency.

Mercurial Spirit
Again, the same avoidance of the
realistic distinguishes the poetry as
well as the prose. It is the emotion
of the experience, not the description
of the experience that interests Ste-
phens. And beneath both verse and
prose, whether serious or spritely, the
reader feels the same sensitive, mer-
(urial spirit expressing himself in
language markedly rhythmical. In
a time when much poetry moves in
crabbed and subtle rhythms, or is
even deliberately a-rhythmical, Ste-
phens' verse sings itself in the lyric
manner of Herrick.
In appearance, because of his short
stature and elfin countenance, Ste-
phens resembles most one of his own
Leprecauns. He reads his verse in
a musical voice, half chanting and
swaying in unison with the rhythm,
and with a light and pleasing touch of
Irish brogue. His manner is con-
vincingly natural and informal.
He is said to be one of the few
contemporary Irish men of letters for
whom James Joyce has a good word.
October Book Forecast
THE LAST PURITAN by George
Santayana: Scribner's.
VACHEL LINDSAY by Edgar Lee
Masters: Scribner's.
THINGS TO COME by H. G. Wells:
Macmillan.
THE LONGEST YEARS by Sigrid
Undset: Knopf.
ARCHY DOES HIS PART by Don
Marquis: Knopf.
IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE by Sin-
clair Lewis: Doubleday Doran.
IT SEEMS TO ME by Heywood
Broun: Harcourt & Brace.
MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL
by T. S. Eliot: Harcourt & Brace.
JANE ADDAMS by Hames Weber
Linn: Appleton Century.
TOM by E. E. Cummings: Arrow
Editions.

Like the singer of "Ol' Man River,"
Mike Aikenhead, central figure of
Mr. Callaghan's latest novel, is tired
of living and scared of dying. He
believes, to use his own words, that
"there's no use trying to hold on to
anything. It all gets broken in the
same .stupid, meaningless way. Any-
body could run this god-damned uni-
verse better than it's run." And yet,
though the only way to beat it is to
die, because life is nothing but one
broken attachment after another,
Mike and the other characters do a
lot of reflecting about the means of
escape from the silliness and confu-
sion and chaos which they see in
themselves and their fellows. Only
one individual is a happy man, with
peace and unity in his soul, and he is
about to have his own troubles with
a neurotic wife when the book ends.
BROWN
New York Gossip Of Last
Century Makes An
AmusingBook
BROWNSTONE FRONTS AND
SARATOGA TRUNKS, by Henry Co-
lins Brown; (Dutton).
By JOHN SELBY
Someone unfortunately once com-
pared the flavor of Henry Collins
Brown's "The Story of Old New
York" with that of Alexander Wool-
lcott's "While Rome Burns." May-
hem awaits him if he does it again
with "Brownstone Fronts and Sara-
toga Trunks."
Because the whirling dervish of ad-
jectives has his own place in this
world. And Mr. Brown has his. Mr.
Woollcott is even a little precious at
times without offending anybody
much, and Mr. Brown is never pre-
cious. He is a thorough-going, high
grade, gossip. He never does nasty
things with people's reputations, but
he apparently never forgets anything
amusing they ever did. No more does
he bother about the exgencies of
narrative writing. He says what pops
into his head when it pops. Nothing
dull ever pops in.
The new book tells the whole story
of New York from 1835 and the Great
Fire to the end of the century, in
theory. But Mr. Brown could no
more confine himself to 65 years
than the Mississippi could stick to
one channel. This is the sort of
thing you get:
You learn about the famous ball on
the Western Union building which
dropped at noon exactly; about the
reason why New York cooking im-
proved; about Samuel Finley Breese
Morse, who painted and invented the
telegraph; about Mayor Grant, who
was so furious at the forest of wires
and poles on the street he went out
and cut down a pole himself.
You discover the vendors of water
and scouring sand, and the fire lad-
dies who let buildings burn while
their companies fought for prece-
dence, and the virtues of "packet
day," and the man (named Dunham)
responsible for so many over-deco-
rated old buildings, and the potters
field that now is Washington Square
and the alphabet wheel which once
was used in -New York schools. The
horror of the metropolis when bath-
tubs were brought in is made real
and Mr. Brown explains also the bill
which made New York bone dry i
1850 and was simply ignored.
The book is packed with stuff like

ADVERTISEMENT
CUATEMO, LAST OF THE AZTEC EMPERORS
By Cora Walker. New York. Dayton Press. 60 Wall Street
A SCHOLARLY STUDY OF THE ANCIENT AZTECS.
Miss Walker's story is most interesting, because she has made
careful research, and presents a scholarly study of this an-
cient people.
Contratsted with the princely demeanor of these natives
of old Mexico is the character and background of Cortes and
the other alien invaders. The comparison forms a firm foun-
dation upon which the author bases her story of CUATEMO,
the last of the Aztec Emperors, who was an ideal king, a
perfect gentleman, and a soldier greater than the invader
from Spain.
Scholars, historians and students will be grateful to Miss
Walker for gathering together this material.
THE BOSTON TRANSCRIPT

who is the victim of maniacal melan-
cholia, the woman who was already
a mistress and was soon to be a sec-
ond wife. Breaking with his father,
Mike works his way through college
and goes out as an engineer to meet
unsuccessfully the depression. Some
years later, yielding momentarily to
his father's desire to recover the af-
fection of his son, Mike goes up to the
much-loved summer home of his boy-
hood for a week-end. There he man-
ages to let his step-brother drown
the night after that young man had
quarreled with Mike's father. Blame
falls on the elder Aikenhead, ruining
his advertising agency and his per-
sonal morale. Mike keeps still, argu-
ing that it serves his father right,
bound the more securely to silence
by falling in love with Anna Pry-
choda, a Ukrainian girl from Detroit
who has been living, almost at the
end of her resources, in his rooming-
house.
In this situation, it is little wonder
that Mike finds living a meaning-
less confusion, and is anxious only
to preserve what little happiness he
has found in the perfect rhythm of
his experience with Anna . To some
degree, at least, she brings him to her
own simple acceptance of poverty, of
love, even of babies, and at length
sends him to his father to confess his
guilt and to be forgiven.
The drowning episode seems to this
reviewer to be a complication neither
convincingly motivated nor resolved,
and to be actually in the way of the

for most men the chaos is a very in-
dividual affair, Mike admires, but
marvels at, Bill Johnson, the revolu-
tionary who dignifies 'humanity by
his faith in the poor of the world.
Not communism but Anna is Mike's
means of escape, yet any generaliza-
tion in that vein is invalidated by
the unsettled ethical problem of the
drowning.
The title is echoed twice, and ap-
pears to refer not to the hangers-on
around Hilton's lunch room, who "all
had the faces of human beings; they
were all intended to be men," but to
Anna, who tritely enough, though
"poor in spirit," (Mr Callaghan takes
some liberties with the Sermon on
the Mount), "lost herself in the full-
ness of the world, and in losing her-
self found the world, and possessed
her own soul."
The book is honest, well written,
and most decidedly worth reading.
It would appear that- the depression
has accentuated rather than changed
the prevailing note of deep despair in
post-war fiction. Mike Aikenhead is
too real and too frequently encoun-
tered for the easy maintenance of il-
lusions.
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