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November 10, 1935 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1935-11-10

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PAGEEIGHT T HE MICHIGAN DAILY SU
IN- THE WORLD OF BOK

NI)AY, NOVEMBER. 10, 1935~

O BRIEN

Younger Writers Shine
In New Collection
Of Stories
THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT
STORIES -1935, by Edward J.
O'Brien (editor) Houghton-
Mifflin Co. $2.50.
By CARLTON F. WELLS
(Of The English Department)
Out of some thousands of Amer-
ican short stories printed last year
in American magazines, O'Brien again
gives us his annual anthology of the
best. Of the total of his chosen
twenty-seven he has taken nine from
Story, five from New Stories, three
from Plowshare, and a scant eight
from the large group of such estab-
lished periodicals as Scribner's and
the American Mercury. As in his'
earlier volumes, he does not go in for
"names," the majority of writers be-
ing both young and unknown. He
studiously avoids the facile, written-
to-sell kind of story, a fact which
should recommend the book to the
reader of short fiction whose reading
isn't limited to Cosmopolitan and the
nickel weeklies.
Oddly enough the inferior stories
include work by such relatively well-
known writers as Faulkner, Erskine
Caldwell, and Benjamin Appel, all
leading proponents in their several
ways of the hard-boiled school. Their
work in this volume is meretricious
or clumsy in technique, and in the
case of Faulkner, tiresomely involved.
Whit Burnett's "Division" is a long,
labored, Dreiser-like chronicle of a
Western youth's failing struggle
against moral degeneracy. And
Thomas Wolfe's sketch of a railway
journey in France and Saroyan's too
typical introspective "Resurrection
of a Life" are unimportant.
But first-rate stories by the little-
known writers save the collection.
These tell good stories of credible
people, centering around ideas of
some originality and importance and
presented in a freshly individual way.
Among these are Benedict Thielen's
incident on a Navajo reservation in
Arizona, involving two honeymooners
from up North, told with fine eco-
nomy and restraint; W. W. Haine's
detailed study of events leading to
a demented lineman's electrocution;
Louis Hamet's shrewdly pointed sa-
tire on radio contests and law en-
forcement; and Harry Sylvester's "A
Boxer: Old," which deserves com-
parison with Hemingway's "Fifty
Grand" (1927) on a similar theme.
Two of the very best stories are
written by David De Jong, who grew
up in Grand Rapids, and Allan Sea-
ger, Rhodes Scholar from the Uni-
versity of Michigan and this year a

of the other writers, Mr. Roethke
seems to understand what he is striv-
ing for, and his lyrics reveal through
their unadorned structure and the
strength of each individual word no
tendency to falter or become diffuse
in their articulation of experience.
The metaphysical note he attains,
with its soundly conceived relation-
ship of man's body and spirit, repre-
sents the reflection of an alert mind,
aware of the complexities revealed
through man's scientific searching
after his own mystery.
A book which presents such ma-
terial for consideration is a definite
contribution to contemporary litera-
ture.

W ADN We Are Ad-vised Not To Be
Dull In Fighting It .... .

Note Of Disillusionment Sounded
In Anthology Of College Verse

CHALLENGE TO DEATH by fifteen
British authors. Edited by Storm
Jameson, with an introduction to
the American edition by Vera Brit-
tain. E. P. Dutton. $2.00.
By MARSHALL SHULMAN
To a dinner party in an exclusive
London Club early in 1934, came a'
group of well-known English writers
- public-spirited men and women of
letters.
In their minds was the accusation
voiced by Julien Benda that the
growth of national and class hatred
today was due to the disappearance
of men of learning "whose sole cult is
that of justice and truth."
"Had we really," they were asking
themselves," as novelists, biographers,
poets, journalists, dramatists or
scientists, neglected some of the op-
portunities which we might have tak-
en to persuade public opinion to sub-
stitute reason for passion, truth for
prejudice, justice for persecution? Of
what avail was our contribution to
literature and art if the type of civil-
ization in which literature and art are
possible was to come within a few
years to a violent end?"
The answer to the accusation is the
Challenge To Death, a symposium
against war by fifteen active English
minds, including Julian Huxley, J.
B. Priestly, Rebecca West, Vera Brit-
tain, and edited by Storm Jameson.
It is a sound review of all that has

been said about war, its cause and
cure.
This morning's paper carries an-
other report of Italian marches into
the interior of Ethiopia. This inva-
sion is not an unmitigated evil, for
off in the distance, when pacifists are
speaking tomorrow, will sound the
danse macabre of war drums and
cannon, forcing realistic practicality
on what is too often unadulterated
rubbish.
In a valiant attempt to be sincere
and to "get down to fundamentals,"
these authors throw away the clap-
trap of pacifists and ask themselves:
What are the causes of war? What
does the rejection of war as an in-
strument of policy involve?
The general trend of their thought,
although no conscious attempt was
made to keep consistency among the
separate essayists, runs toward a
strengthened League of Nations to
replace the anarchy of our interna-
tional relations today. For the ex-
citement of war and its destruction,
they would substitute an excitement
of peace and creation. If war is, as
Aldous Huxley puts it, "as pleas-
urably exciting as a prolonged or-
gasm," we'll make international
brotherhood more exciting, says
Storm Jameson, who contributes a
fine essay on The Twlight of Reason,
in addition to her work as editor.
Rv far the most appealing of the

teaching fellow in Michigan's depart-
ment of English. Seager's "The
Town and Salamanca," says O'Brien,
"seems to me to add a new di-
mension to American fiction. I
feel it can be studied over and
over by every American writer.
Not only are its conceptions of
the American scene entirely new,
but its technical means of pre-
senting these conceptions are ex-
tremely subtle in texture."
Aside from its indubitable technical
excellence, this story gives a wonder-
fully convincing picture of the far-
advancing home-town youth, of the'
wistfully envious friends who never
got away, and of the wanderer's re-
turn to settle down to the humdrum
of banking, poker and golf. De-
Jong's "Home-Coming" is utterly dif-
ferent, but equally effective in its in-
dividual fashion. He tells one of the
thousand and one possible versions
of the prodigal son parable. The was-
trel turned forger returns at theI
end of a two-year prison term -- a
home-coming described with rare in-
sight, dispassionateness, humor, and
with entirely plausible unexpected-
ness of event.
In subject-matter these twenty-
seven stories, with a few exceptions,
fail to touch American life at vital'

and important points. To be sure,
no one can choose a writer's sub-
jects for him; and O'Brien even
thinks it necessary to issue a pre-
fatory warning against "the short
story subservient to political, eco-
nomic, religious, or any other kind of
belief"- a safe generalization. But
one may notice that only one story
deals with the industrial scene, and
not a single story really reflects the
depression in any of its manifold
aspects. Not one touches the life of
the American farmer or -less sur-
prising - the college campus. These
omissions may be accidental, yet one
wonders if the editor's preferences
don't have something to do with it,
even in the magazines he so largely
draws from. Or is it that too many
of our gifted new writers, in their
restless search for material overlook
much that significantly colors and
determines American life?
PICKFORD REMINISCES
Over 20,000 people went through
Robinson's Department Store in Los
Angeles recently when Mary Pickford
appeared there to autograph her new-
ly published novel, Demi-Widow. Sev-
eral women were injured in the en-
suing rush to get America's Sweet-
heart's signatures.

essays is that of J. B. Priestly, who
writes of The Public and the Idea of
Peace. Instead of depending upon
a rational analysis to prove to un-
imaginative citizens that war is what
it is, Mr. Priestly is realistic enough
to assume that the majority of peo-
ale he is addressing have to be "sold
the idea of peace" in the good old
American high-pressure way. Not
with grim stories of war and its hor-
rors would he scare youngsters, for
out of such works "the figure of war
has risen, blood-soaked and appalling
-but grand. They have done with
Mars what Milton did with Satan."
Instead, says he, I would make them
laugh. "I believe the occasional fun-
ny war books have done more good
than all the tragic ones put to-
gether. The immense futility of the
thing should be exhibited boldly.
People should be reminded that mod-
ern warfare consists - for example-
of such things as the careful assemb-
ling of fifty dental mechanics, who
are packed into horse vans and lor-
ries, sent to dig latrines in some mys-
terious countryside, and are then
blown to pieces by shells that have
been fired by ten house-decorators,
who do not know at whom they are
firing and what the quarrel is all
about."
"Too many people who work hard
for the cause of international security
are dull dogs," observes Mr. Priestly,
"who drone on and on until nobody
knows or cares what they are saying.
They have not a chance against the
other side, with its flags and uni-
forms and brass bands and parades
and mass emotions."
Vera Brittain, famed author of
The Testament of Youth, contributes
an introduction to the American edi-
tion of this symposium, and a sharp
essay on Peace and the Public Mind,
in which she strikes home by suggest-
ing that "between the two extremes
of the politically constructive persons
who are consciously trying to build
civilization upon a rational basis, and
the obdurate, rigid-minded jingoes
whose blindly nationalistic propa-
ganda is hastening the advent of an-
other war, lies a vast middle section
of puzzled individuals, conscientious,
benevolent, eager to do right,' but
genuinely uncertain whatcourse to
pursue."
Timely is her warning: "How many
'enlightened' individuals who have
long recognized the absurd exaggera-
tions of war-atrocity stories are pre-
pared to examine tales of Fascist
atrocities in an equally critical spirit?
.. A contemporary tendency among
certain political groups to identify
Germany with Hitler and proceed to
hate both, is not one that can be
viewed with equanimity by anybody
who remembers the 'Hang the Kaiser'
lunacy of 1918."
The authors of the book, according
to Miss Brittain, "stand for collective
security and for the maintenance and
improvement of that machinery
which, for all its imperfections, rep-
resents our sole defense against an-
archy. They visualize, as an inter-
mediate step without which it is im-
possible to proceed to that rational
Utopia which all desire, the collective
ownership of armaments and the col-
lective enforcement, in the last re-
sort, of sanctions against an aggres-
sor." .
The titles of some of the other es-
says may suggest the nature of their
approach to this ideal: Peace Through
Science, by Julian Huxley; The Mir-
age of Isolation, by Gerald Barry; No
Peace Apart From International Se-
curity: An Answer to Extreme Paci-
fists, by Mary Agnes Hamilton; and
The Necessity and Grandeur of the
International Idea, by Rebecca West,
to mention only a few.
The book is good and sound -not
new, not radical. Makes a good anti-
dote for the feeling of bewilderment
of the morning after Armistice Day
speeches.

TRIAL BALANCES, an anthology of
college verse edited by Ann Wins-
low. MacMillan. $2.00.
By ROBERT HAKKEN
Anthologies of college verse in the
past years have been little more than
omnibuses carrying atgreat deal of
cargo, but with too little material by
any one poet to enable onehto know
the writer or to consider the future
his work implied. Because Ann Wins-
low has realized that this must be
the function of an anthology con-
taiing the work of young writers,
TrialBalances achieves an immediate
value that offers promise of increas-
ing worth with the years. She has
selected thirty-two young poets who
themselves decided what work should
represent them, and further, Miss
Winslow asked some of the leading
American poets and critics to evaluate
that work. The poetry, accompanied
by the brief, pointed essays of such
figures as Robert Hillyer, Malcolm
Cowley, Allen Tate, Louise Bogan,
Stephen Vincent Benet, Stanley J.
Kunitz, Babette Deutsch, and Wallace
Stevens, offers much to the reader of
verse.
The poetic range represented by
Miss Winslow's selections is not close-
ly confined, but bears some share of
a common experience, for these young
people have found a sort of reticent
bravery with which to face the diffi-
culties of our day. Whether they
celebrate the infinitesimal, or the
power of great social or economic
forces, they sound a sincere, feeling
of wariness, the product of disillusion.
In conveying this poetic experience
they have not been too willing to erect
new and surprising forms for their
verse, but have chosen for the most
part to follow established techniques
developed by major poets of recent
years. Their critics have observed
this knowledge of self-chosen masters1
and have commented upon the
thoughtful use of it.
However, the danger involved in in-
discriminate admiration of a pre-
decessor is revealed in some of Anna
Elizabeth Bennett's lines, and even
more in her precision-cast rhythm.
When one reads,
"She who all the garrulous day
Flings her laughter on the light
Is akin to leprechaun,
Dryad, oread and sprite,
Everything that lovely is . "
the memory of James Stephen,s

chanting as he sways, overcomes the
sharp imagery of her poem to nullifyI
the power of her gift.
Two former Michigan siudents are
represented in this anthology. Their
work reveals a fundamental problem
shared by all of these poets: whether
to choose the fully developed tech-
nique of an established poet, or
whether to attempt the more difficult
task of creating a style which asserts
sufficiently and with distinction the
poetry of its originator. For this re-
viewer the poems of Theodore Roeth-
ke, who graduated from the Uni-
versity in 1929, have this singular
authoritativeness. More than any

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
Roger williams Guild
R. EDWARD SAYLES and
HOWARD R. CHAPMAN, Ministers
SUNDAY
10:45 A.M. - Dr. Frank W. Padelford,
Sec. of the Baptist Bd. of Ed. will
speak.
12:00 M.-Student study group meets
at Guild House. "Religious Aspir-
ations" will be presented by Mr.
Chapman. Criticism and discus-
sion will follow. Closing at 12:40.
6:00 P.M.-At the student meet-
ing Bill Umbach will dead in a
concluding consideration of "War
and Peace."
7:00 P.M. - Youth of High School
age in church parlors. Dr. Padel-
ford will lead in a conference on
higher education.

THE 1935 nation-wide under-
graduate strike against war
was the "Boston Tea Party" of
the growing revolt against aca-
demic intolerance and oppression.
This book is its declaration of
independence! In it James
Wechsler, former Editor of The
Columbia Spectator, dramatically
reveals the real stf'ength of a
movement that has been growing
throughout the depression.
REVOLT ON THE CAMPUS is a
terse and brilliant piece of report-
ing on the current temper of
American student bodies. It tells
the startling facts about student
protests-and their violent sup-

pression by the authorities-on
campuses all over the United
States. The evidence" is over-
whelmingly in favor of the stu-
dents; it is required readingfor
the undergraduate who wants to
know where he stands.

I-
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of you or your children made
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Evening. No bother of going
to a strange studio-just
your own home atmosphere
and environment.
GEORGE R. SWAIN
713 East University
Phone 21424 for an appointment

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To your bookseller, or
COVICI-FRIEDE, Publishers
432 Fourth Ave., New York, N. Y.
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