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November 17, 1935 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1935-11-17

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i -_ -

Artist Writes Of His Self-Exile
In Greenland's Icy Mountains

SALAMINA; illustrated by the au-
thor, Rockwell Kent. Harcourt
Brace, $3.75.
(Of the Library Staff)
Evidently Kent is not at all timor-
ous about what his readers may think
when they read this rather frank ac-
count of his life in Greenland. It is
as he says, "A record - of life with-
out the luxuries that we enjoy in
America, without most of the gadgets
that we have come to call necessities
of life in a barren country where
even bare existence is precarious and
the means of getting it a hazard ...
that's what the story is about -
that and much more: Adventure, Ro-
mance, brave men and beautiful un-
moral women." The barrenness and
cold are a thin background much
overshadowed by adventure and ro-
Kent went to Greenland as he had
gone to Alaska some years before,
as an artist who finds an intense
beauty to be painted in a landscape
of ice and snow. It is only in his
paintings and in this book that he
has caught the intenseness of this
northern life. The full-page illus-
trations accompanying the text serve
as dramatis personae, but they are
not at all suggestive of the actual
characters. The blending of typog-
raphy and the woodcuts used as chap-
ter headings is however unusually
In going to Greenland, he also de-
sired that escape from civilized life
to liberty which led Gaugin from the
Paris Bourse to Tahiti in the South
Seas. As did Gaugin in Noa-Noa,
Kent relates his attempt to live as a
native. Kent, however, admits he did
not find an escape. Speaking of the
Greenlanders he says, "The primitive
that still endures n us may envy
them. Theirs is a life that we at
times in thought revert to. They fit
that life; we don't. I envy them."
From his attempt to live as a na-
tive Greenlander, Kent began to know
the people in the village, and as they
became a part of his life, the book
was inevitable. Presented with such
characters as Trolleman, the villian-
ous trading-post manager, David the
hunter, and Anna and Salamina the
housekeepers, presented with these
and many more people, Kent had but
to watch them and the book wrote
The first opportunity for observa-

- tion occurred when Kent began build-
ing his house. Most of the village
crowded about him, all trying to help.
"Every day was a prolonged social
event that brought me the acquaint-
ance of many charming people, and,
incidentally, somewhat advanced the'
work at hand. Reach one hand for a
board; have ten more seize it simul-
staneously . .. Shall I ever forget the
hanging of my inner door! The
people mounted boxes to see in. With-
out a word, just looking, watching
every little move I made, they stayed
and stared."
When the house was at last fin-
ished, it was necessary to find a
housekeeper. Salamina, a widow with
two children, was found. She was
recommended to Kent as "the most
1faithful, noble, and most beautiful.
of all the women of North Green-
land." It is for her that the book
is named, for her nobility of character
and her expertness at housekeeping.
There is in this northern life much
more gayness and dancing than we
are accustomed to believe. The true
social life is found at a "kaffe-
mik," a coffee-drinking. Your invita-
tion may come at any time during
the day, and when it comes you must
go at once to the home where the
party is being given. "Seated, you
toss a lump of sugar into your mouth,
pour the saucer full of coffee, and
from the saucer drink it. When
finished, you put your cup and saucer
back on the table, sit down again,
and become as the rest - silent.
Meanwhile, a number of the guests
who, having had their coffee, have
sat their time out, have gotten up and
left. You bide your time, and follow.
The party lasts like this most of the
day. And then, that night the dance.
Down near the shore stands a dilapi-
dated turf hut. Six feet by ten of
wet and filthy floor space in a drafty
hole: Welcome, you hundred people,
dance, enjoy yourselves! The pity of
it is they do."
Kent was no longer the painter
when he wrote this book, for he does
not select his material, accentuating
some parts and sublimating others.
He has, instead, included all the pan-
orama of village life. Nothing is out
of focus. Whether he is describing
squalor and dirt or heroic adventure,
he is always sincere and often pic-
turesque. We accept Kent's picture
of Igdlorssuit, Greenland, as authen-
tic, amusing and sometimes exciting.

C 1-
Chase. MacMillan. $2.50. n
"As for man, his days are as
grass; as a flower of the field, so
he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it,
and it is gone, and the place
thereof shall know it no more.' f
With these words of the Psalmist as
salt in her mouth, Mary Ellen Chase
sets down her quiet saga of the clip-
per-ship era in Maine, from its glor-
ious zenith through its shadowy de-
cline and eclipse. It 'is the story of r
Silas Crockett, the dynamic young
captain of "Southern Seas," who .
grows rich on the opulent Indies trade _
of the '30's; of Nicholas, his son, in
whose ears already throbs the dis-
tant foreboding of a newer age; his
grandson, Reuben, forced to serve china
humbly the new taskmaster, steam; of ro
and finally, the great grandson, Silas, flecke
whom the depression sets at work in of leE
a herring-factory on the coast. fle
With the inherent dignity, of the flake
Puritan spirit all four generations plate
accept their respective fates. The thel
last of the line, the younger Silas,
disappointed in his career, can still
stare out at sea like a prophet and
say stoically, "All the things we've
learned can't take away what's root-
ed in us through generations like
these around us and through this
coast and sea. Believing in a thing
doesn't mean that you've got to un-
derstand all about it. I think be-
lieving in a thing means hanging on-
to it because you know it's good and,
even when you lose faith in it for a
time, still hanging on to what it did
for you when you had it." It is an
epic of material rather than spiritual
decay, and it is here that Miss Chase
disagrees with Robert Tristram Cof-
fin, whose recent Red Sky in the
Morning was woven on the same
theme. For her the blood of the old
sea-going aristocracy has not thin-
ned; only their prosperity and cul-
ture have ebbed with the time.
Undoubtediy the first portion of
the book devoted to the golden days
of the early Crocketts is the finest
and most memorable. Here the
glamour of the old shipping days is
recreated with a rare beauty and
sympathy, and here one feels that
nostalgia of the land-bound for the
sea, so marked in her earlier Mary
Peters. The appeal of such descrip-
tions as Solace Winship's wedding,
lies in her judicious selection and at-
tention to detail, a wholly feminine
quality of writing. Of the wedding

Recreates The Gallant
Of Clipper Ships ...


" ' k so that they made shining globes
within the polished table
The Puritan spirit is the essence
. of Miss Chase's style, the clarity and
homespun simplicity of New England.
There is a certain charm in her chary
economy of phrasing, but the tight re-
'serve that precludes emotionalism
makes one wish that she possessed a
..~... better grasp of the dramatic. As in
most semi-historical novels covering
a long span of time, the rich roman-
ticism of the past sustains the earlier
portions, while the later are bycon-
trast colorless and tepid. The slow
montonous tenor is little relieved by
reiterated memories.
The book, quartered as it is into
four distinct generations, lacks the
MARY ELLEN CHASE fiber to mold these divisions into a
compact whole. There is a sameness,
she says : " ... cups and saucers not onlyof detail but of narrative,
se and green and gold, flowers in the last three sections. Each mar-
ed with sun amid a wilderness riage is contracted in similar man-
, ner; each union produces one son;
aves, butterflies of raised gold that son grows up in the old house in
poised above them, fragile so much the same way that all three
s that became transparent in boyhoods blend into a single pattern.'
ight from the western windows Outside of the first Silas and his

the characters on the whole are two-
dimensional, quite lacking in any real
depth and individuality.
Doubtless Silas Crockett, with its
facile charm and easy rhythm, will
find a great body of readers. But,
with neither the vivid brightness of
Willa Cather nor the power and pro-.
found feeling of Ellen Glasgow, one,
doubts its permanence in the world j
of literature.
An interesting view of the New
Russia will be presented in We Soviet
Women by Tatiana Tehernavin. In
this books she writes of people she
met and knew in the Soviet Union.

By Hilaire Belloc. Lippincott.
By Daniel Frohman Kendall.
By Walter Duranty. Simon and
Schuster. $3.50.
SEA. By J. E. Williamson Hale.
By Burton Rascoe. Doubleday,
Doran. $3.00.

mother Abigail, both finely limned,


. . If Your Marks are In The Red
. If Exams and Studies Make You Blue
. . If the Future Looks Black
Then hurry to State and North U and buy
The College Bookshop


This is
National Children's
Book Week
Never before were we so well prepared to make the Children Happy - Our two
large stocks embrace all that is wholesome and lovely of CHILDREN'S CLASS-
ICS - also the Current Publications including:
New picture books by Marjory Flack, Lois Lenski, Dorothy
Lathrop and many others.
Exciting stories, well illustrated, for older children by Eliza
Orne White, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Caroline Dale Snedeker, Arthur
Ransome, Maxwell Reed and Wilfred S. Bronson.
The Milne Classics - When We Were Very Young, Now We
Are Six, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The House at Pooh Corners, with
original illustrations now at a new low price of $1.00 each.
Many old and familiar titles that should be in every child's
library, now available at 50c, 75c and $1.00.


in Evening of Un-
fathomable Pleas-
urability, with the
Master of the fAir
GILL, and his Inim-
itable Orchestra
at the
The Michigan League
November 29th $3.50
Nine till One



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