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March 29, 1936 - Image 6

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1936-03-29

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SIX

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

IN THE WORLD OF BOKS

SUNDJAY, MARCH 29, 1936

.. .
... ..r

Canby Reminisces And Reflects'
In Study Of American College

D: What Depression Has Done
To American Youth...

ALMA MATER: The Gothic Age
of The American College by Hen-
ry Seidel Canby. Farrar and
Rineheart, $2.50.
By THOMAS H. KLEENE
Heralded as "as delightful a book"
as The Age of Confidence, Henry
Seidel Canby's Alma Mater presents a
frank analysis of the Gothic Age of
the American College based upon the
author's career as both an under-
graduate and a teacher. Alma Mater
describes the collegiate experiences of
those who are now in executive charge
of the country and offers an exposi-
tion of the laboratory in which their
mores were developed.
The Gothic Age stamped the busi-
ness man of the twenties as definitely
college-bred, just as much so as the
citizen of the nineties had been
stamped a small-town business man.
So plainly were the college men and
professors of the early 20th century
"watermarked" that they could be
easily distinguished from all others.
Mr. Canby first deals with that par-
ticular phenomenon of American
civilization, the college town, "the
egg in which nestled the college yolk."
Recognizable in the description of the
relationship between town and gown
is a certain similarity to our own col-
lege community (which similarity is
also noticeable in other portions of
the book).
Sketches of two distinct "contribu-
tions" of the college to the community
--the college widow and faculty char-
acters-serve to enhance this initial
chapter.-
The college of the Gothic Age was
a three-ring circus divided into both
formal and informal education and
the professional schools. Informal
education was the college experience,
while formal education was what the
faculty handed down in lectures and
text-books. To the student the form-
er seemed to be the more important
part of his college curriculum and his
real education because "every hard-
lived life is an education, and no ed-
ucation educates unless it is lived."

The five schools of thought on
teaching which Mr. Canby cites still
characterize the modern University.
The hard-boiled presented their sub-
ject and, if the student wanted it,
he came and got it, just as the horse
is led to the watering place but not
forced to drink. The dead hand of
the indifferent school, those who were
indifferent in their teaching, still rests
on many a mind. The idealists were
perhaps the most unhappy. They can
be described as bull-headed and con-
tinually fighting a losing battle for
what they believed to be best in edu-
cation. The author sees the factual
school as the happiest and the most
popular. The enthusiast school were
"keen to show others that poetry or
evolution or philology was life ab-
stracted but intensified." Mr. Canby
casts his lot with the idealist-philo-
sophic school.
Some scholars of the Gothic age are
criticized, as are miserly millionaires,
for seeking only scholarship while
forgetting its benefits. Much of the
scholarship although it was genuine
erudition, was of little value because
it was inapplicable and stunted.
He who returns to tell the bored
undergraduate that "things aren't
what they used to be when I was on
the campus" - the alumnus - is "one
of the really engaging figures of so-
cial history," despite the fact that he
has not always been admirable in his
self-appointed position of older
brother of the college.
This book presents an admirable
and keenly analytical picture of just
what the college of the Gothic Age
did to and for the country and also
what the country did to and for the
college. Many of Mr. Canby's obser-,
vations are just as true of the modern I
college as of the Gothic Age college.
This, unfortunately, is the case with
many of the faults of the '90's which
were indicated.
Alma Mater is a brilliant book - as
brilliant as it is simple, and it con-
stitutes a really fine picture of that;
period which was so important in the
history of our colleges.

THE LOST GENERATION. By Max-
ine Davis. Macmillan. $3.00.
By ELSIE PIERCE
It is a far cry from the "flaming
youth" of the post-war generation,
with its clamorous insistence on free-
dom and Life with a capital L, to the
youth of today, three million of whom
have been disastrously caught in the
swirls and eddies of the depression,
and left without jobs, without hopes,
and without faith.
Though a product of the Jazz Agee
herself, Miss Davis set out in a sec-
ond-hand flivver to tour the entire
country, interviewing thousands of
young people in all walks of life -
filling station attendants, CCC camp
boys, debutantes, college students,
juvenile delinquents, five-and-ten-
cent store clerks, always with the aim
of finding out just how they are
thinking and reacting to modern con-
ditions.
It was never intended as a soci-
ological survey -in fact Miss Davis
candidly admits that even the sight
of such statistics makes her dizzy -
rather it began as a journalism as-
signment for McCall's Magazine, and
ended as one of the most understand-
ing portrayals of American youth
which we have yet encountered.
Too often when an adult begins
to analyze the younger generation,
he makes the mistake of judging,
youth by the standards of the days;
when he himself was young.
There are some adults who believe
that the inability of these young
people to get jobs is caused by the
fact that they have been pampered
and spoiled by improved living con-'
ditions, or that they are inherently
BOOK-ENDS!
Kenneth Patchen, whose first book
of poems, BEFORE THE BRAVE, wasj
recently reviewed on this page, has
just been awarded a Guggenheim fel-j
lowship. He will leave for New Mex-
ico next month to work on a new
book.c

lazy and irresponsible. At the other
pole there is the extreme American
optimist who thinks that everything
will turn out for the best, and that
as soon as business improves, all the
young people who have been marking
time will be given excellent jobs -
just because it always has turned out
all right before.
It is, therefore, a noteworthy ac-}
complishment to analyze the youth of
today, as Miss Davis has, from an
unprejudiced viewpoint, which has
enabled her to present a much more
truthful picture of the situation.
Her final analysis of the effects
which the depression has had on the
youth of today is partly encouraging,
but her optimism carries with it a
note of warning which America would
do well to heed before it is too late.
To those who can find no good qual-
ities in the youngpeople, giving them
up as lost souls, Miss Davis has this
to say. "They are terribly concerned
'with fundamentals. These funda-
mentals any one of them can list
without hesitation. An education. A
job. Marriage. And a little fun ..
This generation has important as-
sets. It is making significant con-
tributions to our life. First and fore-
most is courage. Courage to do the
work at hand no matter how trifling.
These boys and girls see no labor
at all as belittling regardless of their
class and standards. They have no
false pride, no self-importance. Their
sportsmanship is gallant. They neither
whine nor whimper. They have not
conceded defeat, and they will not ad-
mit cynicism into their minds as they
regard established institutions. With
them the basic social unit, the home
is safer than it has been in a long
time. When they are able to marry,
they value it; marriage is not as light
a matter as it was in the easy-money
era. Because they have a deep need
for emotional security, they are
founding their families on enduring
rock. "Add to this the strength, the
ebullience, the high spirit of the youth
they still have, untarnished on the
whole by any presence of lasting de-
feat, and the fact that they have
not lost their will to work or their
desire for progress."
And yet in talking with thousands
of young people Miss Davis senses a
foreboding of things to come which
may bring serious upheavals. These
young people have had all their ideals
and faiths shattered in the past few
years. As Miss Davis says, "Our young
men grew up in the assurance that
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and to honored places in the eyes of
their fellow-men. In the past few
years many of them have found that
this is not true. The older genera-
tion has betrayed and deceived them.
Bleakly our youth has been mark-
ing time while the clock ticks away
its bright years, the good years of
plowing and sowing and sweating.
They are runners, delayed at the gun.
They have lost so much time at the
start that only the exceptional can
challenge the finish.."
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ALEX
SAYS

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Alex
Wishes you
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