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October 11, 1936 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1936-10-11

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY SUNDA, OCT. U 1

IN

THE

WORLD

OF

BOOKS

Favors Ideal Of
Non-Combativeness

CHI1LDERS,
Depicts With Sympathy
Tragic Interracial
Friendship

Literary Embryos Give Promise
Of Freed A merican Thog ht

White Banners
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN $2.50
By JAMES A. BOOT. R
Hannah believed that giving-up,
letting-go, and sacrifice, generate in-+

side one a peculiar power that ca
used in the achievement of gre
things. Weak people stick up
their rights, says Hannah, knov
how weak they are inside and b
afraid other people will find it 0
"Strong people don't go to mr
bother defending themselves
their 'rights.' When the milk is
and they're getting the blame
it, and feel sure it wasn't their ft
they find the mop and say to th
selves, "I'm bigger. I'm stror
I'll do it. Not because I'm to bh
but because the others aren't sti
enough.' And then the weak on
usually willing to help, and ev4
thing is all right again."
White Ban'ners tells the story,
well, of Hannah Parmelee andl
her simple and straightforward
still ungrounded philosophy
woven into the thoughts apd
fected the lives of a score of pers
This Hannah Parmelee, dressed i
dowdy black coat and a -ridicu
cheap hat, but well-worn expen
tan shoes, was blown into the fr
door of a middle-west profess
humble home one wintry day w
the household felt the ineptitude
the mistress of it. She was pedd
an apple parer for twenty-five ce
If it had not been such freez
weather, Marcia Ward, holding a t
negligee about her, would have qui
ly shut the door with a brisk'
thank you." But it was the le
she could do to ask the woman i
the hall while she insisted on d
onstrating the instrument withf
gers equally as red as the apple
held in her other chilled hand. T
was Hannah Parmelee ushered i
the lives of Marcia and Paul WE
and the story of her quietly effici
management of the impractical fa
ily's economic affairs only bre
the way for her entrance into t,
thinking with her simple philosop
And so Lloyd C. Douglas is off
track down another elusive religi
belief-the sort of thing he hand
so well in Magnificent Obsession.
is a rather inconceivable philosot
when reviewed summarily by
sophisticate. A fanatical belief
non-combativeness that seemed
consume the emotions of Hann
Whether it was the ideal itself

well-spaced intervals. And the reader
is apt to find the "sermons" intensely
refreshing and banked by something
more than fanaticism. The reader
will, after having reluctantly closed
the back cover, often thereafter won-
der quite unconsciously what would
Hannah have to say about this prob-
lem or that, if one might have a
heart-to-heart talk with her in herl
kitchen.
A pastor in the Congregational
Church in Ann Arbor for five years,
Mr. Douglas is remembered by many
here as a capable and wise figure in
the pulpit and out of it. Wandering,
accidentally into the writing of fic-
tion, he has seen his first three
novels, "Green Light," "Magnificent
Obsession," and "Forgive Us Our
Trespasses," sell 350,000 copies. And
White Banners will add considerably
to that total, as it is a book with
an easy readable style, and with a
theme that can well appeal to our
higher intelligence.
Those five years the author lived in
Ann Arbor crop up now and then
in a paragraph, a chapter, or a single
phrase. He talks knowingly of the
University Club, where Paul delivered
bright little talks on Edmund Spen-
ser to his colleagues, talks also of
the University Hospital, of the Eng-
lish department and its inner-work-
ings, of the university town's feud
in social life between town and gown.
Hannah used her religion thor-
oughly. She didn't do it deftly, with
a light and easy touch; it was tough
going for a servant to arrange and
rearrange the destinies of a family
and to affect the destinations of
others, and being all the time in the
background. But then, aren't gen-
erals awa rl s in tha ha krd?

1

Sigratures, Work in Progress, ex-
trarts from forthcoming books, to-
See 'In The Deep South' gether with a Signature of Poets, pub-
lished by Jchn H. Thompson, De-
A Novel About a White Man and a trcit. Number Two, 750.
Black Man. By James Saxon Chil- Last spring a rather novel and in-
ders. Farrar and Rinehart. $2.50 teresting literary enterprise was un-
dertaken by John Thompson, a De-
troit publisher, in an apparent effort
By WILLIAM R. SIZEMORE to exploit and at the same time stim-
ulate interest in contemporary Amer-
The most h important feature of In can literature, especially the work
the Deep South is that unlike most of new authors, by publishing ex-
novels about the Southern States,it tracts from forthcoming books in a
does not depend on a revelation of compact, low-priced semi-annual pe-
weird customs and practices of South- riodical. Judging from the second

By JOSEPH GIES

ery- LLOYD DOUGLAS
* * *
andhthe forceful personality that had an
ht unwavering faith in it, that accounts
but for its gentle pervasion into so many
was lives, is conjectural. But be it or not,
af- Hannah, as a mere servant in this
ons. professor's home, served to straighten
ious out practically all their affairs, and
s she did it with this intent religion of
oit hers that even she admitted not un-
ont derstanding fully or knowing exactly
hen how to put it into words.
of "All I know about it is this: If
ling you find that you're related to people
nts. -all kinds of people-so closely that
zing if you make war on them you're
hin fighting yourself-and if you don't
ck- trust them you're not trusting your-
"no self-there's a strange power that
east begins to give you more than you
nto had lost by being defrauded now and
em- then. If you walk quietly and trust-
fin- fully-you have something to show
she for'it."
hus At first this unusual credo was
nto' pooh-poohed by the Wards and by
ard, most people to whom it was trans-
ent mitted, but gradually the thing
m- worked into them and affected their
aks outlooks.
heir Although Lloyd Douglas has not
hy. faced a congregation for some years;
E to now, he is still at the business of'
ous preaching. Such a quality in his
lied writing is noticeable every now and
It then in the speech of the many char-;
phy acters who amble through his book.
the There's Adele, the friend of Han-
in nah's, there's Eleanor Trimble, the
to petite banker's wife, and there's Han-
ah. nah herself, who moralize on the
or serious occupation called living, at

ern people for its gain interest. Rath-
er, it is the story of a true problem.
It concernsathe attempt of a south-
ern white and a Negro to carry on
in the South a friendship formed at
a northern college.
Most of the novel is an expression
of pity for the tragedy of the south-
ern Negro-and the southern white.
Although Mr. Childers is thoroughly
a southerner, it is without question
an impartial account of the trouble
encountered by each of the main
characters.
Specifically the book tells the story
of Gordon Nicholson, a member of
one of the better families of Birm-
ingham, and Dave Parker, a south
Georgia Negro, educated at a north-
ern school and given a Harlem polish
by a short residence in New York
City. The two met in college, and,
in spite of Nicholson's instinctive dis-
like for Parker, they were drawn to-
gether by their mutual love of music
and football.

number of Signatures, the effort de-
serves a success which such cour-
ageous attempts at literary pioneer-
ing too seldom receive.
As might perhaps be anticipated,
Signatures contain a large propor-
tion of rural material, rather typ-
ically American. The first episode
included is a short story by Glenway
Wescott entitled The Sight of a Dead
Bcdy, recounting with a surprising
deftness the discovery of a corpse by
a farm laborer, the subordination of
the horror to more speculative reac-
tions in the man's mind, and then
the sudden dull shock. Less than
four pages long, the story is almost
perfect in its completeness.
Evelyn Scott is perhaps the best-
known writer included in the group.
A section of an unpublished novel,
Land of Change, depicts the effort
at happiness of an unfortunate
American writer exiled in poverty in
a small French village, shackled to

a lovely but selfish wife and two
half-grown boys, thwarted in his
work, hanging on hopelessly on the
edge of starvation, tortured by the
indifference of the woman he loves
and trying to find solace for an eve-
ning in the excitement of his son
at the town fete. This is the most
artful writing of the issue; some of
the subtle emotional play of the man's
troubled self-despising mind casting
back in the constant remoldings of
the past with which weak men try
to comfort themselves. As his wife
leaves the fete, he watches her de-
parting up the dim street, and thinks,
"With a bank account, could they re-
capture the old tang and flavor of
experience?" A bank account! Form
of criticism supreme!
The opening chapter of David De-
Jong's second novel, Light Sons and
Dark, has a Michigan farm back-
ground, dreary and disconcerting, and
rather grim. Ben, discouraged by the
failure of his life and the hopeless-
ness of his future and disgusted by
the bestiality of his brothers and the
tawdriness of his sister-in-law, urges
his youngest brother, Joe, to leave'
the farm and escape the rut in which
Ben finds himself. The scene be-
tween Ben and his sister-in-law, in
which he resists the woman's at-
tempt to seduce him, is a masterpiece
of direct, brutal simplicity.
A very brief but memorable bit
from an unfinished novel of Nathan
Asch dealing with the dust storms of
1934 portrays with graceful and ef-
fective touch a fleeting city-street in-
cident in Dallas, the adventure of a

country girl not long in town who i ths
just lost her job at the five and ten.
The episode is mostly dialogue, j.t
the ordinary every-day talk, of the
lower classes, no dialect and no dirt,
but none the less dramatic.
Another chapter of A World I Never
Made, by James T. Farrell, a section
of which appeared in the first num-
ber of Signatures is another gem of
dialogue, as well as a penetrating
but sympathetic character study.
The last section of Signatures is
devoted to A Signature of Pc rti;
mostly random bits from new leftist
works. The first of these, Muriel
Rukeyser's Eel, is one of the most
forceful, and contains one admirably
expressive line,
"We were too earnest. We had to
lose."
Louis MacNeice, widely known
English radical poet, has several
short Verses, the best of which is
Lyrics from a Play, striking the key-
note:
"But stuck in a world of life
insurances
I cannot fly,"
Kenneth. Patchen, whose BEfore
the Brave created a sensation lat
year, contributes three poems to the
issue, of which one, a stab at Nazi
Germany, is outstanding.
Kirker Quinn, editor of DireAor,
strikesda compelling note with a bit
entitled Melodrama, which ends:
"Soon they'll kill me. But I have
a son
And he has one.
There will always be a voice
comrades, striving
To keep you silent men alive."
Isaac Gerneth, a young Detroit
poet, contributes several excellent
pieces, of which perhaps the best is
the shortest, a fierce bit entitled
Communist; crying defiantly,
"Harvester of change, I'll flee
No panic patricide or war."

w
,.

mmmmw,
"

i

" l l "11LlIagrI In the four years that followed
Private courage was Hannah's in their first meeting their respect for
no little measure, and she had great the abilities of the other developed
need of it, many times. And most into a strong linking and finally into
of all perhaps when witnessing her a true friendship. In between grad-
son Peter growing through the years uation and the portion of the story
of his marriage and afterward, think- involving the real problem of friend-
ing she was only his aunt. She was
a servant, you see, and she didn't ship in Birmingham, Mr. Childers
want him to know. But she was al- brings in a lot of material, which is
ways there, guiding his life where she somewhat important but not as much
was able, from a distance, even as so as to warrant the space he gives
she quietly guided the lives of the it. Highpoint of the story comes
Wards whom the reader will come to when Dave Parker is introduced to
love in their tribulations and suc- Nicholson's sister, bringing about the
cesses. And to love Hannah Parme- dangerous situation of a white wom-
lee, who gives the impression of the an and a black man in the South.
dignified calm of a great ocean. Problems develop when Parker
comes several times to the Nicholson
house to work on his symphony. First
Forthcoming Books to object is the sister's fiance. From
this beginning the knowledge spreads
FIGHTING ANGEL By Pearl S. and finally the ire of the prominent
t1k R. R &irh n4k $25n n white men is aroused. This grout

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threatens Dave with emasculation.
The trouble comes to a head when
the newspaper building where Gor-
don has worked since returning to
Birmingham is burned. Dave is ac-
cused of being behind this act and is
indicted by a jury of prejudiced
white men. After much struggling
he is acquitted but Nicholson's ┬žister
comitts suicide because of the gen-
eral mess of affairs. Here the story
comes to a rather dismal conclusion.
This leaves one thing evident that as
conditions are now, such a friendship
as described cannot exist in the

i.

0 0 K--ome of the Best
of This Year's Titles

11

I

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South.

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From the standpoint of style the
book is in general brilliantly written,
although slightly vague in several
spots. Fspecially commendable are
the verses which introduce the divi-
sions of the book. The division of the
book into sections dealing with the
life of each major character takes
away a lot of interest from the gen-
eral arrangement of the story. How-
ever, the book is well worth reading,
if only for a close-up of the southern
situation.
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LOUIS ADAMIC - Cradle of Life .........................................
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FRANCIS BRETT YOUNG - Far Forest ..................................
WINIFRED VAN ETTEN - I am the Fox ...................................
WALTER D. EDMONDS - Drums Along the Mohawk ..... ............ .
MARGARET MITCHELL - Gone With the Wind ........ . ...............: .
DuBUIS HEYWARD - Lost Morning ...................................... .
KATHLEEN NORRIS - The American Flaggs .............................
L. M. NESBIT - Gold Fever..........................................
W. R. BURNETT -- King Cole.. ... .............................. .
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RALPH BATES -The Olive Field...................................
CLARENCE DAY -After All....... ............. .......................
de la ROCHE- White Oak Harvest .......................................
LLOYD DOUGLAS - White. Banners ......................................
DORIS LESLIE - Fair Company ..........................................
MILBURN - Catalogue ........ . .......................................... .
MARGARET FLINT - The Old Ashburn Place .................. ..........
SHERWOOD ANDERSON - Kit Brandon ..................................
RICHARD BLAKER - But Beauty Vanishes ............................ .
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