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April 04, 1937 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1937-04-04

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Former Michigj
_ Publishes New

tion of poems by Howard Mumford
Jones. Henry Holt, New York. $1.75.
It is easy to expect too much from
as brilliant a teacher as Howard
Mumford Jones. If all the person-
ality of the man were between the
covers of They Say the Forties it
would be a brilliant, witty, and pene-
trating book; but this is not com-
pletely true. They Say The Forties
is uneven. There are some poems,
that are delightful, and some that
are disappointing.
The sonnets on the predicaments
of 'a man in his forties are fairly
well done but not outstanding. The
ones on the jacket of the book are
particularly unimpressive, Occasional
roughness in metre does not help
them. One has the feeling, in these
poems, that here is a not unusual at-

titude frankly stated; but the medium
is unfortunate. In spite of the octave
and sextet arrangements of thelines
they read like prose. Only when hu-
mor enters into these sonnets do
they become distinctive. In one poem
the writer sees his generation as a
somewhat motley set of Shakespear-
ian characters, placed in a night
club; in another he sadly broods;
To all you ladies now at hand,
we men,
Where waist lines will permit us,
make our bow;
You observe our hair is some-
what thinner now,
Our shapes more circular than
they were then ...
My whole difficulty with this section
of the volume may be due to the fact
that it is so hard to picture Howard
Mumford Jones seriously hampered
by being forty.
"Examinations" is quite success-
ful. One suspects the author of
hoarding boners and blue book inan-

an Professor
ities for just such a poem. It is
deftly done and very amusing, al-
though the picture it paints is dis-
couraging if carefully considered.'
"In The Yale Bowl" is a more ambi-
tious poem but is overly dramatic and
unconvincing. The change of mood
leaves the reader considerably con-j
The sonnet sequence "Heartbreak"
is admirable from the point of form
and unity. One of the most satis-
fying poems in the collection is the
"Dedication." As a lyric it is so
nearly perfect in its simplicity and
rightness that criticism is impossible.
The imagery here is unusually good.
Another poem to be admired is "Bur-
ial." The last stanza is especially
Then by the plot of nodding daisies
leave him.
What more has life to give than
laughter and sleep?
In silence go; I think that we
shoud grieve him
Even to weep.


'Left B~ook Club' Of England

Food For Thought Lies
In New Collection
Of Knowledge
by Sir James George Frazer.
Macmillan. $3.00.
NO MORE indefatigable miner of
the past exists than Sir James
George Frazer, who has written a
great many very fine and very learned
books, but whose most famous. con-
tribution to literature and human
knowledge is of course "The Golden
Today a supplement to "The Gold-
eri Bough" is published in America, a
book of nearly 500 pages filled with
the additional facts, which Sir James
has brought to light, bearing on the
relation of magic and religion to life.
Some of the data goes to prove cer-
tain hypotheses in the older book
and some stands for itself. All of it
has the haunting fascination of "The
Golden Bough." "Aftermath" is a
dangerous book to pick up when in a
hurry. There's no stopping, once the
spell begins to work.
There's no escaping Sir James, 4
either. Witness this quotation from
his brief and very modest preface:
"But now, as always, I hold all my
theories very lightly, and am ever
ready to modify or abandon them in
the light of new evidence. If my
writings should survive the writer,
they will do so, I believe, less for
the sake of the theories which they
propound than for the sake of the
facts which they record."
These are marvelously collected,
and marvelously diverse. There is
the first chapter, on magic as divided
into "homeopathic," or imitative
magic, and contagious magic. There
is the chapter on gerontocracy-a
social state in which the authority is
held by the old men of the tribe.
There is the Nigerian "king-of-the-
water," aind other departmental
kings. Tree worship has its curious
ramifications, and there is much on
the influince of the sexes on vege-
tation, and on the strange rituals
of sacrifice, including in this last
some beautiful descriptions.
The custom of maintaining a per-
petual fire, one that of course has
survived to the present, the sexual
significance of the fire drill, tabood
things, words, acts and so forth-
there are many more departments in
"Aftermath" than possibly could be
listed in this sh-.rt- article. There is
also food for a lifetime of thought.

Approaches Greatness K)
In New Novel Of
ANGELS IN UNDRESS, an autobiog-
Ranch Hands raphy by Mark Benney. 321 pages.
Random House, New York. $2.50.
OF MICE AND MEN, by John Stein-
beck. Covici-Friede. New York. By JOSEPH GIES
$2.00. Mark Benney, the Villon of the
JSoho underworld, burglar, poet, con-
John Steinbeck has built upj vict, art lover and petty chiseler, born
within 186 loosely printed pages one: of a chance liason between a Jewish
of the major detonations of the spring bookie and a London dowdy, has
book season. And it's detonation we written in the story of his childhood
mean, for the climax of "Of Mice and youth in the criminal district of
and Men" is just that-an explosion the English capital one of the most
which tears through the reader's remarkable autobiographies of our
mind and heart, and leaves himt time.
stunned. "In a well-ordered world, I suppose,
sthnesd ysI should never have been born," he
The story is simple. George and begins. "But in 1910 the world was
Lennie are two ranch hands on the not well-ordered, and ... This life of
bum. Lennie is enoromous, power- mine ensued. It is a paltry, preda-
ful and mentally a cripple. George is tory life, and a learned judge has
smaller and well formed and has a more than once stigmatized it as a
brain. There exists between them a menace to society. But interpreted
relationship of mutual tolerance and aright, I believe, it is not wholly with-
helpfulness, founded on George's pity out significance. This book is an ef-
for Lennie and Lennie's perfect trust fort at such interpretation."
in George. Benney tells his story with the
Partly because it calms and pleases forthrightness of a Rousseau, neither
Lennie, George has kept before the omitting anything which is a part
two of them a dream, which is of a of it nor wantonly thrusting offen-
little ranch of their own where they sive details at a vulgarity-voracious
will raise what they need and live public. Nor does he seek sympathy
as they please. Stupid Lennie, who for his misfortunes; he is neither his
loves to pet little animals and draws own apologist nor that of his class.
sensuous pleasure from touching soft He has renounced crime, we feel, not
materials, is forever in trouble, and because it is unsocial, but because it
mostly for that reason he and George is ,unimportant.
are still a long way from their ranch His early childhood, spent in the
when the book opens. They have $10; ccmpan9 of his mother and her
and are arriving at still another job,
to be exact. -'For Readers Only'-
It would destroy the reader's pleas-
ure to explain exactly how Mr. Stein-
beck takes these simple materials In "For Readers Only," a collec-
and bit by bit shows how they must I tion of stories concerning the reading
lead to tragedy. There is no hint, habits of the visitors, past and pres-
even, of the elaborate devices by ent, literary and political, sane and
which the average writer solves such insane, to the Library of the British
a technical problem. Mr. Steinbeck Museum, by Doris Mudie and Eliza-
does not go outside the usual setting beth Hill, the following people of
of a ranch. No deus ex machina note are said to have frequented the
wanders in at an opportune moment, museum library at one time or an-
and there are no sudden improba- other: Samuel Butler, author of "The
bilities. One is made to feel rather Way of All Flesh"; Thomas Carlyle,
than to know, and when the climax historian of the French Revolution,
comes in an unexpected way, the who was annoyed by the Museum's
.reader realizes instantly that it was fleas and stuffiness; the poet Swin-
the only way possible, after all. burne; Mazzini. the Italian rpwmb-
We've been deliberately mysterious tionary and exile, who said "England
about all this, hoping to arouse a is my home, if I have any"; Karl
certain amount of curiosity. Now Marx, who always sought first hand
therermainsonl.thfitosay.Sn sources to verify his facts; Lenin,
there remains only this to say. Stein- Trotzky and Kropotkin; Arnold Ben-
beck has been, from his first book, a nett, who was given a life ticket to
fine writer. He is now getting on the Reading Room in 1889, and Ma-
to greatness. hatma Ghandi, clad in his goatskin.




- Liberals, radicals and miscellane-
ous intelligentsia in this country
would do well to take a leaf from
the book of their British comrades
and organize a "Left Book Club" sim-
ilar to that now functioning in Eng-
land under the sponsorship of Victor
Gollancz, well-known leftist pub-
lisher. This organization, which now
numbers a membership of around
40,000, was founded in May, 1936, and
its success in its first year of opera-
tion has been little short of phe-
First suggested by Gollancz, who
has acted as the society's god-father,
the principles of the Left Book Club
are those already well publicized by
book distributing groups in this coun-
try. For the sum of thirty shillings
(about seven dollars and fifty cents
in American currency) the Club sub-
scriber receives a monthly Book,
known in typical British style as
"The Choice," and an option to buy
certain additional books at special
reduced rates.
The books chosen by the directors
of the Club are both fiction and non-
fiction, their recent issues including
such as Maurice Thorez' "France To-
day and the Popular Front," John
Strachey's "The Theory. and Prac-
tice of Socialism," "The Paris Com-
mune" by Frank Jellinek, and "The
Road to Wigan Pier" by George Or-
well. In addition to these monthly
issues, there is a monthly special
book on which the subscriber may
exercise his option. These books,
such as the Coles' "The Condition of
Britain," while not considered broad
enough to appeal to all Club mem-
bers, are offered to those inteersted
at a reduction of approximately 60

per cent. Thus J. F. Horrabin's well
known "Atlas of Current Affairs,"
which retails for about one dollar,
can be purchased by the Club mem-
bership for 40 cents.
In addition to these book offers,
the Club sends a monthly bulletin
"The Left News" to its members, in-
cluding therein announcements of
forthcoming books, notices of meet-
ings of various local study circles
and one or two long articles. The
last issue of the "News" contained
an article by John Strachey on the
Far East and another on the in-
ternal situation in China.
Of course, there are'i many prob-
lems connected with this new organi-
zation which remain to be solved
and there is always the danger of po-
litical domination of such a group
by one faction of the left to the ex-
clusion of all others, but its initial
success bodes well for a future of
tremendous influence, both in Brit-
ish literature and in British liberal
politics. As for America, we, in this
country do not have, aside from a few
essentially propaganda publishers,
any press organization willing to un-
dertake such an enterprise merely be-
cause of its liberal leanings and op-
portunities for education. It must
be remembered, however, that Victor
Gollancz is a very successful British
publisher and that he did not enter
this scheme with any idea of losing
money. The prospect of a guaran-
teed circulation of over forty thou-
sand copies, even at the low rate
charged by the Left Book Club, might
well warm the cockles of any pub-
lisher's heart. With proper sponsor-
ship and sound financial organiza-
tion, with a group of directors repre-
senting all shades of liberal opinion

and thereby guaranteeing impartial-
ity in the choice of books, there is
no reason to suppose an American
Left Book Clubwould have any less
appeal than the present year-old
British one.


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