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April 22, 1956 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1956-04-22

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Sixty-Sixth Year

Representative Contemporary Books -1956

hen Opidnolls Are Free,
Truth will Prevai"

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers or
the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

Y, APRIL 22, 1956


Is Freedom Itself Enough
For West to Offer?



A REPORT came out recently that out of
every four refugees who came to the West
from behind the Iron Curtain, one defects back
to the Communists. Among the reasons, cited
for this sad state of affairs in which the West
is batting only .750 is the one about the hard-
ships a refugee faces concerning food, clothing
and shelter.
The situation brings to mind some reflections,
the first of which is on the strong Western
belief that everyone behind the Iron Curtain
would come over to the West if he had the
chance, because everyone knows that every-
one wants freedom above all.
It is no doubt true that one does not enjoy
much personal freedom behind the Iron.Curtain
where the collective is supreme and the indi-
vidual is incidental. And it is equally probable.
that one does enjoy freedom on this side of
the Curtain. But is it true that *everyone
wants freedom above all?
Anyone who doesn't have freedom can be
taught to want it. If the grass on the other
side of the fence does not already look green-
er, it can be -painted and polished to imake it
look greener.
But is be always sure he wants to keep it
after he- gets it? Very often, after one gets
to the other side, the grass looks greener on
the first side after all. This may be partly
the case with the Communist refugees who
defect back.
PERSONAL FREEDOM entails personal re-
sponsibility. Freedom of action makes one
responsible for what.he does. Freedom of
thought involves a duty to make one's own
decisions and answer for them. Some people,
are willing to give up the freedom to avoid
the responsibility.
Although Western civilization is based on the
notion of personal freedom, it contains many

people who escape it' and its responsibilities
by identifying themselves with groups. Some
do so in more respects than others and some
to greater degrees.
Underneath this phenomenon is a basic flaw
in the concept of freedom. Freedom for the
individual is not to be denied on the ground
that it is meaningless, but the concept does
exist in a vacuum. We have the freedom to
choose, but no alternatives from which to
choose. We must make our own alternatives,
unless we choose to surrender a part of our
freedom in return for something to believe in.
Whether we have to make our own alter-
natives or decide how much freedom we can
part with and still be mostly free, we are
faced with an individual responsibility that
many of us are not willing to face.
DEMOCRACY itself has become nothing more
than a political pragmatism. Where once
it was based on a doctrine of natural rights, it
is now nothing more than an agreement to
disagree within certain procedural rules-at
least in the centers of advanced learning this
is the view. There is no basic positive focus for
agreement, except that everyone be free to
choose his own path.
An unwillingness to make such a choice may
be what sends' one of every four Communist
refugees back behind the Iron Curtain. He
does not have the chance or the time to recog-
nize the full significance of the freedom to
which he has escaped, but evidently he tastes
enough of it to want to escape from it again.
Before the average gets worse, and more
than one out of four defect back, perhaps we
ought to find something to offer besides free-
dom. While we're looking for something for
them, we might also see if we can find some-
thing for ourselves.
-JIM DYGERT, City Editor


--DanIy-John Hlrtzei

Dreiser-'Writer Rvewn Cervan
As An Art ,.

rtes' A
AC .-W

Or Sentimentalist?

by James T. Farrell, Cleveland and New York, The World Publishing Com-
pany, 1956, $3.
DHEODOPEDREISER'S major novels and stories are currently being
reissued by The World Publishing Company; prominent among
the titles in this volume, "The Best Short Stories."
The collection, which boasts an Introduction by James T. Farrell,
includes a generous sampling (14 stories) of Dreiser's shorter fiction,
ranging from his first published effort, "McEwen of the Shining Slave
Makers," through such favorites as "The Lost Phoebe" and "Nigger

World Disarmament Law

IN 1958, the United Nation's Charter will come
upfor revision.
Action or inaction taken then by the member
nations is important to every citizen of the
world. Groundwork for a lasting world peace
can be built then. Specifically, this involves
the institution of a world law in regard to dis-
It must be realized that President Eisenhow-
er's "open sky" proposals (if approved) can
only reduce the possibilities of another Pearl
Harbor; it doesn't deny either the United States
or Russia destructive weapons.
It Iis simple but true that, in the evolution-
ary development of man, he will someday settle
his international disputes through litigation,
not through force of arms. Between cavemen,
between tribes, between cities, and between
states, law has evolved the referee. We can't
afford to wait for this last step.
It bears repeating that the institution of
world law in the UN should pertain only to
disarmament. The American Legion and other
jingoists should remember this before scream-
ing that Old Glory will be torn down and that
we will be outvoted by the Asians in a 'world
How can this disarmament world law be
made effective?
a. Membership qualifications in the UN
must be diluted. To establish a world peace,
you must have the cooperation of all nations-
this includes China.
b. Power in the UN must shift from the

veto-bottlenecked Security Council to the Gen-
eral Assembly. Here, representatives would be
distributed by pop lation-the U.S., Russia,
China, and India having equal power, the Brit-
ish and French slightly less. No member would
be allowed to withdraw.
e. Into the UN Charter must be written a
disarmament plan. A period of gradual dis-
armament should be planned-say 10 years.
In steps, each nation would reduce its arms
and men proportionately to the others.
THIS WOULD BE a tense and mistrustful
period. To lessen the tension, a world po-
lice force (composed of representatives of small,
neutral nations-armed with light arms and
helicopters) would supervise and inspect. This
police force would be the sine qua non of a
durable peace. It would be permanent.
This plan doesn't eliminate the East-West
ideological contest. It does reduce it to a con-
test of ideas and not of arms.
This plan assumes that all countries desire or
can see. the advantages of world peace. The
material and human death of a Third World
War, the high cost of an armaments race (%
of U.S. budget), and the desire of every human
to see tomorrow's sunrise, make peace advan-
tageous and desirable.
This plan will take a lot of selling. People
will mistakenly think they are giving the UN
a blank check for world government. This
plan only buys world peace through world dis-
armament law.

Jeff" to the frankly autobiogra-.
phical sketch, "My Brother Paul."
Although Dreiser's status in Amer-
ican letters will probably never
depend on his success or failure
as a short-story writer, these works
nevertheless do provide a point of
departure from which we may at-
tempt an evaluation of his talent.
One wishes, in this connection, that
the publishers =had reprinted here
some of Dreiser's one-act plays as
they, like the stories, would have
offered a means, distinct from the
novels, of approaching this con-
troversial figure and his work.
This collection begins and ends
with two exotic stories, set in
Arabia; the first is "Khat," a tale
of the despair of a street beggar,
who dies, ragged and despised, un-
able to secure any of the precious
shrub without which "one cannot
endure;" the concluding selection
is "The Prince Who Was a Thief,"
a sentimental story which might
well have come from The Arabian
Nights entertainment.
One is surprised that Dreiser
wrote such pieces, which are but
pale shadows of Kipling's vivid
oriental tales. But they do indi-
cate a streak of romanticism in
Dreiser, an aspect of his work de-
cidedly at odds with the prevailing
notion that he wrote only in the
naturalistic vein.
* * *
WITH THESE two execptions,
the stories are all of a piece with
Dreiser's more ambitious works.
"Free" is the story of a successful
architect, a typical Dreiser hero,
who longs to be rid of his "con-
ventional" wife. Eventually she
dies, but now he, rich and respect-
ed, an artist and a dreamer, finds
himself free only to die, a vic-
tim of "the innate cruelty of life."
"The Shadow," "Convention" and
"Marriage-for One" also deal
with the theme of unhappy mar-
riages, in two cases with unfaith-
ful wives and in "Convention"
with an erring husbaiid; as in
"Free," the philosophical impli-
cation is that life is a dirty busi-
"The despair, the passion, the
rage, the hopelessness, the love,"
is the way the narrator of "Mar-
riage-for One" describes it. The
narrator of "Convention" looks
upon "the miscarriage of love and
delight" with a feeling that is
"cold and sad." While the central
figure in "The Old Neighborhood,"
a rich man who once cruelly de-
serted his sick wife and left her
to die, can only comment: "There
is something cruel and evil in it
all, in all wealth, all ambition, in
love of fame-too cruel." Indeed,
except for "The Prince Who Was
a Thief," there is not a story in
this collection which does not em-
phasize "the misery, the loneliness,
the shadow, the despair" of life.
The two most famous stories are
"The Lost Phoebe," the nearest
thing to a lyrical mood which
Dreiser probably ever achieved,
and "Nigger Jeff," his account of
a lynching.
In the former, an aged farmer,
convinced that his wife has not
died but has left him because of
his querulousness, tries, to find and
bring her back. He pursues her
wildly, calling her name, Phoebe,
one of Dreiser's few poetic sym-
bols, until he meets his death just

Daily Book Reviewer
T HE above photograph shows a
sampling of some of the most
current books in the major fields
of literature.
Biography and general non-f i-
tion constitutes one-half of the
broadest division of these titles;
fiction in its various forms (some
of which are shown above to* the
right of the non-fiction volumes)
accounts for the balance of this
arbitrary division. For each of
these books after it leaves the
presses is written a generally con-
siderable and some times vast
amount of wordage in the form of
book reviews.
Granted that this genre of writ-
ing is essentially functional and
instructive, in that it points ideally
toward an informed and perceptive
expression of the objective merits
of a work as voiced by an author-
ity, there is, however, the under-
lying purpose of the positive in-
fluencing of the reading habits of
the reading nation.
The book reviewer's influence is
surely felt but its moving effect
has a rather long time fuse attach-
ed to it. We can make a case in
point with three of the best-selling
books of the past few months.
Case 1: Marjorie Morningstar-
reviews, lukewarm to favorable;
sales, immediate best-seller,
gradually dropped.
Case. 2: Andersonville-reviews,
polite but not enthusiastics;
sales, immediate best-seller, not
so long as Morningstar.
The pattern is repeated many
times. Reviewers seem not to affect
the public's immediate reaction to
'a well-established name, but over
the months they do seem to have
foreshadowed, if not formed, the
final popular attitude toward the
work. The book reviewer, then,
takes his place somewhere near the
movie critic who will predict the
folms that will last and come
back, but is powerless to keep the
public away from a poor attrac-
tion at the entertainment palace.
In these columns five books are
specially reviewed for The Daily
by informed critics. With various
material treated here at the hands
of five different talents, the reader
has an opportunity to perceive the
unlimited possibilities of the book
review as an art form.

Switching Action to the UN

... interesting historical attitudes
view the grief-stricken, terrorized
"The night, the tragedy, the
grief, he saw it all. But also with
the cruel instinct of the budding
artist that he already was, he was
beginning to meditate. on the char-
acter of story it would make-the
color, the pathos. The knowledge
now that it- was not always exact
justice that was meted out to all
and that it was not so much the
business of the writer to indict as
to interpret was borne in on him
with distinctness by the cruel sor-
row of the mother, whose blame,
if any, was infinitesimal." Mat-
thibssen quotes, apropos this end-
ing, a statement Dreiser made
about his own early experiences as
an excess of sympathy, wonder,
a reporter: "I was swelling with
respect, even awe." And then
Matthiessen adds, "The four quali-
ties he enumerates will run like
a plain song through his best fic-
tion." But one wonders exactly
where Matthiessen sees the sym-
pathy and respect here. What
emerges, rather, seems to be a cer-
tain ' amount of cynicism and a
sense of irony and a fascination
with the cruel "business" of be-
coming a writer.
Farrell expresses typical adulatory
praise of Dreiser, "a great writer
of our century." "These tales," he
continues, "fully bear the mark
of his greatness, his sincerity, and
his genius ... They belong to our
literary tradition and they should
long stand among the major short
stories written in twentieth-cen-
tury America."
But the reader of this review
will by now have realized that the
writer of this article does not share
this attitude. There are, of course,
the standard attacks one can level
against Dreiser; Alfred Kazin, in
"On Native Ground," has sum-
med them up: "his proverbial slo-
venliness, the barbarisms and in-
congruities whose notoriety has
preceded him into history, the bad
grammer, the breathless and pain-
ful clutching at words ... " Kazin
lists these faults only to dramatize
his praise of Dreiser's "genius"
("It is by now an established part
of our folklore that Theodore
Dreiser lacks everything but gen-
ius") and "victory."
"An artist creates form out of
what he needs; the functions com-
pels the form,"'is Kazin's answer

Popular Approach
CERVANTES, THE MAN AND HIS TIME. By Sebastian Juan Arbor. Translated
from the Spanish by Ilsa Barea. 261 pp. New York: The Vanguard Pres.
IT IS UNFORTUNATE but true that among readers in the United
States there is a certain lack of knowledge and interest in Spanish
letters. Such European literary masters as Shakespeare, Milton,


AToo Genteel
Jocelyn Davey (Knopf) is a
well written detective story of
more than unusual interest.
The story has to do with hanky-
panky at the British Embassy in
Washington, though the murder is
not the most important part of
the book. Espionage and counter-
espionage are woven throughout
the story, against the backdrop
of an eccentric ambassador who
got his job through a clerical er-
ror in the Prime Minister's estab-
Ambrose Usher, the hero of the
book, is a terribly refined gent who
is constantly quoting literary
gems, especially to the horror of
the stereotyped members of the,
Washington police force. Usher,
a latter day Lord Peter Wimsey,
is actually a university don among
other things and as such reflects
the academic tone of "A Capitol
Offense;" he thus joins the com-
pany not only of Dorothy Sayers,
but , of Nicholas Blake (who is
really C. Day Lewis, the poet).
The book contains some rather
amusing satire on officialdom and
international relations, though at
times it approaches the kind of
burlesque we find in Elliott Paul's
works. It is an awfully genteel
detective story; in fact, it is a
little too genteel and makes us
long for a heady draught of Mickey
Spillane to wash it down.
(-Richard Boys is an associate
professor in the English depart-


Goethe, and Dante are all fairly
well known and receive their share
of acclaim in "great books" cours-
es in universities .and in package
book deals.
. Yet a figure like Cervantes, the
prince of Spanish letters and as-
suredly of the stature of those
mentioned, occupies a vague "dus-
ty shelf" position in the literary
adventures of most American read-
ersers who are neither scholars
nor Hispanophiles.
While it is true that most Amer-
icans have at least heard of the
exploits of don Qui jote (especially
the windmill incident), it is pro-
bable that few have actually read
Cervantes' masterpiece in its en-
tirety (undeniably a yeoman task
because of its some thousand
pages) or even seriously perused
any of its delightful passages.
To be sure, Americans have the
hazy conception of a ludicrous and
anachronistic knight-witness our
word "quixotic" - yet few have
taken the time or effort to at-
tempt to grasp the rich and pro-
found philosophical significance of
the Knight of the Sorrowful Coun-
FOR LOVERS of Spanish liter-
ature this is a lamentable situa-
tion, which has many causes. One
of the obvious ones is that Ameri-
cans, great lovers of biography
about anyone, good or evil, have
never had a chance tp find out for
themselves what kind of a person,
much less writer, Miguel de Cer-
vantes was.
Until recently the majority of
works on Cervantes havenot only
been of, a "highbrow" and schol-
arly nature, but have not been
translated into English.
Now, at last, American readers
have available in their own lang-
uage a lively and informative por-
trait of the Spanish genius and
his times in "Cervantes", written
by Spanish novelist Sebastian
Juan Arbo.
Rather than an accumulation of
footnotes and literary interpreta-
tions, the reader finds a forceful
narrative, treated with the so-call-
ed popular approach. The lay-
man, who has neither a particular
interest in Cervantes, Don Quiote,
nor Spanish literature, will find
both enjoyment and instruction in
this presentation of Cervantes' life,
a strange alteration of successes
and frustrations, joys and sadness
-truly a novel in itself,' no less
interesting than the life of his
own beloved creation.
Arbo, like most good Spaniards,
feels veneration and sympathy for
Cervantes. He makes little at-
tempt to hide this and, in fact,
succeeds in communicating it to
* * *
THE AUTHOR maintains a fair-
ly close chronological order, but
intersperses the narrative of Cer-
vantes' life with the historical in-
terludes. Occasionally the reader
is somewhat peeved at being
snatched from the trials and tri-
bulations of the hero only to be
introduced to such figures as the
valiant don Juan of Austria, Phil-
lip II, King of Spain, and Antonio
Perez( his evil, scheming counsel-
Yet this period in Spanish his-
tory-a few decades before and
after the disaster of the Armada
in 1588-is so romantic and color-





Associated Press News Analyst
IN HIS PROMISED reappraisal of America's
foreign aid policy, one of the first things
Secretary Dulles will need is a recapitulation
of just what the nation is trying to do.
For nearly 10 years now the chief emphasis
of American foreign policy has been on de-
velopment of a system of alliances, political,
economic and military, with which to insure
that the post-war tide of Russian expansion
will rise no higher.
The nation is now carrying global commit-
ments, through the Western Hemisphere Pact,
NATO, SEATO, and bilateral agreements. It
has become an active participant in the eco-
nomic phases of the Baghdad Pact. Hardly a-
nation anywhere but has received some form
of American aid since World War II.
Yet 'a number of nations remain uncom-
mitted in the cold war, either by treaty or by
sentiment, and some of them, like India, are
of great importance.
TN THE BEGINNING, American aid was ex-
tended through the United.Nations, UNRRA.
Then came the Marshall Plan, the first great
unilateral action by the United States designed
finnran n mmim4ieNvv v. 1'I 4-nv.nn, ;.in trn


not over when develppments in Europe and
Asia, particularly the Korean war, shifted
American aid emphasis from the economic to
the military. And there it has stayed until
Russia, taking a page from the American book,
adopted the lessons of the Marshall Plan to
her own use.
Through all these meanderings there has
been a tendency in ,the United States-a ten-
dency frequently criticized by foreigners who
have not been heard very well amid the din
of the American-Russian quarrel-to let fun-
damental objectives drift into the background.
United States' is not to create a system of
alliances which will deter the Communists from
making war and prevent their expansion by
other means. That is a tactic.
The strategic interest of the United States
is in creating a world situation in which a
system of alliances will not be necessary.
There is a grave question whether unilateral,
bilateral or even multilateral economic and
military agreements can attain this end. Even
the committed nations are constantly either
looking for the strings to American aid or
actually feeling them. There has been re-
sentment on this score even from America's

An Eye For
The Americani Scene
THE O. HENRY AWARDS: PRIZE STORIES OF 1956. Paul Engle and Hansford
Martin, eds. New York: Doubleday & Co.
THIS IS THE thirty-sixth volume of the 0. Henry Memorial Award
series. The editors, fourth in a line that began in 1919 with Blanche
Colton Williams, speak of the "vitality" and the "closeness to reality"
of the stories chosen.
It is true that for many years, the collection was dominated by
stories involving tormented inner monologs of the sensitive and lost
young man or woman. The author's here represented do look at the
world about them, have an ear for the idiom of individual speech, and
have an eye for the American scene.
First prize was given to John Cheever for his story, "The Country
Husband," a delightful story which first appeared in The New Yorker.
Into Suburbia and the life of Francis Weed comes a strange sequence
of events beginning with a dream-like forced landing of an airliner. It
seems then as if the gods had come down from Olympus to take human
forms and to touch with disturbing effect the commonplace lives of
Weed and his suburban neighbors.
Images of Atlas, Jupiter, of Circe appear in odd moments. While
waiting on the platform, Weed sees in a passing train window a beautiful
woman, sitting naked and combing her long golden hair. He has a
passionate, impossible love affair with a refugee girl new to the neigh-
borhood. So Weed goes through an enchanted phase, as if the Golden
Age had transfigured his life. 'It's "Sweeney Among the Nightingales"
in a -way, but done with a delightful verve and in Cheever's sardonic,
tongue-in-cheek style.
* * * *
OF THE OTHER STORIES, I found the work of the Old Profession-
als most worth reading. Faulkner is represented with "Race at Morning"






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