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October 07, 1956 - Image 16

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' . 4



Page Eight


October7, 1956

October 7, 1956








One Writer Looks at Another and Her Craft

Which One of Them Has the Twelve-Year Old's Mer

A STRANGER by a heavy sea
can only watch the waves and
waiting, wonder, and at last go
away and never know which wave
marked the turning of the tide, or
maybe never know the tide had
turned before he came, and that
he watched the ebb.
The Reformation was such a
tide in time; among the many
things it bore along was a new
concept of man as a creature with
a reason and conscience all his
own; and so temporarily lost in
many places and for long periods,
though always there, yet deeply
hidden at the very bottom of a
wave, was the old concept of the
infallibliity of any one mind, be
the owner king, judge, or intellec-
tual; thus doubt was born and any
man who had a mind for thinking
was free to speak of the thing he
long had had doubt about; he
could question the existence of
God or of dragons in the sea, the
wisdom of his king or the specific
gravity of the innocent as com-
pared to that of the guilty.
Man became important, and so
men wrote of other men, not gods
or legendary heroes; and it was
this preoccupation with man that
produced most of what we today
consider literature; these writings
as a rule both added to our per-
ception of man and increased his
stature as a creature born to rea-
son, to think, to struggle, to per-
Sometimes this literature rode
with the waves, reflecting the
force of the prevailing winds; but
for much of the time it was as a
ship struggling against strong off-
shore winds; sometimes the wind
was government, and many felt
its breath - Tostoi,,Dostoievsky,
Milton, Hugo; other times, as in
the case of Keats, Mark Twain,
Melville, there came cruel buffet-
ings from the bitterest wind of
all, that of the critics; this was
particularly true when criticism
attempted to put art on an intel-
lectual basis, for the war between
art and the intellect is a long one
with truth more nearly on the
side of art. The intellectuals of
early New England were just as
certain of what constituted a
witch and how the criminal should
be dealt with as not too many de-
cades later other intellectuals in
Germany, Russia, and elsewhere
in the world knew the nature of
man's destiny was to serve the
T IS not new that wise men
should believe in witches or that
man is no more than the expend-
able material on which police
states are built; the fallablity of
the reasoned judgments of men
is an old story; Socrates was put
to death by sages. The new thing
was that art believed man was
born to fit a pattern, and so be-'
came but the handmaiden of
the intellect. It has been said that
a literature of protest degenerates'
into propoganda. If this be true
the same thing follows for a liter-
ature of affirmation. True litera-
ture can be neither; a man writing
sincerely and truthfully can only
give what is within him; if he
agrees with the world around him
and finds it good, as did Tennyson
and Kipling, he subconsciously
pats it on the back and is patted
in return. If his creations yield
concepts contrary to the prevail-
ing winds as did Tolstoi's at times,
his literature becomes a thing
of protest; the protest coming
from the reader.
Most contemporary fiction, now
labeled as literature, is an affir-
mation of this concept of man as
a small thing, at most a material
suitable for the building of armies,
or states - or theories. It is true
that throughout much of the
Western world man, including the

"The symbol has become more important than the thing itself,
and in our self fear we seize upon it as still another wall between
us and reality, and so become but Pharisees," writes Novelist
Harriette Simpson Arnow. But, she continues, "Can we contem-
plate nothing for the pure joy of the thing . . . We no longer
read; we translate. . . Never has western man been so preoccupied
with symbols." Miss Grau's writing, she finds, ". . . we can read'
with no translation, and though many would consider that an
abomination it mv h onlv that such writina is nut of fnshion "

artist and the intellectual, lay
down his right to disagree and so
lost his manhood, and in the los-
ing became less important than
he had .been. Literary art, and
quite often subconsciously, agreed;
just as the goose-stepping soldier
became a symbol, not of a man,
but of Hitler's power and that in
turn the power of an idea, so -does
a character in most of our con-
temporary writing stand, not as a
man in his own right, but as a
symbol of something bigger than
mere man. True man, the fight-
ing, disagreeing animal is, was,
and forever shall be among us,
though scarce at times.
Since he is practically extinct
in all provinces of the literary
world, his absence has made ne-
cessary the emergence of the twin
needed to guide and direct the
puny, wormlike creature that has
taken his place; thus, we have the
infallible mind; and when men
believe in infallibility they can-
not disagree.
We saw this in Germany and
Russia where the belief in the
smallness of the individual took
concrete form. In the United
States this pre-Reformation idea
of the infallible mind is found
in many .places, but is most com-
mon in that most regimented of
all phases of society, with the
possible exception of medicine, and
this is of course American Literary
Art, its production and criticism.
Agreement among the custodians
and molders of our literature to
whom we have so gladly given our
minds for furbishing is almost as
complete as that among practicing
physicians in one small town. The
spoon-fed intellectual has always
been among us; it hasn't been too
long that many knew the infalli-
bility of Mencken, that every small
midwestern town was a Sauk Cen-
ter, and every little business man
a Babbitt.
S TILL, we have seldom or ever
known such sweet agreement
as we have today. Disagreement
among the leading critics - this
term as a rule does not include
men who do not always blow with
the prevailing winds such as J.
Donald Adams or Orville Prescott,
who are usually quietly dismissed
and in fashionable intellectual
circles but seldom quoted - is so
very rare that when Mr. West -of
the New Yorker continued to of-
fend with unothodox opinions on
literary art, he was soundly takei
to task by Mr. Granville Hicks,
Hariette Simpson Arnow lives
with her husband and two chil-
dren in a farm home on the
outskirts of Ann Arbor. In ad-
dition to numerous contribu-
tions to quarterly magazines
and the Saturday Review of
Literature she is the author of
the following novels:
"Mountain Path," Covici-
Friede, 1936, New York.
"Hunter's Horn," Macmillan,
1949, New York.
"The Dollmaker," Macmillan,
1954, New York.
At present she is engaged in
the writing of a volume of non-

Ay L/.., %a l f l y L I i u t 0"%-I I rr I I t 1 1 I 1.7 %-"V-4t w l i t~A J I 1 1 1~! 1 1.

literary editor of The New Lead-
er. Mr. Hicks was of course cer-
tain of what constitutes literature,
and when he saw it being abused
in another magazine he spoke up.
We can't blame him; Mr. Hicks is
only one of many exercising his
infallible mind. His, Where We
Came Out, is a book that any
person interested in minds should
read; it is one of those rare crea-
tions into which the author puts,
not less, but more than he realizes,
and so paints a picture not unu-
sual today, that of a man holding
confession of his past fallibilities
in one hand while displaying his
certainty of his present infallibil-
ity in the other. Mr. Hicks' con-
cern for Mr. West's unorthodoxy
was widely praised we learned
from a column in the Saturday
Review of Literature that patted
Mr. Hicks most warmly.
We seldom read either man, and
cannot know if Mr. West recanted;
a recantation will of course in-
crease his popularity; in these
days the Prodigal Son is not only
given the fatted calf, but is put
in charge of the stable. Rare in-
deed is the writer or intellectual
who dares to disagree on any-
thing. There was Arthur Miller
who gave some indication that
possibly he could not trust the in-
fallibility of his own mind in re-
membrance of things past for
many years; we don't know; at
least he dared to disagree, and
many were the head shakings
among the intellectuals; there
were some kind words in the New
Republic, but contained in a pat-
ronizing article of somewhat ques-
tionable taste that missed the
point completely.;
THIS long preamble is unfortu-
nately necessary if I am to do
as asked and write on "The Work
of Shirley Ann Grau As Seen in,
Relation to Southern Writing."
First, Southern Writing is The'
Literature and for many The Only;
Literature of the Day. Practcially
all The People Who Count, in-
cluding its creators, agree it is7
our most valid form of literary
art. Never has a school and its
members enjoyed such universal
popularity - critics and teachers
vie with each other in unsparing
praise; popular magazines with
large circulations are proud to
publish them; their work ofteny
lends itself to Hollywood produc-;
tions and the artists in turn oftena
lend themselves to Hollywood.
Some members, particularly
Faulkner and Capote, are to many
of the Intellectual Outlook on Cre-
ative-Writing crowds on various
campuses what Elvis Presley is
to the Bobby Soxer.
However, their greatest appeal;
in this age that blinks at crime
but widens its eyes with horror9
at controversial opinion, appears
to be in their complete safety; no
one of the group has ever been
known to offend with a complete-,
ly unorthodox opinion on any cur-j
rent problem or to bring down thej
wrath of the American Legion.<
Miss Grau's work is important
because it is one of a few smalls
ships that appear to go againsts
the prevailing winds of literature
and of the world. The nine storiesa
that make up The Black Prince,i

her first and only published book,
may be the work of one who rode
on the ebb tide of the Reformation
and never got to shore; we do not
know. Her people emerge as char-
acters; for some they will remain
people, and that in itself is no
small achievement; others such as
Pete who only smiles when his
mother calls him a coward, may
to some of the symbolically con-
scious, become a symbol of the
thing continually portrayed in
modern writing - cowardice. In
general, however, Miss Grau shows
little concern with most of the
conventions of Southern Writing.
SHE'S young and unafraid and
writes as if she'd never heard of
Malcolm Cowley's South; no small
feat this, for Mr. Cowley might be
labeled Official Purveyor of
Southern Culture with an Intel-
lectual Approach, though this one
title can hardly do him justice. He
is the busy little housewife of the'
house of literature, forever as-
sembling, arranging, furbishing,
casting aside, suddenly bringing
an old piece down from the attic,
and quite often buying the new,
though most of his new pieces
were built by Southern Writers;
and Mr. Cowley like any good
housewife with an eye for an an-
tique must first be exactly cer-
tain how it was put together;
he is concerned quite as much,
and sometimes more, with the
manner of creation than the thing
created. Thus, all Mr. Cowley's
novels are like a group of prized
antiques, measured by the method
of their making; oh, what a
hustling and a bustling and a
mopping and dusting out of old
ideas, and stripping and fitting
and squeezing to get off the old
slip covers of opinionand on with,
the new if by some horrible freak
of history it could, for example,,
become common knowledge that
Tolstoi was his ancestor and had;
lived during the Napoleonic Wars;;
War andPeace would no longer be
historical, and everything would
have to be rearranged.
One example, quite typical of
Mr. Cowley's innumerable fore-
words is contained in a paper
backed volume, Great Tales of the'
Deep South; there are the usual
pictures on the cover, couple of
lushes, decayed mansion, dark
man, light man, share cropper;
surmounting the pictures are the
usual names, including Mr. Cow-
ley's. We look within and are
startled to see Mark Twain in-
cluded in the Deep South and also
Jesse Stuart.
THE rural south of thirty years
ago, we read in a curiously;
strained prose as if written for a]
not-too-bright child, was divided,
into land owners, white tenants,
hilismen, and Negroes, and all
neatly patterned according to the3
nature of the land;in a few words
we learn all about the southerner's1
feeling for place and land; these1
feelings are more acute than those
of men in other regions.]
Oh, fallacy of symbols; to the
agronomist large sections of Mis-
sissippi, Alabama, and Georgia
could stand as symbols of man's7

times poor. The cotton planter
loved the home place so little that
when he could afford it he spent
long months away from it; many
were inclined to think of land use
as a temporary matter, and after
a few years would leave despoiled
acres to bleed to death in gullies
while their slaves cleared and
ruined some more; or yet more
completely Milton's hell on earth
is the dead land of sulphuric acid
fumes in southeast Tennessee, not
a bird, or a briar, or a worm; not
too many miles away in the same
state there is in the Great Valley
and still further west in the Mid-
dle Basin, land that for around 170
years has known little but loving
I can think of no single gener-
alization on any subject that
would hold true for even Tennes-
see, let alone Mr. Cowley's Deep
South that begins at the Ohio
River: and where "they didn't
talk about ideas"-unquote. Others
of his black and white statements
about the south are equally ques-
tionable. His opinions are his own
and one can only ponder on many
such as the southern writer has
an ability to write of the land
greater than that of other regions;
one thinks of Rolvaag, the early
works of Louis Bromfield or Con-
rad Richter, and have we forgot-
ten Thoreau?
ONCE AGAIN Shirley Ann Grau
breaks the pattern; her world
is not this neat world; her stories
display an amazing versatility both
in character and background, but
her characters are people, not ani-
mated bits of the scenery, or ob-
scure equations to be solved and
plotted onthe graph paper of the
subconscious. Reams of criticism
have been written of Southern
Writing, but seldom is the average
discussion concerned with char-
acter or the completed whole.
As in Mr. Cowley's house the
method of creation is of prime im-
portance, and in explaining this
there is much psycholanalytic dis-
cussion, not only of the created
thing, but of the mind of the cre-
ator; thus much of it becomes an
art form that in order to be ap-
preciated must be completely torn
asunder. Once the thing is com-
pletely dissected, there is still no
Captain Ahab to survive both as
a symbol and a living, struggling,
tormented man, no suffering Hes-
ter Pryenne, in fact no women at
all; the medieval conception of
woman, shared alike by our puri-
tanical forefathers and our pres-
ent day creators of comic books
and soap operas; also prevails in
Southern Writing; most often she
is the heartless, soulless bitch lead-
ing poor weak man to his doom,
drawing him on while she, con-
sciously fleeing, subconsciously
hoping for this her doom which
may be her death or her salvation,
but whatever it is for man or wom-
an it is most often at the end of
Wolfe, Faulkner, Capote, and
Warren are all in varying degrees
obsessed with flight; the weak, the
evil, the cowardly, the lecherous,
and the miserly are in perpetual
flight through all the shifting sym-
bols of their world.
IT IS TRUE we live in an age of
fear; of what we do not know;
it is not the atom bomb which at
most can only bring oblivion; man
has always lived under sentence of
death, has -survived innumerable
wars, plagues, and multitudious
disasters; one function of reli-
gion is to remove fear of death,
and since religion is in wider use
than it has ever been, man should
be less instead of more afraid.
Most of. all, man seems afraid of
life and of himself, and in South-
ern Writing this fear manifests it-
self in many ways, particularly in
the wordiness of the language;
true, there is much talk of style,

Daily Magazine Editor
FOR people who like to deal in
generalizations, a favorite ad-
dition to mental carpetbags is that
Hollywood conceives of the Ameri-
can citizen as a twelve-year-old or
a ten-year-old.
The implication frequently in-
volved in this generalization is
that Hollywood. producers, direc-
tors and performers could create
more artistic films, but they think
they had better not because the
American public is not intelligent
enough to accept anything other
than Westerns, sentimental love
stories and action epics.
This, it would seem, lends the
cinema industry an air of superi-
ority thick enough to hide any
doubts about its competency. That
intellectual dwarfs dot the Ameri-
ican landscape like pieces of co-
agulated grease on a dirty plate
is evident; but it is equally evident
that a large share of these in-
tellectual dwarfs are concentrated
in Hollywood, and particularly in
the publicity departments of the
major motion picture studios.
Cinema publicity -- aside from
stunts and premieres -- uses as
its media of communication news-
papers and magazines for the most
part. Advertisements, press re-
leases and "stills" are the stan-
dard weapons of assault upon ,the
minds (and eventually wallets)
of the public; and one is likely
to conclude after carefully analyz-
ing these weapons that it is not
that they are aimed at individuals
with limited intelligence so near-
ly as they are manufactured by
individuals with limited skill.
FOR example, several days ago
we received "publicity blurbs"
from Columbia Studios, an organ-
ization which has recently sold
104 of its older films to television.
In order to acquaint the public
with its products, the organization
has conveniently prepared 104
corresponding color-type stories,
on the pictures. These blurbs have
been mailed to the nation's news-,
paper offices for insertion into
daily news pages.
One of them is for an old Rita
Hayworth film entitled Music In
My Heart. It reads:
"Beautiful Rita Hayworth is un-
mistakably the modern day Cin-
derella -- the beautiful little girl
who grew from dancer to Movie-
land's No. 1 actress to princess.
Manhattan-born Rita became
Princess Rita in 1949 when she


... from Agua Caliente to Valouris don't forget her "then"

married Prince
ouris, France."

Aly Khan at Val-

Continuing this international
geography lesson, the piece claims:
"Little Margarita Carmen Cansino
has come a long way fromwher
teen-age years as a dancer when
she was spotted by a talent scout
in Agua Caliente, Mexico."
Then, we are told that "This is
a wonderful opportunity for Hay-
worth fans to see her on television,
for she has done no work for this
medium as yet. So don't forget,
movie fans, to see this wonderful,
romantic musical starring Ameri-
ca's Cinderella then."
If this is aimed at a twelve-year-
old mind, then it bears little evi-
dence of being created by anything
more than a thirteen-year-old
mind: it tackles the rudiments of
biography, but only grasps inanity.
The same treatment is rendered
a blurb for Ida Lupino's Let's
Get Married: "Ida's dramatic heri-
tage goes back five hundred years
when her ancestors were the favo-
rite jugglers and strolling' players
of the Italian Renaissance in the
courts of the Italian nobles and
Ida's obviously carrying on the
family tradition."
The genetic implications-that
dramatic talent is inherited and
that jugglers produce fine actress-'
es-is questionable. But as the
blurb writer concludes, "There is
no doubt that Miss Lupino is quite
a gal!"
Once again, incompetency seems
more evident than the phenome-
non of an experienced writer "talk-
ing down."A
Further richness of detail is
evidenced by the information giv-
en about Ann Southern for Let's
Fall in Love.
"Born Harriette Lake in Valley

I City, N. D., Ann inherited musical
talent from her violinist grandfa-
ther and her mother, a concert
singer. She won first prize for
three consecutive years for her
original musical compositions and
was sent to Detroit to represent
the State of Minnesota as an out-
standing youthful composer."
Aside from its genetic flavor, the
information is, to say the least, not
very vital.
One of the most annoying ad-
advertisements to appear in
years concerns the film version of
Robert Anderson's Tea and Sym-
pathy, a play about homosexu-
ality -in a boys' boarding school.
Placed strategically in bomber
formation at the top of the ad-
vertisement is "MADE BY AD-
this sentence gets across the idea,
the writers make sure that abso-
lutely no one will miss the nu-
ances supplying, immediately be-
low, the commandment "Not Rec-
ommended for Children."
"Those who said Robert Ander-
son's astounding play couldn't-
even shouldn't-be filmed," the
advertisement c o n t i n u e s," will
probably be the first to cheer the
stars' delicate yet passionate por-
trayals." And as final proof of
this film's superiority, the studio
promises that ". . . MGM has made
certain that the electric tingle that
ran down Broadway on opening
night now runs down your spine
when you see Tea and Sympathy."
There is also another advertise-
ment currently on display
which is comprised largely of un-
truths, carefully suggested through
a series of shocking sentences.
Evidently, the picture shocked the

producer more than it will twelve-
The film is The Bad Seed, taken
from Maxwell Anderson's play
about a six-year-old murderess
whose mother eventually tries kill-
ing the brat so she will stop men-
acing society.
"Please remember The Bad Seed
was made only to entertain you,"
it begins. "It was made in the be-
lief that today's movie audience
will welcome a provocative no-
holds-barred dramatic sensation.
In all probability its story is fic-
tion-that is, it couldn't happen
to you (or the special person you
love). So no matter how it jolts
you or frrightens you or even
alarms you-remember, it's only a
wonderful motion picture."
One might question exactly why
the writer(s) thinks an audience
wants to be jolted, frightened or
even alarmed; but this material is
so obviously silly that it must be
rejected with the aplomb with
which one refuses the sixteenth
Of course, this is not all."Please
don't tell about the girl!" is placed
beside a picture of a woman in
solhouette against a bedroom door.
If this is euphemistic, it will sure-
ly never suggest naughty chil-
dren. In another place it reads "A
hidden shame out in the open-
and the most terrifying rock-bot-
tom a woman ever hit for love!"
This film, too, is "Recommended
for Adults Only!" For the cus-
tomer with heart trouble, the the-
atre promises ". . . a brief 'catch-
your-breath' intermission each
showing!" (These exclamation
points have apparently replaced
periods in Hollywood.)
Yet, if the writers lack intelli-
gence and imagination the

hatred of an earth that some- but any art that calls overmuch
times made him rich and some- See A NEW, Page 12

. .polar bears in ice water

... first prize

... jugglers, genetics

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