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August 11, 1940 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1940-08-11

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SUNDAY, AL GUST 11, 1940


Hopwood Winner's Fourth Book Is
Story Of Michigan In The Nineties

Mildred Walker
Presents 'Brewers
Big Horses'
Mildred Walker. 441 pp. Harcourt,
Brace, New York. $2.50.
When Mildred Walker's third novel
"Doctor Norton's Wife" became a best
seller last year, the University's Hop-
wood Committee rightfully sat back
and beamed with pride.. Miss Walker
won her first literary fame in 1934
when "Fireweed", her Hopwood win-
ner, was published.
This week Miss Walker triumphed
again with her fourth novel "The
Brewer's Big Horses"-a powerful story
of America's decadent mauve decade.
Miss Walker proves herself a top-
notch writer, and while this novel too
will undoubtly be a best-seller, she
shows that she has much to learn.
Her best virtue is as a writer, a
dealer in words, a master of effects,
a handler of plot. She is still the
University student, who amazed
with the power of words, concentrates
entirely on style before she goes on to
look at the larger aspect of writing.
Masterful Writing
But she is no longer a mere student
of rhetoric. Mildren Walker has be-
come a master of the written word.
The opening chapters in which the
world is seen through the eyes of a
child, demonstrate genuine compet-
ency. The passage where the Brew-
er's Big Horses make their first en-
trance into the story, proud in regal
trappings and drawing a fine new
dray, with the solid magnificance of
the German beer it carries, is one
of the most vivid depictions we have
seen anywhere. Only one we can re-
call begins to rival it for sheer abil-
ity-the description of the truck and
the diner in the opening chapters
of "Grapes of Wrath."
But not only is Miss Walker an
accomplished writer; she begins to
prove herself an author too. Her
social criticism in "The Brewer's Big
Horses" is well done, well oriented
to the rest of the book. But it is
more that the writing is so vivid, so
lucid, so real, rather than the per-
tinence or importance of the critic-
ism that makes it good.
"The Brewer's Big Horses" is a

fine picture of life in a Michigan
town at the turn of the century. The
society, the customs, themores, the
bigotry, the vices, the prejudices, the
surge of developing America is all
there. Theauthor's presentation is
obviously a subjective one, and sub-
jective presentation includes critic-
But her criticism is of too little
value to a turbulent American so-
ciety today. He novel that could be
a motivating story of America today,
yes, even as strong as Steinbeck's
young classic, become only a good
story of a piece of America that used
to be. The picture she has drawn be-
comes a mere background, and the
novel becomes a story of one char-
acter who is not an important per-
son, as interesting and human as
she might be.
Story Of An Individualist
The story of Sara Bolster, head-
strong individualist who flys in the
face of the narrow folkways of her
society, to marry a foreigner (in the
day when "foreigner" was said with
a pained expression) to run a brew-,
ery (in the day when young women
withered away discreetly in the homes
of their mothers, when their marri-
ages abort)-all this makes fine
But a forward-looking reader is
annoyed by mentally comparing the
story, the entire novel, to what the
author could do if she forgot the
personally pleasant, if she looked at
America today, and forgot the Ameri-
ca of yesterday.
It is a complimentary comment
to be able to say that Mildred Walker
displays the versatility and ability
necessary to make such adjustment.
Instead of being a writer hopeless-
ly off in the wrong direction, she is
a young writer who is still learning,
still making gigantic progress and
rapidly taking her place among the
country's most promising authors.
Needs Boldness
The vividness with which she draws
characters, the ease with which she
embodies the spirit of a whole town
in a chapter, the subtlety with which
she reveals feeling and emotion are
evidence of ability. Mildred Walker
needs only to lose the slight tinge of
effiminate timidty with which she
looks at the world, and she will quick-
ly leave the "goods" and take her
place among the "greats". She tries

Author Shows
Artificiality Of
The Mauve Decade
hard to be bold, to be strong, to be vi-
rile in her approach to life. But
through it all comes the hint of an
author inherently of a gentle nature.
The story itself is the story of
Sara Bolster, darling of a Main Street
"Four Hundred" who crosses the
tracks to marry a young German
doctor, and finds herself running
a brewery to support her children,
her in-laws and her own, family
which clings to it prides and preju-
dices but not its money. One flaw
stands out in the plot. Although Sara
becomes a shrewd business woman,
worldly and wise, and old in years
she remains somehow the naive
youngster who was first awed by the
Brewers Big Horses. After twenty
years she has failed to orient her-
self to life, she still mourns (in at
titude) the death of her husband
that will leave you upset for chapters
-but not for twenty years.

New Books
They Wanted War-By Otto D.
Tolischus, New York, Reynal
and Hitchcock. $3.-On Hitler's
Enough To Live On-By Margaret
Culkin Banning, New York,
Harper & , Bros., $2.-Modern
Let Him Die-By E. H. Clements,
New York, E.. P. Dutton, $2.-
Mystery story.
The American Presidency By
Harold J. Laski, New York Har-
per, $2.50.-An interpretive stu-
Tale of Three Cities-By D. L.
Murray, New York, Knopf, $3.
-A novel of Europe today; his-
The Fair Adventure--By Elizabeth
Janet Gray, New York, Viking
Press, $2.-A poor girl against
the world.
Oriental Assembly-By T. E. Law-
rence, New York, E. P. Dutton,
$3.-A new collection of a writ-
ing of Lawrence of Arabia.
Amazing Story of Repeal-By
Fletcher Dobyn, Chicago, Wil-
lett, Clark, $3.-Propaganda ex-
Architecture Through the Ages-
By Talbot Hamlin, New York,
G. P. Putnam, $6.-Illustrated
story of art and life.

It is a severe challenge to one's
reading intelligence to fail to prop-
erly interpret Professor Adler's re-
cent book, "How To Read A Book"
for between national-blue, gold em-
bellished pages are over four hun-
dred pages of script regularly inter-
spersed with instructions how to do
this very thing.
We are told that to apply these
rules to the "One Hundred Best
Books" constitute all the education
one would need in a life time. No
reservations are made should we live
to be a Methuselah and, barring sub-
normalities, we need admit no dis-
crimination of intellects. Fortunately
Mr. Adler in his book, "How To Read
a Book," has with intentional and
effective repetition set down rules for
the reading of "any" book.
"How To Read a Book" not only
states in informally concrete mes-
sages the technique which the title
implies but also acquaints us with
much of Professor Adler's spiritual
and pedagogical philosophy. It fur-
ther reveals in a very expository
manner many of the conditions
seemingly existing under sponsor-
ship of educators. We fail to see the

Historical ovl epicts Michigan
Whe1NeiW Youn Ou
When .Detroit Was Young Outpost

At 1-3-5-7-9 P.M. 39c All Day
Now Playing! V

Professor Adler Tells How

To Read

A Book ... And Selects The Books, Too

Julia Cooley Altrocchi. 572 pp.
MacMillan Company, New York,
FOR the past several years a new
and rebellious trend in American
letters has come under keen obser-
vation of literary critics. Despite the
the supposed dominance of natural-
istic realism, a constant stream of
historical novels, slightly romanti-
cized, has found its way into the
hands of the reading public. This
trend has grown slowly but strongly
in the last year.
It is the sort of thing that hints
at the significant, but gives no real
clue as to what that significance may
be. It is evident however, that authors
are beginning to feel the impression-
ism of Dos Passos, Hemingway, and
Anderson is not for the American
people; was just a literary fad.
With this in mind, it is interesting
to look at a newrhistorical novel:
Julia Cooley Altrocchi's "Wolves
Against the Moon", which is a story
of the wilderness society of the fur
traders in Michigan when Detroit
was a young outpost of 400 people,
and Checagou (Chicago) was a new
Reality From Records
Mrs. Altrocchi does an admirable
job of forcing from her own experi-
ences in the Upper Peninsula, and
evidence obtained in obscure lib-
raries and dusty archhives, a ren-
ascence of the whole society that pre-
ceded the era of the farmer, the mer-
chant, the Indian reservation and
later the railroad.
Mrs. Altrocchi writes qf the real
American frontier, when a fur trad-
er might be the only white man for
a thousand miles, with an under-
standing of the wilderness, the In-
dian, and the French Canadian, that
gives "Wolves Against the Moon" a
good deal of that rustic splendor that
won Hudson's "Green Mansions" its
place in literature.
Primarily the book is another his-
torical novel, the story of Joseph
Bailly, trader prince of what came to
be the Northwest Territory. But what
makes "Wolves Against the Moon"
one of the more important arrivals
on the literary horizon is the fact
that through its romanticism runs
the strong results of an age of realism.
It may sound like an ammachronism
to talk of social criticism in a novel
we have just explained as a his-
torical romance.
But Mrs. Altrocchi not only adapts
the social criticism of our impres-
sionistic writers to her romaniticized

novel, but she injects it as well with
a realism of her own.
The Indian society in which Joseph
Bailly thrusts himself in his hunger
for adventure and life in the unre-
pressed wilderness, is keenly drawn.
The glorious splendor of the forestal
civilization is a pretty thing to read
about. Upper Peninsula winters tend
to become winter wonderlands; spring
is a bursting of nature into pastoral
splendor. The chapter in which
Joseph's half-breed wife Marie is
forced "enceinte" to walk five hund-
red miles becomes a monument to the
women's courage, instead of a pic-
ture of the torture it must have been.
In such ways does the author revert
to the true romantic novel.
Romantic Realism
But she does not hesitate to show
the ugly side of this primeval ex-
istence. Her powerful depiction of an
Indian massacre in which an Ameri-
can scout is beset by half a dozen
war-mad chiefs is one that will leave
the most lethargic reader aroused.
Julia Cooley Altrocchi does not hesi-
tate to finish that scene with a des-
cription of how the Ottawa warriors
cut the heart from the body of this
scout before he had hardly reached
the ground, and devour it in the
typically childish superstition that it
will transmit its courage to its con-
sumers. Throughout the book the
author saves her story from becoming
another adventure story or another
history by her willingness to write
She is not a social critic of any
small talents either. With complete
compassion ,the author portrays (and
makes the reader understand the
position of the sensitive French-Ca-
nadians who found themselves
caught in the cross current of Eng-
lish, American and Indian civiliza-
tions. Their chauvinistic reluctance
to fit themselves into a new world,
one that (through the author's eyes)
is inferior to the fine French mode
of life, becomes readily understand-
It is this mixture of the romantic

(which is inherently artistic and
pleasant with the realistic, which is
vital to modern day America) that
makes "Wolves Against the Moon"
truly important. It indicates strongly
that the new trend in literature will
be a mitigated realism, or a victor-
ious romanticism that will make con-
cessions to defeated naturalism.
The plot itself is somewhat ham-
pered by the necessity of chronolog-
ical orrer. The story opens with Bail-
ly, a young and adventure-hungry
fop in Quebec, proceeds to follow his
trails and tribulations, and comes to
a conclusion, not with his death, but
with the death of the world he had
Joseph Bailly, who in his farflung
adventures and fur-trading dealings
many times passed through the forest
that was later to give way to the
town of Ann Arbor, is a notable char-
acter in actual Michigan history. But
the author does fail to make him real.
Occasionally the reader enjoys fleet-
ing glimpses of real human beings,
but not often enough. In one chap-
ter Monsieur Bailly, hardy gentleman
of the forest, who all his life wanted
a son, discovers his young son lacks
the strong nature of the pioneer,
and instead has the hper-sensitivity
of his mother.
In a stirring closing passage, Mrs.
Altrocchi takes the reader to the
path where the once proud and
mighty Indian chiefs are herded and
driven westward by American soldiers
to their new reservations. The In-
dians, whom the reader has come to
know well during the course of the
novel, are symbols of the splendor
of the wilderness society that the
author undoubtly feels gave way to
an inferior civilization. The Indians
are a beaten people, they are dead
in spirit and dying in body as the
soldiers drive them west to confine
them in their reservations (Mrs. Al-
trocchi's word for "ghetto"). And it
is not without a touch of genuine
sorrow that the reader watches this
glorious pageant of early America
draw to its close.

purpose of this betrayal to the lay-c
man and to youth, under such a de- 1
ceptive title, suppositions that ourc
schools are so radically failing. Wer
understand the title was imposed byr
the publishors who discarded the
gentler one supplied by the author,c
"How To Become Friends Witht
Books and Be Influenced By Them".3
This title would have been even morei
bewitching in its appeal to revolu-
tionary consideration of what is go-'
ing on within the classroom.
Adler's Panaceas
What is wrong with democracy,
implies Mr. Adler, is that most of the
people cannot read, have no teachers
and no education. With this book
now giving full directions on just
"how to read," given, as we are, in;
the appendix, a list of the "Great
Books" "to read", and the long eulo-
gy on the misbehaviors of students
and teachers as to "why" people do
"not read" we may assume our prob-
lems solved. Educators can at last re-
lax. Teachers may rest confident that
the "open way" is also available to
students and together they may nob-
ly pursue Mr. Adler's plan for self
improvement. Teachers can not hope
to be much help until they have
mastered the books anyway. (It may
well be parenthetically stated here
that Mr. Adler, often rated as a gen-
ius, a Doctor of Philosophy, an as-
sociate of highest universities, and a
"young" man, admits that it is possi-
ble for him to master at least ten
of these books a year.)
'Dead Teachers'
To get to the "meat" of the book
more specifically we need, at least,
to explain first that Mr. Adler re-
fers to books as "dead teachers" in
contrast to instructors with whom we
come in personal contact as "live
teachers". In that respect we are
grateful to the author for so protect-
ing the classroom professor from the
former derogatory title at the same
time aware that he has robbed the
student of a traditional expressive
appellative. But to label books as
"dead teachers" jars us exceedingly.
As a pschologist, surely Mr. Adler
might have protected our sensitiv-
ity. We are to read these "dead tea-
chers" actively, cavort with corpses,
as it were.
He stresses the fact that too much
of our reading is of a passive nature.
Read "actively". Keep mentally alert.
Reading must be a vital cultivation
of the mind. Yet whether or not the
'author" is 'dead", the 'book' is a
"dead thing". Repeatedly does Mr.
Adler play with this harsh and
"deadly" terminology and we are
grieved. That which represents stored
energy in the form of words is
strangely labelled "dead"!
Two Ways Of Reading
There are two ways of reading a
book according to Mr. Adler, one for
entertainment and one for learning.
Most people read books with the for-
mer purpose in mind. It is much
more pleasurable to be delighted
than to be instructed. "How To Read
a Book" concerns only the activity
of "learning" through reading. It is
a thesis devoted sincerely to the art
of showing the reader an intellect-
ual path to knowledges presented by
masters in the form of their books.
The purpose of a goodly portion of
the book is to help the less com-
petent make more effective contact
with the best minds. It shows no
royal road, but rather admits that
the path is strewn With rocks, not
roses. It is clearly an exposition of
rules to be mastered if one would
perfect himself in the art or skill
necessary to read for the purpose

of "learning". It is this part- of the
book, the second part, beginning with
chapter seven, with which we are
most concerned. We have needed to
reach this part of the book before
we achieve the ability to properly
diagnose Mr. Adler's instructions as
to how we shall read a book Now
we can say that we believe explicity
in the professor's method. It is the
way we have "learned" to read. "How
To Read a Book", however, does not
coincide with what we have learned
as to the way to properly "write" a
Read It Three Times
Any book worth reading should be
read "three" times. The "first" read-
ing can be called "structural" or
analytic. Here the reader proceeds
from the whole to its parts. Mr, Ad-
ler speaks of an X-ray eye type of
reading. It is a reading for the pur-
pose of discovering the skeleton, the
structure, the form of the 'book. In
this reading we are to note the cover,
number of pages, parts, table of con-
tents, index, and every other part
of the contents of the book relating
to mechanical details. Furthermore
we are to search out all the outstand-
ing points of each. The "second"
reading can be called the "interpre-
tative" or synthetic, proceeding from
the parts to the whole. These parts
take into consideration the terms,
The Birtish, too, kept up their
propositions, and syllogisms; thatis
the authors ideas, assertions, and
arguments. It is here that we are
given the wise hint of the advantage
of reading with a pencil in hand and
checking the margins of the book
with key words and phrases. Mr. Ad-
ler rates this method even better than
a notebook. The "third" method can
be called the "critical" or evaluative
reading. At this reading it is the job
and privilege of the reader to judge
the author and decide whether or
not he agrees or disagrees with him.
We are cautioned to keep free, alert,
individual. We may attack, criticize
and argue. We may win or lose. Our
opponent, bear in mind, is dead.
Three Divisions
"How To Read a Book" is divided
into three major divisions, "Part I"
is called "The Activity of Reading."
"Part II" is called briefly, "The
Rules". "Part III" attempts bravely
to solve that sweet mystery with
which we are all concerned and is
aptly labelled, "The Rest of a Read-
er's Life". The book has all the struc-
tural elements common to other books
of information. In addition it geier-
ously includes a page of biography
of the author. Furthermore, as has
been implied, at intervals within the
covers of the book we find a com-
plete analysis by the author of all
that has been stated before. A com-
position assignment of this book to
review would go a long way toward
creating a freshman's paradise and
do much toward preserving the mar-
gins of the Reader's Guide.
While we are in full agreement
with Mr. Adler's method of how one
should read a book, in fact we know
of no other way to actually "read" a
book, we fail to grasp his recipe as
a panacea for all reading failure.
There is an intangibility concerned
with reading which still exists in our
mind even though we claim to have
digested his pages by his method.
Reading still incorporates an unde-
finable something which has to do
with brain cells, with heritage, with
experiences, with character, mood,
temperament, with health and scores
of other qualities not wholly ambrac-
ed by the author of this worthy book.

Walter Brennan - Fay Bainter
"Kentucky's" great star
Brenda Joyce - John Payne
Charlie Ruggles - Marjorie
Weaver - Hattie McDaniel
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