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BOOKS ABROAD

The Crime at Vanderlynden's, by R. H. Mottram. London: Chatto and Windus; New York: The Dial Press. $2.50.

[Observer]

WITH The Crime at Vanderlynden's Mr. Mottram completes his trilogy of war novels. In The Spanish Farm - which, by the way, won the Hawthornden prize in 1924 - the central figure was Madeleine Vanderlynden, the silent, courageous French woman of the soil, stolid and yet capable of passion both in love and resentment; in Sixty-Four, Ninety-Four it was Skene, the volunteer officer, to whom, at the start, the war was an adventure and, at the end, a business; and now in this last book it is Dormer, who, as the wrapper says, 'presents the barely articulate view of the masses in the ranks.'

The actual crime at Vanderlynden's was the destruction of a shrine by a British soldier who wanted shelter for his mules. Madeleine - the shrine was on the land of the Spanish farm claims compensation, and for months afterward Dormer, who has the case in hand, is trying to find the guilty man, keep headquarters quiet, and pacify the claimants. We imagine Mr. Mottram has chosen his instance carefully to emphasize what a nightmare of futility the war was to the average man. It was not the break-up of empires, the struggle between moral principles, the possible wrecking of Western civilization, that worried men like Dormer. The war to him was not a gallant tilting of right against wrong - although, to be just to Dormer, he felt instinctively that he was on the right side; it was an affair of pink slips covered with words such as 'Passed to you, please, for necessary action,' 'Kindly refer to A.Q.M.G.'s minute dated July 1916.' Dormer's job was not, to paraphrase Mr. Chesterton, to remember that he was a Christian man and stand where his fathers had stood before him; it was to track down the unfortunate wretch who had broken into the shrine to get shelter for his mules. The lessons from Mr. Mottram's unemotionally told parable are easy enough to draw.

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sion that made The Spanish Farm such a memorable book, and that gives Mr. Mottram his peculiar fitness to write of war.

Twenty-Five: Being a Young Men's Candid Recollections of His Elders and Betters, by Beverley Nicholls. London: Jonathan Cape. 78. 6d.

[Daily Telegraph]

'WHY not write about some of the exciting people one has seen while they still excite one?' asks Mr. Beverley Nicholls in justification of his claim that 'twenty-five seems to me the latest age at which anybody should write an autobiography.' Why not, indeed? It's a wonderful age, of fine enthusiasms and generous judgments, and, for a young man of Mr. Nicholls's brilliant talent (has he not given us three excellent books before reaching his first anecdotage?), numberless opportunities for meeting people some of whom at least are exciting. And looking at the portrait that graces the frontispiece we realize that this is just the book that the youth there presented would write - a delicious mixture of happy impudence and hero-worship, a candor sometimes straying toward, but never into, the realm of indiscretion, a boundless capacity for friendship, and an oftendisplayed shrewdness of judgment of men — and women and affairs.

In short, Mr. Nicholls has accomplished what so many of his 'elders and betters' (it is so easy to imagine the smile that accompanied the phrase) have attempted and failed — a book about himself which everybody will want to read. Kings and queens, presidents and playwrights, authors and actors, cabinet ministers and companypromoters, great ladies and great artists, jostle each other through his pages. He has a gift for making them talk. As they talk he studies them, and Twenty-Five' is in reality a series of studies of notable persons as they appeared to eager, friendly eyes. Here, for example, is his considered opinion of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith:

"This lady has been very much maligned by the British public. A section of that public regard her as vulgar because she is enthusiastic, prejudiced because she is loyal, conceited because she is frank, and generally a very tiresome creature. They have not the wit to realize that she is, in reality, a woman almost unbearably sen

sitive, who is aggressive only in self-defense, and that she is so emotional that she does things in public that some people regard as outrageous only because they do not understand her.'

Red Soil by L. E. Gielgud. London: William Heinemann. 7s. 6d.

[Observer]

Ir is easy to get heroes gracefully and naturally into dangerous positions; it is always difficult to get them out without complete sacrifice of good sense and probability. Usually the author, tired of playing to the rules and trying to stage a dignified exit, reaches down a large hand, seizes his hero by the scruff of the neck, and hurls him unfairly and ignominiously into safety. If Mr. Gielgud's book had no other merit whatsoever, it would still be commendable for the cleverness with which he manœuvres the escape of Stanislas and Count Vladimir from the 'Reds.' Stanislas and Count Vladimir were two members of a little party of officers cut off in a Russian village by their mutinous men. With them is a girl, Olga, Count Vladimir's daughter, who, often daringly, but unsuccessfully, impersonating a well-known woman revolutionary, still manages to keep her nerve and help nobly in the escape of her father and her lover Olga is just the sort of girl, in fact, one would like to have about if one were besieged oneself by revolutionaries determined on torture. We have said 'if Mr. Gielgud's book had no other merit.' As a matter of fact, it has several. It is written with an admirable directness for one thing; and, for another, Mr. Gielgud has not forgotten that, for a story to be really exciting, the protagonists must have some interest in themselves. Peter Abramovitch, the 'Red' leader, is excellent, and Henryk, Stanislas's brother, who turns renegade, is much more the kind of person one would expect to meet in life than in adventure stories.

Critical Essays, by Osbert Burdett. London: Faber and Gwyer. 78. 6d.

[Manchester Guardian]

MR. BURDETT has a right to be heard. Four years ago his Idea of Coventry Patmore rediscovered the poet of The Angel in the House to a generation that had no right ever to have forgotten him, while the more recent The Beardsley Period elucidated the governing motives of a decade that still influences our literature. Some of these essays are footnotes on themes he has already handled, but in the main they are samples from his critical pot - a well-assorted pot, always on the simmer. Among other themes Mr. Burdett deals with Passion plays, George Meredith, John

Gay, and Mrs. Meynell, and all of these he discusses without pedantry, in the style of graceful conversation. As with all good conversation, there are things with which we do not agree. Mr. Burdett finds the difficulties of Meredith's poetry exaggerated; we should ask him for a critical edition of the Odes in Contribution to the Song of French History. Again, to date vers libre from Henley is to forget the irregular verse of Matthew Arnold's 'Strayed Reveller,' and that much illused book, The Man Shakespeare, can stand more praise than he gives it in his essay on Frank Harris.

The implied dogma of Mr. Burdett's critical position is that all things are possible to men of good taste; it does not matter if it is The Angel in the House or The Harlot's House so long as the work has sincerity and form and is addressed to those who understand. He deals, in 'The Effect of Printing on Literature,' with the incursions of Demos on literature. He would keep the manyheaded multitude away from the arcana of literature, though from his essay on 'The Art of Mr. Chaplin' he seems prepared to give them the film. We hope this theory of a literary aristocracy will never lead Mr. Burdett to keep his essays to himself, for they have a crispness of wit, and withal a novelty of approach, that make them things that we should like to share with him.

Reminiscences, by Mrs. J. Comyns Carr. With numerous illustrations, including some hitherto unreproduced portraits by Sargent. London: Hutchinson. 21s.

[Morning Post]

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MRS. COMYNS CARR takes us among the famous Victorian artists, - all sorts and conditions of them, and she is perpetually quoting their ipsissima verba, in which, generally speaking, there is a refreshing lack of cleverness. Wagner sulks at a reception; it is noted that he has only a Port, but Frau Cosima a Presence. Browning, who 'looks like a very prosperous wine merchant,' is generous in praise of Tennyson, ‘the Kid-glove Poet,' and breaks down in the second stanza when persuaded, much against his will, to recite 'How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.' A record of his recitation was being made on an early phonograph, and nobody grasped the fact that the breakdown had become part of the performance. Eight-year-old Philip Comyns Carr tells Burne-Jones frankly, much to the famous painter's delight, 'I think I could paint as well as you if only I had the same colors in my paint-box.' The most amusing thing in the book is the reproduction of a spoof-sketch by Burne-Jones of Susanna and the Elders - after Rubens. We meet Mr. Hardy engaged in superintending a rehearsal at Liverpool of a dramatic version of Far from the Madding Crowd.

OUR OWN BOOKSHELF

Miniature Portraits, by Gédéon Tallemant, Sieur des Réaux. New York: Brentano's, 1926. $4.00.

THREE hundred years before the days of 'psychographs' and Stracheys, Gédéon Tallemant was born. During his life he met everybody of consequence at the French court, where he gleaned spicy, intimate bits of gossip from and about such figures as Cardinal Richelieu, Henry IV, Louis XIII, Ninon de Lenclos, Cardinal de Retz, and Madame de Rambouillet. He wrote nearly five hundred character-sketches, in which he mentioned six thousand different people by name. In this selection, the able translator, Mr. Hamish Miles, has assembled twenty of the most interesting of these 'historiettes,' that on Richelieu being by far the longest. Although the anecdotes of which each sketch is composed are related swiftly and skillfully, the effect is not so smooth as it should be. When the Portraits were first published, in 1833, they caused a great stir, for they tended to make ridiculous a period that many patriotic Frenchmen cherished. But the general reader, to whom this very handsome book is addressed, will find in it a delightful combination of history and hearsay.

At the Sign of the Goat and Compasses, by Martin Armstrong. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1925. $2.00.

THE life of a few simple folk in a little village on the coast of England is the theme of this novel. Crome is one of those sleepy places where nothing ever happens. At least that is what we say as we motor through. And that is what every native son of eighteen who has been up to the big city for a holiday says to his friends each Sunday as they stand on the street corner after church. For such a lad the remark has more than a superficial truth. After we have made it clear that it is ours, we Anglo-Saxons bear the burden of the world in dignified silence. Our first impulse after every catastrophe is to hush it up. Not until manhood, if at all, does the boy learn the strange story of his neighbor's life. One is grateful to the author for telling his tale with such simplicity and sincerity. He does not indulge in a single literary flourish; not once does he betray his own existence. The result is a work

of great dignity and power. It is long since we have spent a more enjoyable evening.

Half a Minute's Silence, and Other Stories, by Maurice Baring. Garden City: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1925. $2.00.

MR. BARING offers us in polished prose a small volume of stories and sketches on widely differing themes. Too short for character-development, they depend for their effects upon the narrative or upon a tour de force. The title story describes the thoughts of a group of people during thirty seconds of silence. Nine are tales of the supernatural, three are parables, four, including the first, are sketches. It is a vaudeville show to beguile the passing hour. From time to time one applauds some special stunt, comfortably conscious the while that nothing will be repeated. The difference is that here one can smoke, shift the numbers at random, and enjoy the best seat in the house. We do not, however, mean to suggest that we have discovered here a potential rival to Swiss yodelers. 'Heard melodies are sweet' and that is enough of the quotation for most of us.

The Re-making of the Nations, by J. H. Nicholson. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1925. $5.00.

MR. NICHOLSON, an Albert Kahn Fellow, set out from Paris in September 1922 and put in the better part of a year going around the world. His book might be called the Travel Diary of a Gentleman, for the author lays no claim to supernatural abilities in any field. He is simply an intelligent person who visited a great many places, used his eyes, and kept his head. He devotes himself chiefly to the contrasts between the East and the West, bearing in mind the fact that India is racially akin to Europe and not to China and Japan. He touches upon many a sore and vital point in various parts of the world, and goes into long discussions of the religions of different peoples. The effectiveness of such a book depends entirely upon the personality of the author, who soon reveals himself as a thoroughly good fellow, tolerant and unaffected. His opinion on any subject would command our respect, and he has here chosen topics that would interest us no matter who discussed them.

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Good Books for Easter Time

WELL, to my

surprise and pleasure a redoubtable champion of this Gospel now appears in the famous biographer, Lord Charnwood.

Charnwood is a man of learning and experience who lived long in our American West, who has met all classes of people, whose natural shrewdness has been sharpened by scholarship. He is a trained biographer, whose business it is to separate what is true from what is legendary.

I had no idea that he was especially interested in the New Testament, yet for many years he has been working on the most important of literary problems, the origins of the Gospels. Here is the result, a book called "According to Saint John," a brilliant, scholarly, sensible work.

This is a treatise, not for children, but for intelligent men and women; and if they come to it with an open and unprejudiced mind, they will, as I do now on this Thanksgiving Day, thank God for such a book. WILLIAM LYON PHELPS IN Scribner's.

THE

HE wisely chosen book is the perfect Easter greeting. Here are three titles which The Atlantic Monthly Bookshop can heartily recommend. Copies will be dispatched immediately to any address — use the coupon below for convenience. ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN

By Lord Charnwood

$3.50

Here the author of the masterly Lincoln and Roosevelt biographies sifts the evidence regarding the long disputed authorship of this Gospel, and shows the place of all the Gospels in the development of the Christian Church and its beliefs.

THE SOUL'S SINCERE DESIRE

By Glenn Clark

$2.00

When one of the chapters of this book appeared in The Atlantic Monthly the response was so tremendous that the entire edition was sold at once. Professor Clark shows the miraculous force of prayer in his life and presents a technique of prayer of the greatest practical aid and comfort to many people.

BUCOLIC BEATITUDES

By Rusticus

Illustrated $1.50

Rusticus describes himself as an "impecunious rural sentimentalist", and writes with engaging charm of the peace and quiet delights of country life. "Horace is of his company" says The Boston Transcript, and adds “no excerpt could begin to convey a conception of the glories of this little book."

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY BOOKSHOP
8 Arlington Street, Boston

Gentlemen: Enclosed find.".....(or charge to my account) and send the titles checked to

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THE LIVING AGE. Published weekly. Publication office, RUMFORD BUILDING, CONCORD, N. H Editorial and General Offices, 8 Arlington Street, Boston 17, Mass. 15c a copy, $5.00 a year: foreign postage $1.50.

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