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A Blessed Companion Is a Book


Revolt in the Desert, by T. E. Lawrence. New York: George H. Doran Co. 1927. 8vo. xx+328 pp. Illus. $3.00.

Ir is a sober fact that since God's prophet, Mahomet, consolidated the Arab tribes thirteen centuries ago no man till Colonel Lawrence has been able to bring them together. And yet the whole history of Arabia might be read in the light of attempts to do this very thing. Mahomet was an epileptic camel-driver (as Oric Bates used to say), and Lawrence a young Oxonian archæologist. The Turks were to be driven out. Lawrence deliberately went in search of a native who possessed the qualities of a leader and made him king. In his book he does not suggest for a moment that this could have been done without the consent and the very active coöperation of British high commissioners, admirals, general officers, and political agents on the spot. But at the same time it is very improbable that it could have been brought about without Lawrence. The Turk was beaten by Allenby and a score of other greater soldiers than our author, but Feisal was chosen and made king by Lawrence. Perhaps it was no less an achievement to persuade the British Staff in the Near East that his scheme was sound than it was to guide Feisal in winning the allegiance of the tribes and subtribes in Arabia. But at least British word, once given, was to be trusted, and help, when promised, was usually sent. But Arab oaths were not always so literally kept, and sheiks proved more temperamental than British officers. Of what came at the end of the war, when politicians took the place of officers, this book does not tell. That was a bitterness which we shall never know, and which must have been worse than the bitter waters that Lawrence drank when he lighted from his fast she-camel by the stinking wells of Sirhan.

But what his book does tell us, better perhaps than any other book that ever was written, is about intrigue and hand-to-hand fighting under conditions as romantic as any that are left on the globe. The very names of the places are soulsatisfying mouthfuls. To be a Cook's tourist in the valley before Akaba would be bliss, but to have taken part in the fight there must have made a day that no soldier could forget. And yet how little Lawrence is the typical soldier is shown by one extraordinary paragraph which comes near to describing the indescribable. I think no one has ever attempted it in English before. They were lying about, spent after victory, and wondering if it was worth while to cook dinner, 'for we were subject at the moment to the physical

shame of success, a reaction of victory, when it became clear that nothing was worth doing and that nothing worthy had been done.' 'The physical shame of success' is, of course, masterly. In fact the whole book is lighted by such flashes. He describes men as he does his own moods: 'Feisal was a fine hot workman, whole-heartedly doing a thing when he had agreed to it'; and at the same time he manages to give you insight into the strange mixed meaning of the whole campaign: 'During two years Feisal so labored daily, putting together and arranging in their mutual order the innumerable tiny pieces which made up Arabian society, and combining them into his one design of war against the Turks. There was no blood feud left active in any of the districts through which he passed and he was Court of Appeal, ultimate and unchallenged, for western Arabia.'

Desert and sky, nomad horsemen and the interiors of council tents and starry night rides, are pictured in a way that makes even the drawings of Augustus John, which adorn the volume, seem almost superfluous; though these drawings are as offhand and as slangy as the writing itself. But do not for a moment be misled — the writing is not offhand, nor is it the work of a delightful amateur. It is flat, flagrant art, as Kipling said, and so was the war that Lawrence made when he wrapped himself in a live Arab skin to go looting Turkish trains and sit spitting and picking his teeth and belching after a full meal in a king's tent. LANGDON WARNER

The Old Countess, by Anne Douglas Sedgwick. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1927. 12mo. x+372 pp. $2.50.

LIKE The Little French Girl, Mrs. de Sélincourt's new novel is an interracial drama, and it shows the same skillful differentiation of Gallic and Anglo-Saxon psychology. The story, with its few characters and its expert economy of detail, is more compact, and moves more swiftly. It gathers headway like the river that pervades it -a boding presence, swelling toward the catastrophe. If one had to name the quality most essentially characteristic of Mrs. de Sélincourt's art, one would probably choose its harmoniousness; and, with the possible exception of two or three short stories in Christmas Roses, this quality has never been more marked than in The Old Countess. This novel is like grave music, brightened here and there by delicately gay passages, but sweeping steadily to a tragic close. Without being actually symbolic, the setting is in perfect tune with the action; from the 'menacing' sky that

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The great American novel of the Civil War.

On sale everywhere May 2d. $2.50

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the young artist is painting in the beginning, and the still power of the Dordogne as it slips between its cliffs, to the flood and the breaking of the dike, it parallels the threat and the resistless mounting of passion in the tale.

In the drawing of her characters Mrs. de Sélincourt has shown her accustomed power. There is the Old Countess, that feeble yet malignant figure, with her rather grisly infatuation for the handsome painter, younger by two generations an infatuation that causes her a brief ecstasy of gratified vanity, and then a vindictiveness of jealousy that the reader is half pitying for its impotence at the very moment when it flashes out and topples down ruin. There is young Marthe Ludérac, tragic, solitary, repressed, pouring out her angelic tenderness upon her animals. There is Graham, the moody, morose, essentially hardhearted painter, dependent upon the sane love of his wife, devoted to her, yet helplessly swept away on the torrent of his passion, half mystical, half sensual, for the young Frenchwoman. And there is Jill, candid and loyal; full of a 'fundamental trust in life'; entirely wholesome, yet without stupidity; entirely inartistic,.from her husband's point of view, yet endowed with that deep love for the softer beauties of the earth that Mrs. de Sélincourt, because it is her own, can convey as few novelists can do it.


The style, like that of the earlier books, is like nothing so much as an Indian-summer afternoon, but has point and thrust as well as mellowness. Not only touches of beauty linger in the mind, but felicities of phrase; not only the 'Dance of the Blessed Spirits' as Marthe plays it on her harp,'gliding fields of asphodel . . white mists and slowly flowing silver streams,' but the 'low, blissful grumbling' of the lame old dog, as, rendered self-conscious by the bandying of his name, he seeks the haven of his mistress's nearness; or the quality of Graham's laugh 'It did not take you into his confidence; it excluded you, rather, from all participation_with the sources of his mirth'; or the 'far, shrill cry' to which is likened Jill's first faint premonition that her happiness is in peril.

The quiet Epilogue, ironical, wistful, reconciled, is the very height of art.


Elmer Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. 1927. 12mo. viii+ 432 pp. $2.50.

IF Sinclair Lewis is trying to prove that these United States are encased in a hard shell of religious dogma, he need ask for no more exquisite proof than the indignation which has greeted Elmer Gantry. Even a professional critic of literature rises to testify, in the newspapers, that no Baptist preacher like Elmer Gantry ever has existed he feels that he has a right to an opinion on this subject because his grandfather, his father, all of his surviving brothers, and many of his friends are Baptist ministers; and, to judge

from the advertisements cleverly reprinted by the publishers, the churches of Kansas City are slinging mud with a vehemence which betrays their own mental processes more clearly than it befouls the integrity or artistry of Mr. Lewis.

In a beautiful and compassionate passage at the beginning of the book, Mr. Lewis tells how the little pasty-white Baptist church of Paris, Kansas, provided all the music, oratory, enchantment, and dignity which gilded Elmer's childhood-how it alone offered an escape from his mother's bleak widowhood. I can imagine a timid theologue reading those pages eagerly, only to come up against the satiric sting of the last sentence:

'He had, in fact, got everything from the church and Sunday School, except, perhaps, any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason.'

Now decency and kindness and reason are the attributes of men who are free from the inner compulsion of fear and guilt, which nourish mob action of all kinds, from lynching to evangelism. It is this inner conflict of the individual which delivers him over to the mob, rather than the outrages of the mob itself, which most deeply engages Mr. Lewis's attention. This is the tragedy not only of Elmer Gantry, but also of Dr. Zechlin, who was old and fearful; of Frank Shallard, who had never freed himself from the pleasant childish emotions which centred in the church; of Carol Kennicott, in Main Street; of Babbitt. Were Mr. Lewis interested primarily in propaganda against conventional religion, he might have handled his weapons more skillfully by making Elmer Gantry a less complete blackguard. But he enters sympathetically into a barren, mediocre life, and shows how it is corrupted, yet sustained, by fear, ignorance, and cruelty. That, perhaps, is why those of us who would feel at home in a goldenoak church can hardly bear to admit that this superstructure is built on such emotions, as well as on the more presentable passion for service which also springs from self-distrust.

The humane sympathy of Sinclair Lewis, and his genius for exact, painstaking observation, have made his creations household words, his very titles additions to the American idiom. They carry his readers along a road which is pleasant because it is familiar, until, willy-nilly, they are brought up protesting against the spectre of inner conflict which darkens the very foundations of conventional belief and negates the axioms of the mob. If Mr. Lewis were either less genial or less intelligent, he would not evoke the torrents of emotion which are now betraying the acuteness of Elmer Gantry.


The King's Henchman, by Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Harper & Bros. 1927. 12mo. xi+130 pp. $2.00.

THE poetry and the imaginative setting create the values of Miss Millay's play - these, and the

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GILBERT K. CHESTERTON writes a New Novel



A story of a young political dreamer who faces a world of wealthy aristocracy. Never has the clash of truth and falsehood been treated with greater daring or with a finer sense of humorous adventure. It is a book gay with laughter, scintillating, vigorous, and deep with thought.

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This novel is a romance of a dying era

the last hard struggle of the English
aristocracy to stand against commer-
cialism and invading hordes of self-made
millionaires. The characters are vivid, at
times humorous, at times tragic and live
long in the memory.


By Robert Carse

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A stark tale of the sea
salt blow of the gale, sea-
men clumping the rolling
deck, the lure of the gray-
blue horizon, the call of
strange places. More specifi-
cally, the story of Duncan
Dunn, wanderer on sea and
land, his love of woman
fighting the insatiable urge
of far horizons - blue rims
of the world.

TORIES OF 1925-26


Edited by Richard Eaton

This collection contains short stories_representing leading countries in Continental Europe (except France) and displaying the literary tendencies and development of the short story in the old world. Contains yearbook information also.




By Hanns Heinz Ewers

What Fabre did for the
wasp and Maeterlinck for
the bee, Dr. Ewers has done
for perhaps the most fas-
cinating individual in the
insect world.

By Katharine M-P. Cloud

Shrubs are becoming more
and more popular in the
landscaping of large and
small homes and this is a
standard book on the sub-

Uniform with Above Volume

By Katharine M-P. Cloud


By Dorothy M-P. Cloud

Among books that will be in demand this spring may be mentioned The Magic Man, a novel by Hallie Erminie Rives about a man who "came back"; The Magic Casket, another Thorndike mystery book by R. Austin Freeman; The Outline of Sanity by G. K. Chesterton; How To Decorate Textiles by Zelda Branch; and Fishes in the Home by Ida M. Mellen.



9 Fourth Avenue, New York DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 215 Victoria Street, Toronto

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haunting sense of music that pervades it, even for one who has not heard the opera. For the theme is trite enough, — the friend who, when sent as a messenger, speaks for himself, -nor is there any of that worming about in the consciousness of the characters by which many a modern novelist prolongs a hackneyed subject. As for the situations, the climax alone interests. Ethelwold has betrayed Eadgar, his king, by falsely reporting as unlovely the daughter of the Thane of Devon, whom Eadgar has sent him to woo, and has himself wedded the fair Elfrida. Presently the king descends on Devon in friendly visit, and light Elfrida, instead of disguising her beauty as she had promised, appears in all her radiance before him. Then comes an unexpected turn, for the first thought of the king is simply that he is thwarted in his life's work, 'building England,' if his best friend, who is her most trusted son, can so prove unworthy. Ethelwold stabs himself. King Eadgar and the rest turn in scorn from the woman, and the play ends in dignity and tragic grief, with solemn keening for Ethelwold. It is a moving finale.

For the rest, what matter if the theme be trite? Poetry makes all things new, and here it accomplishes the ancient miracle. The opening song of the harper, with its swinging lines, archaic, fierce, elegiac, is as successful as Tennyson's 'Brunanburgh.' Cadmon himself might well sing in Eadgar's hall, nor need it trouble us that Miss Millay slightly overdoes her alliteration. The details are well in keeping, even to briefest lyrical phrase ('Up, sun! Stir in thy straw!'), the gnomic sayings a pleasure to the student. No wonder that already college classes in Old English are given the refreshing exercise of analyzing the language of the play. The skillful technique, moreover, is perfectly controlled by the spirit, which is the true spirit of that old forefather life, so precious an element in the eternal past that we really inhabit.

It is piquant to have this wild and stark existence shown through a woman's mind. Never did dainty feminine touch more exquisitely indicate gross manners than in the opening scene of deep drinking and coarse jesting. What a pity that the opera omits the jokes! An effective glimpse of Dunstan suggests the thin veneer of Christianity over Paganism. The tenacious continuity of Anglo-Saxon life is finely hinted in the marching song, with its memories of the Romans:

Cæsar, thy day is done,

Whiles ours is but begun.

The best passage in the first act, the pledging of Ethelwold and Eadgar, is true to ancient custom. The fitful moon shining through dank November fogs in Act II is good setting for an idyll of old England, and Elfrida's incantation catches the tone of all magic spells that have drifted down to us. A moon in a mist is the eeriest sight earth offers, and we understand why the lovers mistake each the other for a creature

of vision; but the weird quality hardly fades when they are revealed as mortal man and maid. Yet it slips naturally into the homeliness of Act III, where married Elfrida, bent on domestic cares and very ill-natured, begs her husband not to make love to her in the morning, when her mind is full of thimbles and churns.' From this point, the developing tragedy is nobly and simply wrought, in the true spirit of old saga.

The verse is admirably rhythmed, though the recitative might at times grow monotonous or even a little jerky if it did not insist on singing itself to the inward ear. It breaks naturally here and there into delightful lyric. On the whole, here is a beautiful thing, which satisfies our sophisticated twentieth-century hunger for the primitive, artificially presented, and delicately lifts the stark life of our forbears into the purest atmosphere of romance.


Forever Free, A Novel of Abraham Lincoln, by Honoré Willsie Morrow. New York: William Morrow & Co. 1927. 12mo. viii+402 pp. $2.50.

THE professional biographer is apt to rebel against the historical novel. After he has taken unlimited pains to disentangle fact from fiction, it is exasperating to have an artist come along and deliberately, purposely, mingle fiction with fact, so that neither reader nor critic can have any sure knowledge upon what sort of ground he is treading. Yet this protest is unreasonable, at least in what regards the treatment of character. For with the biographer, as with the artist, such treatment must be in the end largely a matter of divination and creation. The novelist must take life as a basis, exactly as the biographer does, and with both the final presentment of character is a synthetic process, personal, individual, succeeding or failing as the mysterious element of genius enters into it.

The dramatic basis of Mrs. Morrow's story is not of a very original or distinguished quality. A Southern female spy gets into the White House, with the object of discovering, betraying, and finally wrecking the President's plans. As was to be expected and predicted, she falls in love with him, and her own plans are wrecked instead. This sort of melodrama was popular thirty years ago, but it is now, fortunately, for the most part confined to the movies. Mrs. Morrow's strength is not in action, however, but in character. She fills her pages with familiar names and figures, who move and speak with sufficient lifelikeness, and every American who has been educated in the public schools feels so much at home with Seward and Stanton and McClellan and Burnside, not to speak of the great President, that to walk about among them and hear them talk and argue and quarrel is like an afternoon on Main Street. Among these various figures Mrs. Morrow's greatest success is with Mrs. Lincoln. Having dealt with her




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