THE TITANIC AND THE LITERARY COMMENTATOR 603
than that poet in his earthly tabernacle,he is like him, primarily, in a certain defect of volition, in a certain unfitnessfor life, which made the prison—thatmodern substitute for monastic seclusion•—almost a sanctuary and a refuge fromthe world. On the literary side, too,DostoietTsky makes us feel that we candivine the kind of novels Verlaine wouldhave written if this poet, whose verse islike the inward whisper of Hugo's wordylyricism, had been capable of prose fiction on the scale of
In both Verlaine and Dostoieffskythere is the same strain of pity and humility that makes them modern mendi
little brothers of St. Francis. Butthere is a strain of intellectual pride andcuriosity in Dostoiefifsky that is absentin the French poet, and this, more than
reminds us, both in the man andthe artist, of our own Poe.
indeed, under one of itsmany aspects, might almost be a tale ofthe "grotesque and arabesque" on agrander scale and with a greater gamutof emotion and sensation. The greaterscale in no wise lessens the intensity andconcentration of this study of an assassinwho works under the empire of an
nor does its grisly realism detractin any way from the delicate subtlety ofits psychological analysis, or make theexquisite pathos of the gentler characterisations and the scenes of sentimentseem misplaced. Poe plus Dickens—that, perhaps, is the nearest formula bywhich one can arrive at a perfect understanding of this great writer who, asMr. Lloyd justly says, was at once theconfessor, the vivisector, and the GrandInquisitor of the Russian soul.
THE TITANIC AND THE LITERARYCOMMENTATOR
BY E. B. FRENCHIM E R I C A N novelistsand playwrights, alwaysso mute on public affairs or current events,naturally had little ornothing to say about the
disaster. InEngland, on the other hand, the bestknown writers of the day have commented upon it—perhaps to no greatpractical advantage—but their views areinteresting and characteristic, as the following summary will show:Mr. Bernard Shaw's disgust with thenewspaper comments on the first reportsof the
disasterwas not at all surprisingto the readers of hisplays and prefaces. Itwas not to be expected that the authorof
Arms and the Man
would have muchpatience with journalistic raptures overheroism, even if the facts lent themselvesBernard Shawon MockHeroicsto a heroical interpretation. Mr. Shawloathes heroics and the glamour of romance and in no conceivable circumstances would he find an excuse forthem. But the facts of the
disaster were, he contended, peculiarly un-suited to romantic treatment, and it wasonly by lying that the newspapers madethem out heroic. Why, he asked, does asensational catastrophe always drive amodern nation not into transports ofgrief or sympathy, or into prayer, butinto "an explosion of outrageous romantic lying"? He refers it to certain romantic demands which must be met bydisregarding the facts or by distortingthem. Thus, one demand of romance isthat everybody must face death withoutflinching; so that is the way the papersmust present it. But what is the actualevidence
The captain and officers were so afraid of apanic that though they knew the ship was sinking, they did not dare tell the passengers so,especially the third-class passengers, and the