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More of the "Titanic", Filson Young

More of the "Titanic", Filson Young

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584

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. MARY A N T I N I N EDWARD EVERETT H A L E ' S LIBRARY

this Statement, but I can only go on repeating it, since it is the truth. I had no plan when I began. One day I found myself thinking of the time I went to school in Polotzk, and
584

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this Statement, but I can only go on repeating it, since it is the truth. I had no plan when I began. One day I found myself thinking of the time I went to school in Polotzk, and

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584

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. MARY A N T I N I N EDWARD EVERETT H A L E ' S LIBRARY

this Statement, but I can only go on repeating it, since it is the truth. I had no plan when I began. One day I found myself thinking of the time I went to school in Polotzk, and I wrote about that. Another day I kept seeing the little girls I used to play with, and I put them in. Then it was the market-place that haunted me, or the Dvina gurgled in my ears all night, or there came into my mind a tale the women used to tell while picking feathers of a winter evening. I put these things down just as they came, and so grew the book. When it came to putting these fragments together, I found that they fitted wonderfully well, considering their haphazard origin. A little rearrangement of the loose sheets, an introductory sentence here, a connecting phrase there, and the story fell into chapters that named themselves. I never knew what I was going to do till it was done. The only part of the book that was done consciously, with the sense that such and such matters ought to be included, were the first four chapters.

These were written last of all, when I had exhausted my unprompted reminiscences. It is the only part of the book that I worked over. The rest, especially the American chapters, I dipped up from the bottom of my inkwell." There seems to be no abatement in the production of books about the ill-fated Titanic and the lessons More of the that are to be learned "Titanic" from the disaster of last April. Last month we referred to the book by Mr. Lawrence Beeseley. Another work on the same subject has just come from the pen of Mr. Filson Young, the exceedingly talented author of The Sands of Pleasure. Again there is An Unsinkable Titanic, which is the work of J. Bernard Walker. This last named book has an interest in the fact that the author is the editor of the Scientific American. Mr. Walker was a civil engineer by profession, and entered the field of journalism as the re-

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CHRONICLE AND COMMENT

585

J.

BERNARD

WALKER

suit of frequent contributions to technical magazines written in leisure hours. He has been the editor of the Scientific American for the past seventeen years, during which most of the more important engineering articles appearing in the publication have been written by him. He has made a special study of naval aitairs, and is a firm believer in the controlling influence of sea power in shaping national destinies. His writings on the navy and the merchant marine date from "a special edition of the Scientific Ameri-

can on the Navy brought out during the Spanish American War." Nearly half a million copies of that edition were sold. The present book on the Titanic is due to the widespread interest aroused by his articles explaining the causes which led to the loss of the ship. Many persons we think will be surprised to learn from Mr. Walker's book that the Great Eastern, possibly the most lamentable failure in the history of ship construction, was nevertheless the safest big ship ever built.

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586

T H E BOOKMAN
the author, A Woman of Genius is "the story of the struggle between a genius for tragic acting and the daughter of a County Clerk, with the social ideal of Taylorville, Ohianna, for the villain."

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M A R Y AUSTIN"

"I shall never write another book dealing with the West—that is, with the primitive life of the Mary West," said Mary AusAustin tin the other day when discussing her new work with a friend. "I feel that the West was generous to me in material, and I do not mean to say that the primitive life of the desert has ceased to interest me, but merely that I have written as much about it as I care to. Others will find material in the far West no doubt, for although the rough life of the mining camps and the cattle ranches is already tinged with civilisation in almost every locality there still remains enough that is picturesque to furnish a library full of books." Mrs. Austin went on to explain that she feels that she has found her field in the more complicated life of the cities. Following her book of essays, Christ in Italy, is A Woman of Genius— described as a novel of temperament rather than one of locality, which is to be issued this month. In the words of

Daz'idee Birot is the sixth novel by Rene Bazin to be pubhshed in this country. M. Bazin has been Rene in the United States as Bazin one of the French Commission to the Champlain Tercentenary. He is one of the very few French writers whose works are brought out in this country at the same time that they appear in France. Davidee Birot is described as a love story of a young French girl who becomes a school-teacher in a little town in Ardesie through an intense desire to be of service. This book deals with the social problems introduced by the prominence of labour unions. Its plot largely depends upon a strike of miners who throng the town in Ardesie, where Davidee's school is. M. Bazin was born in Angers in 1853. He was a delicate boy and spent most of his early years on an Angevin farm. As he grew up he studied and practised law at Angers and for many years held a professorship of criminal law in the university there. His natural inclinations were literary and he was driven toward novel writing by his intense feeling that the run of French novels misrepresented the French people, partly through their concentration on the life of Paris. He set himself to reveal the nature of the people, of the French provinces,—a section of French life which he felt had been strangely neglected. He aimed to show France and the world that his people had depth and simplicity of nature, and were at root an intensely moral people. Partly because of this some of his earlier novels turned mainly on religious questions,—and since he was a Catholic, a large section of his American public has been CathoHc. He has set forth his literary creed in these words: "Our novelists, by occupying themselves with this unrepresentative part too exclusively, have created and spread a conception of our country which

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CHROxNICLE AND COMMENT

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is not only inadequate, but is also essentially false. If I have held myself resolutely aloof from the society novel, which I might have done, perhaps, as well as another, it is because I desire to portray sweetness, purity and beauty of French family life, and not to perpetuate a gross libel upon it. "I am also anxious to dispel the illusion that the French are a godless people. If I make a great deal of religion in my novels it is because religion plays an important role in our life."

True to the spirit shown in her novels. Gene Stratton-Porter spends her whole life close to her trees, Gene Stratton- birds and moths. Mrs. Porter Porter's home is at Geneva, Indiana, which is on the edge of the great Limberlost Swamp, of which she has written in Freckles, The Harvester, and A Girl of the Limberlost. She spends as much of her time as she can take from her writing wandering in the woods making more furred and feathered friends and getting

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:88

THE BOOKMAN

GENE

STEATTON-PORTER

better acquainted with the ones she already has made. Mrs. Porter rarely visits the big cities. Mrs. Porter was born close to the Limberlost swamp and learned to love nature from her father. All of her early work was purely nature writing, illustrated by her own photographs, but her greatest popularity came with her novels. In one of the few interviews that she has given she said, "The only way to love nature is to live close to it until you have learned its pathless travel, growth and inhabitants as you know the fields. You must begin at the gate and find your way slowly, else you will not hear the great secret and see the compelling vision. How many people know anything about moths? There are

trees you never before have seen, flowers and vines the botanists fail to mention, and such music as your ears cannot hear elsewhere." From the time that Mrs. Porter made her close acquaintance with the woods she has always considered the moths the very essence of midsummer—• the crown of the season's beauty. In A Girl of the Limberlost she shows this where one of the characters asks the teacher: "Come on, Miss Teacher, what is the boiled-down, double-destilled essence of June? Give it to us strong." The author makes the heroine reply, "The birth of these big moths." "You'll do," is the answer, "June is June, not because it has bloom, birds, fruit, or flower exclusive to it alone. It's half Mav and

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CHRONICLE AND COMMENT
half July in all of them. But as I figure it, it's just June when it comes to these great velvet-winged night moths which sweep its moonlit skies, consummating their scheme of creation and dropping like a bloomed out Sower." A good many persons will no doubt be surprised to see in The Sign at Six a detective story from "The Sign the pen of Stewart Edat Six" ward White. ^ As a matter of fact Mr. White has long been keenly interested in this kind of fiction and possesses a sound knowledge of his Gaboriau and his Doyle. Several years ago, in collaboration with Samuel Hopkins Adams, he wrote The Mystery, a gruesome and baffling story of the sea. This does not in the least imply that Mr. White has forsaken the field that he has made so decidedly his own. The Last Frontier, a book which is the result of his hunting trip in Africa a year or so ago, is announced for publication this autumn. In this work he has undertaken to answer the simplest questions. How does Africa look ? What is it nearest like—Arizona ? Surray? Upper New York? Canada? IMexico? The majority of readers, Mr. White thinks, want something by which they can learn the country—can associate it with something they know. The Last Frontier is an attempt to meet this want, to tell the reader just how the author found Africa. The fact that The Mystery was a collaboration will probaijly cause most readers to regard The Sign at Six as Mr. White's first real attempt to compete in the field of what may generally be described as "detective" fiction. If the departure is merely temporary—it very probably is—we have only commendation for the book, which is an excellent one of its kind. If, however, it could possibly indicate that the author of The Silent Place is seriously considering striking out permanently in a new vein, no comment could be harsh enough. As a relaxation from more important work. The Sign at Six is both pardonable and praiseworthy. But there are in this

589

country to-day a dozen men who can write that kind of a book of equal merit and interest. On the other hand, there are very few, if any, who can maintain the general high level which has marked Mr. White's work since The Blazed Trail won him a distinctive place in contemporary American literature. ^ It is the province of the literary magazine to give full credit to a book of particular cleverness. It is The Capture of also such a magazine's M. L. G. province to give generous acknowledgment to any particularly effective scheme of literary exploitation. The best advertised book of recent years has been Mr. Johnson's Stover at Yale, and throughout the whole campaign there has never been a line lacking in dignity. There has been a good sound lesson in the advertising of that book. It has shown that there is nothing unworthy in exploitation itself, but that the fault lies in using a poor quality and applying unfair methods. Another book that has been advertised, not quite so legitimately, but still with considerable cleverness, is To M. L. G. Most of our readers will recall the story that was sent out broadcast to pave the way for this book. The author took the manuscript to a Ldndon publisher. She was heavily veiled and generally shrouded herself in mystery. The novel told how a woman, brought up in New York theatrical life, met a British army officer and loved him, but would not marry him until he knew all about her life. This she described in a book, rather than a letter, so thafif he read it, and then did not want her, he need never reply. To M. L. G. was published last February. Three months afterward,—all this is according to the note sent out by the American publisher of the book—the author went travelling in Spain. "M. L. G." meanwhile was in another country. He happened to read reviews of the book in newspapers and magazines, cabled for a copy, read it, and then hastened to England, where he had last seen the author, whom he had deeply loved, but who had refused him without giving him a reason. The book explained all that he

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