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cult was the fact that the spirituelle Sylvia Hallam, Reverdy's latest true love, was the daughter of Reverdy's millionaire employer. But Eltin, being a very generous sort of secret wife, gave Reverdy a secret divorce, so that he could marry his poetical heiress.
The logical thing now, of course, is for Reverdy to lose Sylvia, and seek his self-effacing Eltin again, in vain. But Miss Eiker has something better than that up her sleeve. The heiress does die; the rebounding Reverdy does turn again to Eltin; but he gets her. What he gets this time, however, is an Eltin whom life has disciplined into a malicious humorist, an Eltin whose mind is revolving thoughts that would scorch him, while she gently murmurs: "Reverdy, I adore you!" Published by Doubleday, Page & Company.
THE LURE OF THE COUNTING HOUSE
To write a novel without dramatic exaggerations, presenting a philosophy that is implicit in the story without nudging the reader in the ribs, is to run such a risk as an actor runs who appears before the footlights without make-up. R. H. Mottram takes that chance in his deceptively simple novel, "Our Mr. Dormer." With a theme that would tempt most writers to elaborate philosophizing, he rigorously refrains from doing anything of the sort, and thereby proves himself a philosopher.
Another achievement of Mr. Mottram's is the fact that he has written the story of three generations in one volume, without having produced a novel that any one could possibly call an "epic" or a "saga." Still another is that he chronicles the lives
of bores without being boresomeand without using the bag of tricks of the satirist.
"Our Mr. Dormer" was the chief clerk in the provincial bank of John and Joseph Doughty, early in the nineteenth century. He was painstakingly deliberate in all thingsequally so in making up his ledgers, putting a load of shot into the body of a highwayman, going to Quaker meeting-house, and burying his young wife. He lived out his life of virtuous futility, and at last his portrait came to hang somberly in the hall of John and Joseph Doughty. His son Stephen ventured into a lukewarm romance; then he too, and his dashing wife, took their true places as part of the background of the bank. The years ticked on; the grandson, Darcy Dormer, slid out of his cradle into the counting-house. The bank faced the impudent irrelevance of the war, and was degraded into one link of a chain. Impious hands remodeled the old house, and new Dormers viewed the portrait of their great-grandfather and called it quaint.
Mr. Mottram's bank has something of the mysterious personality, the brooding mood, of Eugene O'Neill's sea. If the truth be known, perhaps a corner grocery store or a law office or a machine shop can have the same engulfing quality as the much dramatized ocean, but very few writers besides the author of "Our Mr. Dormer" have let their minds play in that direction. Published by The Dial Press.
What with Berlin, Paris and London, the Reading Roomer has been
over a good deal of ground in the last few weeks. The time he hasn't spent in being pleasantly received to foreign shores seems to have been occupied with seeing other people off to other places-mostly America.
In Berlin, the lanky, energetic figure of Sinclair Lewis was in evidence all over the place. "Babbitt" was as much a topic of dinner-table conversation as it was in London four years ago, and the anthology of "Red" Lewis stories was growing. Lewis has learned to speak German with the velocity of a Bill Tilden service, and when I saw him in his flat in Wilhelmstrasse he was completely deranging the telephone service of Berlin by calling a dozen people at once to cancel acceptances to invitations on the ground that he was leaving the next morning for a fortnight in Moscow. He has acquired an impurturbable secretary, finished fifty thousand words of a new novel, and become a fixture in Berlin-which means that he'll undoubtedly be leaving before long.
The Bolsheviks might be better advised, by the way, to invite James M. Beck and Charles Evans Hughes rather than Lewis and Dreiser, if they want quite tractable guests. The story percolates back that Dreiser had only been in Russia a few days when he created some official embarrassment by raising the question of royalties on American books (there being no copyright, and much literary piracy, in Russia). Lewis's curiosity may be even more embarrassing in some particulars.
Emil Ludwig, who told of a projected visit to the States, should be
Lion Feuchtwanger's "Jew Süss," published in America under the title of "Power,” has made a tremendous impression in England, and there was a great turn-out at a P. E. N. Club dinner in his honor. It may have been his scant knowledge of English that made his speech of thanks so brief; if so, it was a tremendous advantage. This is the whole of the speech:
"I have always thought that trying to advance the cause of humanity through literature was like trying to
drain the ocean with a spoon. But after this I shall lift my spoon with greater enthusiasm.”
Arnold Bennett contributes a book review article each week to the "Evening Standard" that makes him a formidable power in the critical world here. Even a few words of mild praise from him have been enough to make the success of a book, and it was his strong indorsement of "Jew Süss" that made it into a best seller, at a point when its sale was less than a hundred copies. Authors conspire to get the friends of friends of friends of Mr. Bennett to say a word for them, publishers harangue him, and books come in wagon-loads.
My dear Editor,
WHEN THE READER WRITES
In the September issue of THE CENTURY, Mr. Silas Bent dealt with the difficulties of the millionaire philanthropist in an article entitled: “If I Had All That Money." He drew the moral that the millionaire pays dearly for the fun of getting rich— that it is easier to accumulate great wealth than to spend it wisely for humanity. This conclusion had been arrived at after an examination of the efforts of many people of undoubted ability.
It does not appear, however, that anyone has thought of attacking the problem at the other end. In medical science we have the axiom: "Prevention is better than cure." Why not try to prevent great accumulations of wealth in private hands? Mr. Bent says that Carnegie's belief that it is a disgrace to die rich is gaining ground, so there ought to be some support for the preventive theory.
I cannot think there is any disgrace in amassing a large fortune provided no person is placed in a position of disadvantage in the process. But if we examine the source of most great fortunes, we shall find that they are based upon some privilege or monopoly-right. Wherever such a "right" exists it follows as a natural corollary that others are being deprived of a similar right..
There could be no "disgracefully rich" people if the social values attaching to special privileges were absorbed by the community that creates them, instead of allowing them to be absorbed by private individuals. The social value given to land could be collected as rent for the use of land by the
State and apportioned between the three classes of governing bodies: Federal, State and Municipal.
Authorities who have investigated this question assert that this fund is sufficient to meet all public needs, so that taxation, which is always vexatious and frequently lends itself to the support of monopolies, could be abolished. This, in the great majority of cases, would provide a compensating factor for the loss of the special privilege which "ownership" gives them.
The corollary of the millionaire is the pauper. It must be so, because while some get great wealth without toil, others must toil for little wealth.
The benefactions of the rich cannot compensate for the deprivations of the poor. As the article in the September CENTURY pointed out, these socalled "benefactions" do not really benefit those for whom they are intended, because they demoralize the recipients and create a permanent pauper class. The rich man can do but little to relieve poverty in a direct way. The advice given to the rich man by the little girl, to go and live in a tenement and investigate for himself, is only commendable for its unselfishness.
If the rich man would really wish to benefit humanity, he should seek out some institution which is endeavoring to educate the people to a realization that the rent of land is a socially created value that belongs equally to all the living and should be collected in lieu of taxation, and then endow that institution. Such an action would accord with the axiom that prevention is better than cure.
My dear Editor,
F. M. HIGGS
I wish to express my appreciation for THE CENTURY under its new management. I have been a subscriber to it for many years, so long that I do not remember when I began to take it. I have not always been satisfied with its output. I think there has been a great improvement since you took charge of it. I have just been reading the articles on Lynching, Perjury, and Chicago in the November number. That is what the world needs at present. These are only illustrative of a number of articles
A friend of many years back, with whom I used to interchange Nick Carter and Old & Young King Brady, has given me your article on Mr. Dey by Joseph Van Raalte. It is utterly charming and makes me wish to read all over again the stories of Nick Carter which thrilled and thralled me. I observe with interest that Joseph Van Raalte has sympathetically treated Nick Carter and Nick Carter's creator as, so to speak, quite one person: I cannot recall that we ever thought or wondered or speculated or dreamed anything about the genius which recorded for us Nick's spectacular deeds. We must have been far too interested in Nick to give a thought to how his history came to our eyes.
Could Mr. Van Raalte tell us about another hero's creator or Boswell-who wrote Captain Mayne Reid's thrillers like "The White Chief." Mayne Reid books were a bit apart from Nick: they were books; Nick was a weekly life-saver, like Saturday. It can hardly be that Mr. Van Raalte had personal knowledge of Mayne Reid but his touch should quicken dry bones there, too.
Respectfully yours, S. PARTRIDGE
The rarest delight a lay reader can have is to read his own idea-long since held and pondered— expressed more ingeniously than he imagined it could be. Mervin Curl's "Gentleman, Gentleman," in the December CENTURY, gave me more pleasure than I have had since you published Irwin Edman's essays, "Richard Kane Looks at Life."
Mr. Curl's story seems to lack climax. The only practical answer was written a good many years ago by George Ade. In one of his fables a middleaged character, corpulent and opulent, is precipitated into a most ruinous paroxysm of laughter when he stumbles upon a sheaf of idealistic essays which he himself had fervently written in his younger days at college. Thinking young men, before they join the swim, bring strange viewpoints to the modern panorama. It is amusing how these viewpoints seem ever more radical or archaic.
Mr. Curl's story came to me at a most propitious time. At twenty-six, question-marks begin to press upon one. I have everything Jerry Minot had except formal education and "dough." I think I shall stay in the navy, where my few social contacts seldom lack humane spontaneity; and where I always have time to read THE CENTURY from cover to cover. I shall avoid the "bacon-hunt," and study further the philosophy of reincarnation. Yours sincerely, JEWELL V. JONES
New York City.
U. S. S. Milwaukee.