THE LIBRARY _ANTRN
Published monthly from October to ne
Hamilton Smith Library, of the University'* ,o
of New Hampshire /
Entered as second-class matter October 10, 1927, at the post office at Durham, .New ire,
under the act of August 24, 1912
Vol. 9 FEBRUARY, 1934 No. 5
A NOBEL PRIZE WINNER
Ivan Bunin (pronounced Boo-nin, with the accent on the first syllable), a
Russian now living in France, has recently been awarded the Nobel 'Prize for
literature. Though hitherto little known in this country, he is acclaimed by
critics here as a worthy recipient of the honour. Two of his books have just
been added to the library, and are reviewed herewith.
THE GENTLEMAN FROM SAN FRANCISCO, by Ivan Bunin.
One theme runs through the short stories collected under this title: that life
is full of poverty, wretchedness, and despair; that death comes too soon, whether
to rich or poor, to old or young. In contrast to the uglines of human life is
the beauty of nature, with which Bunin saturates his work. There is great
power in his writing-he is of the race of Dostoievsky. -Ie is gruesome, ironic,
but always writes with delicate artistry. In the title story, the gentleman from San
Fransisco is going abroad at fifty-eight, because "It was the custom among
the class of poeple to which he belonged to commence their enjoyment of
life with a journey to Europe, to India, to Egypt." But he is brought home in
a tarred coffin, "in close proximity to the sombre and sultry depths of the
ship that was toilsomely overpowering the darkness, the ocean, the snow storm."
Thus low men are brought from the height of their power. In "Light Breathing"
we have the portrait of a Russian girl, young and beautiful. She told her
schoolmates what charms a woman should have: 'But do you know what
the chief thing is?-Light breathing! . But then I have it,-you just listen
how I sigh,-really, haven't I got it?' But one man could not give her enough
admiration, so there were many, and one of them shot her . "Now this
light breathing has been scattered anew upon the universe, upon this cloud-
covered sky, upon this chill spring wind. . ."
THE VILLAGE, by Ivan Bunin.
This, Bunin's first novel, was written not long after the Revolution of
1905 and aroused a storm of criticism for the realism of its portraiture of the
Russian peasant. One feels, however, the essential truth of Bunin's knowledge
of his characters and the life led by ordinary peasants. The story is the life
of two brothers, Kuzma and Tikhon Ilitch, from the poorest quarter of a small
village, one of whom becomes a fairly well-to-do trader and a farmer, while
the other attempts to write poetry and live by odd jobs and who calls himself
an anarchist without being able "to explain intelligently what an anarchist is."
The squalor of their life, its futility and lack of any intelligent direction causes
in them a profound melancholy and a haunting sense of the brevity and use-
lessness of life. "What meaning was there to all this?"
Other characters are briefly sketched but admirably conceived in a few
words and before one finishes the whole village is known. Even in translation
the beauty of Bunin's style is evident. Close observer of nature and things as
well as people, he uses a pen as a painter his brush. One feels this is truly a
ROCKWELL KENT'S PICTURE BOOK
ROCKWELLKENTIANA; FEW WORDS AND MANY PICTURES, by
The artist's comments on art and life are, for the most part, reprinted
from magazines and books, while a few are published for the first time. Then
follows an excellent check-list of his wood-engravings and lithographs, ar-
ranged by Carl Zigrosser. The remainder of the book is devoted to repro-
ductions of Kent's drawings, woodcuts, lithographs, and painting. Having
read his opinion of art critics, we lay no claim to membership in that fraternity.
Nevertheless, we do not like all of this artist's work. Some of the small wood-
engravings and drawings are especially pleasing. The oil paintings lose much
by reproduction, but the artist's treatment is evident and arouses one's interest
and ofttimes a slight feeling of animosity. The format of the book is a decided
credit to the printers, the Lakeside Press.
OIL FOR THE LAMPS OF CHINA, by Alice Tisdale Hobart.
Stephen Chase, a young American in the employ of a large American
oil company in China, discovers early in his career that his success depends largely
upon his ability to learn and observe "good custom," to combat the ever-present
system of "squeeze," and to pierce the inscrutability of the Chinese mind.
Stephen's fiancee turns him down, but Fate substitutes the right wife in the person
of Hester. The Company dominates the life of its employes, demanding un-
swerving loyalty, the suppression of individuality, and the maximum of work.
When Stephen designs a tiny lamp to be sold to the peasants and coolies and
which reaps immense profits for the Company, the only recognition tendered
Stephen is a small raise in salary. The wives of the men play their part in this
drama, and it is no light role. Stephen's strange and touching friendship with
Ho has a pathetic ending, yet the American learns much from this Chinaman.
In the hands of a less expert writer this book might have become a bit
of carping criticism against American business in China, but Mrs. Hobart has
made of it an illuminating account of the obstacles and traditions which have
to be met and overcome when the West meets the East on its own ground.
JOHANATHAN BISHOP, by Herbert Gorman.
It is difficult to do justice to this novel in a short review. The scene is
laid in Paris in the days of Napoleon III, when war with Prussia was brewing.
Into this scene stepped Jonathan Bishop, twenty-year old Harvard graduate,
searching for his Man of Hyde Park. Before he found him, he was swept into
a passionate affair with Mme. Zinh, the courtesan spy, witnessed the outbreak
of war and the frenzied, fluctuating emotions of the 'Paris mobs. He fled to
Sedan after his disillusionment and arrived there just before its capitulation.
Napoleon sent him back to Paris with a letter for the Empress Eugenie and
Tonathan assisted Dr. Evans in getting the Empress safely to England. He
became an unofficial member of the American Embassy during the siege of
Paris when starvation stalked the streets, and revolution and fanaticism were the
order of the day. One of the most powerful of the fanatics was Gaultier de
Saint-Just, Jonathan's Man of Hyde Park, and although Jonathan soon saw that
fanaticism was not the way out, he could not break away from the spell which
Saint-Just had cast over him. The tragic outcome is well-handled, and an air of con-
vincing reality pervades the whole book. It is a story not soon forgotten.
A FRENCHMAN SEES A NEW AMERICA
ROOSEVELT AND HIS AMERICA, by Bernard Fay.
Roosevelt and the great American revival of 1933 have called forth numerous,
and often hastily prepared, books and articles in explanation and denunciation
.of the program, both at home and abroad, but it remains for a Frenchman to
write one of the most stimulating books which have so far been issued. Mr.
Fay sets himself to the task of describing and explaining the New America, and
by way of background devotes the first half of his book to a rapid resume of
the political development of America of the past from the time of Washington.
His interpretations are shrewd and bold, though primarily European in tone,
and his slaughter of American heroes is complete. Interesting contrasts are
offered between the American and European temperament in the midst of
a national crisis. The American, he says, is instinctively inclined towards violent
reaction and enjoys an explosion. Interesting sidelights are given on the character
of leading Americans of today and yesterday. The three presidents of the
boom era following the war, when America was dominated by the dollar and
the dollar was dominated by the banker, are characterized as the "three wooden
kings." The Roosevelt "brain trust" is analyzed; its reason for existence is
explained, as is its 'reason for not being made up of the "best" brains of the
country. The greatest achievement of Mr. Roosevelt, "the worlds greatest
living politician", is that he has ,been willing and able to rule-a state of affairs
almost unknown to American presidents.
AN AMERICAN POET
POEMS, 1924-1933, by Archibald MacLeish.
Mr. MacLeish belongs to the school of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, critical
of modern civilization with a nostalgia for the past, but masters of new forms
and technique. Many of his lyrics are beautiful expressions of imaginitive ex-
perience, others witty and critical, as in "Frescoe's for Mr. Rockefeller's City."
This edition contains all the poems the poet himself chooses to preserve,
among them the Hamlet of A. MacLeish, all but one poem of New Found
Land and Conquistador. This last is a most interesting narrative based on
the true story of one of the men with Cortes in the conquest of Mexico.
"I: poor; blind in the sun: I have seen
With these eyes those battles: I saw Montezuma:
I saw the armies of Mexico marching the leaning
Wind in their garments: the painted faces; the plumes
Blown on the light air: I saw that city; .. ."
ENGLISH BOOKS AND AUTHORS
PICTURED STORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, by J. W. Cunliffe.
A simply written, one volume history of English literature, notable for its
wealth of illustration. The author has endeavored to make the reader see all
the great writers of England, something of their surroundings and their books
by many portraits, contemporary prints, photographs of manuscripts and early
editions. In some ways it is like a visit to the British Museum and National
Portrait Gallery accompanied by a guide experienced in their treasures.
Many of the reproductions are from less well-known portraits, as one of
Lamb by Daniel Maclise originally published in Fraser's Magazine in a "Gallery
of Illustrious Literary Characters," or prints of Beaumont and Fletcher prefixed
to early editions of their works. Then there are numerous photographs of rare
first editions, facsimilies of letters, engravings of homes, coffee-houses, theatres,
etc. The story begins with Beowulf and ends with Lytton Strachey, Virginia
Woolf, and other modern writers, covering most of the famous authors in all
the long centuries between them.
SNAKES, BUGS, AND ANTS
THE FOREST OF ADVENTURE, by Raymond L. Ditmars.
One of the world's foremost authorities on reptlies here turns his hand to
a fictionized account of an expedition to tropical America. Basing his story on
actual experiences of himself and his friends, he interweaves natural history and
adventure in a thrilling tale. The members of the expedition are after rare tropical
animals, and sometimes rare tropical animals are after them. This necessitates
constant watchfulness and precautions, in describing which the author has also
written a book on how to live in the tropics, with a few hints not inapplicable
to our own summer climate. The book is written for all those who have wanted
to accompany Dr. Ditmars on his expeditions; young and old will enjoy vicariously
the hunt for the solenodon and the giant armadillo, while relieved of the ac-
companying bites and scratches, of tropical storms and the nerve-racking roar
of the howler monkeys.
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, by Vincent Starrett.
Vincent Starrett has an advanced case of hero-worship which has resulted
in a delightful book. Confronted with its evidence, who would dare to assert
that the world's greatest detective never existed? If Sherlock Holmes, like Will
Rogers in So This Is London, needs any "proof of his birth," it is all here.
Admitted that we know little of his youth and ancestry, we have nevertheless
a mass of knowledge about his rooms in Baker Street, his habits and his hobbies,
that must convince all but the most skeptical. Mr. Starrett has combed the works
of Conan Doyle for biographical facts about his hero; perhaps his most impressive
piece of evidence is his bibliography of -lolmes' writings. After firmly establishing
the reality of his hero, the author discusses his appearances on stage and screen,
his metamorphoses (usually unauthorized) in foreign lands, his inconography,
and the parodies and jokes in which he figures. Finally, for the studiously minded,
there are two sets of examination questions on the life and achievements of
RABBLE IN ARMS, by Kenneth Roberts.
In writing a sequel to Arundel of three years ago, the author continues a
very fine historical novel of Arundel, Maine, in the American Revolution.
CURRENT MONETARY ISSUES, by Leo Pasvolsky.
This timely book, published by the Brookings Institution, presents a general
survey of the monetary issues which have dominated world economic discussions
during the past year. The gold purchase plan is reviewed and explained in detail.
The Library has been fortunate in securing a set of the Foster Hall repro-
ductions of Stephen Foster's works, consisting of reproductions following the
form of the first or earliest obtainable editions of all known Foster songs and
compositions. One thousand sets were made and are being presented to libraries
in strategic locations.
Among the new Library subscriptions to periodicals of general interest be-
ginning with 1934 are Fortune, Common Sense, and Journal of Religion.
A reviewer in the London Times Literary Supplement for December 7, 1933,
says of Shirley Barker's Dark hills under, "This is perhaps the most notable book
which has yet appeared in the Yale Series of Younger Poets.
Those Who have read Allen's Anthony Adverse, or expect to read it, should
not fail to read the author's interesting account of some of its origins in The
Saturday Review of Literature for January 13, 1934.