Books of the Month
Art. The first volume of L’ Art for 1881 (New York: J. W. Bouton) deepens the impression which the perusal of the separate numbers must have produced on the reader: that L’Art is quite without a rival in its own kind. The excellence and variety of its engravings and etchings are admirably supplemented by the letter-press. — Perhaps the next best thing to visiting the Paris Salon of 1881 is the privilege of examining the Illustrated Catalogue, edited by M. Dumas, and obtainable in this country at Mr. J. W. Bouton’s, No. 706 Broadway, New York. The Catalogue is a handsomely printed volume of three hundred and fifty pages, and contains about three hundred and eighty reproductions in fac-simile after the original drawings of the artists represented. The work is sold at $1.25 per copy, but the American publisher fairly warns the public that the price may be increased after the closing of the Salon. — The ninth part of M. Racinet’s Le Costume Historique is especially rich in its colored engravings. Too much praise cannot be given to the plates illustrating the Venetian costumes of the latter half of the sixteenth century and the Japanese costumes of the present period. Among the valuable things in the letter-press is an interesting and careful description of a Pompeian house. (J. W. Bouton.) — The American Art Review for July (Estes & Lauriat) is an admirable number of that magazine. The publication deserves the warmest encouragement of all who are interested in art matters.
Education. Algebra for Schools and Colleges, by Simon Newcomb, Professor of Mathematics in the United States Navy, forms the third volume of Newcomb’s Mathematical Series. (Henry Holt & Co.) The line of study marked out by the author does not differ in essential respects from that pursued at our leading preparatory schools and colleges. The student who masters both divisions of this work, the Elementary Course and the Advanced Course, will find himself well prepared to undertake the most difficult branches of the science under consideration.—Under the general title of School Classics, Clark and Maynard are issuing a carefully edited series of little pamphlets containing selections from the best English poets and prose writers. These books are designed for supplementary reading, and are admirably adapted for the purpose, the text of each author being intelligently annotated, and the derivation of all the most difficult words given. Among the writers represented in the seventeen parts already published are Byron, Milton, Shakespeare, Macaulay, Scott, Coleridge, Burns, Goldsmith, and Campbell.
— Charles Scribner’s Sons have published a very valuable and exhaustive manual for the use of the navy, merchant service, and yachtsmen. The author, E. F. Qualtrough, master, United States Navy, deserves the thanks of every one who takes to salt water for business or for pleasure. The work has evidently been prepared with the greatest care and knowledge. It will be a very experienced sailor who fails to find fresh information between the sea-blue covers of this compact little volume. The book is generously illustrated with diagrams and colored plates, and comprises nearly six hundred pages. — Clark and Maynard’s New Manual of General History, by John J. Anderson, Ph. D., promises to be a valuable series of hand-books for high schools and academies. The initial volume of the course treats of ancient history,is fully, though not very skillfully, illustrated, and contains a sensibly arranged index. — The Young Folks’ Astronomy, by John D. Champlin, Jr. (Henry Holt & Co.), is an admirable little text-book for beginners, who ought to find it as entertaining as a fairy tale. The same publishers send us Mr. S. H. Scudder’s book on Butterflies, an exhaustive study in a department of natural history where Mr. Seudder is facile princeps. — Punctuation and other Typographical Matters, for the use of printers, authors, teachers, and scholars, by Marshall T. Bigelow, is a little work which it would be difficult to overpraise. Mr. Bigelow, for a long time a member of the great printing firm of Welch, Bigelow & Co., is an accomplished proof-corrector. The accuracy and elegance which have always characterized the typography of the University Press were in the first instance due to him. There is no work that requires more careful training or a greater number of rare qualifications than proof-reading. Mr. Bigelow’s book is a practical treatment of the subject, and enlarges the reading public’s obligation to him.
Fiction. Mr. Howells’s new volume is a collection of short tales or sketches. (.J. R. Osgood & Co.) In addition to the initial story, which gives the book its title (A Fearful Responsibility), it contains Tonelli’s Marriage and At the Sign of the Savage, both of which originally appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, one in 1868 and the other in 1877. — Octave Feuillet reached his high-water mark in Le Roman d’un Jeune Homme Pauvre and in his two volumes of Proverbes and Comédies. The History of a Parisienne (T. B. Peterson & Bros.) is a sad falling off from those works. The story itself is insignificant, and is poorly told. Feuillet seems to have lost the art which once made his prose delightful. We are speaking of the French text: the translation, as careless as it is, does but little hurt to the original. At the close of his rather reckless narrative the author suddenly takes the attitude of a moralist. Whenever a French novelist claims to have a purpose with a large P, it is safe to assume that he intends to be particularly indecent. — In A Romance of the Nineteenth Century (G. P. Putnam’s Sons) Mr. W. H. Mallock does a great deal to prove that he is not so clever as we thought him. — Baby Rue, the latest issue of the popular No Name Series (Roberts Bros.) is a novel of frontier life thirty or forty years ago, and will satisfy the reader who has a taste for wild adventure and dramatic situation. - Mr. Cable’s Madame Delphini (Charles Scribner’s Sons) is one of those stories of early Creole days in New Orleans which Mr. Cable likes to tell, and tells so charmingly. Time and change have lent to this period a quality of romance which Mr. Cable turns to excellent account. Madame Delphini, however, is greatly inferior to The Grandissimes, not only in intent, but in execution. The author of Lorimer and Wife (G. W. Harlan) has written several novelettes which have just missed being clever in plot, though the execution has always fallen far short of cleverness. Of Lorimer, who spoiled the gorgeous name of Claire Gascoigne when he married that young lady, there is not much to he said. — The masked author of Patty’s Perversities, the fourth issue of the Round Robin Series (J. R. Osgood & Co.), tells a bright, light story of a kind that finds favor with summer readers. It is not so good as A Nameless Nobleman and A Lesson in Love, the first and second novels of this series, which is already a success. —Once a Year, or the Doctor’s Puzzle, by E. B. S. (Robert Clarke & Co.), is a pleasantly written little tale. On laying down the book, however, one can scarcely help thinking of the mild mineral waters which enter so largely into the composition of the story.—Mildred’s Cadet (T. B. Peterson & Bros.) is a pointless story of West Point.
History. Mr. John Durand’s translation of Taine’s The French Revolution (Henry Holt & Co.) has reached its second volume. It is too early to speak of the work, though its defects and merits are obvious. It is not necessary to say that the translation is carefully done.
Miscellaneous. There must be persons who consult manuals of dress and millinery, or such elaborate books as Miss Oakey’s Beauty in Dress (Harper & Bros.) would have no raison d'être. If any one expects to find fine writing in works of this class, Miss Oakey will not disappoint: for example: “ The golden blonde with the roseate skin and the golden blonde with the pale luminous skin must choose their colors differently.” — The reader will come across some serviceable hints in Mr. Oakey’s Home Grounds. (D. Appleton & Co.) The chapters on lawns and grass plots and trees are to be commended to persons who are fortunate enough to have country homes.