Books of the Month
Literature and Literary Criticisms. The World’s Best Books, a Key to the Treasures of Literature, by Frank Parsons, F. E. Crawford, and H. T. Richardson. (Little, Brown & Co.) The chief editor sets down an astounding programme in his preface. He proposes gravely, in a little over a hundred pages, not only to indicate what are the greatest books, but to intimate the relations they bear to each other ; " also to supply the tests by which each reader for himself may judge the claims of any book on his attention, and to give a list of brief selections of the gravest, grandest, saddest, sweetest, wittiest, most pathetic, solemn, and melodious passages in literature, naming the precise place in which each selection may be found, the manner in which it should be read, and its degree of difficulty, with the purpose of building up a standard of taste and comparison for all after reading; and finally to picture to the eye the relative positions of the greatest writers of the world in time and space [this grandiloquent phrase means a tabular view], and in relation to the great events that history records, accompanying the picture with a bird’s-eye view of all the periods of English
Literature and of the Golden Age in every other literature of any note, which view in fifteen minutes’ reading gives the essence of the twenty-five or thirty books on literature and reading that are the most in use so far as they relate to choice of reading and the order of selection.” This wonderful preface, of which we have given but a portion only, can be matched by a similar sentence from a vender of quack medicine at the tail of his cart. Of course there is an abundance of good names and the commonplaces of criticism in the book, but let every one avoid this short cat to universal knowledge. — English Poetry and Poets, by Sarah Warner Brooks. (Estes & Lauriat.) A volume of running comment, with frequent extracts, on the course of English poetry. Mrs. Brooks has a genuine love of her subject, and the absence of all pretense makes her book a pleasant one with which to attempt a rapid survey of English poetic successes; for the mingling of biographic narrative with quoted criticism and examples of verse, if done without ostentation and with no obtrusion of personal judgment, is one of the most agreeable methods of making a volume on English literature acceptable, whether to beginners or to those familiar with the general subject.—The Art of Authorship: literary reminiscences, methods of work, and advice to young beginners, personally contributed by leading authors of the day. Compiled and edited by George Bainton. (Appleton.) Mr. Bainton, an English clergyman, has done successfully what a good many newspapers have attempted with varying degrees of failure. He has set springes to catch woodcock. By writing personal and skillfully adapted letters to a number of English and American authors, he has in many instances induced these honest folk to talk about that most interesting of all subjects, — themselves ; and as the best of them really know what they are talking about, he has obtained entertaining and sometimes instructive confessions. Here and there in this deftly woven volume one comes upon bits of autobiography that are helpful, and hears a certain consensus of opinion in respect to simplicity and clearness, for example, which has a cumulative weight. It would have been interesting if Mr. Bainton had given a list of those churlish or suspicious authors who declined to walk into his trap. — Memorial Meeting of the Syracuse Browning Club, held at May Memorial Church, Syracuse, N. Y., January 9, 1890. (Bardeen.) Browning’s Use of History, by Professor Charles J. Little ; Aid to Living from Browning, by Mrs. Mary E. Bagg; Browning as a Dramatist, by Rev. S. R. Calthrop; Browning’s Philosophy, by Miss Arria S. Huntington, — such are some of the titles of papers read at this meeting of a club which proudly claims to be the pioneer Browning Club. —The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, by J. McNeil Whistler. (Lovell.) Mr. Whistler has collected the various missiles which have been hurled at him the past few years, or which he has discharged himself, and made a little museum of them, properly labeled, dated, and catalogued. As an exhibition of implements of modern warfare, it is worth visiting. One can see pretty much every form now in use, from the court of law to the footnote ; some are a little old-fashioned, and some show more details of workmanship than others. The whole effect is to lead one to conjecture whether the elaborateness of attack and defense may not lead to an equilibrium of forces, so that when words, as weapons, have been brought to their highest effectiveness, and temper has been wrought to its finest tension, there may not be a period of ecstatic calm. — Views and Reviews, Essays in Appreciation, by W. E. Henley. (Scribners.) The mode followed in collecting these papers and setting them forth suggests a somewhat snippy treatment, and the topics being many of them great topics, the reader is liable to feel a little irritation, as though Mr. Henley had affected an air of just tasting his subject. The book, however, is the result of admiration and a genuine love of literature. It presents rather the graceful talk of a lover descanting on his mistress than the keen, penetrating discourse of a student; but it is so muck better than persiflage or gossip that one is not sorry to think of young men and maidens making the acquaintance of Mr. Henley’s appreciation. They might enter literature by a poorer road. — Selections from Robert Browning, including some of his latest poems, selected and arranged by (Mrs. Albert Nelson Bullens. (Lee A Shepard.) The editor arranges her book in two parts, Love Poems and Miscellaneous Poems ; but if Meeting at Night and Parting at Morning, if You ’ll Love Me Yet and the lyric “ Round us the wild creatures,”be not love poems, love is a very miscellaneous affair. We wish the publishers had not prefixed such a very froggy-looking portrait. — Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s Home from 1800—1808, by Stopford A. Brooke. (Macmillan.) This is more familiarly known to readers of Wordsworth’s Prefaces as Town End, and Mr. Brooke writes a very agreeable account of it, as a special plea for the purchase of the cottage as a Wordsworth memorial. — The first four volumes have appeared of a new edition, in ten volumes, of James Russell Lowell’s writings. (Houghton.) These four, entitled Literary Essays, are arranged chronologically, beginning with A Moosehead Journal, and ending with the paper on Wordsworth. It is noticeable that this division of Mr. Lowell’s prose work falls into two periods: the first including the contributions to Putnam, the second those masterly papers which he wrote on the great men of letters for the North American. There is an interval of about ten years, during which some of his work appeared in The Atlantic. But it must be remembered that the North American papers were really the final form of academic work in the decade previous. It is a pleasure to have this fine prose in such comely volumes. —Dreamthorp, a Book of Essays written in the Country, by Alexander Smith. (Geo. P. Humphrey, Rochester, N. Y.) A neat little edition of a book which the fickle public once pounced upon, and now has forgotten. We are not sure that the public, was to be condemned in either case. Alexander, who, as Emerson pithily remarked, was steeped in Shakespeare, and the Life Drama oozed out, did by his poetry make a distinct impression upon a public not then in the way of being startled, and his individuality naturally was an object of curiosity. His Dreamthorp seemed to offer an answer to questions, and so was taken up eagerly. After all, it proved to be the easily written prose of a not very original man, and its grace was hardly sufficient to atone for its lack of substance.
Biography. Glimpses of Fifty Years, the Autobiography of an American Woman, by Frances E. Willard. (Woman’s Temperance Publication Association, Chicago.) An octavo volume, in which, partly by direct narrative, partly by the liberal use of documents, the writer records her life chiefly in its public phase. It would take a pretty stiff admirer to read all that is gathered here, but there is a good deal of interesting material, and a discreet editor could have made a very effective small book of the contents. It is, however, a contribution to social history, and we cheerfully hand it over to the future appraisers of our present civilization. —Readers of Mr. Thayer’s interesting paper in the March Atlantic will be glad to know of a little volume entitled Giordano Bruno, Philosopher and Martyr, two addresses, by D. G. Brinton and T. Davidson. (Davis McKay, Philadelphia.)—Robert Browning: Personalia. By E. Gosse. (Houghton. ) Mr. Gosse reprints two papers of a biographical character. The value of the book lies largely in its being almost the same thing as Browning’s chat about himself, since the greater part is the result of conversation with the poet respecting his early life. — John Jay, by George Pellew, is the latest number in the American Statesmen Series (Houghton), and a somewhat tardy recognition of a man whom one would have expected to encounter early in the list. The history of the period covered by Jay has already been treated pretty fully in the volumes devoted to Jay’s great associates, and Mr. Pellew has done well to give a more personal tone to his book than might otherwise have been required. He has made liberal use of letters and diaries both by Jay and his contemporaries, and as he has sought for passages which have some intimacy of touch, the effect is often very agreeable, and the reader finds himself among his own flesh and blood. The book is of somewhat light weight as a study in polities, but serves very pleasantly to give vividness to the great period of our political history. — Harvard Graduates whom I have known, by A. P. Peabody. (Houghton.) Dr. Peabody’s scheme is to single out notable men among the alumni of Harvard who have been connected with the college as benefactors or as governors, supplementing in this way his volume of Harvard Reminiscences, which treated of professors. His survey includes such names as Nathan Dane, Charles Lowell, Jared Sparks, S. A. Eliot. G. B. Emerson, James Walker. Dr. Peabody’s known charity of spirit is easily discerned in these reminiscences, but the reader is likely to be quite as much struck by the naturalness of the narrative, the easy, familiar, but never undignified record of men who belong in the first and second ranks of the New England of a generation or two ago. He writes out of a full mind; he does not attitudinize ; and if one has the local sympathy, he cannot fail to take great satisfaction in the company he is keeping. Here is Boston proper in its sanest, most thoroughly provincial mood, when the province meant, not absence of cosmopolitanism, but presence of self-respect.
— Horatio Nelson and the Naval Supremacy of England, by W. Clark Russell (Putnam’s Sons), is a biography in which the narrative of Nelson’s sea-battles forms the most entertaining part, as might be expected in a biography of the kind from the author of The Wreck of the Grosvenor. — The Wife of the First Consul and The Happy Days of the Empress Marie Louise (Scribner’s Sons) constitute the first two volumes of Mr. T. S. Perry’s translation of Imbert de Saint-Armand’s interesting series of biographical studies.— A Secret Institution, by Clarissa Caldwell Lathrop. (Bryant Publishing Co.) Some might put this book under Fiction, but the earnestness of the writer and the circumstantiality of names and places seem to us to indicate that it is what it really purports to be, the narrative of a woman who was shut up in an insane asylum under alleged false statements. Sane people are apt to suspend judgment in such cases, but they do not suspend sympathy.
Ethics. A Theory of Conduct, by Archibald Alexander. (Scribners.) If Mr. Alexander wrote with more life in his style, and if his little treatise were more constructive and less critical, the reader might extract from it a more practical use. As it is, he seems to find the bottom facts on which the author rests somewhat loosely defined, and to doubt whether he has got down to the bed rock of ethics.
— Life, by James Platt. (Putnams.) A series of plain essays upon the conduct of life. The author’s observations are generally incontrovertible. Hamlet could not answer Polonius. — Logic taught by Love, by Mary Boole. (Alfred Mudge & Son, Boston ) “No one,”the author states, “really doubts the doctrine of Pulsation. . . . The Race of Israel is the hereditary priesthood of that Unity whose action is Pulsation. . . . The History of early religions is very much a history of the successive introductions into public worship of various symbols, by means of which the Seers hoped to make the masses realize the perpetual Flux or Pulsation which underlies the phenomena of Nature. . . . The time has surely now come when the Jewish people can, and therefore ought to, take up the function for which their race was set apart, . . . The Messianic Kingdom will come, when in every town 3LI the world there is some Jew holding a divine commission to give his blessing urbi et orbi, by opening the ark of the Shemang Israel, and revealing the living Shekinah, the rhythmic pulsation of all life and truth.”— Handcuffs for Alcoholism. (Rev. George Zurcher, Buffalo Plains, New York.) A somewhat pointless diatribe, its main contention being that the Roman Catholic Church, once heartily engaged in the temperance movement, would have an enormous influence in suppressing the drink evil.—Midnight Talks at the Club, reported by Amos K. Fiske. (Fords, Howard & Hulbert.) The author adopts the perilous method of constructing a group of talkers, and advising the reader confidentially at the outset of their brilliancy and conversational genius. Perilous, we say, because, having done this, he proceeds to report the talks, which were mainly upon subjects connected with religious belief. The monologues, as they turn out to be, in effect, are reasonable, and have a galvanized animation, but we can hardly regard them us so conclusive in force as the reporter and his friend Tom seem to find them. —— In the natty Knickerbocker Nuggets (Putnams) is Franklin’s Poor Richard, set forth ingeniously and with helpful notes by Paul Leicester Ford. Mr. Ford has rendered a real service to American letters in this little book, for he has brought together, from a variety of sources, the ephemeral publications in which Franklin had a part, and has, for the first time, made it possible for the student to see for himself just what this literature was. His pleasantly written Introduction will persuade many to go further, and read page after page of this quaint and invaluable mirror of the age. — The Ethical Problem, by Dr. Paul Carus. (The Open Court Publishing Co., Chicago.) Three lectures delivered before the Society for Ethical Culture of Chicago: on Ethics, a Science ; the Data of Ethics; and the Theories of Ethics. It is noticeable how emphatically the movement hinted at in papers of this character is a protest against a remote and scarcely personal God. The more of such protests the better, but Christianity itself is a protest against this heathen notion. — A Look Upward, by Susie C. Clark. (Lee A Shepard.) This book starts off on a pretty high key : “ The law of progress for the race is manifested in cyclic waves.”Later on Mrs. Eddy appears to be a sort of cyclic wave ; and when we come to Emancipation, in the last chaper, we feel that the world is indeed a Vast Teetotum spinning away into the Mansion of Happiness. “A union of the two [the “ Eastern mind " and the " Western type ”], a utilization of their joint wealth, a spiritual practicalization [goodness, what a word !] of occult truth, a fuller revelation of divine wisdom, so long hidden from the masses, would give birth to a new humanity, one emancipated from every fetter, physical or creedal [ the English language is one of the fetters], thereby attaining that illumination which is the inalienable birthright of every child of God.”
Art. The numbers of L’Art for July 15 and August 1 (Macmillan) intimate the same catholicity as previous numbers noted by us. The most important piece of text is Les Dessins de Rembrandt, by Émile Michel, accompanied by interesting fac-similes; the most important design is the etched portrait ot Alexandre Falguière after the painting by Bonnat. There is also the final paper of Cours de Littérature Musicale des Œuvres pour le Piano an Conservatoire de St. Pétersbourg, by C. Cui, with a series of somewhat rudely executed portraits of Liszt, Chopin, and Thalberg. No one can follow the fortnightly issues of this sumptuous journal without a sigh of regret at the distance one is in America from the wealth of artistic material open to students on the other side ; but L’Art does its best to bridge the interval. — The Musical Year-Book of the United States, published and compiled by G. H. Wilson. (113 Tremont St., Boston.) This useful record is in the seventh volume, covering the season of 1889-90, and a variety of tabular views, directories, and indexes make it a very convenient epitome of the musical world.
Education and Text-Books. Institutes of Economies, a succinct text-book of Political Economy, for the use of classes in colleges, high schools, and academies, by E. B. Andrews. (Silver, Burdett & Co.) We wish we could persuade text-book makers and publishers that the users of books, especially those in the higher grades, have ordinary intelligence, and do not need to have all the important words in the page emphasized for them. There is a positively childish appearance to this book. President Andrews is a nervous, forcible writer, who jerks his sentences out as if he were shooting peas, and to add to the effect by the profuse employment of heavy-face letter is to come near treating the student in colleges, high schools, and academies with impertinence. The book has almost the appearance of being the author’s notes for a book, but it will stimulate both teacher and pupil. — Practical Lessons in German Conversation, a companion to all German grammars, by A. L. Meissner. (Heath) On one page is a German question or anecdote, on the opposite the same in English. No answers to the questions are given, but they are to be supplied by the pupil out of his head. Incidentally, the student, in learning to talk in German, has to draw on his stock of general knowledge ; and the system employed in this book never could be a mere matter of memory, for the student has to think before he can answer.—Sound-English, a Language for the World, by Augustin Knoflach. (G. E. Steichert, New York.) The author finds the greatest obstacle to the use of English by foreigners in the irregularity of vowel pronunciation, and he proposes to correct it by a system of upside-down and broken letters, which makes one of his pages look as if the compositor had not yet corrected his proof, and had, moreover, mixed all his fonts.—Hints on French Syntax, with exercises, by Francis Storr. (Heath.) These hints are from the point of view of the English-speaking student of French. What is peculiar in French speech is what he wants to know; what it has in common with his own language is of no consequence. The result is not so much a scientific as a rough-and-ready apprehension of idioms. The book ought to be of service to a teacher who is making French familiar to his pupils. — The Best Elizabethan Plays, edited by W. R. Thayer (Ginn), includes Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, Jonson’s The Alchemist, Beaumont and Fletcher’s Philaster, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. A capital selection, and made useful for schools by the quiet, unaccented omission of antiquated nastiness. The introduction is hardly full or strong enough, and the notes, sometimes superfluous, strike one as the result of an easy resort to Dyce and other scholars ; but, at any rate, the book is not overloaded with apparatus, and one may be thankful that the editor invites the young student to the feast rather than to the service. — The True Grasses, by Eduard Hackel; translated from Die Naturlichen Pflanzen Familien by F. LamsonScribner and Effie A. Southworth. (Holt.) A special treatise, which, from the authority of the writer and the fullness of treatment, ought to be of great service in agricultural colleges. The editing and translating strike us as exceptionally good.— A College Algebra, by J. M. Taylor. (Allyn & Bacon.) In two parts: the first embracing an outline of those fundamental principles of the science usually required for admission to a college or scientific school; the second, a full discussion of the theory of Limits, followed by one of its most important applications, Differentiation, leading to proof of the Binomial Theorem, Logarithmic Series and Exponential Series. — Civil Government in the United States considered with some Reference to its Origins, by John Fiske. (Houghton.) It is difficult to overrate the importance of this little book, not because it is an exhaustive treatment of its subject, but because, from unconventional preface to varied appendix, it is so interesting that what has been to many a forbidding subject will strike them now as one of the most delightful that can be studied. Not only so, but the blending of history and politics is so cunningly effected that each subject is illuminated by the other, and it will be strange indeed if the new generation of Americans does not, under the influence of this hook, grow up with a vivid sense of the interest which attaches to questions of government. The book gives freedom to the subject it compasses. — Stories of the Civil War, by Albert F. Blaisdell. (Lee & Shepard.) It is not quite clearly stated whether Mr. Blaisdell is responsible for the writing of the stories and poems which are not credited as well as for the selection of those which have names attached to them. There is considerable variety, and a few of the pieces show some literary skill; but it is a pity that the book should not be at once a model of story-telling as well as a stimulus to patriotism.—The Educational Value of Manual Training, by C. M. Woodward. (Heath.) This is an examination, by the principal of one of the most successful schools, of a report made at Nashville in 1889) by the Committee on Pedagogies. As the Report also is printed in the pamphlet, the reader is treated with great fairness, and will find the subject, which is one of real importance, pretty well set forth, especially as liberal quotations are given from the writings of specialists. — The Elements of Psychology, by Gabriel Compayré ; translated by W. H. Payne. (Lee & Shepard.) The translator, whose position gives him authority to speak, undertakes in his introduction to set forth the reason for teaching psychology in normal schools, and even in more elementary schools, and also the method by which the science should be taught. There is no doubt that the apostles of physiological psychology have done much to bring the science of the mind to a basis of phenomena; and though some of their references to physiological process may be discredited, they have delivered us from a too theoretical consideration of the subject. We think, however, there is danger in pressing this craze for psychology among infants. To tease a child into a study of motives is to run the risk of undermining his sane interest in the drama of action. — Historiettes Modernes, Recueillies et Annotées par C. Fontaine. (Heath.) A second in a series devoted to brief French stories by Theuriet, Rameau, Perret, and others. The little biographical headnotes are in French, the notes in English. — A Manual of Civil Government intended for Public Instruction in the State of Missouri, by Henry C. Northam. (Bardeen.) In the form of a catechism, and if the pupils are not in a state of misery when they study it, there must be more local patriotism to the square mile west of St. Louis than east of it. — A Practical Delsarte Primer, by Mrs. Anna Randall-Diehl. (Bardeen.) The Delsarte system somehow leads its advocates into a condensed form of expression, as if they were so accustomed to significance in the merest motion that they supposed a world of meaning in their lightest sentences. Do you know, reader, what your thumb is ? It is “ the thermometer of the will,” just as the shoulder is " the thermometer of passional life.” Yet why thermometer ? Would n’t micrometer do as well ? — Harmony in Praise, compiled and edited by Mills Whittlesey and A. F. Jamieson. (Heath.) A collection of hymns fur school use. It strikes us that there is a little too much that is personal, and not enough that appeals to common use ; and there is a lack of tenderness, or rather an undue element of theological severity. — The Septonate and the Centralization of the Tonal System ; a new view of the fundamental relations of tones, and a simplification of the theory and practice of music, with an Introduction on a Higher Education in Music, by Julius Klauser. (William Rohlfing & Sons, Milwaukee.) This is a technical work, and as such we cannot profess to pronounce upon its value; but the Introduction, though sometimes a little obscure in expression, is an interesting essay, and commends itself to the layman by its reasonableness and earnestness. — Reference Handbook for Readers, Students, and Teachers of English History, by E. H. Gurney. (Ginn.) A convenient compendium of information on the Kings of England, the Descent of the reigning family, the Nobility of England, lists of counselors, statesmen, and writers, and a brief chronological list. — Recent circulars of the Bureau of Education (Government Printing Office, Washington) treat of the History of Education in Alabama, by Willis G. Clark, and the History of Federal and State Aid to Higher Education in the United States, by Frank W. Blackmar. This latter is rather a sketch of such aid than an attempt at exact history, which would be, we fear, a hopeless undertaking. — A First Reader, by Anna B. Badlam. (Heath.) The writer of this little book shows a sense of simplicity and refinement in her stories; her long experience has probably enabled her to gauge the power of young children, but we cannot help wishing that she had used the familiar nursery jingles and other homely literature which will be remembered. The book as it stands is only a practice book. We doubt, too, the wisdom of setting a child upon characters made to express the sound, instead of braving at once the terrors of the regular alphabet.—Abeille, by Anatole France; edited by Chas. P. Lebon. (Heath.) A page of introduction and three pages of notes accompany this light little conte. — Deutsche Literaturgeschichte auf Kulturhistorischer Grandlage for Universities, Colleges, and Academies, by Carla Wenckebach. (Heath.) The first book of a proposed series is here published, bringing the subject down to 1100 A. D. The first half is devoted to a summary of the literary history, the second to examples. The introduction only is in English. After that the student enters with what courage she may upon a German treatment of old German literature.— The Directional Calculus, based upon the methods of Hermann Grassmann, by E. W. Hyde. (Ginn.) A novelty in this textbook is the insertion of eight or nine blank pages at the close of each chapter, for the reception of notes, solutions, etc. These pages are counted in the numbering, and the student may have the proud satisfaction of editing his own text-book. The work is the outcome of many years of study and lecturing to university students. Mr. Hyde is confident that the directional methods will supersede the methods of Cartesian coördinates. — Another number of Heath’s Modern Language Series is Alfred de Musset’s Pierre et Camille, edited by O. B. Super. The text is the main thing in this series, the annotation being severely brief. We wonder that the editors do not make more bibliographical notes, pointing out good editions of their writer, and good criticism upon him.— The Plan of a Social University, by Morrison I. Swift, is the first of a series of Social University Monographs. (C. H. Gallup, Ashtabula, Ohio.) The brochure is a little vague in form, but apparently is intended to familiarize people with the notion of University Extension as applied through guilds, and as already formulated in Philadelphia and elsewhere. — Three Lectures on the Science of Language and its Place in General Education, by F. Max Müller. (The Open Court Publishing Co., Chicago.) The original audience before which the lectures were delivered at the Oxford University Extension meeting of 1889 determined the character of the lectures, and assure the reader that he will not get beyond his depth. Professor Müller repeats conclusions which are familiar to readers of his books, and with the charm attaching to his frank utterance. The volume contains also his article on My Predecessors, from the Contemporary.
Fiction. Marion Graham, or Higher than Happiness, by Meta Lander. (Lee & Shepard.) The recent eruption of theological novels has induced the author to revive a book issued a good many years ago, with the belief that the religious sentiments which the story carries will find acceptance still. The story element is but moderate, since the characters are principally occupied with the solution of problems of life and eternity. — Nora’s Return. (Lee & Shepard.) Mrs. E. D. Cheney has essayed to complete Ibsen’s famous drama, The Doll’s House, by portraying: in the form of a journal the possible redemption both of Nora and of Helmar. She offers the little book not as a piece of literary art, but simply as a development of the thought of the drama. The solution is not a studiedly ingenious one, but the contribution of a thoughtful woman who sees the salvation which lies in work for others. — Tales of New England, by Sarah O. Jewett. (Houghton.) A volume in the tasteful Riverside Aldine Series, and, like others in the set, it is not a new book, but a selection from the several volumes of Miss Jewett’s stories. Whatever favorites one may miss from the collection, he will have no fault to find with the choice of such stories as Miss Tempy’s Watchers, The Dulham Ladies, A Lost Lover, An Only Son, which form a portion of the contents. The touch of this writer’s hand, when she has a first-rate theme, is so firm, yet so light, that the result is literature. — With Fire and Sword, an historical novel of Poland and Russia, by Henryk Sienkiewicz; translated from the Polish by Jeremiah Curtin. (Little, Brown & Co.) Mr. Curtin proves himself well qualified to translate the novel intelligently by his interesting and instructive historical introduction, in which he sets forth the relations between Germany, Russia, Poland, and Asia. We hope the intimation which he gives that he is engaged upon a treatise covering the same ground will soon be followed by the work itself, for it is a new and fruitful subject for American readers. Meanwhile, the novel itself will be approached by most with a certain bracing of the mind, as the book looks a little formidable. One is obliged to use some effort to swing himself over into the Polish author’s position, but there is plenty of action in the story, and once the reader is in full headway he will be carried along by the tide. — María, by Jorge Isaacs, is a South American romance, translated by Rollo Ogden, and introduced by Mr. Janvier. (Harpers.) The Pan-American Congress may not have effected much in the eyes of politicians, but the thoughtful observer will regard it as a symptom of a larger movement, of which we see only the beginning, —a movement destined to bring into more intimate relations the two great nationalities which have parceled out the western continent, and for more than two centuries have been engaged, quite independently of each other, in making themselves at home. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, England and Spain were very much in each other’s mind, but their attitude was mainly antagonistic. In the twentieth century, the descendants of England and of Spain in America are sure to be very much in each other’s mind, but we trust their attitude will be friendly. It is most desirable that it should be. and the first requirement is a more intimate acquaintance on the part of the two peoples, — an acquaintance based not on commercial relations alone, but on social and literary relations. This little story, possessed of a winning grace, and having a flavor quite distinct from that of contemporaneous fiction in the United States, will do much to open the interior of South American life to readers hereabout. The geographies and natural histories and gazetteers can do something, but a revelation of domestic life can do something very different.
— Beatrice, by H. Rider Haggard (Harpers), is dedicated to somebody of the same name. We wish her joy of her namesake. It is curious to see how, when the tropical toggery is stripped off this barbarian of an author, and he is turned loose into English society, the baldness of his art as a novelist is shamefully apparent. He is a dime novelist, whatever clothes he wears, — The Captain of the Janizaries, a Story of the Times of Scanderbeg and the Fall of Constantinople, by James M. Ludlow. (Harpers.) A new edition of an historical tale centring about George Castriot, which has a good many separate scenes and considerable action, but suffers, perhaps, as a story, from the fact that the author has tried to keep to the historical procedure, and history does not always arrange itself in story form. — Two Women in One, by Henry Harland. (Cassell.) Mr. Harland in this short story, as elsewhere, seems to start in his mind from some formula of psychology, and then to work out his story, his characters and incidents being the last to determine themselves. Hence, while the spiritual plot has a certain strength, there is a marked weakness in the physical structure of the story. — A Romance at the Antipodes, by Mrs. R. Dun Douglass. (Putnams.) The book reads like a thinly disguised record of travel from Plymouth, England, to Cape Town, Africa, in which the author, writing as a maiden lady, mingles description of life on shipboard and in Australia with a slight story of changing fortune in love-making. It has considerable gayety, and though hardly literature, and teasing one somewhat by keeping on the narrow line between fact and fiction, it is not without superficial cleverness.
— The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, by Anatole France; translated by Lafcadio Hearn. (Harpers.) Mr. Hearn claims a special significance for the author of this book, but, though there is individualism in the manner, it impresses us as betraying itself by a perfume instead of by a natural spirit. An air of affectation pervades the narrative, which is, however, pretty and graceful in sentiment. By the way, does Mr. Hearn use the word betimes correctly in his introduction ? — Kit and Kitty, by R. D. Blackmore. (Harpers.) Mr. Blackmore’s style is so unique, and, so to speak, generally antique in style, that the reader is a little surprised to find that the time of this story is the latter part of the present century. The rustic scene has something to do with the effect, for one feels that there are parts of England where antiquity lurks undisturbed. For the rest, the book has the rough vigor which makes Blackmore’s stories dear to the heart of man as man. — Miss Brooks, by Eliza Orne White. (Roberts.) There is no mistaking the origin of this story. It comes from a Bostonian, with that divided love of Boston and humorous recognition of what the love of Boston means to outsiders which is so genial a possession of many minds. The story has the charm of naturalness and vivacity. The fortunes of a few interesting persons are followed through their mild turnings, and we shall be surprised if so good-natured and often witty a book does not find many readers to pass it on as agreeable reading. As a study of social life, it shows capital observation and shrewd insight, and it is written with an ease which shows how well the author measures her power. — Miss Eaton’s Romance, a Story of the New Jersey Shore, by Richard Allen. (Dodd, Mead & Co.) This writer has a clever pen, but he has used it somewhat unnecessarily in making a tangle of a story. With a clearer, more reasonable plot and a simpler recourse to nature, there is no reason why he should not write a tale of staying power. —Mrs. Reynolds and Hamilton, a Romance, by George Alfred Townsend. (E. F, Bonaventure, New York.) Mr. Townsend has taken Hamilton, Barr, Mrs. Reynolds, the Priestleys, Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, and a few minor characters, and, using for his material the intrigues of Hamilton and Burr, has woven a romance, which has a certain amount of extreme fidelity to history, but will strike the reader as chiefly the tale of an adventuress, which the author aims to lift into literature by using an historical basis. We cannot commend it as a contribution either to history or to the literature of fiction. — Readers of The Atlantic will be interested to note that Mr. Bynner’s exciting and artistic story, The Begum’s Daughter, has been published in book form. (Little, Brown &, Co.) It is provided with a diagram of New York as it was in 1690, and with a number of illustrations by F. T. Merrill, which, though faithful and clever in a way, do not add to the story, but merely repeat what the novelist has already said in picturesque language. — A Daughter of Silence, by Edgar Fawcett. (Belford.) A repulsive story, without even the merit of being true to nature. — The Devil’s Anvil, by Mary Kyle Dallas. (Belford.) The title is the most lurid thing about this book, and, after all, is merely the seaside locality of the tale, which was not worth the telling, and has an assumption of wickedness and dramatic situations that is the mere cant of fiction; for there is a cant of vice as well as of virtue. — The Shadow of a Dream, by W. D. Howells. (Harpers.) Mr. Howells has essayed to record the influence upon the lives of three persons of the most fantastic of forces, a recurrent dream which images baseness. We think he has failed to make the experience real, and we are disposed to lay the fault at the door, not of the subject itself, but of the treatment. Does not such a theme demand a more nebulous atmosphere through which it is to be viewed, and is not the persiflage of the Marches somewhat destructive of the seriousness of the matter ? This seriousness is so wholly subjective that we conceive the whole story, to be successful, should have been pitched in a different key. The story is fantastic. It needed that the author should approach it in the melancholy, not to say morbid, spirit in which Hawthorne would have viewed it, or in the intense, almost grotesque spirit of Poe ; whereas the naturalness which Mr. Howells cultivates supposes altogether too sane a temper. — The Aztec Treasure House, a Romance of Contemporaneous Antiquity, by Thomas A. Janvier, (Harpers.) Mr. Janvier assumes cleverly the rôle of an antiquarian off duty, and manages to tell a capital story of adventure, and to keep a whimsically serious position for himself while telling it. By the introduction of the irrepressible Yankee of fiction he gives a more grotesque turn to events, and the reader is not quite sure that the book might not have been better for a more judicious balancing of characters, but he is at any rate thankful for the absence of the extreme frontier type. — Viera, a Romance ’twist the Real and Ideal, by Roman I. Zubof. (American News Co.) Viera appears to be a phantom girl with whom the hero has a sort of typhoid-fever alliance, but the characters who represent the real are quite as shadowy so far as the story has to do with them. The author takes himself quite too seriously, and his rambling philosophy, which appears to be the reason for the romance, is foggy without the virtue of fog, for it is also dry.