Marriage Is a Private Affair

By Judith KellyHARPERS
MARRIAGE is a private affair — so private that nobody’s marriage can mean much to anybody else. Perhaps that is why novels about marriage seldom engage one’s feelings intensely, and why they are usually best when they are universalized by means of humor. Miss Kelly (Mrs. English) has been very earnest about the institution among well-to-do Americans, but has not got very deep. She does not seem to realize that the trouble with the class she deals with is not their attitude towards marriage, but towards everything. They have lost their sense of humor. They can be smart and witty enough about one another, but they never laugh at themselves. To do this one probably needs to be a little of a peasant or a philosopher. It is hard to see how wedlock can be successful unless the partners find themselves and each other amusing; and, however dull they may be to others, they are not so to themselves. To expect laughs in such a novel as this is not to be merely shallow or trivial. The more humorless the characters are, the more humorous the author should be; not by way of cracking jokes at their expense, of course, but by way of seeing what is the matter with them. The girl in a recent newspaper joke who says to a friend, ‘We may be a little late for bridge. Bill’s just left me forever again,’ may not be profound, but she will probably get along all right.
R. M. G.