#12 = Vol. 4, No. 2 = July 1977
Robert M. Philmus
H.G. Wells as Literary Critic for the Saturday Review
H.G. Wells's association with the Saturday Review began when Frank Harris took over its management in 1894.1 The two and a half years or so (from November 1894 to April 1897) during which he regularly submitted brief essays and book reviews to Harris were formative ones for Wells. In those years he was at work revising The Time Machine, seeing to the publication of The Wonderful Visit and The Wheels of Chance, drafting The Island of Dr. Moreau, and assembling two volumes of his short stories.2 As if those projects were not enough to occupy his attention, he somehow found time and energy to write speculative essays and review books on scientific subjects for SR,3 while concurrently acting first as drama critic for the Pall Mall Gazette and then as SR's principal reviewer of fiction.4
The latter post he earned through his debut as a literary critic in a sardonic attack on Grant Allen's The Woman Who Did (#1). That notice appeared in March 1895. By April of 1897, when he effectively relinquished his position,5 Wells had reviewed more than 285 works of fiction. The contents of these books, except for a very few he scrupulously confesses to have found reader-proof, he conscientiously acquainted himself with, as his remarks on them indicate. Those same remarks also frequently attest to his cognizance of the previous output of the author whose latest novel or romance he is examining. The figure mentioned consequently enumerates only a fraction—probably no more than a third—of the books he familiarized himself with in conjunction with his task of reviewing recent fiction for SR.
Collectively, then, these reviews provide the most extensive record there is of what books Wells was reading during the period of his literary apprenticeship. But the value of these reviews goes beyond that of a mere catalogue of possible influences on his development as a writer.6 In them, he reveals more clearly and comprehensively than he does anywhere else his opinions about his literary predecessors and contemporaries and his diverse thoughts on the literary techniques and traditions they represent.
The manner of his reviewing is by and large what one could expect from him. His notices, though for the most part unsigned, are almost always readily distinguishable from those of a Harris, a "Frank Danby,"7 or a Mrs. Low8 by his refusal to isolate the book under consideration from a broader literary, historical, or social context. While he does not spring forth fully armed as a Minerva of critical sophistication, his reviews do, by sure gradations, assume the qualities associated with the more widely known, and justly celebrated, essays on Crane and Gissing that grew out of them.9 In his earliest efforts he may betray the novice in his preference—justified by the unsteady application of vague or ingenuous criteria—for subject over treatment (as in #14). But even his initial attempts at literary reviewing manifest a clear-sighted attention to narrative detail by which he presently becomes aware of the importance of style and technique and acquires the power to command assent through the judicious choice of incident and (especially) quotation. If his first critical pronouncements are unequal to his later utterances in communicating a sense of sympathetic yet detached understanding or imparting the conviction of the authoritative accuracy of his assessment, hesitancy in them is something the reader may comparatively infer (see, for example, #20) rather than something Wells himself admits. He delivers all his judgments, from first to last, with an air of self-assurance conveyed through a style that is usually offhand and colloquial, and often acerbically humorous. From first to last also these reviews discover and display to advantage an epigrammatic wit that is much more rarely found in his own fiction (for reasons hinted at in ## 15§7 and 68§3): "There is nothing objectionable in th[is] book. We might, indeed, almost omit the adjective" (#5§5). "Two volumes of well-meant inanity and careful phrases" (#31§3). "Stale, flat, and, we should think [in respect to salability], unprofitable" (#55§5). "Life described for those who must perforce be content to live without it" (#83§2). This sample may give some idea of the facility and felicity of expression repeatedly encountered in Wells's SR criticism.
The manner of his critical assertions is undoubtedly far less surprising than their matter. His own literary practice is no sure index for predicting what he will say in regard to a given book or author, and this unpredictability applies at least as much to the contents of his reviews considered aggregatively as it does to them taken one by one. His critical preferences in SR indicate nothing of the philistine dogmatism the partisans of Henry James have attributed to Wells in the notorious quarrel the two had years later. On the contrary, they do much to belie the aspersion. They show a singular catholicity of taste; appreciative of the various achievements of George Meredith, Joseph Conrad, Ivan Turgenev, Conan Doyle, and Bret Harte, among others, they sharply contrast with the programmatic narrowness of a good deal of James's own criticism. His detractors might impute the range of Wells's admirations to his immaturity, to the unsettled and confused state of his literary principles and objectives. But that view is highly improbable for several reasons. First, it supposes that the stance he took relative to James's was typical of him, whereas the evidence suggests that he was provoked in the course of the controversy into an uncharacteristically rigid position (though not as rigid as James's: even the parody in Boon intimates a profound, albeit unsympathetic, comprehension on Wells's part of James's fictional methods, a comprehension James did not wholly reciprocate).10 Second, Wells's literary opus, from beginning to end, is too consistently experimental to warrant regarding his critical flexibility as a youthful aberration. And finally, the pluralism of the critical standards he invokes is less plausibly ascribable to any uncertainty of his about what constitutes literary merit than it is to the disparateness of the books he was called upon to review and to his determination to come to terms with their particular accomplishments or failures.
He quite unmistakably proclaims in these reviews an intent to identify an author's individuality. Indeed, he extends to literature his metaphysical notion that "nothing is strictly like anything else" and employs this concept of "the unique"11 as a fundamental norm. "There are," he says, "no rules for the greater factors" that differentiate the best in literature from mediocrity:12 "Every writer who is worth reading is a law unto himself" (#35). Accordingly, he eschews the kind of academicism which values each new literary work in proportion to its imitativeness of the "classics." The primary function of the critic, as Wells sees it, flatly contradicts the assumptions of such an approach. His job should be "to appreciate essentials, to understand the bearing of structural expedients upon design, to get at an author through his workmanship, to analyse a work as though it stood alone in the world";13 and toward that end he must above all possess "a vast breadth of sympathy to understand the various standpoints, the various aims of fiction" (#65). Prizing "uniqueness" as the paramount literary value, he seizes on every opportunity to deprecate its nemesis, literary imitation in any guise (see, e.g., ## 18§4 and 54§1-3; also below).
Wells's critical practice is as deliberately unsystematic as his theory implies it should be. Thus no summary of his opinions can do justice to the particularity of his literary criticism. Nevertheless, his axiological emphasis on individuality does hold out a principle for organizing his multiplicitous views of fiction generally, of the Romance tradition he continually inveighs against, and of those writers he looks at whose works have some connection to science fiction and to his concurrent enterprise of defining the genre by the example of his own "scientific romances."
Logically reconstructed, his criticism of fiction is built up from certain basic desiderata: "style, thought...[and] wit" (#28§5-6). Among these, wit—or "cleverness" or "humour"—is the most elemental. He consistently finds "humour" a redeeming presence in otherwise negligible books (## 24§9, 44§6, 55§6, 56§3, etc.), and with equal consistency condemns novels where its absence is conspicuous (## 32§1, 61, 62, etc.). He conjoins a sense of humor with other laudable qualities—"insight, imagination,...spontaneity" (#35)—as one of the individuating "factors that make a man's style and method intrinsically and inimitably his" (#62). Conversely, he discovers humorlessness to be the concomitant of faults originating in a lack of critical self-awareness, a concomitant chiefly of pretentiousness, whether in style (e.g., #16), in treatment (e.g., #85), or in authorial "pose" (## 4, 68§6, 72, 78, 87). "Humour" and "thought" are not mutually dependent by some species of logical necessity. But an author's want of one almost invariably accompanies a deficiency in the other, as Wells suggests in describing a type of the bad novel: "Humour is entirely absent; life, so far as the author's view extends, is taken with the most unflinching seriousness;...and the style is as unchaste as the thought, varicose and flagrant with all those extremities of badness to which a high ambition and a studious avoidance of the obvious and appropriate word can attain" (#32§1). His criticism of more estimable work implies much to the same purpose: a book may have "thought"—meaning "observation and insight" (#1) or "knowledge of life" (#36)—and still be objectionable on grounds which (whether aesthetic or moral or both) impugn the writer's lack of critical circumspection. Realism especially encourages a kind of defective narrowness of vision. Eve's Ransom "reduces...life to...the genre of nervous exhaustion" because Gissing fails to introduce "some flash of joy or humour into its gloomiest tragedy" (#10). Arthur Morrison immures himself so totally in the slum world of A Child of the Jago that he loses all moral perspective and mistakenly concludes that the ghetto mentality he portrays is a biological "inheritance" rather than a social "contagion" (#84). And Louis Zangwill, fancying realistic detail to be a virtue unto itself, in The World and a Man gives a "painstaking and veracious recital of things which nobody wants to hear about" (#67). As an indicator of literary quality and of the circumspect detachment an author needs to be "exact and just to life" (#44§3; emphasis added), the correlation of "humour" to "thought" is not as reliable as that between both of these elements and "style." A book may somewise be worthy despite its humorlessness; but serious stylistic faults almost invariably signal a poverty of wit and conception (for an exception that tests the rule, see #57). To expose that poverty, Wells often cites, and caustically dissects or satirically mimics, passages illustrative of the ubiquitous prolixity and eccentric grammar and diction that make for bad writing (## 18§2, 63§1, 85, etc.). Often, too, he does so by way of a general admonition. On principle, however, he does not anatomize the style of authors from whom he quotes approvingly (and to their advantage). For in its honorific and highest sense, style cannot be emulated: it is unique in itself and also inseparable from other aspects of "treatment" that confer uniqueness on the fiction. Moreover, it is the least readily analyzable aspect of that uniqueness, which can be neither attained nor explained by the mechanical application of unvarying rules.
From his basic requirements of style, thought, and wit, others follow. The virtues of the novelist include his capacity for novelty or "freshness" (## 17§3, 19§2, 19§9, etc.), his exercise of "pruning or restraint" (#31§1), and his "mastery of story construction" (#30§1). But most of all, he should convey "strength, individuality, and a genuine first-hand view of things" (#25§1). While "a whole new idea" can be praiseworthy (#19§1; emphasis added), "an idea of an uncommon nature" shows "itself to be a great idea" only "in the hands of a great writer" (#77§1; see also ##11§2 and 15§1)—someone who has a firm grasp of the methods for embodying it in plot, character, and dialogue, and thereby making it palpably real. The methodologically incompetent writer "does not start with action, but with abstractions" or "clichés" (#83§2) which never cease to be bloodless and commonplace. The result, "conceived in the abstract and thought over in abstract terms" (#46), "only very rarely" and momentarily engages the reader "in watching...people act and think," and so "there is no beautiful vision of actuality" (#83§2). The failure of the novelist to realize his abstract conception usually accompanies, and often proceeds from, a cognate mistake: reliance on commentary as a substitute for dramatization. Instead of "letting characters reveal themselves by their deeds and words," the author obtrudes "elaborate explanations of their feelings," thought, and motives (#2; see also ## 13, 80, etc.). Choosing this course, he is also liable to "snivel at his own essays in pathos" or "be alarmed at his own boggle stories" (#9; see also #43§2). More pernicious still, the author's need to comment on the behavior of his personages holds out a standing temptation for him to add "the Gospel touch" (#91). This mania of would-be popular writers for explicit "moral intention" Wells accounts for as an unwarrantable concession to "the Puritan streak in us which remains distrustful of art as such, and which is always demanding a hybrid product, half art and half sermon" (#25§1). Having thus explained the genesis of the impulse, he roundly condemns religio-moral propagandizing in all its guises: "The philosopher who masquerades as a novelist, violating the conditions of his art that his gospel may win notoriety, discredits both himself and his message, and the result is neither philosophy nor fiction" (#39; see also ## 2, 21, 55§2, 68§1, 70).14
Broadly speaking, Wells recommends as "the correct method" one that aims to disclose "a section of [the protagonist's] thoughts" (#80)—a "method" he practices in his own science fiction. "There is," he grants, "no one right method of telling a story...But for the presentation of a human being, at least," he approves of Meredith's "artifice of seeing through the eyes of characters" as "supremely effective" (#41). He equally applauds the similar technique—whose invention he credits to Tolstoy—of "sustained description of the mental states of...characters" "told in a kind of monologue in the third person" (#74). He does, however, have some serious reservations about any such "method" as it is carried to its extreme by exponents of what he calls "the 'colourless' theory of fiction": "Let your characters tell their own story, make no comment, write a novel as you would write a play. So we are robbed of the personality of the author, in order that we may get an enhanced impression of reality, and a novel merely extends the purview of the police-court reporter to the details of everyday life" (#53§1). He seems somewhat distressed by what he sees as the ever-widening rift between this kind of realistic novel, involving total "suppression of the author's personality," and "the personal...novel, tinged with essay" (#74). But much as he regrets the "renunciation of satire, irony, laughter, and tears" entailed by the author's disappearance from the fiction,15 on balance he objects even more to the "egotistical pose" of intrusive writers (## 4, 68§6, 72, etc.).16
Wells's critical preference for the dramatic method of novel-writing, and his willingness to stop short of condemning outright its excesses, has to do with that method's purpose of enabling the author to realize his fictional personages as "living individualities" (#45§1). To be sure, this sort of "individuality" is only the simplest constituent of the complex Wellsian meaning of the word. For as he applies it, the concept of "individuality" as the ultimate literary value has a kinship to Wordsworthian "sincerity," and like it comprehends the author's choice of matter together with his manner of treatment. "Individuality" demands "an honest attempt at self-expression" and that "genuine effort towards a criticism of life" (#33§1) deriving from "minute and intense observation" (#12). It also requires subject and technique to be mutually apposite—which is why, for instance, Wells judges that Maggie "come[s] nearer to Mr. Crane's individuality" than does The Red Badge of Courage (#86). Where fully achieved, as in The Egoist or Jude the Obscure, individuality refers to something more than a distinctive and appropriate stylistic voice. It indicates a special kind of authenticity of sociological vision and social statement that triumphs over both mere particularity and lifeless abstraction. Hardy attains this species of "authentic" individuality (#82) in his depiction of Jude as "at once an individual and a type" (#48). Turgenev, because he does not share the parochialism of Hardy's social perspective, provides even better examples. Spring Floods and Fathers and Children, instancing "the highest form of literary art," offer a paradigm of what "individuality" circumscribes as social comment: "Turgenev people are not avatars of theories nor tendencies. They are living, breathing individuals, but individuals living under the full stress of this great social force or that" (#42).
From the standpoint of "individuality," Wells lambastes a variety of mindless fiction that he designates by such ad hoc nomenclators as "amiable stories about nothing" (#20§1), "the 'healthy' novel" (e.g. ## 11§5, 15§9), the Inoffensive Novel (e.g. ## 5§2, 32§4), and the novel purveyed by Mudie's to while away a journey by rail (e.g. ## 19§§3-6, 28§3). From that standpoint, too, he objects to a writer's "fine inexperience of things in general" (#7§4) or "social ignorance" and "extraordinary mental seclusion" (#78), and to "stale situations" (#21), incredible characters (e.g. ## 62, 77§6), and improbable plots (e.g. ## 15§12, 55§1). Most of all, he anathematizes all the forms and degrees of imitation—including self-repetition—to which individuality or authenticity is diametrically opposed (see ## 15§10, 18§4, 19§12, 22§4, 34§1, 54§§1-3, etc.).
All of the literary vices Wells decries, every fault that vitiates the possibilities for individuality in fiction, he discovers in egregious profusion among the productions of the latter-day practitioners of the adventure story and the historical romance—the inheritors of the tradition established by Sir Walter Scott. Wells's antipathy to this tradition derives in part from what he sees as the intrinsic limitations of the romance form itself. "To criticize a romance upon the ground that it is enacted by creatures scarcely human is...a thankless task" (#44§4) because the form "prohibits anything but the superficialities of self-expression; and sustained humour, subtle characterization, are impossible" (#60). The most he is willing to concede is that theoretically a romance can have some literary merit, provided it is not of the "customary" "inordinate length" (#20§3). "If a man has no humour and wishes to do artistic work, his only hope of salvation ties in romance" (#92). But Stanley Weyman, Anthony Hope, Ian Maclaren, S.R. Crockett, Andrew Lang, and their ilk, improving upon the worst examples of Scott, Dumas, and others among their predecessors and encouraged by the popularity of their "literary shoddy" among a large and "illiterate" audience (#64§1), have virtually precluded any chance for literary artistry in romance. Weyman, whose influence Wells finds pervasive (see ## 22§4, 38, 44§4, 49§2, 64§1, etc.), "quite fairly borrowed [Dumas'] method" of stringing together episodic adventures and thus abandoning the unity of plot available to romance (#44§4); but "instead of human beings he introduced marionettes, which were more easily managed" (#64§1). More reprehensible still is Anthony Hope's practice. The Chronicles of Count Antonio, as Wells describes it, consists of "a series of episodes in the main impossible" all of which "take place in a country at least as vague as Cloud Cuckoo Land"; while The Prisoner of Zenda is a "story" only in the loosest sense of that word: it "whirls giddily from improbability to improbability,...names stand for characters, and illusion does not seem even to be desired" (#47). Suchlike romances are popular with a "public [that] does not want ideas" (#92). But their share of the "millions of readers...who are so ignorant of life they are contemptuous of its probabilities, and who display the same impartial indifference to the laws of language as to those of art" (#47; see also #66), is perhaps not as large as that claimed by the modern Scottish romance. This debased form, whose chief exponents, Crockett and Maclaren, specialize in an excruciatingly maudlin type of sentimentality (contrast #89), "appeals not to the intelligence and to the aesthetic sense, but against them—to something wider and deeper and greater, to something which we may very properly and beautifully speak of as the Great Heart of the People" (#58).
Notwithstanding the parody, Wells does not begrudge these romancers their popularity. "It does not follow, because he is contemptible as a literary artist, and because he cannot write English, that he is to be despised," he says of Maclaren; what he does "pays remarkably well, and since people do not seem to object to a great many other tawdry things that pay well, it follows that everybody cannot do this kind of thing" (#58). What Wells does deplore is the tyranny of the Scott tradition— its stranglehold on English fiction (see #74)—and the sad consequences of that tyranny on the career of a writer like Stevenson. In Wells's view, "Stevenson was not so much a romancer as a novelist entangled in the puerilities of romance." "That the man who could write such a novel as Prince Otto...and such a masterpiece of the trickery of effect as the Strange Case [of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde], should settle down at last into the hard ruts of purely conventional romance" he finds ineffably tragic. He has no regret for Stevenson's having left The Weir of Hermiston unfinished at his death: "The work would have been another of Stevenson's Scotch romances, doubtfully the strongest, and that is all one can say for it; another brilliant testimony to the ultimate mastery of Scott, with gleams here and there of humour, of subtlety, of a whimsical stoicism curiously delightful, of all that Stevenson might have been had not the Scott tradition laid hold of him" (#60).
Wells bestows praise similarly mitigated by disapproval upon a number of other authors more or less allied to the tradition of the fantastic adventure story and its relatives, in contradistinction to which he implicitly defines his own science fiction by practical example. Unconsciously, perhaps, the pattern he habitually adopts is to commend an author behind his back, as it were, while denigrating him to his face. This is particularly true of the sentiments he expresses about Conan Doyle and Rider Haggard. After praising the creator of Sherlock Holmes in a short notice concerning another writer (#7§3), he takes Doyle to task in a longer review, of The Stark Munro Letters, and declares his relief that Doyle's paragon of detection is "now happily dead" (#29). He extols, at a distance, Rider Haggard's "monumental culminations,...impressing pessimism" (#18§6) and "perfect nose for romance as she is written" (#20§1); but close up he has nothing good to say about Haggard as novelist or romancer. He finds Joan Haste to be a novel replete with all manner of improbabilities, "a melancholy book, full of forcible foolishness, a jerry-built story with stucco style" (#27); and apropos Heart of the World he remarks that "at the game of impossible romance Mr. Haggard's imitators are beating their master" (#59, alluding to #54§1). Likewise, Wells enlists George MacDonald among the Scottish writers who promise an alternative to the "puerilities" of the cloyingly sentimental "Scotch romance" (#37); but his previous verdict on Lilith had been that it "is fantastic to wildness and well-nigh past believing," that it "passes into the insanity of dreams, declines to the symbolic and the cryptic, [and] ends in an allegorical tangle" (#31§1). His censure amounts to accusing MacDonald of violating what Wells formulates elsewhere as "the elementary rule of the fantastic: that, granted the fantastic assumption, the most strenuous consistency must be observed in its development. That fantastic means 'anyhow' is a juvenile delusion" (#81). As for his feelings toward allegory, his tacit aversion is suggested in his review of a book by William Morris, wherein the epithet Wells attaches—"stout oaken stuff"—applies more to the moral calibre of the man than to The Well at the World's End. He is willing to allow Morris' fantasy passages of "weird effectiveness" without caring to inquire if they be "coherently symbolical" or allegorical (#79; see also ## 24§5 and 55§2).
He admires Swift for the double-edgedness of his satire (#6). Poe he also congratulates unstintingly, in asides, as the "consummate creator of strange effects" (#11§6; see also ## 15§1, 31§1, 37). Poe's heirs, however, he just as unstintingly condemns. He judges "the style" of M.P. Shiel's Prince Zaleski to be "a veritable frenzy of impure English" (#7§3), while his comment on The Rajah's Sapphire is that it "appears to have been written by a lunatic" (#65§5). Sheridan LeFanu he characterizes as a master of piling horror upon horror until the effect of horror is totally lost (## 11§6, 17§6). In regard to Arthur Machen's The Three Impostors, Wells notes that the author "has not mastered the necessary trick of commonplace detail which renders horrors convincing" (#43§2)—an observation which, together with his "elementary rule of the fantastic," anticipates much of what Wells has to say about science-fictional method in the 1933 Preface to his Scientific Romances.
Cognate writers whom Wells has little use for include Grant Allen, George Griffith, Frank R. Stockton, and Max Pemberton (see also ## 11§2, 15§1, 54§2). Grant Allen's The British Barbarians "is even farther from the sphere of art than [is] The Woman Who Did, which is saying a very great deal" (#39). Griffith's Outlaws of the Air represents "Mr. Verne at his worst" (#18§7). Stockton does not have the powers of "a Scott or a Dumas to invest this nonsense [as in The Adventures of Captain Horn] with something approaching life" (#20§1). And Pemberton's Impregnable City is an imitative composite of Stevenson, Haggard, Griffith, and Weyman, stocked with a multiplicity of scientific gadgets that Verne "invented, but unhappily" did not patent (#22§4). Of Marie Corelli and Hall Caine Wells has the lowest possible opinion (e.g. ## 3, 76); he brackets them with the Crocketts and Maclarens, the aesthetic and intellectual destitutes, who subject their writing to the putative expectations of their readers—from which subjection "assuredly no masterpiece was ever begotten" (#39).
Given Wells's attitude toward the romance tradition and those adherents to it whose work has some (howsoever remote) connection to the kind of fiction he himself was writing at the time, why he resorted to the vehicle of the "scientific romance" so infrequently after First Men in the Moon (1901) becomes less a matter of wonderment than why he took up the "scientific romance" at all. It is question-begging to argue that among his science fiction of the 1890s the term "romance" figures in the title of The Invisible Man alone, that he did not otherwise publicize them as romances until a later date,17 and that his subsequent categorizing of them all as such is an expression of retrospective disenchantment and disesteem. Nor is the explanation he gives in his autobiography self-sufficient and definitive in itself. That his decision to turn to "the possibilities of fantasy" "was a sign of growing intelligence that I was realizing my exceptional ignorance of the contemporary world"18 is in fact no more than a half-truth. The statement accounts for the sort of literary virtue he makes of his social "ignorance" in his science fiction by standing behind witnesses who suffer from a sense of isolation and alienation from their various social milieux—witnesses like the Time Traveller, Prendick, and Bedford. It also explains Wells's hesitancy about focusing extensively on "the contemporary world" in its own terms rather than those of "fantastic" analogy. But it barely hints at his didactic impulse to introduce some degree of intelligence into popular fiction. So too, it minimizes the role of Wells's science-fiction witnesses as explorers of their "fantastic" environment and the meaningful function of such exploration as social criticism. And above all, it detracts from, even conceals, his unwavering, post-Arnoldian, conviction that literature ought to aspire to genuine social "criticism of life" (#31§1).
This last-mentioned point is the main one that his literary criticism in SR gives prominence to, both implicitly and expressly. Correlative to his hortatory idea that literature represents "the only possible countervailing force...of any importance" to the inertia of the established social order (#90) is his reiterated and hierarchical preference for the novel over the romance. In effect, he acknowledges the hegemony of the traditional (social) novel as the only respectable kind of fiction, "fiction... professing to be applicable to life" (#92). His high regard for Thackeray, Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, and other novelists belonging to the social-realist tradition, together with a disdain for "popular" fiction—especially for the romance—founded on his reading of hundreds of examples, prevents his realizing—what he subsequently "discovers" in Tono-Bungay (1909)19—that the fragmentation of the social order has reached the point where it debilitates the traditional realistic novel as a vehicle for social criticism.20 Though in fact he employs science fiction as just such a vehicle, his predisposition in favor of some version of social realism does not allow him to recognize in his literary theory the potentialities of science fiction as a satisfactory replacement for the novel in this respect. Accordingly, he looks upon the "scientific romance" not as the only literary form offering a vantage point from which "the contemporary world" can be regarded panoramically, but rather as a temporary substitute to compensate for his inadequate knowledge of that world and to be cast aside as soon as his social experience will permit him to write "serious fiction" (#92).
A little over a decade after resigning as a reviewer of fiction for SR, he reaffirmed his commitment to "individuality" in literature. The terms of that reaffirmation, however, are chastened and poignant. His words seem to repudiate his "scientific romances" as being incommensurate with individuality as the ultimate literary value, but they are also no longer expressive of those buoyant expectations and brave ambitions he once had for the novel as "criticism of life": "Now...I may hope to get on to the work that has always attracted me most and render some aspects of this great spectacle of life...in which I find myself in terms of individual experience and character" (emphasis added).21
NOTES. The following abbreviations are used here and in the subsequent bibliography:
EA = H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography (US and UK 1934).
E&R = Leon Edel and Gordon N. Ray (eds.), Henry James and H.G. Wells (US-UK 1958).
EW = H.G. Wells: Early Writings in Science and Science Fiction, ed. Robert M.
Philmus and David Y. Hughes (US-UK 1975).
GNR = Gordon N. Ray, "H.G. Wells's Contributions to the Saturday Review,"
The Library, 5th Series, 16(1961):29-36.
H&P = David Y. Hughes and Robert M. Philmus, "The Early Science Journalism
of H.G. Wells: A Chronological Survey," SFS 1(1973):98-114.
REI = G.N. Ray, "H.G. Wells Tries to be a Novelist," in Edwardians and Late
Victorians, English Institute Essays (US-UK 1959), pp 106-59.
1. For an account of "the changing of the guard" as soon as Harris took over ownership of SR, see EA §8:1.
2. According to Ray, Wells also began Love and Mr. Lewisham during this period ("late in 1896"). That novel, completed in 1900, may well be his "first...along the lines he had laid down for himself in his Saturday reviewing" (REI p 122); but a discussion of that idea would lead away from consideration of the bearing of his literary criticism on his science fiction and consequently falls outside the scope of the present study.
3. See H&P and also the slightly expanded bibliographical listing (still in need of supplementation) in EW.
4. There was a period of overlap (March to May, 1895) during which Wells was both a drama critic for the PMG and a reviewer of fiction for SR. A bibliography of his drama reviews is provided in Michael Timko's "H.G. Wells's Dramatic Criticism for the Pall Mall Gazette," The Library, 5th Series, 17(1962):138-45.
5. After this date Wells published only one more review in SR: see EW, pp 40-46.
6. Two new "sources" are disclosed by these reviews: one (mentioned in #11§2) for The Time Machine, the other for The Island of Dr. Moreau (#6).
7. Mrs. Julia Frankau's pseudonym, which is subscribed to (apparently) all of her reviews in SR.
8. Alice, the widow of Walter Low (see EA §6:5-6), late in 1896 took over the job of writing most of the brief notices of books (cp GNR p 29). Her reviews appeared primarily under the rubric "Some Unimportant Fiction" or "Minor Fiction"; but some early work of hers shares the same heading as Wells's shorter reviews: "Fiction." Her contributions, however, are easily differentiatable from his by her habitual use of cant—e.g. "capital" as an adjective—and by the rather vapid timorousness of her judgments.
9. I.e. "Stephen Crane from an English Standpoint," North American Review 171 (1900):233-42; and "The Novels of Mr. George Gissing," Contemporary Review 72(1897):192-201.
10. The falling out between James and Wells was not precipitated one-sidedly, as the introduction to E&R insinuates. Still, E&R does collect most of the material (except for #16) relevant to an impartial understanding of the disagreement between the two writers.
11. See "The Rediscovery of the Unique" (1891) in EW pp 22-31.
12. REI, for all its (considerable) excellences, contends that Wells does "not attempt to go beyond certain broad discriminations" of good from bad, and invidiously contrasts this alleged stance of his with that of James and Conrad, who in the prefaces and introductions they supplied for their fiction "seek to discriminate between the good and the best" (p 118). But the claim about Wells's criticism is not wholly true (see below). Besides, the grounds for Ray's comparison are hardly just to Wells: it would be fairer to assess the merits of his SR reviews relative to those of James's or Conrad's "practical criticism," which is by no means more incisive or convincing than Wells's.
13. The apparent contradiction between this quotation and the previous assertion that Wells connects the books he is reviewing to broader literary, social, or historical considerations disappears presently, in the subsequent discussion of his concept of "individuality" in literature.
14. As REI points out, this stricture ill accords with Wells's own later practice in his so-called Discussion Novels (see REI pp 156-57).
15. Compare Wayne C. Booth's critique of Joyce's Portrait, in The Rhetoric of Fiction (US 1961), pp 323-36.
16. In this respect, the only author Wells does not take exception to is Alphonse Daudet, "who can be egotistical without self-assertion. There is just that rare touch of detachment that renders his intimacies impersonal" (#88).
Given Wells's dislike of egotistic "posturing," it is ironic that James, in their personal correspondence, most commended his books on that score—e.g. "the ground of the drama is somehow most of all in the adventure for you—not to say of You" (James to Wells, 12 Oct. 1912: E&R p 167; emphasis in original).
17. While he did not publicize his science fiction as belonging to the category of the romance until some time after his SR reviewing days were over, there is evidence that he thought of them as romances from the beginning. In an undated reply to a letter (11 June 1895) from Grant Allen, he says: "I flatter myself that I have a certain affinity with you. I believe that this field of scientific romance with a philosophical element which I am trying to cultivate, belongs properly to you" (quoted by David Y. Hughes, "H.G. Wells and the Charge of Plagiarism," Nineteenth-Century Fiction 21:88).
18. EA §6:2.
19. To say that Wells in Tono-Bungay "discovers" the social order to be irreparably fragmented constitutes a statement about the novel's meaning without prejudice as to when, in actually writing the book, he makes that "discovery." For a similar use of the word, see Mark Schorer's essay "Technique as Discovery," in Forms of Modern Fiction, ed. William Van O'Connor (US 1948), pp 9-29.
20. Portions of the thesis being put forward here and in the following sentence seem to be latent in Michael Stern's "From Technique to Critique...," SFS 3(1976):114, and in Patrick Parrinder's "News from Nowhere, The Time Machine, and the Break-Up of Classical Realism," SFS 3(1976):255-74 passim.
21. Typescript (1908) of a preface to the Russian edition of Wells's selected works, quoted from REI p 120. The typescript is in the possession of the University of Illinois Wells Archive.
Wells's Literary Reviews in the Saturday Review (1895-97)
In the abstracts that follow no special effort has been made to preserve or indicate Wells's groupings of two or more titles (he often resorted to that practice when reviewing half a dozen or so books at a time). Also, italics have been substituted for SR's quotation marks to designate the names of books. Apart from these liberties, an attempt has been made to epitomize what Wells has to say about any given book by utilizing, as much as possible, his own words.
In each entry, the title of the review precedes an attribution bracket indicating the evidence on which the review has been attributed to Wells. If the review is listed in Gordon N. Ray's bibliography (which includes 62 of the 92 items listed in this one), the bracketed information stipulates the GNR entry number; if that number is starred, GNR provides additional evidence (based on Wells's correspondence or on Amy Catherine Wells's list of cue-titles now in the University of Illinois Wells Archive) for the attribution. The other numbers within the brackets constitute cross-references to this bibliography.
The reviews are recorded here in the order in which they appear in SR. Volumes 79 and 80 were published in 1895, Volumes 81 and 82 in 1896, and Volume 83 in 1897. The year of publication of a book under review is specified only if that book was published in a year earlier than the date of the SR volume.
#1. The Woman Who Did. 79:319-20. [GNR #23; reprinted, minus the introductory paragraph and three short paragraphs at the end, in EA §8:2]. Grant Allen's The Woman Who Did has some serious aesthetic and moral failings. The heroine and central figure in the novel "is not a human being": her portrait lacks "observation and insight." Allen's style "is strenuous without strength, florid without beauty, subtly meant and coarsely done." His moral purpose—"to emancipate [women] from monogamy"—is open to question. But for all these reservations, the book "may not merit praise, but it merits reading." ("I was infuriated... because I was so nearly in agreement with Grant Allen's ideas, that this hasty, headlong, incompetent book seemed like treason to a great cause": EA §8:2.)
#2. Gallia. 79:383-84. [GNR #25*; allusions to ## 1 and 4]. The author of Gallia "has promptly stepped in where even Grant Allen has not dared to tread, and Gallia, the girl who didn't, can look down from a giddy height on Herminia, the woman who did." "Miss Ménie Muriel Dowie...has gone further in sheer audacity of treatment of the sexual relations and the sexual feelings of men and women than any woman before." But while her novel is "remarkable for extraordinary plainness of speech," it has artistic and moral weaknesses. Miss Dowie all too often obtrudes "elaborate explanations of [her characters'] feelings, which [explanations] would be superfluous if [her characters] were able in deeds and words to speak for themselves." Moreover, the book is ethically reprehensible for divorcing love from sexuality.
#3. Of Readers in General. 79:410. [GNR #26*; cp #76]. Critics ought to be aware of the audience for which a writer intends his (or her) book. To be sure, there are sometimes "discrepancies" between "the reader you [the author] aim at, and the reader you get" (witness the case of Ruskin's later works). Many of the peculiarities of style and matter of authors have to do with the idea they have of their readership: Hall Caine's improbable romances; "that vague impersonal touch of religion and spirituality" in Marie Corelli's Barabbas or A Tale of Two Worlds; J.K. Jerome's "coarse laughter, glaring jests"—all are directed at a particular kind of reader, albeit an author "shall never meet" his ideal reader in the flesh.
#4. George Egerton. 79:416-17. [GNR #27*]. "George Egerton"'s short stories collected in Discords (1894) succumb to the "inartistic trick of telling the story as the posturing of one incontinent feminine personage." As for Young Ofeg's Ditties, which "Egerton" translates, "they remind us a little of Eugene Sue at his most comic phase, a little of Victor Hugo, there are flashes of a more grotesque Whitman, and shadowy renderings of a fainter Blake"; but more than any of these, they are (unintentionally) reminiscent "of that masterpiece of mystical literature, Alice in Wonderland"—again, as in "Egerton"'s short stories, with "egotism as [their] pose." "Egerton"'s early work (Keynotes) exhibited a "vigorous realism," a "bold handling of an egotistical woman's view of sexual matters," which she seems to have abandoned to "wallow in erotic mysticism."
#5. Novels. 79:420-21. [GNR #28*; allusion in #84]. §1. F.C. Philips, One Never Knows: "true enough to life—as it is lived on the Adelphi boards." §2. Walter Besant, Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: "a more soothing work than this it is seldom our lot to meet in these degenerate days...Mr. Besant's comfortable public will not be disappointed." §3. Henry Murray, A Man of Genius: "Even to a reviewer whose knowledge of the world has been enlarged by contemporary fiction," the conclusion of this book "is startling." HG sees Gissing as an influence on Murray's style. §4. G.W. Appleton, The Co-respondent (1894): this novel about "a divorce of convenience" is in bad taste and is cynical in a vulgar way. §5. Adeline Sergeant, Kitty Holden: "There is nothing objectionable in the book. We might, indeed, almost omit the adjective." §6. Arthur Morrison, Martin Hewitt, Investigator (1894): "entertaining" detective stories; but "we could wish that Mr. Morrison would leave detective fiction to the many who write it as well as he, and, unlike him, can write nothing better."
#6. The Curse of Intellect. 79:422. [GNR #29*]. [Frank Challice Constable's] The Curse of Intellect is a "clever story," but it lacks "the Swiftian spirit, which cleaves to the depths as a two-edged ruthless sword."
#7. Fiction. 79:452-53. [GNR #31*; cp #68§5]. W.S. Holnut, Olympia's Journal: an "eminently readable" novel in diary form, but a difficult book to review—"for what reader wants to saw his way through great slabs of praise?" §2. Joseph Hatton, The Banishment of Joseph Blythe: "a fine effective story" "as a whole," though one in need of stylistic revision. §3. M.P. Shiel, Prince Zaleski: "We doubt if Mr. John Lane...has ever published anything half so bad before." The hero is a Sherlock Holmes without "his proper author," and hence without "his brains." "The style of the book is inimitable, a veritable frenzy of impure English." §4. Alice Mary Dale, With Feet of Clay: "rather amusing in an unpremeditated way," this book shows "a fine inexperience of things in general" on the author's part. §5. Charles T.C. Jones, On Turnham Green: a book for boys.
#8. Fiction. 79:487-88. [GNR #33; allusions to ## 7 and 14§2; a second review of #8§3 appears as #77§8]. §1. "John Smith," Old Brown's Cottages: "There are some authors one loves at first reading, but, frankly, it is the reverse in the present case—"principally because the author assumes, with Disraeli, that "'the Poor' in England are...a distinct nationality." §2. Justin Huntley McCarthy, A London Legend: inadvertently picking up the third volume after having read the first, HG "perceived no gap in the development" of the story. §3. Alice Spinner, Lucilla, an Experiment: though this novel does portray "all that savage cruelty that the pure-minded, pure-blooded English know so well how to inflict," "a respectable fly of a story drowns in a sea of ink." §4. Elizabeth E. Evans, Transplanted Manners: an "unpretentious," memorable "little volume." §5. Charles Dudley Warner, A Little Journey in the World (1894): not a novel but "rather a study of the effect of wealth and social influence." §6. W.B. Woodgate, Tandem: "There is one good thing in Mr. Woodgate's book...a very pretty song on page 185...We do not know who the author is." §7. Garnet Smith, ed., The Melancholy of Stephen Allard...(1894): "Mr. Smith's method...reminds one a little of that of the makers of motto calendars: you pull off a page every day and reveal a new quotation with a new proper name." §8. Walter Raymond, Tryphena in Love: "a sweet and delicate little love story that one should read on a holiday afternoon under an open sky."
#9. Mr. S.R. Crockett's Latest. 79:513. [GNR #34*; cp #66]. The common denominator among the short stories in Crockett's Bog-Myrtle and Peat is that they are all "lengthy (for their matter), pointless, and ill told" in "a kind of rheumatic English that is at times positively painful." In addition, Mr. Crockett has the annoying habit of "snivel[ing] at his own essays in pathos" and being "alarmed at his own boggle stories." Andrew Lang's introductory claim that these pieces also share a common theme (viz., patriotism "in honour of the ancient Free Province") is absurd.
#10. The Depressed School. 79:531. [GNR #36*; cp ## 43 and 53]. George Gissing's two principal characters in Eve's Ransom "are drawn with a photographic fidelity"; but "is this harsh greyness really representative of life?" "Happiness...after all...depends mainly on one's solar plexus and very little on one's circumstances." "The true Realism, we hold, looks both on the happy and on the unhappy, interweaves some flash of joy or humour into its gloomiest tragedy"; whereas there is no such comic relief in Gissing's novel. "The horror of being hard up...is...the keynote...of all his books"—which "reduces [his work] from the level of a faithful representation of life to genre...the genre of nervous exhaustion." "And yet we must needs admire it because it is so remarkably well done."
#11. Fiction. 79:556-57. [GNR #38; allusion in #17§2; note also HG's ironic self-reference in §2 below]. §1. Sir Herbert Maxwell, A Duke of Britain: a "litter of antiquities." §2. W. Earl Hodgson, Haunted by Posterity: "one really magnificent idea gone to waste": on the basis of the same kind of premise that "some unknown scribe called 'The Universe Rigid'" (see EW pp 51-53), Hodgson attempts to bring off a story of a man haunted by "the ghosts of the future." §3. Henry F. Buller, A Bachelor's Family: "wearisome." §4. George Paston, A Study in Prejudices: "the book deserves reading for both its story and its style." §5. Earl of Dunsmore, Ormisdale: "a 'healthy' novel, full of good shooting and fishing, and artless love, and still more artless machinations." This sort of thing "should prove a serious rival to the trashy novelette of high life." §6. Sheridan LeFanu, The Evil Guest: LeFanu is the master of nothing more than the "method" of "piling it on"; to call him "one of 'the great modern masters of the art of Poe'...is nothing less than an insult to that consummate creator of strange effects." §7. C.E. Raimond, The New Moon: a "Profoundly moving book," even though one of the principal characters is "incredible."
#12. The Man Who Did Not. 79:624-25. [GNR #40*; allusion in #25]. Though amiable for its "Meredithisms," John Oliver Hobbes's The Gods, Some Mortals and Lord Wickenham is clumsily constructed, with too many purposeless characters and episodes. "A less convincing hero it would be hard to invent": he is "an epicene monster." The novel is still "worth reading," however, for the character of Anne Warre, who "seems to be written out of a fund of minute and intense observation."
#13. Mr. Zangwill's Master. 79:656-57. [GNR #41; allusions in ## 18 and 87]. Israel Zangwill's The Master wants artistry. The author finds himself obliged to state "in his proper character of author what the dialogue [in the present instance, 'mere stopgap chatter'] should have expressed." On the whole, the story "is like that remarkable and eccentric insect, the 'Reduvius' bug, which covers itself up in a huge mass of dust particles, wisps of cobweb and corner sweepings, until it becomes a...slowly crawling lump of rubbish."
#14. Two Views of Life. 79:675-76. [GNR #42; allusion in #8 and #10]. §1. Jonas Lie, One of Life's Slaves, trans. Jesse Muir: "a book of amazing power and originality," "a wonderful expression of the proletarian's view of things." Its author "knows the shadowy places of life and the bitter imputations of social inferiority" in a way that English writers ("essentially middle class, knowing little of the elemental passions below") do not. Compared to Lie's, even Gissing's is "an exterior view, a scientific report from our educated standpoint," of proletarian life. §2. Ivan Turgenev, On the Eve, trans. Constance Garnett: Turgenev's is a convincing picture of intellectual life among the effete Russian aristocracy: "they do not rule, they do not bear the weight of oppression, they stand aside." Turgenev's and Lie's are "great books, but Lie has the greater subject," dealing as he does with "the fundamental questions of social organization."
#15. Fiction. 79:703-04. [Allusion to #1 and to "Decadent Science," H&P #25]. §1. Edmund S. Gunn, The Romance of Paradise: the author does not have the scientific knowledge to do justice to the "strain of poetry in the idea of this little book"—an idea out of Poe and Swedenborg. §§2-4. "Le Voleur," By Order of the Brotherhood; Allen Upward, The Prince of Balkistan; "X," Marmaduke, Emperor of Europe: "childish romances of detectives and political characters, without beauty, novelty, wit, nor human interest to justify their production." §5. Helen Mathers, Eyre's Acquittal: "this very 'popular' writer" has borrowed from The Moonstone an idea for getting her protagonist acquitted for the murder of his wife; but as "he was undoubtedly unfortunate enough" to have been guilty of that crime, "he tactfully and with haste proceeds to die a natural death, and everybody in the book gets married." §6. Lilian Bell, A Little Sister to the Wilderness: "a dainty little story, if a trifle sentimental." §7. F. Montréssor, Into the Highways and Hedges: "the plot has novelty" and the writing "many happy turns of phrase without an attempt at epigram." §9. Mrs. Andrew Dean, The Grasshoppers: "a book for the young person" about a girl who finally gives up intellectual adventurousness in favor of "a healthy anxiety as to the modishness of her sleeves." §10. Percival Pickering, A Pliable Marriage: "indebted to the average penny novelette for its plot, to John Oliver Hobbes for one or two characters..., and to the New Woman vapours...for its general tendency." §11. E. Rentoul Esler, A Maid of the Manse: one more story about the "blameless race" of "Scotch ministers." §12. Henry Cresswell, Cancelled Bonds: a young woman attempts to murder "most of her acquaintances. They are never seriously hurt, though she throws them over bridges and stabs them with the paperknife of fiction, which is 'sharp as a razor.'"
#16. Three Yellow Book Story Tellers. 79:730-31. [GNR #43; allusions in ##31§2 and 35]. A review of Henry James, Terminations; Henry Harland, Grey Roses; and Ella D'Arcy, Monochromes; in which HG ridicules the "Yellow Book School" for a programmatic eschewing of the obvious which amounts to nothing more than a pretentious disguising of the commonplace. There is only a "subtle difference between the fiction of the Family Herald and this new development"—a difference which further diminishes, to the point of insignificance, in the case of a writer like Harland. James "loosely" belongs to the "same school," but is of "a different calibre" from Harland. "We could be enthusiastic over these stories [of James's] were we not exasperated by the thorns and briars of style we have traversed to appreciate them." As for Miss D'Arcy, she is "a remarkably promising beginner."
#17. Fiction. 79:797. [GNR #44; allusions to ## 11§6 and 11§7). §1. W.E. Norris, Billy Bellew: Norris's "is a funny little world...with Decorum for a Deity, and neither hungers nor thirsts, neither heaven nor hell, neither kings nor kitchens...[I]ts happy inhabitants pass their time in doing the correct thing and behaving uncivilly to those darkened souls who neglect this cardinal function"—"it all makes harmless reading." §2. Anonymous, Milly's Story: #11§7 retold from the point of view of the housemaid—"a remarkably ingenious gloss upon Mr. Raimond's work." §3. Caroline Fothergill, The Comedy of Cecilia: "the idea is fresh, the tale freshly told, and altogether...an hour's pleasant reading." §4. Joseph Conrad, Almayer's Folly: "a very powerful story indeed...exceedingly well imagined and well written." §5. George Ranken, Windabyne: "a useful and reliable source of information to those who are curious about the ways of the early sheep-farmers and gold-diggers in New South Wales." §6. John Mackie, Sinner's Twain: the author tends to "Sheridan-le-Fanu-ize...until he has stripped [his story] of every element of terror."
#18. Fiction. 79:838-39. [GNR #46; allusion to #13 and in #20]. §1. Julian Corbett, A Business in Great Waters: "had it been half as long we should have liked it twice as well" (see also #20). §2. A.C. Gunter, The First of the English: "had it been 1/xth as long we should have liked it x times as much, giving Mr. Gunter leave to make x just as large as he likes, provided he keeps its value finite." §3. Emma Marshall, The White King's Daughter: "a sentimental and thoughtful historical romance...too simple for the adult, too serious for the youth...just the type of book serious elderly people would buy as a present for 'the Young.'" §4. Mrs. Egerton Eastwick, The Rubies of Rajmar: "There is Wilkie Collins at his best—tolerable reading: and there is Wilkie Collins imitating Wilkie Collins—sorry work, demanding forgiveness and earning forgetfulness; but Mrs. Eastwick imitating Wilkie Collins is quite unforgivable." §5. John Pennington Marsden, Milady Monte Cristo: this "book seems too fat to be anything but a romance," but HG has no intention of finding out for sure. §6. William Le Queux, Zoraida: "a gory work in the Rider Haggard vein, but quite without the monumental culminations, the impressing pessimism of that writer." §7. George Griffith, Outlaws of the Air: "to those who can endure Mr. Verne at his worst Mr. Griffiths [sic] should prove entertaining"—though "had he more restraint, Mr. Griffiths [sic] might rival even Jules Verne at his best."
#19. Fiction. 80:19-20. [GNR #47; allusion in #22]. §1. Gilbert Parker, When Valmond Came to Pontiac: It is refreshing "to find a whole new idea in a book" (an illegitimate child of Napoleon unwittingly impersonates himself); and though the author "avoids high lights and deep shadows, and the sharp quick blows of style that set one quivering,...he paints in his mauves and pinks and touches of sunset gold with an infinite sympathy for the subtler and finer emotions of the case." §2. R.S. Hichens, An Imaginative Man: "an artistic success" for the "freshness" of its "descriptions" and "characterizations." §§3-6. Hamilton Aïdé, Elizabeth's Pretenders; Evelyn Sharp, At the Relton Arms; Ernest Dowson, Dilemmas; Gerald Campbell, The Joneses and the Asterisks: "would all serve the purpose of a railway journey"; all "leave the mind exactly where it was at the outset." §7. Jane Barlow, Maureen's Fairing, and Other Stories: "dainty and charming," but not as good as its series' predecessors in the quality of the writing and illustrations. §8. Mrs. Molesworth, Sheila's Mystery: "has a promising nightmare of a cover, but the dream does not come true. It is simply a moral story." §9. Deas Cromarty, Under God's Sky: whilst there is "freshness in the style" and a "vivid touch" to the portrayal of some of the characters, the author strains "after obscurity," especially in connection with the motives of all of her personages. §10. R.O. Prowse, A Fatal Reservation: a "slightly depressing" novel replete with "well-known stage characters." §11. Annie S. Swan, Elizabeth Glen, M.B.: an improbable romance about a lady doctor. §12. A.S. Heawood, Brenda: "presumably the result of an assiduous study of Bow Bells by an intelligent school-girl."
#20. Fiction. 80:54-55. [GNR #49; alludes to ## 17§4 and 18§1 as being, together with #20§2, "bright oases of pleasure in a vast wilderness of dreary reading"]. §1. Frank R. Stockton, The Adventures of Captain Horn: Lacking Haggard's "rollicking soul" and "perfect nose for romance as she is written," Stockton, who "has acquired a well-worn reputation for writing amiable stories about nothing," is unconvincing. He hasn't the skill of "a Scott or a Dumas to invest this nonsense with something approaching life"—or is this book one more instance of the author's reputed "remarkable subtlety in humour?": i.e. "are we supposed to laugh?" §2. David Christie Murray, A Martyred Fool: "a vivid, moving, and quite sufficiently realistic study" reminiscent of Les Miserables, though lacking the rhetorical ability and "the poetical quality, the power of symbolism" of Hugo. §3. Louis Pendleton, Corona of the Nautahalas: the only thing to be said in favor of this romance is that it doesn't have the "inordinate length" "customary" of the genre. §4. Gertrude Dix, The Girl from the Farm: "a decidedly clever little book," though in the absence of authorial guidance "we cannot tell if her sympathy is with her heroine or not." §5. Harold Vallance, A Parson at Bay: a readable but not "remarkable" novel in which the author throws in a murder for "sensational interest" though it is completely "out of place" in the book. §6. F. Mabel Robinson, Chimaera: "every page...is worth reading": "the dialogue is easy and good, the characters are life-like, and the details well worked up." §7. Mrs. Reginald de Koven, A Sawdust Doll: "the story is not stale in the telling."
#21. Dr. Welldon as a Novelist. 80:82-83. [Cp #39]. The Rev. J.E.C. Welldon, the headmaster of Harrow who now appears as the author of a work of fiction called Gerald Eversley's Friendship—a book crammed full of "stale situations"—would have done better to stick to school administration and "teaching his sixth form," instead of revealing himself "to a critical world...as a man...who is destitute of a single original idea, who is devoid of humour, and who constantly mistakes a pointless paradox for a profound revelation." Observing that Welldon's "object was to publish a sermon on Christianity, and not ethical, but doctrinal, Christianity," HG generalizes: "Stories which are written to popularize the spirit and the morality of the New Testament we shall always treat with respect and approbation, for 'truth embodied in a tale' often enters in at doors which are closed to more formal appeals. But a novel is emphatically not the place for polemical theology."
#22. Fiction. 80:149-50. [GNR #50; allusions to ## 17§4, 18§1, 19§1, and 20§2]. E.F. Benson, The Judgment Books: provides evidence of the author's continuing "decline." The novel instances "an epidemic of Dualism" begun by Jekyll and Hyde. (Actually, Benson's idea seems to come from Dorian Gray, which HG does not mention). §2. Laurence Alma Tadema, The Crucifix: "the girl of eighteen should find it irresistible." §3. C.G. Leland, Legends of Florence: though the prose is occasionally interesting, it is too often interrupted by doggerel, or "such-like exasperating puerility." §4. Max Pemberton, The Impregnable City: Surprisingly, the photograph of Pemberton exhibited on the frontispiece is not a composite of "Stevenson, Jules Verne, Mr. Rider Haggard, Mr. Griffiths [sic], or Mr. Stanley Weyman"; for Pemberton's book is a composite of all these. His anarchists, for instance, live in a city "in the South Pacific fitted with electric bells, submarine ships, and every modern convenience ...invented, but unhappily not patented, by Jules Verne." §5. Max Pemberton, The Little Hugenot: in contrast to #22§4, this book is "delicately done." §6. William LeQueux, Stolen Souls: "a collection of...exasperating short stories," none of which "create[s] any illusion for a moment." §7. Fergus Hume, The White Prior: saves #22§6 from the worst pejoratives.
#23. Fiction. 80:180-81. [Allusions in ## 51§5 and 73]. §1 A.S.F. Hardy, Princess and Priest, and Madamoiselle Etienne: the first of these two novelettes presents "the moral and intellectual life of [ancient] Egypt" as if it were practically identical with the theosophical Bayswater of to-day"; the other "is a fairly effective story of harem intrigue in modern Cairo." §§2-4. Frederic Carrel, An Education; Marion Mole, For the Sake of a Slandered Woman; Sydney Christian, Two Mistakes: "three fairly readable novels, none rising above the average, none sinking below." The best of the three is the last, which possesses "a clever simplicity and a certain quiet humour." §5. R.S. Sievier, A Generation: "really worth reading" for the (unintentional) comic blunders occasioned by its style, "a monstrous hybrid of Meredith and Hugo—an unnatural birth, a portent." §6. Fiona Macleod, The Mountain Lovers: a "weird little book" "to set one musing"—" uncanny, impossible, and altogether fascinating."
#24. Fiction. 80:277-78. §1. Stanley V. Makower, The Mirror of Music: a "novel and suggestive work" recommended for those "who are given to dreaming over musical sounds." §2. Edwin J. Ellis, The Man of Seven Offers: "You get a rhythmic movement of interest in this story; the proposal, the acceptance, the breaking-off of the match, and then again the proposal. It is not unlike being rocked in a cradle." §3. F. Norreys Connel, The House of the Strange Woman: "To make a heroine of a woman who, with a small independent income, sells herself for luxuries, is up-hill work." Any "tragic intention" Mr. Connell may have had "fails in its realization." §4. Walter Bloomfield, Holdenhurst Hall: "a style of almost Egyptian massiveness" crushes "a common weed of a story." §5. Coralie Glyn, The Idyll of the Star Flower: "a very well meant and very uninteresting allegory about religion and purity and true and false love." §6. A. Garland Mears, Mercia: "if possible, thicker and sillier than its predecessors." §7. Hume Nisbet, The Great Secret: a story about "the future life," the idea of which "appears to be that after death we become even as extension lecturers, and go about talking platitudes in bad English." §8. George Barlow, Woman Regained: a novel about the donjuanish adventures of a minor poet, punctuated by "excruciatingly bad verse." It is "not without interest" if regarded as "a revelation of the erotic dreams" of said poet. §9. Charles C. Rothwell, The Stolen Bishop: "entertaining" and "clever"—"excellent fooling from cover to cover."
#25. Fiction. 80:321-22. [Allusions to ## 2 and 12]. § 1. "Iota," A Comedy of Spasms: The same writer's A Yellow Aster was "quite in accord" "with the Puritan streak in us which remains distrustful of art as such, and which is always demanding a hybrid product, half art and half sermon," told in "three times too many words" and read with a "care more for what a novelist has to say than whether he succeeds in saying it." Children of Circumstance, by contrast, at least was "alive" and showed that "Iota" possessed "strength, individuality, and a genuine first-hand view of things." The present novel reveals in her "the rare capacity for progress." Its main defect comes from the author's predilection to proceed by assertion and declaration: "What we are told, we resist; it is from what we are shown that we draw conclusions." §2. Jean de Mezailles, An Experiment in Love: pseudo-French stories "which have for a connecting motif the dullness of life consequent upon marriage." The author "hammers out his unpleasant subject in a commonplace ding-dong fashion" which betrays "no notion of thematic art." §3. A.C. Gunter, The Ladies' Juggernaut: a "fatuous" effort; the "incidents are weak, the writing...weaker, the wit...weakest." The book will do much to pull down the author's undeserved reputation. §4. "Julien Gordon," Poppaea: not "very literary," but a charming book which can boast of "no less than three" male characters not stuffed with "imaginative sawdust." The author is "a sort of Ouida, leavened by an agreeable American humour." §5. Eleanor Holmes, To-Day and Tomorrow: commendable on "the score of industry" but somewhat wearisome: "we get rather tired of the perpetual sight of the hero "toiling along" the road to becoming good "with a pack of peccadilloes on his back, the precise nature of which is only hinted at in ladylike language."
#26. Fiction. 80:355-56. [Allusion in #45 and to #17§1]. W.E. Norris, The Spectre of Strathannan: a collection of stories "feebly imagined" and with improbable endings. §2. W. Carelton Dawe, Yellow and White: the author "has evidently read his Kipling, and 'got up' the Orient eastward of Calcutta very thoroughly"; but "his adventures in pursuit of the romantic feminine are so magnificently pathetic...that they sate one long before the book is out." §3. Morley Roberts, The Adventures of a Ship's Doctor: these "yarns" are "good"—and one or two are "powerful"—despite the "rind of quite unnecessary and very uninteresting dialogue" surrounding each.
#27. Joan Haste. 80:386. [GNR #53; cp #59]. In Joan Haste, a "new departure" for him, Rider Haggard shifts his attention from "the Zulus...to the savages of East Anglia," and relative to his previous efforts gives the reader "no violence worth speaking about." Joan has a "conventional" subject—"conventionality with dyspepsia"—a love triangle in a world presided over by "the Haggard Fates." The novel is "a melancholy book, full of forcible foolishness, a jerry-built story with stucco style"—a story that is melodramatic, and improbable in all the crucial places.
#28. Fiction. 80:386-87. [Allusion to #1 and #75]. § 1. Adeline Sergeant, Out of Due Season: "true without being sordid, realistic in the better meaning of the word." §2. Florence Marryat, At Heart a Rake: contains some "unhappily convincing...figures" and "fairly effective satire." §3. "John Strange Winter," A Magnificent Young Man: "an admirable piece of carpentry, albeit the material is only literary deal"; a book "to while away a three-hour railway journey." §4. S.H. Sherard, Jacob Niemand: "an unconvincing and indeed boring story" which will undoubtedly be read "with the deepest emotion in the illiterate, respectable, shabby-genteel households for which it is probably written." §§5-6. "Lucas Cleeve," The Woman Who Wouldn't; "Victoria Crosse," The Woman Who Didn't: Two of the abundant offspring of #1—"silly and slightly improper books, without style, thought, or wit, without the faintest appeal to any human being... except to those who are still in the 'curious' stage of sexual development" and perhaps "to the student of mental development."
#29. Doctor Stark Munro. 80:417-18. [GNR #54; allusion to #5§6]. "Sometimes Mr. Conan Doyle comes to you in the likeness of a genius, sometimes as an ingenious bore, sometimes as a lady-like young author of the tenderest type. There is the Conan Doyle of Micah Clarke, there is the Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes (now happily dead) [a precipitate conclusion on HG's part], and the Conan Doyle of the Great Shadow, and even weaker things." But The Stark Munro Letters presents "new phases" of the man. Its theological speculations are "the very stuff that will be read over and over again to the spirits of theologians in torment"; but "like Antaeus, the story gains strength every time it comes to earth," and in the final analysis is "by a long way the most sincere, original, and permanent piece of work that Mr. Conan Doyle has so far done."
#30. Fiction. 80:480-81. [Allusion to #22 and in #54]. §1. Bret Harte, Clarence: "here is nothing but a story magnificently built," "a story told, apart from the minute refinements of style, excellently well." §§2-7. A.G. Murphy, One Woman's Wisdom; Joseph Hocking, All Men are Liars; Arthur Mason Bourne, A Mystery of the Cordillera; Mrs. Hungerford, Molly Darling; E. Phillips Oppenheim, A Daughter of the Marionis; Minnie Gilmore, The Woman Who Stood Between: almost uniformly boring books a reviewer must perforce read, "more or less."
#31. Fiction. 80:513-14. [Allusion to #16 and in #35 to #31§12; cp #37]. §1. George MacDonald, Lilith: After explaining the book's premise—that any number of three-dimensional worlds can exist in a four-dimensional one, just as any number of two-dimensional worlds can occupy a world of three dimensions—HG goes on to object that Lilith's universe "is fantastic to wildness and well-nigh past believing." MacDonald's book "passes" into the insanity of dreams, declines to the symbolic and the cryptic, ends in an allegorical tangle...There is imagination enough in this one book to last a common respectable author a lifetime. But for lack of pruning and restraint it seems, beside such work as Poe's, like the many-breasted many-armed Diana of Ephesus beside the Venus of Milo." §2. Katherine Tynan, An Isle on the Water: "To read these excellently finished Irish stories...is to realize the retrogression accomplished by that party ['the Yellow Book School'] of so-called advance." §3. Mrs George Corbett, Deb O'Mally's: "two volumes of well-meant inanity and careful phrases." §4. E.M. Stooke, Not Exactly: a "merry little book." §5. Mrs. Hungerford, The Professor's Experiment: "there is very little to differentiate this last production of the industrious author from her first." §6. G.M. Robins, To Set Her Free: "a lively hodge-podge." §7. Lady Fairlie Cunninghame, A Sin of the Soul: "does not deserve unmitigated ridicule."
#32. Fiction. 80:586-87. [Allusion to #5§1]. §1. Francis Prevost, Rust of Gold: a fair "specimen" of the "species" of novel wherein "Humour is entirely absent; life, so far as the author's view extends, is taken with the most unflinching seriousness, and so too is authorship;...the only emotions are sexual...;and the style is as unchaste as the thought, varicose and flagrant with all those extremities of badness to which a high ambition and a studious avoidance of the appropriate word can attain." Prevost retails "the silly treacheries of the conservatory, post-prandial yearnings, and promenade emotions as though they were the rich stuff of life." §2. "Rita," A Woman In It: "Mr. F.C. Philips has given us the same thing...—and given it rather better." §3. "Henry Maurice Hardinge," What We Are Coming To: this book's "one saving touch of humour"—"the passage where the author makes his confession of motherhood"—"is presumably accidental." §4. Emily M.H. Clennell, Timothy's Legacy: "an innocent little story of several inoffensive people who go through various adventures without loss of the sawdust that supplies their gentle vitality." §5. Anna, Contesse of Bremont, The Ragged Edge: "somewhat monotonous reading," albeit "fairly well written." §6. Standish O'Grady, The Chain of Gold: "a laborious and rather incoherent tale of adventure." §7. Fulmer Petel, Grania Waile: "we regard [the heroine] with admiration tinctured with incredulity."
#33. Fiction. 80:624. [Allusions to ##1 and 14]. §1. Agnes Farrell, Lady Lovan: Whilst this book is "a failure," it is "at least...no imitation" but rather "an honest attempt at self-expression, a genuine effort towards a criticism of life." Had the author been able to sustain and dramatize her thesis—"that the cultivated wealthy class, which lives mainly to function as 'society' and pursue culture and pleasure, is really a contemptible class"—she would "have placed this work on a level with that of that supreme novelist, Turgenev." §2. "Tasma," Not Counting the Cost: "readable." §3. Paul Buttmann, Carl Winter's Dream: "A Fairy Romance" (as the subtitle has it) "written without affectation or ulterior meaning."
#34. Fiction. 80:661-62. [Allusions in ## 66 and 73]. §1. "Ouida," Toxin: The author's "latest attempt to analyze the influence of modern ideas on the eternal conflict of human will and human passion...does not differ essentially from the first of about forty similar attempts" on her part. "Modern life has shown her its face and taught her its jargon, but its soul is hid from her eyes." "With adorable persistence she has clung to the old heaven of imagination and to the old idealized, sublimated earth" which together comprise the romanticized world of her fiction—here, as in Pink Dominoes and elsewhere. §2. Frederick James Grant, Perfect Womanhood: an "ill-advised" "puerile effort." §3. Frank Barrett, A Set of Rogues: This "readable kind of dullness" features "rogues" "who are the mildest-mannered gentlemen ever styled such we have ever met." "A story of adventure" "ought" to "fire the blood"—which this one does not. §4. Shan F. Bullock, By Thrasna River: Unlike the "dialect of the Scot," "the brogue of the Irishman in print is comprehensible without a glossary first and a headache afterwards." Otherwise, the volume at hand needs its length reduced by two-thirds in order for it not to be "weariness to the flesh."
#35. The Secrets of the Short Story. 80:693. [GNR #55; allusions to ## 16§2 and 31§2]. HG opens his attack on the do-it-yourself book How to Write Fiction, which he characterizes as a compendium of bad advice and worse taste, by taking note of the anonymity surrounding its publication. He discovers the rigid and mindless rules the book propounds for composing the Short Story to be at one with a pedantic predilection for "diligent writers [like Henry Harland], without insight, imagination, humour, or spontaneity." "The qualities that make the short story, the qualities that make all literature, are innate. There are no rules for the greater factors...Every writer who is worth reading is a law unto himself." The editors' disregard for the value of individuality in literature makes this handbook "not an isolated expression of foolishness" but rather "one symptom of a fairly energetic movement" (see #65).
#36. Mrs. Clifford's New Novel. 80:710-11. "Love-making without genuine emotion, death without sadness, realism without knowledge of life, are the ingredients of a stupid and unpleasant novel," Mrs. W.K. Clifford's A Flash of Summer.
#37. Fiction. 80:735-36. [Allusions to #31§1 and "Bio-Optimism," H&P #76; cp ## 49, 58, and 60]. §§ 1-4. John Galt, Sir Andrew Wylie of that Ilk; S.R. Crockett, The Men of the Moss Hags; Ian Maclaren, The Days of Auld Lang Syne; Henry Ochiltree, Redburn. HG groups these as "four books...fairly typical of what most people understand by Scotch fiction just at present." All of these latter-day imitators of Prince Otto, Ivanhoe, and Humphry Clinker are "intensely parochial": they display "the very intensity of parochial patriotism" that has denied Scotland a Turgenev, a Goldsmith, a Hardy, a Meredith, or a Poe. §5. Robert Buchanan, Lady Kilpatrick. Buchanan, however, belongs to another group of Scots writers—whose "outlook is broader" and who hold out "reason to hope." Buchanan "has produced some of the strangest failures in contemporary fiction"—in addition to the volume under review, HG cites also God and the Man and The Manxman. §6. Neil Kay, The Horseman's Word. Kay's "novel and exciting story, strongly imagined and ably told" belongs here as well; and along with Buchanan and Kay, George MacDonald, "with his wonderful imagination, his power of weird effect, his dreadful metaphysics, and his congested art"; and Professor Patrick Geddes, "flourishing his absurd Evergreen" (see EW pp 206-10).
#38. Fiction. 80:768-69. [GNR #56; cp #42]. Despite the translator—whose "enterprise of mutilating the offspring of [Henryk] Sienkiewicz seems in some obscure way to have given him a proprietary, a paternal sense even"—"it is still possible for the industrious reader to infer" that the Polish writer, "though certainly not on a level with Turgenev or Tolstoi, is still worthy to form one of the constellation of writers of which these two are the greater lights." His strength lies in the historical novel rather than in the adventure story. As far as the latter is concerned, he has too much of "a disposition to analyze," to "explain the conflict of motives in all his characters when dialogue should suffice"—his stories are too weighed down with "a great burden of instructive details"—to suit the taste of the "English romance reader...brought up on Weyman and Stevenson." But if his romances With Fire and Sword and The Deluge will not have much appeal for those reasons, Children of the Soil "is a book to return to": "his people are alive to their very finger tips."
#39. Mr. Grant Allen's New Novel. 80:785-86. [GNR #57; allusions to #1 and in ## 52 and 83]. In expressing "his view of life," Grant Allen manifests a healthy disregard for the demands of the mass reading public, from a writer's subjection to which "assuredly no masterpiece was ever begotten." But Allen's view is "intensely, pathetically distorted"; moreover, The British Barbarians "is even farther from the sphere of art than [is] The Woman Who Did, which is saying a very great deal." HG does not object to some of Allen's social criticism: indeed, "Mr. Allen takes occasion to say a good many things that require saying." But HG protests at his adopting "an art-form" to say them, thereby making that form "subservient to the purposes of the pamphleteer." "Let him call his sermon a sermon." "The philosopher who masquerades as a novelist, violating the conditions of his art that his gospel may win notoriety, discredits both himself and his message, and the result is neither philosophy nor fiction."
#40. Two Christmas Numbers. 80:796-97. [GNR #581. HG quickly passes over the Christmas issue of the English Illustrated Magazine (merely enumerating its contributors) to concentrate derisively on two stories in The Pall Mall Magazine. One of these is notable as an agglomeration "of the weak points in every story we have ever read about secret societies," and "has neither novelty, wit, interest, probability of any kind," nor "brevity or good grammar." The other story, however—"a medley of unamusing nonsense "—makes it look like "high literature" by comparison.
#41. The Method of Mr. George Meredith. 80:842-43. [GNR #60; allusions to ## 12 and 35; cp #53§1]. Meredith's The Amazing Marriage is "assuredly...as fine, and vigorous, and subtle as anything he has ever written." It also clearly exhibits his "indirect method" for revealing character through "the perpetual shifting of standpoint"whereby the reader sees the personages displayed in their contacts with others. This "artifice of seeing through the eyes of characters is supremely effective"; but it sometimes "puzzles a decent public, nourished on good healthy, straight-forward marionettes."
#42. The Novel of Types. 81:23-24. [GNR #62*; allusions to ## 1 and 48 and in ## 46 and 48]. Turgenev has a "genius" for making "his characters typical, while at the same time retaining their individuality." Spring Floods "resembles in its leading idea" Hardy's Jude; but the latter remains local and personal, whilst Turgenev is "catholic, without superfluity or redundance, a thing simple, complete, and beautiful." As for Fathers and Children, it can be compared to G.B. Shaw's Unsocial Socialist to the great disadvantage of the latter. Turgenev's is "the highest form of literary art,...the novel of types": "Turgenev people are not avatars of theories nor tendencies. They are living, breathing individuals, but individuals living under the full stress of this great social force or that."
#43. Fiction. 81:48-49. [GNR #63; allusion to #28§3; cp ## 10 and 53]. §1. George Gissing, Sleeping Fires (1895): a book which "will astonish his admirers": "the possibility of a gospel of Greek delight from this minute and melancholy observer of the lower middle class fills us with anything but agreeable anticipations." §2. Arthur Machen, The Three Impostors (1895): "Mr. Machen has one simple expedient whereby he seeks to develop his effects. He piles them up high, and makes his characters horror-struck at them." This method fails "mainly because Mr. Machen has not mastered the necessary trick of commonplace detail which renders horrors convincing, and because he lacks even the most rudimentary conception of how to individualize characters."
#44. Fiction. 81:81-82. [Allusion in #54 to #44§10; all titles published in 1895 except #44§6]. §1. T. Inglis, Dr. Quantrill's Experiment: The author sidesteps the "rare stuff" of a novel—examining the effects of being transplanted from lower class to upper class on the heroine's "mental development, and on her attitude towards the social class from which she has been so suddenly cut off "—"by giving her an illegitimate relationship to a family of quality" as the means of accounting for her social elevation. Thereafter, "the book declines into an ordinary story of jealousy and intrigue, and ends luridly in melodrama." §2. Rhoda Broughton, Scylla or Charybdis?: "The greater part of the book"—"Broughtonesque description of walks and teas"—"is irrelevant to the matter at hand." §3. Morley Roberts, A Question of Instinct: an Analytical Study: Though Roberts has "crammed into these pages as much analysis and psychology as he knows," "we doubt he will persuade a cautious reader of his veracity." From the materials of the novel "it might have been possible to construct... a study...exact and just to life." But Roberts hasn't done so. §4. S.R. Kneightley, The Cavaliers: "a romance...not very much inferior to the works of Mr. Stanley Weyman." Its episodic adventures, however, do not have "so complete a unity as the conditions of romance demand." As for characterization, "to criticize a romance upon the ground that it is enacted by creatures scarcely human is...a thankless task." §5. Elsa D'Esterre-Keeling, Old Maids and Young: it is clear from the lack of focus on any one character in this "jumble" that its author "has very little idea of the artistic novel." §6. Paul Cushing, The Shepherdess of Treva: an absurdly improbable story involving the marriage of a shepherdess (suddenly and miraculously turned artist) to a certain "reprehensible young man's father by mistake. This is found out, as such things often are, and causes so much annoyance that nearly everybody dies hurriedly." But the author's "clever writing and occasional humour" are redeeming enough for the book to be "readable and attractive." §7. T. Thorold Dickson and Mary L. Pechell, A Ruler of Ind: marred by the feebleness of a misunderstanding between characters—which misunderstanding is crucial to the plot. §8. Marguerite Bryant, Morton Verlost: a "patchwork" affair which features the marriage of a woman to her young suitor's father—"which is becoming common practice according to our observation as a reviewer" (see §6 above). §9. Amelia E. Barr, The Flower of Gala Water: "Nothing subtle is attempted or achieved." §10. Gertrude Atherton, A Whirl Asunder: "the 'smartest' of the 'smart' little books," with "enough cleverness packed between its two very small covers to stock half a dozen respectable novels." §11. Francis Francis, A Wild Rose: differs "from the average boy's book" only in "the strength of the language and the occasional absence of mitigating blanks and dashes."
#45. Fiction. 81:107-08. [Allusions to ## 26 and 33§1]. §1. H.B. Mariott Watson, Galloping Dick: presents "a new and wonderfully novel addition to that select band of living individualities to whom books are now the only access": the highwayman. The book is to be read "for its vivid incident and pervading humour, as much as for the incessant truth and vigour of its central figure." §2. W.E. Tirebuck, Grace of All Souls (1895): "In his intentions," Tirebuck "ranks high among serious novelists" for attempting to depict "the joys and grim troubles of...[a]...collier family." But as the book stands, "rich with irrelevant detail," "it is not so much a novel written as a mass of writing with the stuff of a novel therein." §3. William Westall, Sons of Belial (1895): "the business success and social developments of a sturdy iron founder and his sons" provide "excellent meat" for the "conventional skeleton" of a story. §4. Clark Russell, Hearts of Oak (1895): sea stories whose "ships live, and if only [Russell's] men and women did, there would be no more stirring reading than he gives us."
#46. Fiction. 81:131-32. [GNR #64; allusion to #42; cp #51]. The "story" of Annie E. Holdsworth's The Years that the Locust Hath Eaten "is dull at heart." The "subject was born old" and would "strike us as worn out, threadbare" "if no one had ever before written of a weak social-minded humbug of low origin and high ideals, and of the young wife's disillusionment when she realizes his incapacity and selfishness." Only a Turgenev could give life to such a subject, and even then that subject in itself would not "at all represent the interest of the book." Here, instead, the subject is the only interest; and Miss Holdsworth's "idea"—for her story "was conceived in the abstract and thought over in abstract terms"—treated with a "heavy hand," "shows through the thin art."
#47. Popular Writers and Press Critics. An Informal Appreciation. 81:146-46. [GNR #65; allusion to #48; cp ## 58, 61, 65, and 66]. HG ascribes the popularity of such books as Trilby and The Sorrows of Satan partly to the "influx of...millions of readers...who are so ignorant of life that they are contemptuous of its probabilities, and who display the same impartial indifference to the laws of language as to those of art," and partly to critic-reviewers who have a vested interest (in their capacity as readers for publishing houses) in puffing the books they themselves recommend for publication. The practical intent of HG's theorizing is to explain his inability to take seriously Anthony Hope, whose opus he proceeds to anatomize. Typical of Hope's romances is The Chronicles of Count Antonio, consisting of "a series of episodes in the main impossible" which "take place in a country at least as vague as Cloud Cuckoo Land." The best of his romances, The Prisoner of Zenda can hardly be called "a story": it "whirls giddily from improbability to improbability,...names stand for characters, and illusion does not seem even to be desired." As for those few novels of Hope's that, relative to his romances, one might call "good"—The God in the Car, say, or Half a Hero—"One chapter of Jude the Obscure or Esther Waters is worth" more than any of them—"worth all that Mr. Hope has ever written and much to boot."
#48. Jude the Obscure. 81:153-54. [GNR #66; allusions to ## 1, 9, 37, and 41, and in #42]. HG attacks the "foolish reception" accorded by other reviewers to "a book that will alone make 1895 a memorable year in literature." Jude is a "tremendous indictment" of the class system. It is a novel in which "the voice of the educated proletarian"—and Jude is "at once an individual and a type"—speaks "more distinctly than it ever [spoke] before in English literature."
#49. Fiction. 81:208-09. [GNR #67*; cp ## 37 and 65]. §1. Andrew Lang. A Monk of Fife: Lang, with his "curiously dwarfed imagination," has come forth with a romance whose characters are mainly woodenized Stevenson, whose dialogue is "largely annotated Scotch, after the Crockett fashion," and whose plot is entirely incredible. §2. John Buchan, Sir Don Quixote of the Moors (1895): HG invidiously contrasts this "imitation of the work of Mr. Stanley Weyman" with Lang's romance.
#50. Side Talks with Girls. 81:281-82. [GNR #68*]. An examination of the bad advice and bad English of Ruth Ashmore's manual of how-to-behave, Side Talks with Girls.
#51. Fiction. 81:282-83. [Allusion in #73 and to #23§6; cp. #51§3 to ##41§1 and 46; all titles below published in 1895]. §1. Dora Russell, A Man's Privilege: "Our complaint against [the author] rests upon a mere question of technique; but then, subject is nothing, treatment everything." The technique in question involves severely disappointing the reader: "when the bad woman [in the novel] goes to the trouble and expense of travelling all the way to India to seduce the good man, he says to her 'Do go'"; whereupon she does—"we might as well have been reading a novel by Mr. Henry James." §2. B.M. Crocker, Married or Single?: the writer "has got hold of a good situation"—concerning a "woman who was a heroine in poverty" but now "dreads the prospect of a return to it"; but "untroubled by the claim of subtleties" and employing "an undistinguished, not to say common, style," Crocker can make nothing of it. §3. E.H. Strain, A Man's Foes: "one of the most lifelike and impressive pictures of a siege we have ever come across." §4. Charles Lowe, A Fallen Star: "those readers whose lives are long and leisured will get both pleasure and instruction from [it]." §5. Fiona Macleod, The Sin-Eater: "a study of these weird but undeniably beautiful tales leaves one with an unreal and fantastic dreaminess of the brain that is pleasurably unwholesome." §6. Mary Angela Dickens, Prisoners of Silence: possesses a "sombre plot" and some "severely drawn" personages. §7. C.L. Antrobus, Wildesmoor: a story of murder whose resolution would not, on moral grounds, "commend itself [even] to the higher class of murderers amongst us." §8. E.H. Fowler, The Young Pretenders: the protagonist is "an absolutely real child, without a touch of that conventionally pathetic infant so abhorrent to all but the Adelphi pit."
#52. Stories of the South Seas. 81:401-02. [GNR #70*; allusion to #39]. Louis Becke's short stories in The Ebbing of the Tide call for comparison with Kipling's tales of India. The former "leave less the impression of works of art than of simple and uncoloured sketches and reminiscences." For Becke seems to have exercised very little "the shaping spirit of imagination." He hasn't "Mr. Kipling's trick of satisfying our curiosity just enough to effectually awake it"; nor has he Kipling's "large vocabulary" and "vivid and picturesque style." But he has certainly "a fresh and interesting world, full of real men and women, a world of primitive life and primitive passions, to introduce us to."
#53. Fiction. 81:405-06. [GNR #71; allusions to ## 10 and 69; cp #43]. §1. George Gissing, The Paying Guest (1895): "Gissing at his best, dealing with the middle-class material he knows so intimately." He is still the "ablest...exponent of the 'colourless' theory of fiction[:] Let your characters tell their own story, make no comment, write a novel as you would write a play. So we are robbed of the personality of the author, in order that we may get an enhanced impression of reality, and a novel merely extends the purview of the police-court reporter to the details of everyday life." But in this novel Gissing allows himself "flashes of ironical comment," and thereby makes something of a break with "an entirely misleading, because entirely one-sided, view of the methods of fiction." §§2-3. Reginald Lucas, Felix Dorrien; Annie Thomas, A Lover of the Day: Juxtaposed, these two novels with similar themes and story-lines tend to prove that "a small achievement [i.e. §3] is more readable than a larger failure [i.e. §2]."
#54. Fiction. 81:436-37. [Allusion in #59 and to #44§10]. §§1-3. Raymond Raife, The Shiek's White Slave; Bram Stoker, The Shoulder of Shasta; Clinton Ross, The Countess of Betina: HG declares these three (all published in 1895) to be "the echoes of books" and "substitutes for books"; by authors who possess "the wonderful gift of concealing" their own personalities in those of established romancers. Thus Raife is Haggard without the latter's "dyspeptic pessimism." Stoker appears as a secondrate Bret Harte—and "there is quite enough Bret Harte written by Bret Harte for any reasonable appetite"; "an understudy is intolerable." And "Surely Mr. Anthony Hope is prolific enough without Mr. Clinton Ross coming to the rescue." §4. Morley Roberts, The Earth Mother: a rather callously violent murder story which rings insincere." §5. Rolf Boldrewood, The Crooked Stick (1895): turning his back on "a vast island-continent at his beck and call" (i.e. Australia), the author sets his novel in what could just as well be London suburbia. "The story goes to prove that human nature is the same all over the world." §6. Gertrude Atherton, The Doomswoman: "the thread upon which the book is hung has been worn too thin to support a novel any longer." §7. Florence Warden, A Spoilt Girl (1895): "good tumultuous reading" about sibling juvenile delinquents terrorizing the countryside.
#55. Fiction. 81:461-62. [Allusions to ## 5§5 and 28§11. §1. Adeline Sergeant: Erica's Husband: "The plot is foolishly improbable, acted by characters improbably foolish." §2. Mrs. Haycraft, Gildas Haven: a "pathetically allegorical" book, "replete with benignity," about an ecumenical marriage. §3. Julien Gordon, A Wedding and Other Stories: "readable" stories, each "written with equal care." §4. Fergus Hume, The Carbuncle Clue: "a marvel of cunning" is able to unravel a murder merely on the strength of the slight information "that the criminal has an anchor tattooed near his wrist and the little finger missing from his left hand." §5. Marian Rogers, Not by Man Alone: "stale, flat, and, we should think, unprofitable." §6. Norma Lorimer, A Sweet Disorder: "amusing reading," "somewhat amateurish..., but with spirit and humour." §7. Mrs. Edward Kennard, A Riverside Romance: "distinctly gruesome as to the romance and both picturesque and bright as far as the river is concerned." §8. James C. Dibdin, The Gleekim Inn: "a good deal about the rather vague love affairs of a runaway young woman and two men, who go through desperate adventures of a confused sort in a manner which leaves the reader not only cold, but yawning." §9. B.M. Croker, The Real Lady Hilda: "a savage little story...but readable throughout."
#56. Fiction. 81:488. §1. J.E. Muddock, Stripped of the Tinsel: "to read it is a liberal education—in patience." §2. Julian Sturgiss, A Master of Fortune: The heir of the "invariably childless uncle," having repudiated his legacy and gone off to America, finally realizes "that he might possibly have spent a million or two on the slums" which horrify him—"with advantage to them." §3. G. Norway, Tregarthen: "quite a pleasant book," full of "cleverness and humour." §4. Sydney Pickering, The Romance of his Picture: "a good deal of originality of idea, and some power...in the carrying out of it."
#57. An Outcast of the Islands. 81:509-10. [GNR #73*; allusions to ## 17§4 and 47]. HG praises the authenticity of Joseph Conrad's The Outcast of the Islands, the strength of his conception, and the imaginative vividness of its realization: "Surely this is the real romance—the romance that is real!" He also lambastes Conrad's style, which he describes as being "like river-mist; for a space things are seen clearly, and then comes a great grey blank of printed matter" and a "jungle of tawdry pretentious verbiage." "Only greatness could make books of which the detailed workmanship was so copiously bad...so convincing."
#58. The Simple Art of Popular Pathos. 81:557-58. [GNR #74; allusions to ## 9 and 57; cp #66]. This send-up of Ian Maclaren's A Doctor of the Old School explores the stock devices wherewith an author "appeals not to the intelligence and to the aesthetic sense, but against them—to something wider and deeper and greater, to something which we may very properly and beautifully speak of as the Great Heart of the People" and its preference for gross and predictable sentimentality. HG concludes with a kind of grudging admiration: "It does not follow, because he is contemptible as a literary artist, and because he cannot write English, that he is to be despised." What Maclaren does "pays remarkably well, and since people do not seem to object to a great many other tawdry things that pay well, it follows that everybody cannot do this kind of thing."
#59. Fiction. 81:562-63. [Allusion to #54§1]. Rider Haggard's Heart of the World inadvertently shows that "at the game of impossible romance Mr. Haggard's imitators are beating their master." (Almost a dozen other volumes are reviewed in the pages of this entry, but the other brief notices seem to be the work of Mrs. Low.)
#60. The Lost Stevenson. 81:603-04. [GNR #75; cp #37; also ## 27, 41, and 48]. R.L. Stevenson's The Weir of Hermiston is "a superbly clever book—in the Scott line of business." "That the man who could write such a novel as Prince Otto...and such a masterpiece of the trickery of effect as the Strange Case, should settle down at last into the hard ruts of purely conventional romance is, indeed, a pitiful instance of the way in which wrong-headed flattery, a feminine book market, and a man's own talent may triumph over his genius." "Stevenson was not so much a romancer as a novelist trapped in the puerilities of romance," which "prohibits anything but the superficialities of self expression;...sustained humour, subtle characterization, are impossible." Prince Otto had promised work "that along its peculiar line might have placed Stevenson with Mr. Hardy and Mr. Meredith" instead of with Rider Haggard. But The Weir, unfinished as it is, gives no sign of fulfilling that promise: it "would have been another of Stevenson's Scotch romances, doubtfully the strongest, and that is all one can say for it; another brilliant testimony to the ultimate mastery of Scott, with gleams here and there of humour, of subtlety, of a whimsical stoicism curiously delightful, of all that Stevenson might have been had not the Scott tradition laid hold of him."
#61. A Servants' Hall Vision. 81:627-28. [GNR #77; allusions to ## 34 and 58]. Mrs. Hodgson Burnett, the author of Little Lord Fauntleroy, has, in A Lady of Quality, come up with a "servants' hall" view of upper class life—the sort of thing an "ambitious nursery-maid, prematurely snatched from the village Board school" would write. "The book has not a gleam of conscious humour from cover to cover," "is written in a jargon which has not been English in any period, but has been Family Herald for all time," is inartistic to the last degree—and provides another specimen of the popular taste.
#62. Two Novels. [GNR #79*]. "Neither [of these novels] has distinctive humour, nor distinctive prejudices, nor distinctive lucidity, nor any of the factors that make a man's style and method intrinsically and inimitably his." The heroine of Ia, by "Q," "grips our sympathies strongly"; but as "one of those quick-change performers" whose personality totally reverses itself overnight, she is "incredible." The eponymous heroine of "Mark Rutherford"'s Clara Hopgood, on the other hand, while "consistent and credible," the result of "thought and observation," is utterly unmoving. Clara is plodding and "inarticulate," but "at least it has sincerity. It aims at life." Ia is a "nervous and vivid piece of chromatic story-telling," but it is also slick and "aims [not at life but] simply at readers."
#63. Fiction. 81:657. §1. Florence Marryat, The Strange Transfiguration of Hannah Stubbs: an "absurd book," which "far from transfiguring Spiritualism, as it is intended to do, holds it up as a highly dangerous and idiotic pastime" (cp. "Peculiarities of Psychical Research," H&P #44). §2. Mrs. Andrew Dean, A Woman with a Future: the author, who "understands men very little and women not at all," has only brought her heroine to "the point of being a woman with a past."
#64. Fiction. 82:21-22. [GNR #80; allusion to #13; the favorable review of #64§1 in SR 81:513-14 certainly does not have HG's style or sentiments]. §I. A.E.W. Mason, The Courtship of Morrice Buckler: Stanley Weyman "quite fairly borrowed [Dumas'] method ['of writing a story'], but instead of human beings he introduced marionettes, which were much more easily managed." Mason follows in Weyman's footsteps: marionettes swashbuckle through this piece of "literary shoddy...which is so likely to find a large sale with the illiterate." §2. Dora Russell, A Fatal Past: "a nice little story for a quiet tea-party"; "all ends well: and we could have wished it had ended earlier." §3. Leopold Kompert, Christian and Leah (1895), trans. Alfred S. Arnold: "charming" stories that remind one of I. Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto. §4. Richard Henry Savage, Miss Devereux of the Mariquita (1895): "written for the more vicious type of schoolboy," this "hotch-potch" recounts "the would-be thrilling adventures of ingeniously objectionable people."
#65. Certain Critical Opinions. 82:32-33. [GNR #81*; allusions to ## 12, 32, 49§1, and 62]. An attack on the "Academic School" of reviewers, who search a book for misprints and insignificant misstatements of fact, and if frustrated in this attempt, go on to morally judge and condemn "the characters of the story, almost as if they were real persons" or to compare invidiously passages of the text under consideration with those of "classic" authors like Scott. Criticism, HG maintains, should aim "to appreciate essentials, to understand the bearing of structural expedients upon design, to get at an author through his workmanship, to analyse a work as though it stood alone in the world." This requires of the critic "a vast breadth of sympathy to understand the various standpoints, the various aims of fiction," requires imagination and a faculty for analysis, requires qualities which those of the Academic School do not possess.
#66. Beyond Criticism. 82:40-41. [GNR #82*; allusions to ## 34§1 and 58; cp #9]. In this article, occasioned by S.R. Crockett's Cleg Kelly, Arab of the City, HG spends as much space speculating on the mentality of the readership for this kind of verbal detritus as he does on examining the book itself ("One could as well criticize a marine store.") "Certain things these people [i.e. readers constituting the mass market] want, under the sanction of the Deity's name—novelette love-making for the most part, kissing, a bit of murder, and a braying jest now and then—and these they get."
#67. Dull, but Probable. 82:65. [GNR #83; allusion to #13]. In this review of The World and a Man by "Z.Z." (Louis Zangwill), HG begins by proposing that the brothers' Zangwill writing "workshop" (i.e. factory) turn to one collaborative effort a year instead of two or three competitive ones. That might result in "a book worth having," and at worst would mean "the production of one commonplace book in the place of two or three." As for the novel at hand, it serves to demonstrate that a story must be something more than probable; for The World and a Man "is a painstaking and veracious recital of things which nobody wants to hear about."
#68. Fiction. 82:96. [Cp #68§5 with #7§3]. §1. Mrs. Alan Brodrick, The Creed of Philip Glyn: If Mrs. Brodrick "has ambitions to write fiction she would do well to confine her attentions in future to Sunday-school readers." §2. V. Schallenberger, A Village Drama: "As a masterpiece of monotony we believe this book to be unrivalled; and if the faculty are right in recommending yawns as a healthy exercise, we have no hesitation in advising frequent perusals." §3. Louis Vintras, A Pagan Soul: The author is incapable of constructing even "the simplest narrative"; and though the book scintillates with epigram, "all the characters, without exception, scintillate in the same key, howbeit bright." §4. Frederick Montcrieff, The X Jewel: the story "has no end, very little beginning, and constant incoherence." §5. M.P. Shiel, The Rajah's Sapphire: "appears to have been written by a lunatic." §6. An Impression by Michael Dure, called 'The Imagination of Their Hearts': contains "elements of cleverness...obscured by much unnecessary posing and many half-witted epigrams." Moreover, "only a very young man could possibly display so much misanthropy." §7. Mrs. F. Hay Newton, A Girl of Yesterday: "a rather pretty little story."
#69. Mr. Le Gallienne's Worst and Best. 82:113-14. [GNR #84; allusions in ## 39, 53, and 74]. Prose Fancies gives a hint of Richard Le Gallienne's capacity to "develop along the line of fiction"—which capacity, however, is limited by "all he does not understand and feel." Within the confines of his aestheticism—of his passionless world—he can produce "perfect specimens of literature in little."
#70. Whither? 82:139. [Allusions in #92 and "Morals and Civilisation," H&P #86]. "Apart from its interest as a study of the mental disease resulting from want of employment and sensual excess, in which religion is a synonym for morbid abstinence, and even the Deity becomes at last merely an infinite, all-powerful sex maniac, [J.-K. Huysmans'] En Route [trans. C. Kegan Paul] is a remarkably dull book."
#71. The Snare of Success. 82:191. [Cp. #60]. Before getting to any comment on The Sowers or Flotsam, HG reviews the previous career of their author, Henry Seton Merriman. Merriman had "a genuine talent for story-telling—a more important qualification in a novelist than is generally imagined"—and "wrote a number of tales [With Edged Tools the 'best of them'] which were distinctly worth reading" but were not read. "Having written enough books of the sort which deserved to sell and did not, Mr. Merriman now turned round and produced The Sowers," a book which "reads like a deliberate attempt to write down to some imperfectly comprehended level of commonness and intellectual torpor." Flotsam, another of Merriman's efforts to appeal to the mass reading public—this time by getting "up his India" and introducing a Barry Lyndon and Becky Sharp into that setting—"is as much beneath The Sowers in point of merit...as The Sowers is below the best of the books Mr. Merriman wrote when he thought of writing as a thing apart from selling."
#72. The Precocious School of Humour. 82:221. [GNR #86; allusion to #66]. Max Beerbohm is one of the masters of that school of writing the reputation of whose members will reside in "work they had finished by five and twenty." HG hopes that Beerbohm will allow his "dead adolescence" no "belated resurrection": "For, apart from the pose [of the perpetual adolescent], there is some very real ability [in him]."
#73. Fiction. 82:228-29. [Allusions to ## 23§6, 25§1, 34§1, and 51§5]. §1. Helen Shipton, The Herons: a book with "elements of true and high tragedy" by an author who as a rule eschews the "delightful cullings from the French tongue which adorn our modern novels" and "expresses herself mainly in English, probably because, with daring originality, she has set about to acquire a knowledge of the structure of that language before setting up as a novelist." "But, as it is not of the school of either Stanley Weyman or Grant Allen," her book probably won't sell. §2. Fiona Macleod, The Washer of the Ford: "has all the aesthetic incoherence of The Mountain Lovers and The Sin-Eater, without their force." §3. Maria English, As the Shadow of a Great Rock: "How it strayed into print is a mystery." §4. W.D. Scull, The Garden of the Matchboxes: a "very readable" "decidedly humorous little set of tales " §5. Mrs. Campbell Praed, Mrs. Tregaskis: the "sameness" of this author's novels "is perhaps unavoidable in describing scenes where the background is invariable." §6. "The Author of Miss Molly," Theatricals: what "little cleverness" these stories have is "swamped...by sentimentality of a particularly cloying kind." §7. Stephen Wyke, The Yorkshire Cousins: "words fail us to describe its infinite vacuity."
#74. The New American Novelists. 82:262-63. [GNR #89; allusions to ##65 and 69]. While "the exhausted tradition of Scott dominates" contemporary English fiction, the American writers Sherwin Cody and Stephen Crane show the influence of writers outside that tradition, particularly of Tolstoi, and more particularly of the Tolstoian technique of giving "sustained descriptions of the mental states of his characters" "told in a kind of monologue in the third person." Cody's In the Heart of the Hills exemplifies the perils of the Tolstoian method when applied to matter unequal to it. In Crane, on the other hand, "not only is the method present, but the matter is admirably sound." George's Mother is "a bare story" —"without purple passages"—of "immense vigour and sympathy." Writers like Crane, HG concludes, represent one direction the novelistic tradition is taking as it forks into "two distinct artistic forms": Crane's approach involves "suppression of the author's personality" and thus precludes the other possibility, "the personal...novel, tinged with essay."
#75. A Bad Novel. 82:318-19. [GNR #92; allusion to #28§5]. HG sardonically recapitulates the story-line of Epicures (by "Lucas Cleeve"), a novel he judges to be "illiterate vicious nonsense," "full of vile taste, bad grammar, and extraordinary wrongheadedness." "One is at a loss to say whether the language, the story, or the maudlin declaration of views ...is most offensive."
#76. Our Lady of "Pars." 82:337. [GNR #93*; cp #3]. Among the authors popular with the illiterate reading public, Miss Marie Corelli is notable for seeming to stay aloof from journalists and gossip-hunters, thereby advertising herself through "the infinite publicity of her seclusion."
#77. Fiction. 82:377-78. [Cp. #77§8 with #8§3]. §1. Martin J. Pritchard, Without Sin: the idea behind the story might have been "a great idea"—"in the hands of a great writer." As it is, the author has "conceived a plot equally remarkable for its startling novelty and execrable taste." §2. Caudwell Lipsett, Where the Atlantic Meets the Land: a few of these tales are "deliciously funny." §3. Frances Hindes Groome, Kriegspiel: The War Game: "a wildly, deliriously improbable, but still fascinating, book." §4. George Manville Fenn, The Case of Alisa Gray: the story is about an "improper rectoress" who "makes love to everyone in the book, including her husband." §5. Una Taylor, Nets for the Wind: a series of tales, some of them comprehensible, in "the ultra-fervid, neurotic style for which Miss Olive Schreiner is partially responsible." §6. Paul Creswick, At the Sign of the Crosskeys: a "Stanley-Weyman-cum-Stevenson" production, whose hero "unfortunately, is two distinct men—a fact which the author has apparently overlooked." §7. "The Author of The Fight at Dame Europa's School," Venus and Cupid: "has a funny notion in it, but not much more." §8. Anon. [Alice Spinner], Lucilla: an Experiment: "an interesting novel" "on the old subject of the social wrongs inflicted on the mixed race in the West Indies by the whites."
#78. The Dream of a District Visitor. 82:397. [GNR #95*; allusions to ## 1 and 47]. Mrs. Humphry Ward's Sir George Tressady, though "far below the level of much of her previous work," has the "indisputable stamp of truth" in its "treatment of the domestic affairs of a class to which many aspire and few belong." Unfortunately, she oversteps herself in trying to say something about "the present state of society," the consequence of which attempt is "a lamentable display of social ignorance, a gabble of Socialism, and a 'sympathetic' character" who is "in part the dream, in part the pose of a novelist." The "astonishing naivete" Mrs. Ward discloses in regard to the motives of her characters complements "the extraordinary mental seclusion" her view of society "witnesses."
#79. The Well at the World's End. 82:413-15. [GNR #96; signed]. William Morris' book of that title "is Malory, with the glow of the dawn of the Twentieth Century warming his tapestries and beaten metal." "The story does not seem to be coherently symbolical"; and though some of its episodes do seem to have allegorical significance, others possess a "weird effectiveness" that has little to do with symbolism. "All the workmanship of the book is stout oaken stuff that must needs endure and preserve the memory of one of the stoutest, cleanest lives that has been lived in these latter days."
#80. Two Middling Novels. 82:427-28. [Cp ##62 and 74]. E.H. Cooper's The Enemies and Will Payne's Jerry the Dreamer both deal with the theme of "the growing division between husband and wife during the first year of marriage." But the former novel follows the English method of using authorial sermonizing to present character, whereas Mr. Payne manifests the influence of Zola, of Flaubert, and of Tolstoi. Where Mr. Cooper looks at character from the outside, "Mr. Will Payne would at any rate have attempted the correct method; he would have cut the man's mind in two and shown us a section of his thoughts." The drawback of Payne's method is that it "excludes the possibility of a thoroughgoing hero": for the "impartial realist," "neither the beauty nor the ugliness, the joy nor the misery, of which he is a spectator has the power to lay hold of him and shake him."
#81. The Immature Fantastic. 82:499-50. [Cp #31§1]. Mr. John Davidson, "a seedling poet,...has only himself to blame for reviving the scandal of his youthful indiscretion" of writing short stories, by having The Pilgrimage of Strongsoul: and Other Stories published. With one exception, they indicate that he "has still to learn the elementary rule of the fantastic: that, granted the fantastic assumption, the most strenuous consistency must be observed in its development. That fantastic means 'anyhow' is a juvenile delusion."
#82. Mr. Barrie's New Book. 82:526-27. [GNR #99; allusions in ##84 and 89]. J.M. Barrie's Sentimental Tommy consists of "a series of...almost disconnected sketches" told in "deliberately unkempt and unbuttoned sentence[s]." While it isn't as "authentic" as Meredith's Egoist or Hardy's Jude, "it is, no doubt, a step nearer the coherent and starkly sincere novel we may reasonably expect and reasonably require from Mr. Barrie before his writing days are done."
#83. Fiction. 82:552-53. [Allusion to #39]. §1. Grant Allen, A Splendid Sin: "a skillfully built, entertaining and amusing book"; a bit marred, however, by Mr. Allen's ignorance of Weismannism and his propensity for drawing his women with "strictly symmetrical eyes, mouths, fingers, and minds." §2. E.F. Benson, Limitations: "life described for those who must perforce be content to live without it"—"in a series of clichés." Mr. Benson "does not start with action, but with...abstractions." "Only very rarely are we struck and interested in watching his people act and think; there is no beautiful vision of actuality." §3. Sara Jeanette Duncan, His Honour and a Lady: not "at all a great book"; yet, in contrast to §2 above, it contains living personages whose speech and...thoughts are to the purpose in every way."
#84. A Slum Novel. 82:573. [GNR #100; allusions to ## 5§6,57, 66, and 82, and in #86]. Arthur Morrison's A Child of the Jago manifests a single-mindedness of vision which is its strength and weakness. It is "one of those rare and satisfactory novels in which almost every sentence has its share in the entire design." That rigor, however, originates in the author's aesthetic myopia: "it is as if Mr. Morrison had determined to write of the Jago and nothing but the Jago." Concomitant with his aesthetic failure to place the slum in the context of a larger social scene is his myopic moral vision of the slum as an "inheritance" rather than a "contagion." This moral the story itself belies, by demonstrating that one can be assimilated into (or escape) the Jago.
#85. An Adelphi Romance. 82:629-30. [GNR #101; allusion to #22§2]. Wilson Barrett's The Sign of the Cross is an ill-written and indecorous romance concocted by someone whose ideas of classical Rome seem to have been got from "one or two common handbooks of Latin history" and "an authority on Roman upholstery and dress." "A mind less creative, less observant than Mr. Barrett's we have rarely met with. Propriety of action, the art of making his personages do and say what people in their position would be likely to say and do, is absent in him to a degree that is really phenomenal." Along with this absence of decorum in the classical sense, Mr. Barrett has a predilection for phrasing that is pretentious and prolix and moral sentiments that are maudlin.
#86. Another View of "Maggie." 82:655. [GNR #102; signed]. Though Stephen Crane's Maggie is "not a very great or successful work of art," it sounds more authentically like Crane than does The Red Badge of Courage. The former has its moments of verbal "hysterics," but also passages of "emotional power"; the concluding chapter, for example, "seems a little out of Mr. [Arthur] Morrison's reach." "Crane's individuality" is to be found in "effects" which are "gleams of sunlight on the stagnant puddles he paints."
#87. Mr. Zangwill's Egotism. 83:17. [GNR #103; signed]. Israel Zangwill's Without Prejudice (1896) represents "aggressive self-assertion on the part of its author, who is "fatally enamoured of Heine, and exceptionally deficient in his aesthetic sensibilities." I. Zangwill "has yet to find himself," to learn to "be really 'I,' to get to one's essential personality and its way of thinking." "The book leaves one wondering whether Mr. Zangwill is for ever a clever fool, or whether he will one day live down this egoism of his, and take the place his indisputable abilities might give him."
#88. Daudet. 83:43-44. [GNR #104; signed]. HG finds Alphonse Daudet to be an amiable author on the whole—one "whose vanity is not vain, and who can be egotistical without self-assertion. There is just that rare touch of detachment that renders his intimacies impersonal." (This review briefly considers: Recollections of a Literary Man; Thirty Years of Paris; Kings in Exile; Artists' Wives; and Robert Helmont—all published in 1896 in Laura Ensor's translations.)
#89. Margaret Ogilvy. 83:94. [GNR #105; signed]. James Barrie's "home-spun sentimentality"—his "genuine belief in things that other men make cant of"—is both his "strength and his limitation." In his sentimental portrait of his mother—which is Margaret Ogilvy (1896)—one may appreciate "Mr. Barrie's incessant tact in robbing a narrative essentially egotistical of the egotistical quality." A serious defect in what is intended as a portrait, however, is that "Mr. Barrie is hard to visualize" (HG confesses that almost nothing Barrie says makes it possible for him to picture Mrs. Ogilvy). In any literary work, though, visualizability is a "vitalizing quality"—and is to be found, for instance, in Dickens, in Stevenson's Master of Ballantrae, in George Moore's Esther Waters...but not in this book of Barrie's.
#90. The Making of Men at Cambridge. 83:174-75. [GNR #106; signed]. Edward F. Benson's The Babe, B.A. somewhat unintentionally portrays the irresponsibility of those undergraduates—and of those in the educational Establishment who "train" them—on whom depend "the direct legislation and, what is far more important, the informal control of our land and industries in the times of trouble that lie before us." "The only possible countervailing force"—to the ignorance and inertia engendered by and perpetuating the existing social system—"is literature."
#91. The Lost Quest. 83:249-50. [GNR #107; signed]. The first half of Richard Le Gallienne's The Quest of the Golden Girl "is very pleasant irresponsible reading." But in the latter half, "a brass band of three Golden-Haired performers," and then "a man with a gospel," intrude upon the "picnic." Le Gallienne—that is to say—seeking moral intention," "the Gospel touch" that serious-minded readers have come to expect of him, proffers "as 'Teaching'" "the gospel of picturesque promiscuity for both sexes." "It is a pity he will not abandon his attempt to combine deleterious instruction with his entertainment."
#92. Flickers of Imagination and a Flare. 83:355-56. [GNR #109; signed]. Robert Hichens' Flames has all the ingredients that appeal to a "public [that] does not want ideas": "it is inordinately long"; its story-line—"about hypnotism and diabolical possession"—is "judiciously stale"; it is full of "details of 'temptations'" and "hints of 'unknown sins'"; and it is well provided with "sham 'Lesson.'" "There is an objectionable quality in all serious fiction, fiction professing to be applicable to life, that is not saturated in humour...but if a man has no humour and wishes to do artistic work, his only hope of salvation lies in romance." This last sentiment is what Maurus Jokai in effect seems to realize. His Green Book "is impossible" but also "in places picturesquely beautiful." Notwithstanding the "dream-like memories" Jokai's romance evokes, his book "will not be so popular as Flames."
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