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The craftsman
Volume XXXI, Number 3 (December 1916)

Book reviews,   pp. 296-18a PDF (4.5 MB)


Page 296


BOOK REVIEWS
BOOK REVIEWS
NIGHTS: BY ELIZABETH           ROBINS
PENNELL
     HATEVER Mrs. Pennell has to
           say of Rome and Venice in the
   V       "aesthetic 8o's," and of Paris
           and London in the "fighting
 9o's," cannot help but be mightily well
 worth listening to. Those were moment-
 ous days in the art world and no one was
 in closer touch with events and people
 who stamped them with the commanding
 power of their genius than Mr. and Mrs.
 Pennell. To their studio came those old
 masters of talk - Beardsley, Vedder,
 Duveneck, Whistler, Henley, "Bob"
 Stevenson, Harland and many others, and
 their brilliant comments live again in her
 "Nights."
   In her preface she says, "There are
 times when we recall old memories much
 as we take down old favourites from our
 bookshelves just to see how they have
 worn, how they have stood the test of
 years. Sometimes the books have worn
 so well that we cannot put them away
 until we have read every word to the very
 last again, we have not done with the
 memories until we have lived again
 through every moment of the past to
 which they belong. It is in this spirit
 that I brought my Nights of long ago to
 the test, and, finding that for me they
 stand it triumphantly and are still as
 vivid and vociferous and full of life as
 they were of old, I have not had the cour-
 age to loose my hold upon them and let
 them drift back once more into unfriendly
 silence."
   For most people work is bounded by
the four walls of office or shop, and rigidly
regulated by hours. Work sent her with
her pen and "J-" with his pencil from
end to end of England, France, Italy, Bel-
gium, Holland, Germany, Austria-Hun-
gary and many other marvelous coun-
tries, and brought her the friendship of
the wonderful people who were living,
traveling or studying in them.
  Whoever reads her book will find that
the principle truth her nights of conversa-
tion revealed to her was that the man who
is really interested in something does not
wish to talk or to think about anything
else. She tells of the artists and writers
who found the appreciative listeners in
the nightly gatherings, who were best
296
suited to loosen the speech that is so
worth recording.
   This book has the same intimate and
 compelling quality that made her "Life
 of Whistler" so cherished a book among
 all artists. No one has finer things to re-
 port, or tells them with finer feeling than
 Mrs. Pennell in this group of memories
 that she calls "Nights." (Published by
 J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia,
 Pa. Illustrated. 313 pages. Price, $3.oo
 net.)
 THE FREELANDS: BY JOHN GALS-
 WORTHY
 E ACH book of John Galsworthy's is
     a separate rich expression of his own
     character, his interest in life, his un-
 derstanding of all kinds and types of peo-
 ple, his profound love of his own land, the
 very soil and the poorest people who
 guard it. "The Freelands" is a story of
 modern English life before the war. You
 touch London only for a moment, for
 most of the story is in the country. All
 grades and castes of English society are
 to be met with, the "Big Bugs" without
 sympathy for the tenants, the reformers
 who are poets and workers and lovers, the
 poor farmers and tenants who will give
 their life for an ideal one moment and
 turn their back on their leader the next
 -all of these people loving intensely,
 struggling, quarreling, marrying  are
 shown to us in "The Freelands." Mr.
 Galsworthy knows them all intimately
 and at the end of the book, you know
 them all intimately. He has that rare and
 wonderful capacity for infusing emotion
 into the technique of his writings so that
 whatever he writes about reaches you
 with a thrill.
 The love story between Derek and
 Nedda is one of rare and intense beauty.
 Mr. Galsworthy is not afraid to be very
 frank about all situations which he deems
 worthy of writing about. He criticises
 his own country, the Government, the
 handling of the poor people, with as little
 fear and more sincerity than Bernard
 Shaw. His love story is told with equal
 frankness. He gives you a vivid impres-
 sion of a great spiritual passion, the thing
 we used to call love in great poems, the
 love that adores, that is willing to sacri-
fice for any tremendous need, that at one
moment could forget the lover, at the
next die for him; this is all done with


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