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ABBITT" is the reverse of "Main Street;" it packs into the personality of one ordinary citizen the banality, vulgarized energy, and ambition to be a hustler and a good fellow, of a whole class, while "Main Street" took what was alleged to be (but wasn't) a typical town and diffused all over it the meanness and crassness at which the author chose to direct his arrows of irony. Thus "Georgie" Babbitt is the book; the other people are merely what actors call "feeders" to Babbitt. This is why Mr. Lewis's new story will puzzle and disappoint one large class of novel readers-those who demand situation, construction, suspense, culmination, and all the effect of drama. If, however, such readers will lay aside that perhaps Victorian attitude, they I will find that Babbitt is in himself an epitome of one kind of American life; he bristles with actuality; he holds the stage of one's attention as closely as Lulu Bett did in Miss Gale's story-to compare as opposite characters as there could be.
Babbitt's literary portrait is a piece of meticulous exactness; the technical skill with which his creator avoids the temptation of making a mere type of him is a triumph. So, too, is the cleverness that endows Babbitt with a recurrent, only semi-conscious, longing for romance and idealism, in his breaking away from his campaigns of "pep" and hurrah to go fishing with his stupid and gloomy friend, or now and then to revolt for a time against the crooked business and politics which usually seem to him just what every "regular guy" does.
Fortunately for the reader, who might otherwise tire of the minute realism of the description of Babbitt's daily acts from the time he throws away his safetyrazor blades to his last drink at night, Georgie is a bubbling joy of slang, and his quick, bumptious talk is amusing; whether one laughs at him or with him doesn't much matter. /He is vain, uncultured (though a college graduate), a pusher and a boomer and a jollier. He echoes all the slogans, repeats the dubious stories, "orates" at club dinners, takes for granted that whatever is the business practice must be right, gets his politics and convictions at second hand, and is a successful church booster despite bad breaks in his personal morality. In short, he is an amusing scamp, but he is not a villain; he is not meant as a type, yet his vulgarisms and delinquencies are typical of a pretty large number of men who would be ter ribly outraged if they were to be told that they were not valuable citizens and go-ahead, progressive American business men. /Irony is sometimes good for the soul, for it strikes deeper than moraliz
1 Babbitt. By Sinclair Lewis. Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York. $2.
ing. But the weakness of unrelieved irony is that it borders on cynicism; there are plenty of Babbitts about; but, thanks be, there are also plenty of nonBabbitts.
Eight years ago, in reviewing Mr. Lewis's "Our Mr. Wrenn," I spoke of it as a first story that aroused great
expectation. The author has certainly gone far since then. The young shoe drummer there depicted was less real but more joyous than Georgie Babbitt; perhaps a little mixture of his gay efficiency and personal cleanness and honor might have made Babbitt something better than the man now so sardonically depicted with faultless realism.
In quite a different way Miss Willa Cather's "One of Ours" is also centered on one person, Claude, the fine and lovable though not very articulate farm lad of Nebraska. As Dorothy Canfield puts it in a review of Miss Cather's admirable book, it "is the whole purpose of the novel to make us see and feel and understand Claude and passionately long to open the doors to his living brothers all around us, imprisoned and baffled like Claude in a bare, neutral, machine-ridden world."
The tone of the story is sympathetic rather than sarcastic, and the subsidiary characters are carefully built up, not merely sketched in. Moreover, we have here, as always in Miss Cather's novels, the atmosphere and charm of outdoor life, realism touched with deep feeling for nature as well as man. Claude is unsatisfied rather than dissatisfied; his natural tendency toward expansion on the side of thoughtful
idealism is hemmed in by his surroundings, by sordid necessities of heavy toil, by a facile and selfish brother, a jocose materialistic father, and finally a narrow, cold, and undomestic wife who insists on going to China to help the missionaries rather than care for home and husband.
The novel is, so to speak, broken apart in the middle by that which broke apart so many things-the World War. It is disappointing that Claude's problems, so well set forth, should not be worked out to any conclusion. The war scenes are vivid; Claude's experiences are in some respects singular and evidently based on authentic war knowledge, and the inevitable tragic end is moving. The two parts of the book are painfully disjoined; as Mr. Lewis has written of this book, Miss Cather might as well, so far as working out its theme is concerned, have pushed Claude down a well as have sent him to war.
There is a clear note of sincerity in all of Miss Cather's writing. "My Antonia" remains her best book, but "One of Ours" is in impressionistic effect far above the average novel.
Mr. Poole's "Millions" is in one sense slight, for it is brief, involves few characters, and is centered on one situation. But its very simplicity is its strength. The theme interests one singularly, because it is that of a test of human nature-whether a woman's honor and conscience will give way to the temptation of self-interest disguised as morality. Madge, half-sister of a man reputed to be a millionaire, is summoned to what may probably be his death-bed. He has neglected her and allowed her to fight her own way, yet she knows that he has made a will in her favor. The brother is unconscious for days; other relatives cluster around, but the sister is legally and morally responsible; an actress appears who has been the brother's mistress and thrusts herself into the foreground; the relatives fear she may grasp the millions at the last minute. The brother comes to himself and demands to see the actress. To thwart him may be to kill him. What shall the sister do? In the end she does what her sense of honor and right dictate: she refuses to shift the responsibility to uncle, aunt, and cousin, who would be shocked to admit to themselves that they at heart hope that the man will die. It would be unfair to tell just how the problem is settled; the result is the growth in this woman under severe trial of firm character, power of decision, and resolve to do what is just and right despite consequences. Madge emerges twice the woman she was, and we know that she will now grapple wisely with life's problem, millions or no millions. Inciden tally the corroding influence of expectant wealth on average people of perfect
3 Millions. By Ernest Poole. The Macmillan Company, New York. $1.75.
respectability is subtly shown. Prob lems aside, the book has reality and tensity.
Mr. Locke's large circle of admirers will miss in his "Tale of Triona" the whimsicality and humor of "Septimus" and "The Beloved Vagabond;" on the other hand, they will find a note of reality and emotion in the narrative of the plight of John Briggs, a man of lowly origin but imaginative genius, who blossoms into literary fame as Alexis Triona, and neglects to state that much of his raw material came from a notebook he found on a dead man's body. When he falls in love and marries, one lie forces another, and when the explosion comes the horror of his bride is not so much at the original fault as at the edifice of falsehood built to sustain
4 The Tale of Triona. By William J. Locke. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York. $2.
THE NEW BOOKS
& Co., New York. $6. This covers the period from 1890 to 1910. Sir Henry's knowledge of English society, politics, and journalism is extensive. He gives us here a welcome addition to the Diary published years ago. There are numerous anecdotes about people of note and laughable stories gleaned from various sources. WORLD WORTH WHILE (A). Rogers.
By W. A. Illustrations. Harper & Brothers, $3. New York and London. A delightful book of reminiscences about cartoonists by one of them. tells not only of cartoonists but of their victims or shall we rather say their subjects? Most of the cartoonists have a saving grace of humor which is often appreciated by those they caricature-as, for instance, Mr. Roosevelt, who is described in this book as getting no end of amusement out of the pictures that a bad boy. Mr. represented him as Rogers's agreeable text is accompanied by a number of reproductions of his cartoons.
ESSAYS AND CRITICISM By H. S. Canby. Brace & Co., New York. $2. Professor Canby always writes with clarity. These collected papers deal with recent literary discussion and the modern trend of criticism. What makes a book popular? What makes it a work of art? What novels do survive and what should survive? Light on such questions is found in these pages. The views put forth are tolerant as well as acute.
TRAVEL AND DESCRIPTION ADVENTURES IN BOLIVIA.
By C. H. Prodgers. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York.
Few readers will leave the pages of It tells this well-printed book uncut. in simple language the story of an adventurous Englishman's trip to hostile Indians in the hinterland of Bolivia to duce them to sell their rubber. ent unarmed and won their friendship
through his tact and address, making to an assembly of warriors a two-hour speech that saved his life and won them over to his projects. Simple color sketches by the author accompany the text.
LAND OF THE MIAMIS. By Elmore Barce.
The Benton Review Shop, Fowler, Indiana. This is a painstaking attempt to tell the story of the winning of the "Old Northwest" from the Indians. The mass of disconnected material that comprises the sources of the history of our relations with the Indian tribes led by Tecumseh and other less well known chieftains has been carefully worked over by the author, and a comprehensive and significant résumé is the result. OUT OF THE WORLD NORTH OF NIGERIA. By Angus Buchanan, M.C. E. P. Dutton & Co., New York. $6.
The author tells of a journey of fourteen hundred miles on camel-back through a practically unknown region of He the Western Sudan. discovered many new species and subspecies of birds and small animals, and proves himself a good story-teller as well as an experienced naturalist.
UP AGAINST IT IN NIGERIA. By LangaLanga. E. P. Dutton & Co., New York. $5
A lively and entertaining account of adventures in Africa and in getting there from England, including the author's narrow escape from death when his ship was torpedoed by the Huns. Conversational and informal to a degree, the narrative by its naïveté and humor justifies the plentiful use of the personal pronoun.
HISTORY AND POLITICAL ECONOMY FROM HARRISON TO HARDING. By Arthur Wallace Dunn. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York. $7.50.
This work aims at presenting a political history of the period from Harrison to Harding, but its chief interest lies in its innumerable anecdotes of public men, with many of whom the author became personally acquainted during his long service as a Washington newspaper corIt gives a "behind the respondent.
scenes" view of public life which is extremely entertaining, though many of the stories make the reader feel that the author is "telling tales out of school," and some of them will rightly give offense in certain quarters. While bearing some of the marks of the hurried writing inevitable in the habits of the daily newspaper correspondent, the volumes are decidedly interesting and will attract a host of readers.
BOOK OF THE SKY (THE). By M. Luckiesh. E. P. Dutton & Co., New York. $3.50. Not a book about astronomy, as the reader might at first suppose, but one that deals with the sky as seen by the airman. It discusses the phenomena of clouds, winds, and weather in a spirit that is at once poetic and scientific. In the author's description of airplane voyages through the clouds an attractive literary quality is thus skillfully combined with accurate knowledge. WONDER BOOK OF CHEMISTRY (THE). By Jean H. Fabre. The Century Company. New York. $2.50.
The amount of book material that still continues to be dug out, so to speak, from the literary remains of that remarkable man, Jean H. Fabre, the naturalist, is surprising. Here we have a series of talks about chemistry, written largely in the form of dialogue, and not only simple, but well calculated to arouse the curiosity and interest of young people.
OF TIME. By John Drinkwater. $1.25. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. The delicious coolness and delicate
clarity of John Drinkwater's poetry is to be observed at its highest peak in this volume. He is essentially a didactic poet, metaphysical at times, but never so in a heavy manner. While his lyric note is always obvious, it may never be termed of that rippling order that we associate with the most successful lyrics. His poetry flows slower, but its strength is undoubted and the pantheistic urge that is always its undertone reaches the reader like a small clear wind, cool and gentle, essentially lofty at times but never objectionably so. Beauty is a high passion with him, but he is its disciple and not its feverish worshiper. "Thrift" (herewith quoted) might be Mr. Drinkwater's credo:
No beauty beauty overthrows,
But shadows of another bliss
And grieve not when her beauty pales,
And silence keeps the nightingales, For that eclipse again will bring The sun with all his birds to sing.
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THE BUSINESS OF A BANK
EVEN thousand bankers from all sections of the United States attended the forty-eighth annual convention of the American Bankers Association, October 2-6, in New York City. Bankers are extremely valuable people in this day and ige, and in any scheme of finance banks are first and fundanental. The greatest world problems of the present time are o a large extent banking problems, and it is the bankers who nust find the solution. Modern business absolutely could not exist without banks; they provide currency and they supply capital, and trade and industry are dependent upon both of these
things. Business is really the collection and distribution of money, and a bank, loosely defined, is an agency for this purpose.
From the point of view of the investor a bank is as important as in the case of the seeker after capital. The very first thing an investor should learn is how to make use of a bank, for without this knowledge he will never get far. And while banks are not philanthropic institutions, every progressive bank will go out of its way to assist its customers, for its prosperity and success are inextricably interwoven with the prosperity and
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