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The Road to Xanadu, by John Livingston Lowes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1927. 8vo. xviii+600 pp. $6.00.

LITERARY 'research,' and more especially that branch of it that is known as Quellenstudien, is regarded, not altogether unjustifiably, by the nonacademic layman of average general culture as an occupation on a par with the milking of hegoats, in which, as Tennyson observed, there is neither pleasure nor profit. The source hunter, eager to prove that A stole this metaphor from B and that simile from C, is a candidate for the Deanship of the Academy of Legado, wherein 'there was a man born blind, who had several apprentices in his own condition: their employment was to mix colours for painters, which their master taught them to distinguish by feeling and smelling.' The outsider, observing the patient painstaking of these investigators, is inclined to cry with Dryden, 'Trust Nature; do not labour to be dull!' and to dismiss such scholarship as 'a combing of cows' tails to gather the seeds of weeds.' Occasionally a book appears, thoroughly scholarly in method, which by its inherent vigor and vitality refutes these charges and vindicates 'research.' The author of such a book is one who loves life more than literature and loves literature because it is a part of life.

No finer vindication of literary scholarship has appeared in this country in our time than Professor Lowes's study of the genesis of The Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. Regarded merely as a source study it is an amazing piece of work, for through the wide ramifications of Coleridge's reading this scholar has tracked down the hints and suggestions and minute details whence the poet derived the material which went to the making of the two poems. To discover this enormous mass of sheer fact required patience and acumen of a high order, for many a clue was so slight that it might easily have been overlooked. The starting point of this piece of literary detective work was the Gutch Memorandum book in the British Museum, a document whose great importance was first recognized by Mr. Lowes. Had nothing else been accomplished than the assembling of all these innumerable details (drawn from travel books, Neo-Platonic philosophy, transactions of scientific associations, current melodramas, sea lore picked up at Bristol, and a hundred other sources), the result would have been worth while. We should have a clearer conception of Coleridge's Belesenheit. But Professor Lowes has not been content to stop at this point; and his determination to push his inquiry leeper has turned what might have been merely

an excellent example of Quellenstudien into a profound and intensely interesting study of the workings of the poetic mind.

Professor Lowes draws an analogy between the experience of the poet and the experience of the mathematician, quoting Poincaré's account of the unconscious work which seems to spring from sudden and haphazard inspiration, but which requires both a preceding and a subsequent period of conscious work. From his omnivorous and extremely attentive reading Coleridge gathered together ideas and impressions which, in Henry James's pregnant phrase, were dropped into the deep well of unconscious cerebration,' where they grappled with other ideas and impressions, taking on an increase of weight and significance, and ready, if and when the appropriate suggestion came, to surge up again into the field of consciousness. When these 'sleeping images' of things have again reached the light they are dominated and directed by the 'shaping spirit' which moulds them into poetic form. This phenomenon is illustrated, with an unexampled wealth of detail, by the case of The Ancient Mariner. For instance, Coleridge had been on several occasions impressed by the legend of the Wandering Jew and the character of Cain, and possibly by some form of the tale of the Flying Dutchman. These impressions sank into the 'deep well' and coalesced; and when they emerged again it was in the form of the Old Navigator, neither Jew nor Cain nor Dutchman, but a new creation, yet partaking in some measure of the character of each. The polar and tropical background is another such new synthesis of many elements; so are the albatross and its dæmon, the crew of the doomed ship, the ship itself, the sun in its various aspects, and the journeying moon with a star between its tips.

The Ancient Mariner is a highly finished and articulated piece of conscious craftsmanship, the result of the will moving the shaping spirit to mould the multitudinous and diverse materials that have risen from the subconscious. Kubla Khan presents a different phenomenon. No deliberate artistry fashioned it. The phantasmagoria of the poem arose as pictures, magnificent and fleeting, which were transformed immediately into words. A single example of the 'results' obtained by Mr. Lowes must suffice. He shows, from Coleridge's reading, that the 'sacred river' is the Nile, which, according to old tradition, plunged under the sea. But that tradition suggests another submarine river, Alpheus; and the association of ideas within the 'deep well' of the subconscious has produced the dream river Alph.' The stately pleasure dome,

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the deep romantic chasm, the Abyssinian maid, and the youth with flashing eyes and floating hair are similar upsurgings from unconscious depths.

It is a singular and alluring fact, not noticed by Mr. Lowes's reviewers, that the inquiries that have produced such rich results in the case of these two poems have failed utterly to cast light upon the origination of Christabel. The author frankly admits that the mysterious tracks from whence that poem came lie off the road that leads to the palace in Xanadu and the adventures of the Ancient Mariner. The scholar who uncovers the missing clue will have at hand the material for a sequel to Professor Lowes's admirable and delightful book.


Twilight Sleep, by Edith Wharton. New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1927. 12mo. xiii+373 pp. $2.50.

IN any consideration of the work of Mrs. Wharton, from The House of Mirth to Twilight Sleep, one is safely and pleasantly convinced of gradations, not grades, of excellence. Thomas Hardy between his greatest novels wrote stories so weak and ineffective from every point of view that, when judged in the kindest light, they seem incredible as products of his genius; Arnold Bennett has never fulfilled the promise of The Old Wives' Tale, nor has Hergesheimer realized his high destiny so clearly discerned in Java Head and Three Black Pennys; but Mrs. Wharton has never really descended from that plane of excellence which since its beginning has characterized her work. In each story have been evidenced that conscious care in plan and execution which knows no short cut to perfection and dignity of sentence structure, a recognition of the power of things withheld, dialogue which rarely if ever oversteps its mark, tense situations memorable most of all for their terrible simplicity. With such a consistently high record of achievement as hers in mind one is almost tempted to say that Mrs. Wharton could not write a poor novel. Whatever the story, the method must inevitably be distinguished.

Twilight Sleep is assuredly not a poor novel. Here as always the reader can rest in the perfect security of a careful and irreproachable style, can be sure that his sense of fitness will not be outraged, that his mounting eagerness and suspense will be neither too quickly satisfied nor sated. And yet with all its literary fineness one misses in this new novel that one surpassing distinction of other and greater books, Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The Old Maid, that best of the Old New York sketches namely, a compelling naturalness in character and in situation. There is nothing in Twilight Sleep, not even in those final scenes between Nona and her parents, clearly the best in the story, that is at all comparable to Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver at the breaking of the pickle dish, to Newland

Archer and the Countess Olenska at lunch on the verandah at Point Arley, to Delia and Charlotte Lovell when the former discovers that Charlotte is the mother of a child by Clement Spender, whom Delia has always loved - scenes rarely if ever surpassed in American fiction. This newest story has no such high lights not for want of occasion, but for want of actors. And right here, one must believe, lies the reason for its comparative inferiority to the novels just cited. From Pauline Mumford, who inconsistently embraces one cause' and one 'creed' after another with such unbelievable stupidity that she is neither humorous nor tragic, to the pampered and silly Lita, whom all the others think they want to save from self-inflicted tragedy, the characters, when viewed in the bright light of Mrs. Wharton's other creations, are puppets, pulled at times by too inadequate strings.

The reason for this is, however, perhaps not impossible to find. Twilight Sleep is very evidently a satire on the affectation and hypocrisy of the life lived by the modern millionaire class of New York. A satire is almost bound to sacrifice its means to its message; and this, in the opinion of one reviewer at least, is precisely what Mrs. Wharton's satire has done. Incredible Pauline, silly Lita, charming Nona, and sanctimonious Aggie Hueston, not to mention the four men who play opposite them, are types, even tragic warnings; but rarely, except in the case of Nona and of her father, are they anything else. Twilight Sleep is, in fact, in spite of its 'timeliness' and almost overwhelming modernism, reminiscent of those novels of the late eighteenth century, which marked the concern of Thomas Holcroft, Thomas Day, and others in new theories of education and religion rather than in the emotions of real people.


Tristram, by Edwin Arlington Robinson. New York: The Macmillan Co. 1927. 12mo. viii+202 pp. $1.50.

On the whole, the earlier poems of Mr. Robinson, drawn from the stark life of New England, have more tang and flavor than his Arthurian studies. To one who loves the old romances, any modern treatment of them is likely to seem thin, and Tristram, for all its careful work and fine feeling. does not escape the accusation. The greatest mediæval love story has its roots deep in racial life. The richness and complexity of its connotations are one reason why poets are irresistibly drawn to it; no modern has done more than select here and there from the heritage left by the older tellers of the tale, and each has found in it what he desired. So Swinburne, gloating over his lovers in sonorous verbal harmonies, surrounds them with the light and sound and darkness of the sea.' Tennyson, echoing but stressing the tone of Malory, presents the story as a disagreeable prelude to the moral shipwreck of the Table

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Round. Arnold, most appealing of the three, dwells on the tragic finale, as found not in Malory but in the finer older versions.

No one can blame Mr. Robinson if he omits the potion, and the charming Tristram Enfances, and makes his own selection from the God's plenty of his predecessors. But how much he has left out, of greater tragic quality than what he has put in! His poem opens with a delicately touched passage on Isolt of Brittany, then passes at once to the marriage night of Mark and the more famous Isolt. These form an excellent beginning. But as we continue we look in vain for Tristram's chapel leap, for Isolt's rescue from the lepers, for the exquisite idyl of the life in the forest, so differently handled in Béroul and Gottfried, so enchanting in both. The betrayal of Mark's presence by reflection or shadow, the return of Tristram in fool's dress to Tintagel, the ordeal by fire-all omitted! To say nothing of the vivid traits by which the impetuous Irish princess shows character and race, such as her cruel treatment of Brangwaine and her swift repentance. Instead of these, we have a rather pointless insertion of Morgan le Fay, and a use of that late and tame invention, the sojourn of the lovers at Joyous Garde under the patronage of Lancelot where they converse with one another, if truth be told, at rather tedious length. Their death is handled in an original and interesting way by Mr. Robinson. They are killed, not by Mark, but by Andred, with a hint at the instigation of Morgan. Mark is neither the noble figure of the old versions nor the contemptible king of Malory, but of mixed ordinary clay.

If Mr. Robinson elects thus to subordinate characterization and incident, and to prolong plain delineation of passion, none shall say him nay. But he did better in his Lancelot, where the intricacy of the tragic forces, assumed if not narrated, lent depth and color. Meantime, here as there, the style of the poem is a joy, at least to the few lovers of poetry left who are a little rueful over T. S. Eliot and the Sitwells. For Mr. Robinson writes firmly in the noble old tradition of the great masters. His cadences would have delighted their ear, though he makes more concession than they to the natural movement of thought and speech. He is dare one whisper

it? - perfectly intelligible. Moreover, he can move us now and then. The verse, habitually on a high level, even if it seem monotonous at times, can achieve occasionally a release of emotion enhanced by the unfailing dignity and control in phrasing. Nor is it lacking in flexibility. The accents of Morgan are not the accents of Isolt, and Isolt of Brittany has yet another pause melody. This younger Isolt is perhaps the least shadowy figure in the poem. Robinson, like Arnold, renders her with an especial felicity, and it is not easy to forget her, with the pathos of her repeated 'I am not one who must have everything.' We gladly refuse to credit the legend that she deceived Tristram about the sails.


Mother and Son: The Soul Enchanted, by Romain Rolland. Translated by Van Wyck Brooks. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1927. 12mo. vii+415 pp. $2.50.

THE war, seen through the personality of a sincere and noble woman, Annette Rivière - such is the pedal bass (for M. Rolland is as much musician as author) of this third volume of his feminist epic, The Soul Enchanted. Its theme is the relationship, during the storms of adolescence and of war time, between the mother and the son she has borne courageously out of wedlock.

One sees war-torn France now as by the brush of an historical painter, now as by the bit of the etcher's needle; families, refugees, communities

Paris, provincial towns, the frontier, Switzerland, individual fates, political manoeuvres, together with a mordant vignette of Clemenceau. The writing steadily gathers momentum. It begins, like one of Beethoven's piano concertos, with an orchestral prelude — a view of war-time Paris focused in one of those many-familied houses, huge and old, built round a central courtyard, in which the Latin Quarter abounds. With the entrance of the solo instrument, Annette, the drama begins to unfold: her growing disillusionment with the war; that superb scene of her rescue of the German wounded from a mob; her engineering of an Austrian prisoner's escape to the bedside of a dying friend in Switzerland; her own return at deadly peril to shield a generous confederate; the scene with Clemenceau; and, in counterpoint with this, her son's escapades in a Paris racked with the fevers and passions of war; his encounter with his father, now become the political concert pianist of war oratory - all this in a tale told at tempó vivace mounting to dramatic climaxes.

The writing has extraordinary power. One can feel the invigoration. Not a page but will have some memorable episode, some shrewd thrust of dialogue, some choice turn of phrase over which the mind lingers as the eye will linger on some fall of drapery, some finely chiseled contour of thigh in the subtle stonecutting of an Athenian sculptor in a museum. The work shows extraordinary spontaneity. One could imagine that these episodes came rushing imperiously into the author's brain, that his pen had many a mad race to keep up with the winged sandals of his fantasy. I am thinking of that closing page of Annette's conversation with the blinded soldier, and those parting words of hers:

'I am only a companion in your misery. But I bless your poor eyes. I bless your body and your thoughts, your sacrifice and your goodness. And you, in turn, must bless me. When the Father forgets his children, the children must be fathers to one another.'

No one invents such pages. They are given. And I am thinking of that touching scene the evening when the mother and son, after years of misunderstanding, find their way to each other's heart, sitting, hour after hour, far into the night,

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