Page images
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

HIS book, dear reader, will be a delightful

secret between us. It will not be reviewed in the American press. It will

not even be mentioned. My psychoanalytic interpretation of Colonel Roosevelt contains much that is startling. It adds to the portrait of Theodore Roosevelt a line here and there that cannot be erased by the relentless years, nor by their relenting historians. There is no question that I understand Theodore Roosevelt. On that point I have Mr. Roosevelt's own testimony. Nor is there any doubt that I can wield a pen. The very men who would place a Maxim silencer on my poor efforts bear witness to that fact, unless their own literary verdicts were indeed scraps of paper. Nevertheless, in the present instance, the voice of the reviewer will be hushed. There may be, now and then, a quotation from one of the Colonel's letters to me. There may be, here and there, a slur. But no honest criticism.

How account for this phenomenon? Is it because the Poetry Society of America has revoked my poetic license? No, that is not the reason. Is it because I am excommunicated from the ranks of the Authors' League? In fact, if newspaper accounts may be trusted, its devotees are pledged never to utter the name of Viereck. "It is understood,” one of the judges of the vehmic court confided to a reporter of a New York daily with a Paris edition, "that hereafter no member of the Authors' League of America will mention Mr. Viereck's name again, nor refer to him or his writings in any way. Let the request be made to newspapers to follow a similar course. With his expulsion from the Authors' League and the record of that expulsion, his name becomes taboo."

This mediaeval sentence sends no shudders down my spine. It carries no pontifical weight. New York is not Canossa. The little popes of the Authors' League have no influence beyond their door mat. The true cause for the reticence of the press where this book is concerned lies deeper. It is not due to fear of the authorities. I have no quarrel with that PastMaster of Censorship, the Postmaster-General. The Government of the United States finds no fault in me. In fact, Government agencies co-operated with me in several undertakings throughout the war. The Federal Government bears no blame. It is the Invisible Gov

. ernment that interdicts this book.*

* Two booksellers, Putnam's and Brentano's, instructed their employees to refuse orders for my book. Putnam's announced their decision publicly. They also threatened to withdraw their advertising from the Publisher's Weekly and other periodicals if they permitted an announcement of the book to appear. The Publisher's Weekly thereupon apologized for having printed the advertisement. The New Republic, noted for its pinchbeck liberalism, in desperate fear of losing the patronage of a wealthy publishing house, rejected it altogether. Colonel Roosevelt's attorneys, climbing up the steep stairs

to my office, hinted at legal action to suppress the publication of Col. Roosevelt's letters to me.


[ocr errors]

'HERE are those who pooh-pooh this assertion.

"You,” they say, "court unpopularity. Your egotism (Narcissus Complex, in the parlance of Freud) has offended many."

True, I have enemies. But I also have friends. Le Gallienne called me "The marvellous boy who perished in conceit.” “The marvellous boy who conquered in his pride,” rejoined William Ellery Leonard. Self-assertion is no handicap. Impudence has its uses. I was not for that reason denied a hearing. My faults are assets. They are not responsible for the embargo on legitimate criticism.

I have strayed far from the common path to confound the Philistines. Do you think they ostracized me for that? Oh, no! The poor dears were grateful. I defied their conventions in prose and verse. My "Game at Love," revolutionary even now, was a daring experiment in 1906. It is the precursor of many plays that now fill the little theaters, although its miniature dramakins, written like Hardy's “Dynasts” and Byron's "Manfred" for mental performance, were actually produced only in Japan.

My Muse need not rouge her lips in order to meet the challenge of Swinburne's. “Nineveh,” “The Candle and the Flame,” and “Songs of Armageddon,” cannot be accused of being anæmic. “Leaves of Grass” may be more starkly naked. It is not more audacious. Perhaps my probe sinks in too deep for the comprehension of middle-class intellects. My vocabulary alone suffices to save me from the fate of Theodore Dreiser, whose masterly novel, “The Genius” is still on the index. The libido of the Comstockians is limitless. Their verbal paucity is astonishing. Their dictionary hardly surpasses that of infantile mural decorators. My sins against Mrs. Grundy are not held against me. Mrs. Grundy secretly loves me. She absolves me because she does not understand me.


ERHAPS," one of
one of my readers urges, "the writers

" of America do not forgive you for descending from Parnassus into the arena of politics. Poetry and politics are uncongenial companions.” In these days even the shoemaker is a syndicalist. He no longer sticks to his last. Must the poet stick to his lyre? Who shall say that H. G. Wells, Henri Barbusse, and Romain Rolland have no share in shaping the destiny of mankind? The typewriter is mightier than the machine gun. Logic, more potent than Busy Berthas. Time turns the old days to derision. An academician in the White House gives a new twist to the history of the world. Two intellectuals, Lenine and Trotzky, are making the most stupendous experiment in the evolution of human freedom, an experiment involving one hundred and fifty million people. A third-rate novelist is premier of France.

The greatest living playwright, deserting the boards for the time being, teaches statesmen straight think

« PreviousContinue »