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A Magazine of Literature and Life
CHRONICLE AND COMMENT
ply a matter of advertising-though hardly legitimate advertising.
Some years ago a French paper printed a very entertaining article, which, if true, showed that nearly every French novand the Novel. elist, even among those of the highest talent and standing, had his price. In other words, a Parisian restaurantkeeper, florist, milliner, or dressmaker, by the payment of a certain sum, could ensure a line likely to be of decided advantage in a business way. It must be said that recent French fiction is a pretty strong foundation for this idea. After the shots have been harmlessly exchanged, and honour satisfied, and the reconciled principals have duly embraced, the whole joyous party returns to Paris and breakfasts at the Café So and So, where, ma foi! the cuisine is of the most delicious. Or: "What a beautiful gown you are wearing, madame.' 'Is it not! It came from the establishment of Monsieur —, number — Rue de la Paix,'" etc. The article in question went so far as to print a scale, which it claimed was authentic, of the prices of the various novelists. For instance, a line in a story by some obscure young writer of the Latin Quarter could be had for a few francs, whereas in the forthcoming book of M. Émile Zola, it would cost as many hundreds. There was in the article no intimation of any sort of chantage; no suggestion that a restaurant that proved recalcitrant might run the risk of being represented as serving an underdone sole or a badly mixed omelette. It was sim
We don't think that anything of this sort has ever crept very much into English or American fiction. We can read with relish of the various delightful inns in which the men and women of Dickens's novels were wont to regale themselves royally without suspicion of the author's motives; nor are we likely to associate the chapter of Vanity Fair, in which Jos Sedley, after imbibing too much punch, is on the verge of a proposal to Becky Sharp, with any arranged exploitation of the delights of Vauxhall, or to think any inducement of money or "tick" on the part of M. Terré was responsible for the immortal lines:
"All this you get at Terré's Tavern In that one dish of Bouillabaisse."
Perhaps occasionally in the last few years there have been allusions which we have regarded askance. Now and then in some book or short story the colour is laid on just a little too thick and the writer seems to be over-anxious that you should identify the particular Bohemian place where his hero and heroine found the cooking so good. You wonder whether he is not trying to do the proprietor a good turn in appreciation of dinners enjoyed in the past, or perhaps in atonement, as Murger and his companions did, for the café that was brought to the verge of ruin by their extrava
gances and misbehaviour. But it is seldom, indeed, that there is any cause to think for a moment of anything like a prearranged bargain. Yet to this general rule recent fiction has one striking exception to offer, and this exception is one of the brightest and most genuine successes of the last four or five years. The Lightning Conductor was frankly and flatly the advertisement of a make of automobile, of an automobile tire and of a toilet soap. Yet so cleverly was it done that very few people realised this fact. We don't think that the English publishers of the book recognised it, and we know that the American publishers did not. European automobile manufacturers did, however, and the firm responsible for the "German horror" in which the heroine experienced so many discomforts and disasters in the early chapters of the book brought a suit for large damages against the authors. Yet the fact that a second reading opens one's eyes to the fact that every other page rings insistently on the virtue of the Napier and its superiority over all other cars does not in the least interfere with the entertainment the reading affords.
The brightness of The Lightning Conductor-not its peculiar position as an advertising medium-brings us to the subject of A Motor-Car Divorce, the first three chapters of which appear in this issue of THE BOOKMAN. We are not going to compare the two stories or to speak of the merits of the later book-the reader will do that for himself. But there are other interesting points in common. A Motor-Car Divorce, too, is a collaboration of husband and wife, but in this case all the text has been written by Mrs. Hale, while Mr. Hale has done the drawings. Alice Muriel Williamson was for a time with the Frohman companies, while Louise Closser Hale won a success that is remembered by all American theatregoers as the inimitable Prossie, the typist in George Bernard Shaw's Candida. The Lightning Conductor was the result of an automobile trip made by the Williamsons over the country described
in the story. The trip on which A MotorCar Divorce is based was made during the past summer. Starting from New York early last May, Mr. Hale drove an American-built car through Italy, over the Alps and across France. Mr. Hale is on the stage, and is at present playing with John Drew in Augustus Thomas's De Lancey, and, like Mr. Williamson, has been more or less of a journalist and magazine writer. He has done a great deal of travelling, considerable of it off the beaten path and under unconventional conditions. At the time of the Venezuelan trouble, two or three years ago, he went out to the South American Republic as a special artist for Harper's Weekly. There he saw a good deal of the revolution and did considerable sketching at the front. It was when he was obliged to return that his troubles began. The American Consulate, to which he naturally first turned for help in getting through the blockade, was so tied up with red tape as to be hopelessly useless. The British admiral offered to take him to Trinidad, but this would not have suited his purpose. Finally the assistance of the British Consul enabled him to get aboard a Russian barkentine that carried him across the Caribbean.
The American Who's Who might do worse than imitate the English Who's Who and devote brief lines to the outdoor recreations of such men and women as the editors of the publication deem worthy of representation between its covers. For example, it is of interest and perhaps even of importance, to know that Mr. Rudyard Kipling, while still playing a little at golf, has of late years taken up much more seriously the pleasures of motoring, although the last bit of information is quite superfluous to the many readers of his widely discussed "They." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we read, is, despite his forty-six years, as ardent a cricketer as the veteran W. G. Grace, and drives a high-powered motor car of Continental make with all the dash to be expected from the author of Rodney Stone and the creator of Sherlock
Some American Writers Outdoors.
SOME AMERICAN WRITERS OUTDOORS
STEWART EDWARD WHITE
Holmes. Mr. Thomas Hardy finds his favourite pastime in cycling at a moderate gait; Austin Dobson is devoted to gardening; Egerton Castle is one of the best fencers in all Great Britain, and a year or so ago was chosen as one of the team that represented England against the teams of Belgium and France; Max Pemberton has followed the "Royal and Ancient" game with assiduity for years; George Bernard Shaw, with a sense of paradox which is characteristic, gives as his favourite outdoor pastimes "everything except sport;" while the recreation of W. Clark Russell is set down as "rheumatism." This last we confess we don't quite comprehend. Possibly it is some new form of British humour.
These little items are pleasant as showing that the scribes among our English Cousins are, as a rule, of the right sort in the matter of healthy enjoyment of outdoor pastimes. But in a way their recreations seem tame compared to the physical activities of some writers of our own. To begin with there is the President, a man of letters if ever there was one. A mere line in Who's Who would hardly suffice: in fact, an entire Badminton library would be necessary to do him justice, and it would include
subjects of which Badminton had not knowledge. The President after big bears; the President hunting mountain lions; the President plunging in a submarine-these are the inevitable items of the day's news, and we are brought to a realisation of another side of his athletic enthusiasm when, every ten years or so, he has an opportunity of sending a congratulatory telegram to a victorious Harvard eleven or crew. Then outdoor life of a strenuous nature is the very basis of the work of such of the younger men as Stewart Edward White, Jack London and James Connolly. A little snapshot of Mr. White, which is here reproduced, shows him equipped for the gentle sport of boar hunting, a pastime which most of us associate with the days of Quentin Durward rather than with modern American life. Mr. Rich