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One Hundred Best Books by John Cowper Powys

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With Commentary and an Essay on Books and Reading





This selection of "One hundred best books" is made after a different
method and with a different purpose from the selections already in
existence. Those apparently are designed to stuff the minds of young
persons with an accumulation of "standard learning" calculated to
alarm and discourage the boldest. The following list is frankly
subjective in its choice; being indeed the selection of one
individual, wandering at large and in freedom through these "realms of

The compiler holds the view that in expressing his own predilection,
he is also supplying the need of kindred minds; minds that read purely
for the pleasure of reading, and have no sinister wish to transform
themselves by that process into what are called "cultivated persons."
The compiler feels that any one who succeeds in reading, with
reasonable receptivity, the books in this list, must become, at the
end, a person with whom it would be a delight to share that most
classic of all pleasurable arts--the art of intelligent conversation.


There is scarcely any question, the sudden explosion of which out of a
clear sky, excites more charming perturbation in the mind of a
man--professionally, as they say, "of letters"--than the question, so
often tossed disdainfully off from young and ardent lips, as to "what
one should read," if one has--quite strangely and accidentally--read
hitherto absolutely nothing at all.

To secure the privilege of being the purveyor of spiritual germination
to such provocatively virgin soil, is for the moment so entirely
exciting that all the great stiff images from the dusty museum of
"standard authors," seem to swim in a sort of blurred mist before our
eyes, and even, some of them at least, to nod and beckon and put out
their tongues. After a while, however, the shock of first excitement
diminishing, that solemn goblin Responsibility lifts up its head, and
though we bang at it and shoo it away, and perhaps lock it up, the
pure sweet pleasure of our seductive enterprise, the "native hue," as
the poet says, of our "resolution" is henceforth "sicklied o'er with
the pale cast of thought," and the fine design robbed of its freshest

As a matter of fact, much deeper contemplations and maturer
ponderings, only tend, in the long run, to bring us back to our
original starting-point. It is just this very bugbear of
Responsibility which in the consciences and mouths of grown-up persons
sends the bravest of our youth post-haste to confusion--so impinging
and inexorable are the thing's portentous horns. It is indeed after
these maturer considerations that we manage to hit upon the right key
really capable of impounding the obtrusive animal; the idea, namely,
of indicating to our youthful questioner the importance of aesthetic
austerity in these regions--an austerity not only no less exclusive,
but far more exclusive than any mandate drawn from the Decalogue.

The necessary matter, in other words, at the beginning of such a
tremendous adventure as this blowing wind into the sails of a newly
built little schooner, or sometimes even of a poor rain-soaked
harbor-rotten brig, bound for the Fortunate Islands, is the
inspiration of the right mood, the right tone, the right temper, for
the splendid voyage. It is not enough simply to say "acquire aesthetic
severity." With spoils so inexhaustible offered to us on every side,
some more definite orientation is desirable. Such an orientation,
limiting the enormous scope of the enterprise, within the sphere of
the possible, can only be wisely found in a person's own individual
taste; but since such a taste is, obviously, in a measure "acquired,"
the compiler of any list of books must endeavor, by a frank and almost
shameless assertion of _his_ taste, to rouse to a divergent
reciprocity the latent taste, still embryotic, perhaps, and quite
inchoate, of the young person anxious to make some sort of a start.
Such a neophyte in the long voyage--a voyage not without its reefs and
shoals--will be much more stirringly provoked to steer with a bold
firm hand, even by the angry reaction he may feel from such
suggestions, than by a dull academic chart--professing tedious
judicial impartiality--of all the continents, promontories, and
islands, marked on the official map.

One does not trust youth enough, that is in short what is the matter
with our educational method, in this part of it at least, which
concerns "what one is to read." One teases oneself too much, and one's
infants, too, poor darlings, with what might be called the
"scholastic-veneration-cult"; the cult, namely, of becoming a superior
person by reading the best authors. It comes back, after all, to what
your young person emphatically is, in himself, independent of all this
acquiring. If he has the responsive chord, the answering vibration, he
may well get more imaginative stimulus from reading "Alice in
Wonderland," than from all the Upanishads and Niebelungenlieds in the
world. It is a matter of the imagination, and to the question "What is
one to read?" the best reply must always be the most personal:
"Whatever profoundly and permanently stimulates your imagination." The
list of books which follows in this volume constitutes in itself, in
the mere perusal of the titles, such a potential stimulation. A reader
who demands, for instance, why George Eliot is omitted, and Oliver
Onions included; why Sophocles is excluded and Catullus admitted, is
brought face to face with that essential right of personal choice in
these high matters, which is not only the foundation of all thrilling
interest in literature, but the very ground and soil of all-powerful
literary creation. The secret of the art of literary taste, may it not
be found to be nothing else than the secret of the art of life
itself--I mean the capacity for discovering the real fatality, the
real predestined direction of one's intrinsic nature and the refusal,
when this is found, to waste one's energies in alien paths and
irrelevant junketings?

A list of books of the kind appended here, becomes, by the very reason
of its shameless subjectivity, a challenge to the intelligence
perusing it--a challenge that is bound, in some degree or another, to
fling such a reader back upon his own inveterate prejudices; to fling
him back upon them with a sense that it is his affair reasonably to
justify them.

From quite another point of view, however, might the appended list
find its excuse--I mean as being a typical choice; in other words, the
natural choice of a certain particular minority of minds, who, while
disagreeing in most essentials, in this one important essential find
themselves in singular harmony. And this minority of minds, of minds
with the especial prejudices and predilections indicated in this list,
undoubtedly has a real and definite existence; there are such people,
and any list of books which they made would exclude the writers here
excluded, and include the writers here included, though in particular
instances, the motives of the choice might differ. For purely
psychological reasons then--as a kind of human document in criticism,
shall we say?--such a list comes to have its value; nor can the value
be anything but enhanced by the obvious fact that in this particular
company there are several quite prominent and popular writers, both
ancient and modern, signalized, as it were, if not penalized, by their
surprising absence. The niches of such venerated names do not exactly
call aloud for occupancy, for they are emphatically filled by less
popular figures; but they manifest a sufficient sense of incongruity
to give the reader's critical conscience the sort of jolt that is so
salutary a mental stimulus. A further value might be discovered for
our exclusive catalogue, in the interest of noting--and this interest
might well appeal to those who would themselves have selected quite a
different list--the curious way certain books and writers have of
hanging inevitably together, and necessarily implying one another.

Thus it appears that the type of mind--it would be presumptuous to
call it the best type of mind--which prefers Euripides to Sophocles,
and Heine to Schiller, prefers also Emily Bronte to Charlotte Bronte,
and Oliver Onions to Compton Mackenzie. Given the mind that in
compiling such a list would at once drag in The Odyssey and The
Psalms, and run hastily on to Sir Thomas Browne and Charles Lamb, we
are instinctively conscious that when it reaches, with its arbitrary
divining rod, our own unlucky age, it will skip quite lightly over
Thackeray; wave an ambiguous hand in the direction of Meredith, and
sit solemnly down to make elaborate mention of all the published works
of Walter Pater, Thomas Hardy and Mr. Henry James.

It seems to me that nothing is more necessary, in regard to the advice
to be given to young and ardent people, in the matter of their
reading, than some sort of communication of the idea--and it is not an
easy idea to convey--that there is in this affair a subtle fusion
desirable between one's natural indestructible prejudices, and a
certain high authoritative standard; a standard which we may name, for
want of a better word, "classical taste," and which itself is the
resultant amalgam of all the finest personal reactions of all the
finest critical senses, winnowed out, as it were, and austerely
purged, by the washing of the waves of time. It will be found, as a
matter of fact, that this latter element in the motives of our choice
works as a rule negatively rather than positively, while the positive
and active force in our appreciations remains, as it ought to remain,
our own inviolable and quite personal bias. The winnowed taste of the
ages, acquired by us as a sort of second nature, warns us what to
avoid, while our own nerves and palate, stimulated to an ever
deepening subtlety, as our choice narrows itself down, tells us what
passionately and spontaneously we must snatch up and enjoy.

It will be noted that in what we have tried to indicate as the only
possible starting-point for adventurous criticism, there has been a
constant assumption of a common ground between sensitive people; a
common sensual and psychic language, so to speak, to which appeals may
be made, and through which intelligent tokens may be exchanged. This
common ground is not necessarily--one is reluctant to introduce
metaphysical speculation--any hidden "law of beauty" or "principle of
spiritual harmony." It is, indeed, as far as we can ever know for
certain, only "objective" in the sense of being essentially human; in
the sense, that is, of being something that inevitably appeals to
what, below temperamental differences, remains permanent and
unchanging in us.

"Nature," as Leonardo says, "is the mistress of the higher
intelligences"; and Goethe, in his most oracular utterances, recalls
us to the same truth. What imagination does, and what the personal
vision of the individual artist does, is to deal successfully and
masterfully with this "given," this basic element. And this basic
element, this permanent common ground, this universal human
assumption, is just precisely what, in popular language, we call
"Nature"; that substratum of objective reality in the appearances of
things, which makes it possible for diversely constructed temperaments
to make their differences effective and intelligible.

There could be no recognizable differences, no conversation, in fact,
if, in the impossible hypothesis of the absence of any such common
language, we all shouted at one another "in vacuo" and out of pure
darkness. It is from their refusal to recognize the necessity for
something at least relatively objective in what the individual
imagination works upon, that certain among modern artists, if not
among modern poets, bewilder and puzzle us. They have a right to make
endless experiments--every original mind has that--but they cannot let
go their hold on some sort of objective solidity without becoming
inarticulate, without giving vent to such unrelated and incoherent
cries as overtake one in the corridors of Bedlam. "Nature is the
mistress of the higher intelligencies," and though the individual
imagination is at liberty to treat Nature with a certain creative
contempt, it cannot afford to depart altogether from her, lest by
relinquishing the common language between men and men, it should
simply flap its wings in an enchanted circle, and utter sounds that
are not so much different from other sounds, as outside the region
where any sound carries an intelligible meaning.

The absurd idea that one gets wise by reading books is probably at the
bottom of the abominable pedantry that thrusts so many tiresome pieces
of antiquity down the throats of youth. There is no talisman for
getting wise--some of the wisest in the world never open a book, and
yet their native wit, so heavenly-free from "culture," would serve to
challenge Voltaire. Lovers of books, like other infatuated lovers,
best know the account they find in their exquisite obsessions. None of
the explanations they give seem to cover the field of their enjoyment.
The thing is a passion; a sort of delicate madness, and like other
passions, quite unintelligible to those who are outside. Persons who
read for the purpose of making a success of their added erudition, or
the better to adapt themselves--what a phrase!--to their "life's
work," are, to my thinking, like the wretches who throw flowers into
graves. What sacrilege, to trail the reluctances and coynesses, the
shynesses and sweet reserves of these "furtivi amores" at the heels of
a wretched ambition to be "cultivated" or learned, or to "get on" in
the world!

Like the kingdom of heaven and all other high and sacred things, the
choicest sorts of books only reveal the perfume of their rare essence
to those who love them for themselves in pure disinterestedness. Of
course they "mix in," these best-loved authors, with every experience
we encounter; they throw around places, hours, situations, occasions,
a quite special glamour of their own, just as one's more human
devotions do; but though they float, like a diffused aroma, round
every circumstance of our days, and may even make tolerable the
otherwise intolerable hours of our impertinent "life's work," we do
not love them because they help us here or help us there; or make us
wiser or make us better; we love them because they are what they are,
and we are what we are; we love them, in fact, for the beautiful
reason which the author of that noble book--a book not in our present
list, by the way, because of something obstinately tough and tedious
in him--I mean Montaigne's Essays--loved his sweet friend Etienne.

Any other commerce between books and their readers smacks of Baconian
"fruits" and University lectures. It is a prostitution of pleasure to

As with all the rare things in life, the most delicate flavor of our
pleasure is found not exactly and precisely in the actual taste of the
author himself; not, I mean, in the snatching of huge bites out of
him, but in the fragrance of anticipation; in the dreamy solicitations
of indescribable afterthoughts; in those "airy tongues that syllable
men's names" on the "sands and shores" of the remote margins of our
consciousness. How delicious a pleasure there is in carrying about
with us wherever we go a new book or a new translation from the pen of
our especial master! We need not open it; we need not read it for
days; but it is there--there to be caressed and to caress--when
everything is propitious, and the profane voices are hushed.

I suppose, to take an instance that has for myself a peculiar appeal,
the present edition--"brought out" by the excellent house of
Macmillan--of the great Dostoievsky, is producing even now in the
sensibility of all sorts and conditions of queer readers, a thrilling
series of recurrent pleasures, like the intermittent visits of one's

Would to God the mortal days of geniuses like Dostoievsky could be so
extended that for all the years of one's life, one would have such
works, still not quite finished, in one's lucky hands!

I sometimes doubt whether these sticklers for "the art of
condensation" are really lovers of books at all. For myself, I would
class their cursed short stories with their teasing "economy of
material," as they call it, with those "books that are no books,"
those checker boards and moral treatises which used to annoy Elia so.

Yes, I have a sneaking feeling that all this modern fuss about "art"
and the "creative vision" and "the projection of visualized images,"
is the itching vice of quite a different class of people, from those
who, in the old, sweet, epicurean way, loved to loiter through huge
digressive books, with the ample unpremeditated enjoyment of leisurely
travelers wayfaring along a wonderful road. How many luckless
innocents have teased and fretted their minds into a forced
appreciation of that artistic ogre Flaubert, and his laborious pursuit
of his precious "exact word," when they might have been pleasantly
sailing down Rabelais' rich stream of immortal nectar, or sweetly
hugging themselves over the lovely mischievousness of Tristram Shandy!
But one must be tolerant; one must make allowances. The world of books
is no puritanical bourgeois-ridden democracy; it is a large free
country, a great Pantagruelian Utopia, ruled by noble kings.

Our "One Hundred Best Books" need not be yours, nor yours ours; the
essential thing is that in this brief interval between darkness and
darkness, which we call our life, we should be thrillingly and
passionately amused; innocently, if so it can be arranged--and what
better than books lends itself to that?--and harmlessly, too, let us
hope, God help us, but at any rate, amused, for the only unpardonable
sin is the sin of taking this passing world too gravely. Our treasure
is not here; it is in the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of heaven
is Imagination. Imagination! How all other ways of escape from what is
mediocre in our tangled lives grow pale beside that high and burning

With Imagination to help us we can make something of our days,
something of the drama of this confused turmoil, and perhaps, after
all--who can tell?--there is more in it than mere "amusement." Once
and again, as we pause in our reading, there comes a breath, a
whisper, a rumor, of something else; of something over and above that
"eternal now" which is the wisest preoccupation of our passion, but
not wise are those who would seek to confine this fleeting intimation
within the walls of reason or of system. It comes; it goes; it is; it
is not. The Hundred Best Books did not bring it; the Hundred Best
Books cannot take it away. Strangely and wonderfully it blends itself
with those vague memories of what we have read, somewhere, sometime,
and not always alone. Strangely and wonderfully it blends itself with
those other moments when the best books in the world seem irrelevant,
and all "culture" an impertinent intrusion; but however it comes and
however it goes, it is the thing that makes our gravity ridiculous;
our philosophy pedantic. It is the thing that gives to the
"amusements" of the imagination that touch of burning fire; that
breath of wider air; that taste of sharper salt, which, arriving when
we least expect it, and least--heaven knows--deserve it, makes any
final opinion upon the stuff of this world vain and false; and any
condemnation of the opinions of others foolish and empty. It destroys
our assurances as it alleviates our miseries, and in some unspeakable
way, like a primrose growing on the edge of a sepulchre, it flings
forth upon the heavy night, a fleeting signal, "Bon espoir y gist au



The Psalms remain, whether in the Latin version or in the authorized
English translation, the most pathetic and poignant, as well as the
most noble and dignified of all poetic literature. The rarest spirits
of our race will always return to them at every epoch in their lives
for consolation, for support and for repose.

2. HOMER. THE ODYSSEY. _Butcher and Lang's Prose Translation_.

The Odyssey must continue to appeal to adventurous persons more
powerfully than any other of the ancient stories because, blent with
the classic quality of its pure Greek style, there can be found in it
that magical element of thrilling romance, which belongs not to one
age, but to all time.

Gilbert Murray_.

Euripides, the favourite poet of John Milton and Goethe, is the most
modern in feeling, the most romantic in mood of all the Greek poets.
One is conscious that in his work, as in the sculpture of Praxiteles,
the calm beauty of the Apollonian temper is touched by the wilder
rhythm of the perilous music of Dionysus.

4. HORACE. _Any selection in Latin of The Odes of Horace and
complete prose translation published by Macmillan_.

Flawlessly hammered out, as if from eternal bronze--"aere
perennius"--The Odes of Horace are the consummate expression of the
pride, the reserve, the tragic playfulness, the epicurean calm, the
absolute distinction of the Imperial Roman spirit. A few lines taken
at random and learned by heart would act as a talisman in all hours to
drive away the insolent pressure of the vulgar and common crowd.

5. CATULLUS. _Any Latin edition and the prose translation published
by Macmillan bound up with Tibullus_.

Catullus, the contemporary of Julius Caesar, is, of all the ancient
lyrical poets, the one most modern and neurotic in feeling. One
discerns in his work, breathing through the ancient Roman reserve, the
pressure of that passionate and rebellious reaction to life, which we
enjoy in the most magical of all later poets from Villon to Verlaine.

6. DANTE 'S DIVINE COMEDY. _Best edition the "Temple Classics," in
three small volumes, with the Italian original and English prose
translation on opposite pages_.

Dante's poetry can legitimately be enjoyed in single great passages,
of which there are more in the "Inferno" than in the other sections of
the poem. His peculiar quality is a certain blending of mordant
realism with a high and penetrating beauty. There is no need in
reading him to vex oneself with symbolic interpretations. He is at his
best, when from behind his scholastic philosophy, bursts forth, in
direct personal betrayal, his pride, his humility, his passion, and
his disdain.

7. RABELAIS. _The English translation with the Dore illustrations_.

Rabelais is the philosopher's Bible and his book of outrageous jests.
He is the recondite cult of wise and magnanimous spirits. He
reconciles Nature with Art, Man with God, and religious piety with
shameless enjoyment. His style restores to us our courage and our joy;
and his noble buffoonery gives us back the sweet wantonness of our
youth. Rabelais is the greatest intellect in literature. No one has
ever had a humor so large; an imagination so creative, or a spirit so
world-swallowing, so humane, so friendly.

8. CANDIDE. _Any French edition or English translation_.

Voltaire was a true man of action, a knight of the Holy Ghost. He
plunged fiercely into the human arena, and fought through a laborious
life, against obscurantism, stupidity and tyranny. He had a clear-cut,
aristocratic mind. He hated mystical balderdash, clumsy barbarity, and
stupid hypocrisy. Candide is not only a complete refutation of
optimism; it is a book full of that mischievous humor, which has the
power, more than anything else, of reconciling us to the business of
enduring life.

9. SHAKESPEARE. _In the Temple edition_.

It is time Shakespeare was read for the beauty of his poetry, and
enjoyed without pedantry and with some imagination. The less usual and
more cynical of his plays, such as Troilus, and Cressida, Measure for
Measure and Timon of Athens, will be found to contain some very
interesting commentaries upon life.

The Shakespearean attitude of mind is quite a definite and articulate
one, and one that can be, by slow degrees, acquired, even by persons
who are not cultivated or clever. It is an attitude "compounded of
many simples," and, like the melancholy of Jaques, it wraps us about
"in a most humorous sadness." But the essential secret of
Shakespeare's genius is best apprehended in the felicity of certain
isolated passionate speeches, and in the magic of his songs.

10. MILTON. _Any edition_.

No epicurean lover of the subtler delicacies in poetic rhythm or of
the more exalted and translunar harmonies in the imaginative
suggestiveness of words, can afford to leave Milton untouched. In
sheer felicity of beauty--the beauty of suggestive words, each one
carrying "a perfume in the mention," and together, by their
arrangement in relation to one another, conveying a thrill of absolute
and final satisfaction--no poem in our language surpasses Lycidas, and
only the fine great odes of John Keats approach or equal it.

There are passages, too, in Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and
Samson Agonistes, which, for calm, flowing, and immortal loveliness,
are not surpassed in any poetry in the world.

Milton's work witnesses to the value in art of what is ancient and
traditional, but while he willingly uses every tradition of antiquity,
he stamps all he writes with his own formidable image and

Library" Series_.

The very spirit of ancient Norwich, the mellowest and most historic of
all English cities, breathes in these sumptuous and aromatic pages.
After Lamb and Pater, both of whom loved him well, Browne is the
subtlest adept in the recondite mysteries of rhythmic prose who can be
enjoyed in our language. Not to catch the cadences of his peculiar
music is to confess oneself deaf to the finer harmonies of words.

12. GOETHE. FAUST, _translated in English Poetry by Bayard Taylor_.
WITH ECKERMAN, _translation in Bohn's Library_.

No other human name, except Da Vinci's, carries the high associations
of oracular and occult wisdom as far as Goethe's does. He hears the
voices of "the Mothers" more clearly than other men and in heathen
loneliness he "builds up the pyramid of his existence."

The deep authority of his formidable insight can be best enjoyed, not
without little side-lights of a laconic irony, in the "Conversations";
while in Wilhelm Meister we learn to become adepts in the art of
living in the Beautiful and True, in Faust that abysmal doubt as to
the whole mad business of life is undermined with a craft equal to his
own in the delineation and defeat of "the queer son of Chaos."

all translated in the English edition of Foulis and published in
America by Macmillan. Lichtenberger's exposition of his doctrines is
in the same series. The most artistic life of him is by Daniel Halevy,
translated from the French_.

Nietzsche's writings when they fall into the hands of Philistines are
more misunderstood than any others. To appreciate his noble and tragic
distinction with the due pinch of Attic salt it is necessary to be
possessed of more imagination than most persons are able to summon up.
The dramatic grandeur of Nietzsche's extraordinary intellect overtops
all the flashes of his psychological insight; and his terrific
conclusions remain as mere foot-prints of his progress from height to

in the "Scott Library." A good short life of Heine in the "Great
Writers" Series_.

Heine's genius remains unique. Full of dreamy attachment to Germany he
lived and died in Paris, but his heart was always with the exiles of
Israel. Mocker and ribald, he touches depths of sentimental tenderness
sounded by none other. He fooled the philosophers, provoked the pious,
and confused the minds of his free-thinking friends by outbursts of
wilful reaction. He sticks the horns of satyrish "diablerie" on the
lovely forehead of the most delicate romance; and he flings into his
magical poems of love and the sea the naughty mud-pellets of an
outrageous capriciousness.

19. SUDERMANN. SONG OF SONGS. _Translation into English published by
Huebsch of New York_.

Sudermann is the most remarkable and characteristic of modern German
writers. His massive and laborious realism, his firm and exhaustive
exposition of turbulent and troubled hearts, his heavy sledge-hammer
style, his comprehension of the shadowy background of the most
ponderous sensuality, are all found at their best in this solemn and
sordid and pitiable tale.

20. HAUPTMANN. THE FOOL IN CHRIST, _translation published by
Huebsch, New York_.

Hauptmann seems, of all recent Teutonic authors, the one who has in
the highest degree that tender imaginative sentiment mixed with rugged
and humorous piety which one finds in the old German Protestant
Mystics and in such works of art as the engravings of Albert Durer and
the Wooden Madonna of Nuremburg. "The Fool in Christ"--outside some of
the characters in Dostoievsky--is the nearest modern approach to a
literary interpretation of what remains timeless and permanent in the

21. IBSEN. _Any edition of Ibsen containing the_ WILD DUCK.

Ibsen is still the most formidable of obstinate individualists.
Absolute self-reliance is the note he constantly strikes. He is
obsessed by the psychology of moral problems; but for him there are no
universal ethical laws--"the golden rule is that there is no golden
rule"--thus while in the Pillars of Society he advocates candid
confession and honest revelation of the truth of things; in the "Wild
Duck" he attacks the pig-headed meddler, who comes "dunning us with
claims of the Ideal." Ultimately, though absorbed in "matters of
conscience," it is as an artist rather than as a philosopher that he
visualizes the world.


Strindberg has obtained, because of his own neurotic and almost
feminine clairvoyance, a diabolical insight into the perversities of
the feminine character. This merciless insight manifested in all his
works reaches its intensest degree in the "Confessions of a Fool,"
where the woman implicated surpasses the perversities of the normal as
greatly as the lashing energy with which he pursues her to her inmost
retreats surpasses the vengeance of any ordinary lover.

23. EMERSON. _Routledge's complete works of Emerson, or any other
edition containing everything in one volume_.

The clear, chaste, remote and distinguished wisdom of Emerson with its
shrewd preacher's wit and country-bred humor, will always be of
stirring and tonic value to certain kindred minds. Others will prove
him of little worth; but it is to be noted that Nietzsche found him a
sane and noble influence principally on the ground of his serene
detachment from the phenomena of sin and disease and death. He will
always remain suggestive and stimulating to those who demand a
spiritual interpretation of the Universe but reluct at committing
themselves to any particular creed.

24. WALT WHITMAN. _The complete unexpurgated edition of all his
poems, with his prose works and Mr. Traubel's books about him as a
further elucidation_.

Walt Whitman is the only Optimist and perhaps the only prophet of
Democracy one can read without shame. The magical beauty of his style
at its best has not even yet received complete justice. He has the
power of restoring us to courage and joy even under circumstances of
aggravated gloom. He puts us in some indescribable manner "en rapport"
with the large, cool, liquid spaces and with the immense and
transparent depths.

More than any he is the poet of passionate friendship and the poet of
all those exquisite evasive emotions which arise when our loves and
our regrets are blended with the presence of Nature.


After Whitman and Poe, Mr. Masters is by far the most original and
interesting of American poets. There is something Chaucerian about the
quizzical and whimsical manner in which he tells his brief and homely
stories. His characters are penetrated with the bleak and yet cheerful
tone of the "Middle West." Something quaint, humorous and astringent
emerges as their dominant note.

Mr. Masters has the massive ironical observation and the shrewd humane
wit of the great English novelists of the eighteenth century. His dead
people reveal "the true truth" of their sordid and troubled lives. The
little chances, the unguessed-at accidents, the undeserved blows of a
capricious destiny, which batter so many of us into helpless
inertness, are the aspects of life which interest him most.


Of all modern novelists Theodore Dreiser most entirely catches the
spirit of America. Here is the huge torrential stream of material
energies. Here are the men and women, so pushed and driven and parched
and bleached, by the enormous forces of industry and commerce, that
all distinction in them seems to be reduced to a strange
colorlessness; while the primordial animal cravings, greedy,
earth-born, fumble after their aims across the sad and littered stage
of sombre scenery.

There is something epic--something enormous and amorphous--like the
body of an elemental giant--about each of these books. In the "Titan,"
especially, the peculiar power of Dreiser's massive, coulter-like
impetus is evident. Here we realize how, between animal passion and
material ambition, there is little room left in such a nature as
Cooperwood's for any complicated subtlety. All is simple, direct, hard
and healthy--a very epitome and incarnation of the life-force, as it
manifests itself in America.

27. CERVANTES. DON QUIXOTE. _In any translation except those
vulgarized by eighteenth century taste_.

Cervantes' great, ironical, romantic story is written in a style so
noble, so nervous, so humane, so branded with reality, that, as the
wise critic has said, the mere touch and impact of it puts courage
into our veins. It is not necessary to read every word of this old
book. There are tedious passages. But not to have ever opened it; not
to have caught the tone, the temper, the terrible courage, the
infinite sadness of it, is to have missed being present at one of the
"great gestures" of the undying, unconquerable spirit of humanity.

28. VICTOR HUGO. THE TOILERS OF THE SEA. _In any translation_.

Victor Hugo is the greatest of all incorrigible romanticists.
Something between a prophet, a charlatan, a rhetorician, and a spoiled
child, he believes in God, in democracy, in innocence, in justice, and
he has a noble and unqualified devotion to human heroism and the
depths of the dangerous sea. He has that arbitrary, maniacal inventive
imagination which is very rare except in children--and in spite of his
theatrical gestures he has the power of conjuring up scenes of
incredible beauty and terror.

_in any translation. Saintsbury's is as good as any_.

Balzac's books create a complete world, which has many points of
contact with reality; but, in a deep essential sense, is the
projection of the novelist's own passionate imagination. A thundering
tide of subterranean energy, furious and titanic, sweeps, with its
weight of ponderous details, through every page of these dramatic
volumes. Every character has its obsession, its secret vice, its
spiritual drug. Even when, as in the case of Vautrin, he lets his
demonic fancy carry him very far, there is a grandeur, an amplitude, a
smouldering flame of passion, which redeem a thousand preposterous

His dramatic psychology is often drowned in the tide of his creative
energy; but though his world is not always the world of our
experience, it is always a world in which we are magnetized to feel at
home. It is consistent with its own amazing laws; the laws of the
incredible Balzacian genius. Profoundly moral in its basic tendency,
the "Human Comedy" seems to point, in its philosophical undercurrent,
at the permanent need in our wayward and childish emotionalism, for
wise and master-guides, both in the sphere of religion and in the
sphere of politics.

ESTABLISHMENT. _Any translation, preferably not one bound in paper or
in an "Edition de Luxe."_

Guy de Maupassant's short stories remain, with those of Henry James
and Joseph Conrad, the very best of their kind. After "Madame
Tellier's Establishment" perhaps the stories called respectively "A
Farm Girl" and "Love" are the best he wrote.

He has the eternal excellencies of savage humanity, savage sincerity,
and savage brevity. His pessimism is deep, absolute, unshaken;--and
the world, as we know it, deserves what he gives it of sensualized
literary reactions, each one like the falling thud of the blade of a
murderous axe.

His racking, scooping, combing insight, into the recesses of man's
natural appetites will never be surpassed. How under the glance of his
Norman anger, all manner of pretty subterfuges fade away; and "the
real thing" stands out, as Nature and the Earth know it--"stark,
bleak, terrible and lovely." His subjects may not wander very far from
the basic situations. He does not deal in spiritual subtleties. But
when he hits, he hits the mark.

original French or any translation, if possible with a preface; for
the life of Stendhal is of extraordinary interest_.

Stendhal is one of those who, following Goethe and anticipating
Nietzsche, has not hesitated to propound the psychological
justifications for a life based upon pagan rather than Christian
ethics. A shrewd and sly observer, with his own peculiar brand of the
egoistic cult, Stendhal lived a life of desperately absorbing
emotions, most of them intellectual and erotic. He made an aesthetic
use of the Will to Power before even Nietzsche used that singular
expression. In "Le Rouge et le Noir" the eternal sex-struggle with its
fierce accompaniment of "Odi et Amo" is concentrated in the clash of
opposing forms of pride; the pride of intellect against the pride of

No writer has ever lived with more contempt for mere sedentary
theories or a fiercer mania for the jagged and multifarious edges of
life's pluralistic eccentricity. For any reader teased and worried by
idealistic perversion this obstinate materialistic sage will have
untold value. And yet he knows, none better, the place of sentiment in

DE MON AMI. _Either in French or the authorized English translation_.

Anatole France, now translated into English, is the most classical,
the most ironical, the most refined, of all modern European writers.
He is also, of all others, the most antipathetic to the Anglo-Saxon
type of mind. In a word he is a humanist of the great tradition--a
civilized artist--a great and wise man. He is Rabelaisian and
Voltairian, at the same time. His style has something of the urbanity,
the unction, the fine malice, of Renan; but it has also a quality
peculiar to its creator--a sort of transparent objectivity, lucid as
rarified air, and contemptuously cold as a fragment of antique marble.
Monsieur Bergeret, who appears in all four of the masterpieces devoted
to Contemporary France, is a creation worthy, as some one has said, of
the author of Tristram Shandy. One cannot forget that Anatole France
spent his childhood among the bookshops on the South side of the
Seine. We are conscious all the while in reading him of the wise,
tender, pitiful detachment of a true scholar of the classics,
contemplating the mad pell-mell of human life from a certain epicurean
remoteness, and loving and mocking the sons and daughters of men, as
if they were little children or comical small animals.

preface by Arthur Ransome, published by Luce, Boston_.

Remy de Gourmont's death must be regretted by all lovers of the rare
in art and the remote in character. As a poet his "Litany of the Rose"
has that strange, ambiguous, sinister, and lovely appeal, the full
appreciation of which is an initiation into all the "enclosed gardens"
of the world.

He is a great critic--perhaps the greatest since Walter Pater--and as
a philosopher his constant and frank advocacy of a noble and shameless
Hedonism has helped to clear the air in the track of Nietzsche's

His audacity in placing an exposition of the very principles of
Epicurean Hedonism, touched with Spinozistic equanimity, into the
mouth of our Lord, wandering through the Luxembourg Gardens, may
perhaps startle certain gentle souls, but the Dorian delicacy of what
might for a moment appear blasphemous robs this charming Idyll of any
gross or merely popular profanity. It is a book for those who have
passed through more than one intellectual Renaissance. Like the
"Golden Ass" of Apuleius it has a philosophical justification for its
mythological audacity.


"Le Disciple" is perhaps the best work of this voluminous and
interesting writer. Devoid of irony, deficient in humor, lacking any
large imaginative power, Paul Bourget holds, all the same, an
unassailable place among French writers. Though a devoted adherent of
Goethe and Stendhal, Bourget represents, along with Bordeaux, the
conservative ethical reaction. He upholds Catholicism and the
sacredness of the "home." He is a master in plot and has a clear,
vigorous and appealing style. A gravely portentous sentiment sometimes
spoils his tragic effects; but every lover of Paris will enjoy the
unctuous elaboration of the "backgrounds" of his stories, touched
often with the most delicate and mellow evocations of that City's

39. ROMAIN ROLLAND. JEAN CHRISTOPHE. _Translated by Gilbert Cannan_.

Rolland's "Christophe" is without doubt the most remarkable book that
has appeared in Europe since Nietzsche's "Ecce Homo."

It is a profoundly suggestive treatise upon the relations between art
and life. It contains a deep and heroic philosophy--the philosophy of
the worship of the mysterious life-force as God; and of the reaching
out beyond the turmoil of good and evil towards some vast and dimly
articulated reconciliation. Since "Wilhelm Meister" no book has been
written more valuable as an intellectual ladder to the higher levels
of aesthetic thought and feeling.

Massive and dramatic, powerful and suggestive, it magnetizes us into
an acceptance of its daring and optimistic hopes for the world; of its
noble suggestions of a spiritual synthesis of the opposing
race-traditions of Europe. Of all the books mentioned in this list it
is the one which the compiler would most strongly recommend to the
notice of those anxious to win a firmer intellectual standing-ground.

_Translated by Arthur Hornblow_.

D'Annunzio is the most truly Italian, the most inveterately Latin, of
all recent writers. Without light and shade, without "nuance,"
without humor or irony, he compels our attention by the clear-cut,
monumental images he projects, by the purple and scarlet splendor of
his imperial dreams.

His philosophy, though lacking in the deep and tragic imagination of
Nietzsche, has something of the Nietzschean intellectual fury. He
teaches a shameless and antinomian hedonism, narrower, less humane,
but more fervid and emotional, than that taught by Remy de Gourmont.

In "The Triumph of Death" we find a fierce smoldering voluptuousness,
expressed with a hard and brutal realism which recalls the frescoes on
the walls of ancient Pompeii. In "The Flame of Life" we have in superb
rhetoric the most colored and ardent description of Venice to be found
in all literature. Perhaps the finest passage he ever wrote is that
account of the speech of the Master of Life in the Doge's Palace with
its incomparable eulogy upon Veronese and its allusion to Pisanello's
head of Sigismondo Malatesta.

Constance Garnett and published by Macmillan. Other translations in
Everyman's Library_.

Dostoievsky is the greatest and most racial of all Russian writers. He
is the subtlest psychologist in fiction. As an artist he has a dark
and sombre intensity and an imaginative vehemence only surpassed by
Shakespeare. As a philosopher he anticipates Nietzsche in the
direction of his insight, though in his conclusions he is
diametrically opposite. He teaches that out of weakness, abnormality,
perversity, foolishness, desperation, abandonment, and a morbid
pleasure in humiliation, it is possible to arrive at high and
unutterable levels of spiritual ecstasy. His ideal is sanctity--not
morality--and his revelations of the impassioned and insane motives of
human nature--its instinct towards self-destruction for instance--will
never be surpassed for their terrible and convincing truth.

The strange Slavophil dream of the regeneration of the world by the
power of the Russian soul and the magic of the "White Christ who comes
out of Russia" could not be more arrestingly expressed than in these
passionate and extraordinary works of art.

Constance Garnett. And "Lisa" in Everyman's Library_.

Turgeniev is by far the most "artistic" as he is the most
disillusioned and ironical of Russian writers. With a tender poetical
delicacy, almost worthy of Shakespeare, he sketches his appealing
portraits of young girls. His style is clear--objective--winnowed and
fastidious. He has certain charming old-fashioned weaknesses--as for
instance his trick of over-emphasizing the differences between his bad
and good characters; but there is a clear-cut distinction, and a lucid
charm about his work that reminds one of certain old crayon drawings
or certain delicate water-color sketches. His allusions to natural
scenery are always introduced with peculiar appropriateness and are
never permitted to dominate the dramatic element of the story as
happens so often in other writers.

There is a sad and tender vein of unobtrusive moralizing running
through his work but one is conscious that at bottom he is profoundly
pessimistic and disenchanted. The gaiety of Turgeniev is winning and
unforced; his sentiment natural and never "staled or rung upon." The
pensive detachment of a sensitive and yet not altogether unworldly
spirit seems to be the final impression evoked by his books.

50. GORKI--FOMA GORDYEFF. _Translation published by Scribners_.

Maxim Gorki is one of the most interesting of Russian writers. His
books have that flavour of the soil and that courageous spirit of
vagabondage and social independence which is so rare and valuable a
quality in literature.

"Foma Gordyeff" is, after Dostoievsky's masterpieces, the most
suggestive and arresting of Russian stories. That paralysis of the
will which descends like an evil cloud upon Foma and at the same time
seems to cause the ground to open under his feet and precipitate him
into mysterious depths of nothingness, is at once tragically
significant of certain aspects of the Russian soul and full of
mysterious warnings to all those modern spirits in whom the power of
action is "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

For those who have been "fooled to the top of their bent" by the
stupidities and brutalities of the crowd there is a savage
satisfaction in reading of Foma's insane outbursts of misanthropy.

51. TCHEKOFF--SEAGULL. _Tchekoff's plays and short stories are
published by Scribners in admirable translations_.

Tchekoff is one of the gentlest and sweetest tempered of Russian
writers. There is in him a genuine graciousness, a politeness of soul,
an innate delicacy, which is not touched--as such qualities often are
in the work of Turgeniev--with any kind of self-conscious Olympianism.
A doctor, a consumptive, and a passionate lover of children, there is
a whimsical humanity about all that Tchekoff writes which has a
singular and quite special appeal.

The "Seagull" is a play full of delicate subtleties and dreamy
glimpses of shy humane wisdom. The manner in which outward things--the
mere background and scenery of the play--are used to deepen and
enhance the dramatic interest is a thing peculiarly characteristic of
this author. Tchekoff has that kind of imaginative sensibility which
makes every material object one encounters significant with spiritual

The mere business of plot--whether in his plays or stories--is not the
important matter. The important matter is a certain sudden and
pathetic illumination thrown upon the essential truth by some casual
grouping of persons or of things--some emphatic or symbolic
gesture--some significant movement among the silent "listeners."

52. ARTZIBASHEFF. SANINE, _translation published by Huebsch_.

Artzibasheff is an extremist. The suicidal "motif" in the
"Breaking-point" is worked out with an appalling and devastating

Pessimism, in a superficial sense, could hardly go further; though
compared with Dostoievsky's insight into the "infinite" in character,
one is conscious of a certain closing of doors and narrowing of
issues. "Sanine" himself is a sort of idealization of the sublimated
common sense which seems to be this writer's selected virtue.
Artzibasheff appears to advocate, as the wisest and sanest way of
dealing with life, a certain robust and contemptuous self-assertion,
kindly, genial, without baseness or malice; but free from any scruple
and quite untroubled by remorse.

If regarded seriously--as he appears to be intended to be--as an
approximate human ideal, one cannot help feeling that in spite of his
humorous anarchism and subjective zest for life, Sanine has in him
something sententious and tiresome. He is, so to speak, an immoral
prig; nor do his vivacious spirits compensate us for the lack of
delicacy and irony in him. On the other hand there is something
direct, downright and "honest" about his clear-thinking, and his
shameless eroticism which wins our liking and affection, if not our
admiration. Artzibasheff is indeed one of the few writers who dare
excite our sympathy not only for the seduced in this world but for the


Sterne is a writer who less than any one else in the present list
reveals the secrets of his manner and mind to the casual and hasty
reader. "Tristram Shandy" and "The Sentimental Journey" are books to
be enjoyed slowly and lingeringly, with many humorous after-thoughts
and a certain Rabelaisian unction. A shrewd and ironical wisdom,
gentle and light-fingered and redolent of evasive sentiment, is evoked
from these digressive and wanton pages.

At his best Sterne is capable of an imaginative interpretation of
character which for delicacy and subtlety has never been surpassed.
For the Epicurean in literature, his unfailing charm will be found in
his style--a style so baffling in the furtive beauty of its disarming
simplicity that even the greatest of literary critics have been unable
to analyze its peculiar flavour. There is a winnowed purity about it,
and a kind of elfish grace; and with both these things there mixes,
strangely enough, a certain homely, almost Dutch domesticity, quaint
and mellow and a little wanton--like a picture by Jan Steen.


Swift's mysterious and saturnine character, his outbursts of terrible
rage; his exquisite moments of tenderness; his sledge-hammer blows;
his diabolical irony; form a dramatic and tragic spectacle which no
psychologist can afford to miss.

With the "saeva indignatio" alluded to in his own epitaph, he puts his
back, as it were, to the "flamantia moenia mundi" and hits out,
insanely and blindly, at the human crowd he loathes. His secretive and
desperate passion for Stella, his little girl pupil; his barbarous
treatment of Vanessa--his savage championship of the Irish people
against the Government--make up the dominant "notes" of a character so
formidable that the terror of his personality strikes us with the
force of an engine of destruction.

His misanthropy is like the misanthropy of Shakespeare's Timon--his
crushing sarcasms strike blow after blow at the poor flesh and blood
he despises. The hatefulness of average humanity drives him to
distraction and in his madness, like a wounded Titan, he spares
nothing. To the whole human race he seems to utter the terrible words
he puts into the mouth of God:

"I to such blockheads set my wit,
And damn you all--Go, go, you're bit!"


Charles Lamb remains, of all English prose-writers, the one whose
manner is the most beautiful. So rich, so delicate, so imaginative, so
full of surprises, is the style of this seductive writer, that, for
sheer magic and inspiration, his equals can only be found among the
very greatest poets.

It is impossible to over-estimate the value of Charles Lamb's
philosophy. He indicates in his delicate evasive way--not directly,
but as it were, in little fragments and morsels and broken snatches--a
deep and subtle reconciliation between the wisdom of Epicurus and the
wisdom of Christ. And through and beyond all this, there may be felt,
as with the great poets, an indescribable sense of something
withdrawn, withheld, reserved, inscrutable--a sense of a secret,
rather to be intimated to the initiated, than revealed to the
vulgar--a sense of a clue to a sort of Pantagruelian serenity; a
serenity produced by no crude optimism but by some happy inward
knowledge of a neglected hope. The great Rabelaisian motto, "bon
espoir y gist au fond!" seems to emanate from the most wistful and
poignant of his pages. He pities the unpitied, he redeems the
commonplace, he makes the ordinary as if it were not ordinary, and by
the sheer genius of his imagination he throws an indescribable glamour
over the "little things" of the darkest of our days.

Moving among old books, old houses, old streets, old acquaintances,
old wines, old pictures, old memories, he is yet possessed of so
original and personal a touch that his own wit seems as though it were
the very soul and body of the qualities he so caressingly interprets.


The large, easy, leisurely manner of Scott's writing, its
digressiveness, its nonchalant carelessness, its indifference to
artistic quality, has in some sort of way numbed and atrophied the
interest in his work of those who have been caught up and waylaid by
the modern spirit. And yet Scott's novels have ample and admirable
excellencies. In his expansive and digressive fashion he can give his
characters--especially the older and the more idiosyncratic among
them--a surprising and convincing verisimilitude.

He can create a plot which, though not dramatically flawless, has
movement and energy and stir. The sweetness and modesty of his
disposition lends itself to his portrayal of the more gracious aspects
of human life, especially as seen in the humours and oddities of very
simple and naive persons.

Under the stress of occasional emotion he can rise to quite noble
heights of feeling and he is able to throw a startling glamour of
romance over certain familiar and recurrent human situations. At his
best there is a grandeur and simplicity of utterance about what his
characters say and an ease and largeness of sympathy about his own
commentaries upon them, which must win admiration even from those most
avid of modern pathology. Without the passion of Balzac, or the
insight of Dostoievsky, or the art of Turgeniev, there is yet, in the
sweetness of Scott's own personality, and in the biblical grandeur of
certain of the scenes he evokes, a quality and a charm which it would
be at once foolish and arbitrary to neglect.


Thackeray is a writer who occupies a curious and very interesting
position. Devoid of the noble and romantic sympathies of Scott, and
corrupted to the basic fibres of his being by Early Victorian
snobbishness, he is yet--none can deny it--a powerful creator of
living people and an accomplished and graceful stylist.

Without philosophy, without faith, without moral courage, the uneasy
slave of conventional morality, and with a hopeless vein of sheer
worldly philistinism in his book, Thackeray is yet able, by a certain
unconquerable insight into the motives and impulses of mediocre
people, and by a certain weight and mass of creative force, to give a
convincing reality to his pictures of life, which is almost
devastating in its sneering and sentimental accuracy.

The most winning and attractive thing about him is his devotion to the
eighteenth century; a century whose manners he is able to depict in
his large and gracious way without being disturbed by the pressure of
that contemporary vulgarity which finds a too lively response in
something bourgeois and snobbish in his own nature.

Dealing with the eighteenth century he escapes not only from his age
but from himself.


The compiler has placed in this list only one of Dickens' books for a
somewhat different reason from that which has influenced him in other
cases. All Dickens' novels have a unique value, and such an equal
value, that almost any one of them, chosen at random, can serve as an
example of the rest.

Those who still are not prohibited, by temperamental difficulty or by
some modern fashion, from enjoying the peculiar atmosphere of this
astonishing person's work, will be found reverting to him constantly
and indiscriminately. "Great Expectations" is perhaps, as a more
"artistic" book than the rest, the most fitted of them all to entice
towards a more sympathetic understanding of his mood, those who are
held from reading him by some more or less accidental reason. The most
characteristic thing about this great genius is the power he possesses
of breathing palpable life into what is often called the inanimate.
Like Hans Andersen, the writer of fairy-stories, and, in a measure,
like all children, Dickens endows with fantastic spirituality the most
apparently dead things in our ordinary environment.

His imagination plays superb tricks with such objects and things,
touching the most dilapidated of them with a magic such as the genius
of a great poet uses, when dealing with nature--only the "nature" of
Dickens is made of less lovely matters than leaves and flowers.

The wild exaggerations of Dickens--his reckless contempt for realistic
possibility--need not hinder us from enjoying, apart from his
revelling humor and his too facile sentiment, those inspired outbursts
of inevitable truth, wherein the inmost identity of his queer people
stands revealed to us. His world may be a world of goblins and
fairies, but there cross it sometimes figures of an arresting appeal
and human voices of divine imagination.


Jane Austen's delicate and ironic art will remain unassailable through
all changes of taste and varieties of opinion. What she really
possesses--what might be called the clue to her inimitable secret--is
nothing less than the power of giving expression to that undying
ironic detachment, touched with a fine malice but full of tender
understanding, which all women, to some degree or other, share, and
which all men, to some degree or other, suffer from; in other words,
the terrible and beautiful insight of the maternal instinct. The clear
charm of her unequalled style--a style quite classical in its economy
of material and its dignified reserve--is a charm frequently caught in
the wit and fine malice of one's unmarried aunts; but it is, none the
less, the very epitome of maternal humor. As a creative realist,
giving to her characters the very body and pressure of actual life, no
writer, living or dead, has surpassed her. Without romance, without
philosophy, without social theories, without pathological curiosity,
without the remotest interest in "Nature," she has yet managed to
achieve a triumphant artistic success; and to leave an impression of
serene wisdom such as no other woman writer has equaled or approached.


Of all the books of all the Brontes, this one is the supreme
masterpiece. Charlotte has genius and imagination. She has passion
too. But there is a certain demonic violence about Emily which carries
her work into a region of high and desperate beauty forbidden to the
gentler spirit of her sister. The love of Heathcliff and Catherine
breaks the bonds of ordinary sensual or sentimental relationship and
hurls itself into that darker, stranger, more unearthly air, wherein
one hears the voices of the great lovers; and where Sappho and
Michaelangelo and Swift and Shelley and Nietzsche gasp forth their
imprecations and their terrible ecstasies. Crude and rough and jagged
and pitiless, the style of this astounding book seems to rend and
tear, like a broken saw, at the very roots of existence. In some
curious way, as in Balzac and Dostoievsky, emotions and situations
which have the tone and mood of quite gross melodrama are so driven
inwards by sheer diabolical intensity, that they touch the granite
substratum of what is eternal in human passion. The smell of
rain-drenched moors, the crying of the wind in the Scotch firs, the
long lines of black rooks drifting across the twilight,--these things
become, in the savage style of this extraordinary girl, the very
symbols and tokens of the power that rends her spirit.


"Harry Richmond" is at once the least Meredithian and the best of all
Meredith's books. Meredith, though to a much less degree than George
Eliot, is one of those pseudo-philosophic, pseudo-ethical writers, who
influence a generation or two and then stem to become antiquated and

It is when he is least philosophical and least moralistic--as in the
superbly imaginative figure of Richmond Roy--that he is at his
greatest. There is, throughout his work, an unpleasing strain, like
the vibration of a rope drawn out too tight,--a strain and a tug of
intellectual intensity, that is not fulfilled by any corresponding
intellectual wisdom. His descriptions of nature, in his poems, as well
as in his prose works, have an original vigor and a pungent tang of
their own; but the twisted violence of their introduction, full of
queer jolts and jerks, prevents their impressing one with any sense of
calm or finality. They are too aphoristic, these passages. They are
too clever. They smell too much of the lamp. The same fault may be
remarked in the rounding off of the Meredithian plots where one is so
seldom conscious of the presence of the "inevitable" and so teased by
the "obstinate questionings" of purely mental problems.

Reading Henry James one feels like a wisp of straw floating down a
wide smooth river; reading Meredith one is flicked and flapped and
beaten, as if beneath a hand with a flail.


Henry James is the most purely "artistic" as he is the most profoundly
"intellectual" of all the European writers of our age. His fame will
steadily grow, and his extraordinary genius will more and more create
that finer taste by which alone he can be appreciated.

No novelist who has ever lived has "taken art" so seriously. But it is
art, and not life, he takes seriously; and, therefore, along with his
methods of elaborate patience, one is conscious of a most delicate and
whimsical playfulness--sparing literally nothing. In spite of his
beautiful cosmopolitanism it must never be forgotten that at bottom
Henry James is richly and wonderfully American. That tender and
gracious "penchant" of his for pure-souled and modest-minded young
men, for their high resolves, their noble renunciations, their
touching faith, is an indication of how much he has exploited--in the
completest aesthetic sense--the naive puritanism of his great nation.

In regard to his style one may remark three main divergent epochs; the
first closing with the opening of the "nineties," and the third
beginning about the year 1903. Of these the second seems to the
present compiler the best; being, indeed, more intellectualized and
subtle than the first and less mannered and obscure than the final
one. The finest works he produced would thus be found to be those on
one side or the other of the year 1900.

The subtlety of Henry James is a subtlety which is caused not by
philosophical but by psychological distinctions and it is a subtlety
which enlarges our sympathy for the average human nature of middle
class people to a degree that must, in the very deepest sense of the
word, be called moral.

The wisdom to be derived from him is all of a piece with the
pleasure--both being the result of a fuller, richer, and more
discriminating consciousness of the tragic complexity of quite little
and unimportant characters. To a real lover of Henry James the greyest
and least promising aspects of ordinary life seem to hold up to us
infinite possibilities of delicate excitement. It is indeed out of
excitement--partly intellectual and partly aesthetic,--that his great
effects are produced. And yet the final effect is always one of
resignation and calm--as with all the supreme masters.


Thomas Hardy remains the greatest poet and novelist of the England of
our age. His poetry, Wessex Poems, Poems of Past and Present, Time's
Laughing-Stock, Satires of Circumstance, make up the most powerful and
original contribution to modern verse, produced recently, either in
England or America. Not to value Hardy's poetry as highly as all but
his very greatest prose is to betray oneself as having missed the full
pregnancy of his bitter and lovely wisdom.

He has, like Henry James, three "manners" or styles--the first
containing such lighter, friendlier work, as "Life's Little Ironies,"
"Under a Greenwood Tree," and "The Trumpet Major"--the second being
the period of the great tragedies which assume the place, in his work,
of "Hamlet," "Lear," "Macbeth" and "Othello," in the work of
Shakespeare--the third, of curious and imaginative interest, expresses
in quite a particular way, Mr. Hardy's own peculiar point of view. The
Well-Beloved, Jude the Obscure, and the later poems would belong to
this epoch.

At his best Hardy is a novelist second to none. His style has a
grandeur, a distinction, a concentration, which we find neither in
Balzac nor Dostoievsky. Not to appreciate the power and beauty of his
manner, when his real inspiration holds him, is to confess that the
genuinely classical in style and the genuinely pagan in feeling has no
meaning for you. No English writer, whether in prose or poetry, has
ever caught so completely the magic of the earth and the quaint
humors, tragical and laughable, of those who live inured to her moods;
who live with her moroseness, her whimsicality, her vindictiveness,
her austerity, her evasive grace.

Mr. Hardy's clairvoyant feeling for Nature is, however, only the
background of his work. He is no idyllic posture-monger. The march of
events as they drive forward the primitive earth-born men and women of
Wessex, thrills one with the same weight of accumulated fatality,
as--the comparison is tedious and pedantic--the fortunes of the
ill-starred houses of Argos and Thebes. One peculiarity of Mr. Hardy's
method must finally be mentioned, as giving their most characteristic
quality to these formidable scenes--I mean his preference for form
over color. Who can forget those desolately emphatic human
protagonists silhouetted so austerely along the tops of hills and
against the perspectives of long white roads?

FOLLY. _Published by Doubleday Page & Co. with a critical monograph,
so admirably written (it is given gratis) by Wilson Follet that one
longs to see more criticism from such an accomplished hand_.

Conrad's work--and, considering his foreign origin and his late choice
of English as a medium of expression, it is no less than an astounding
achievement--is work of the very highest literary and psychological
value. It is, indeed, as Mr. Follet says, only such criticism as is
passionately anxious to prove for itself the true "romance of the
intellect" that can hope to deal adequately with such an output. The
background of Conrad's books is primarily the sea itself; and after
the sea, ships. No one has indicated the extraordinary romance of
ships in the way he has done--of ships in the open sea, in the
harbour, at the wharf, or driven far up some perilous tropical river.

But it is neither the sea nor the tropical recesses nor the
sun-scorched river-edges of his backgrounds that make up the essence
of romance in the Conrad books. This is found in nothing less than the
mysterious potencies for courage and for fear, for good and for evil,
of human beings themselves--of human beings isolated by some external
"diablerie" which throws every feature of them into terrible and
baffling relief.

The finest and deepest effects of Conrad's art are always found when,
in the process of the story, some solitary man and woman encounter
each other, far from civilization, and tearing off, as it were, the
mask of one another's souls, are confronted by a deeper and more
inveterate mystery--the eternal mystery of difference, which separates
all men born into the world and keeps us perpetually alone. In the
case of Heyst and Lena--of Flora de Barral and her Captain Anthony--of
Charles and Mrs. Gould--of Aissa and Willems--of Almayer's daughter
and her Malay lover, Mr. Conrad takes up the ancient planetary theme
of the loves of men and women and throws upon it a sudden, original,
and singularly stimulating light; a light, that like a lantern carried
down into the very Cave of the "Mothers," throws its flickering and
ambiguous rays over the large, dumb, formless shapes--the primordial
motives of human hearts--which grope and fumble in that thick

The style of Conrad, simpler than that of James, less monumental than
that of Hardy, has nevertheless a certain forward-driving impetus
hardly less effective than these more famous mediums of expression.
"Lord Jim" is perhaps his masterpiece and may be regarded as the most
interesting book written recently in our language with the exception
of Henry James' "Golden Bowl." For sheer excitement and the thrilling
sensation of delayed denouement it must be conceded that not one of
our classical novelists can touch Conrad. "Victory" remains an
absorbing evidence of his power of concentrating at one and the same
moment our dramatic and our psychological interest.


Walter Pater's writings are more capable than any in our list of
offering, if approached at the suitable hour and moment, new vistas
and possibilities both intellectual and emotional. That wise and
massive egoism taught by Goethe, that impassioned "living to oneself"
indicated by Stendhal, find in Walter Pater a new qualification and a
new sanction.

Himself a supreme master of the rare and exquisite in style, he
becomes, for those who really understand him, something more
penetrating and insidious than a mere personality. He becomes an
atmosphere, an attitude, a tone, a temper--and one too which may serve
us to most rich and recondite purpose, as we wander through the world
seeking the excitement and consecration of impassioned cults and
organized discriminations.

For this austere and elaborately constructed style of his is nothing
less than the palpable expression of his own discriminating days; the
wayfaring, so self-consciously and scrupulously guarded, of his own
fastidious "hedonism," seeking its elaborate satisfactions among the
chance-offered occasions of hour, or person or of place.

Walter Pater remains, for those who are permitted to feel these
things, the one who above all others has the subtlest and most
stimulating method of approach with regard to all the great arts, and
most especially with regard to the art of literature.

No one, after reading him, can remain gross, academic, vulgar, or
indiscriminate. And, with the rest, we seem to be aware of a secret
attitude not only towards art but towards life also, to miss the key
to which would be to fail in that architecture of the soul and senses
which is the object of the discipline not merely of the aesthetic but
of the religious cult.

For the supreme initiation into which we are led by these elaborate
and patient essays, is the initiation into the world of inner
austerity, which makes its clear-cut and passionate distinctions in
our emotional as well as in our intellectual life.

Everything, without exception, as we read Pater becomes "a matter of
taste"; but the high and exclusive nature of this taste, to which no
sensations but those which are vulgar and common are forbidden, is
itself a guarantee of the gentleness and delicacy of the passions
evoked. His ultimate philosophy seems to be that--as he himself has
described it in "Marius,"--of Aristippus of Cyrene; but this
"undermining of metaphysic by means of metaphysic" lands him in no
mere arid agnosticism or weary emptiness of suspended judgment; but in
a rich and imaginative region of infinite possibilities, from the
shores of which he is able to launch forth at will; or to gather up at
his pleasure the delicate shells strewn upon the sand.


Mr. Shaw has found his role and his occupation very happily cut out
for him in the unfailing stupidity, not untouched by a sense of humor,
of our Anglo-Saxon democracy in England and America. In Germany, too,
there seems naivete and simplicity enough to be still entertained by
these mischievously whimsical and yet portentously moral comedies. It
appears however that the civilization for which Rabelais and Voltaire
wrote, is less willing to acclaim as an extraordinary genius one who
has the wit to pierce with a bodkin the idolatries and illusions of
such pathetically simple people.

Bernard Shaw takes the Universe very seriously. By calling it the
Life-Force he permits himself to address it in that heroic vein
reserved, among more ordinary intelligencies, for anthropomorphic
deities. Bernard Shaw's sense of the comic draws its spirit from the
contrast between clever people and stupid people, and seems to appear
at its best when engaged in upsetting the pseudo-historical,
pseudo-philosophical illusions of Anglo-Saxons, in charmingly
ridiculous pantomimes, which the redeeming humor of that patient race
has just intelligence enough thoroughly to enjoy.

If he were himself less moralistically earnest the spice of the jest
would disappear. His humor is not universal humor. It is topical
humor; and topical humor derives its point from moral contrast,--the
contrast in this case between the virtue of Mr. Shaw and the vices of
modern society.

"Man and Superman" is undoubtedly his most interesting work from a
philosophical point of view, but his later plays--such bewitching
farces as "Fanny's First Play," "Androcles," and "Pygmalion"--seem to
express more completely than anything else that rollicking combative
roguishness which is his most characteristic quality.


Mr. Chesterton may congratulate himself upon being the only man of
letters in England who has had the originality or the insight or the
temperamental courage to adopt a definitely reactionary philosophy;
whereas in France we have Huysmans, Barres, Bourget, Bordeaux, and
many others, whose persuasive and romantic role it is to prop up
tottering altars; in England we have only Mr. Chesterton.

That is doubtless why it is necessary for him to exaggerate his
paradoxes so extravagantly; and also why he is so important and so
dear to the hearts of intelligent clergymen.

Mr. Chesterton's grand philosophical "coup" is a simple and effective
one--the turning of everything, complacently and hilariously, upside
down. One has the salutary amusement in reading him of visualizing the
Universe in the posture of a Gargantuan baby, "prepared" for a sound
smacking. Mr. Chesterton himself is the chief actor in this
performance and wonderful pyrotechnic stars leap into space as its
happy result.

Mr. Chesterton has his own peculiar "religion"--a sort of Chelsea
Embankment Catholicism, in which, in place of Pontifical Encyclicals,
we have Punch and Judy jokes, and in place of Apostolic Doctrine we
have umbrellas, lamp-posts, electric-signs and prestidigitating

Mr. Chesterton is never more entertaining, never more entirely at
ease, than when turning one or other of the really noble and tragic
figures of human intellect into preposterous "Aunt Sallies" at whose
battered heads he can fling the turnips and potatoes of the Average
Man's average suspicion, dipped for that purpose in a fiery sort of
brandy of his own whimsical wit. If we don't become "like little
children"; in other words like jovial, middle-aged swashbucklers, and
protest our belief in Flying Pigs, Pusses in Boots, Jacks on the top
of Beanstalks, Old Women who live in Shoes, Fairies, Fandangos,
Prester Johns, and Blue Devils, there is no hope for us and we are
condemned to a dreadful purgatory of pedantic and atheistic dullness,
along with Li Hung Chang, George Eliot, Herbert Spencer and other
heretics whose view of the Dogma of the Immortality of the Soul
differs from that of Mr. Chesterton.


"Intentions" is perhaps the most original of all Wilde's remarkable

His supreme art, as he himself well knew, was, after all, the art of
conversation. One might even put it that his greatest achievement in
life was just the achievement of being brazenly and shamelessly what
he naturally was--especially in conversation. To call him a "poseur"
with the implication that he pretended or assumed a manner, were just
as absurd as to call a tiger striped with the implication that the
beast deliberately "put on" that mark of distinction.

If it is a pose to enjoy the sensation of one's own spontaneous
gestures, Wilde was indeed the worst of pretenders. But the stupid
gravity of many generals, judges and archbishops is not more natural
to them than his exquisite insolence was to him.

Below the wit and provocative persiflage of "Intentions" there is a
deep and true conception of the nature of art--a conception which
might well serve as the "philosophy" of much of the most interesting
and arresting of modern work.

Wilde's extraordinary charm largely depends upon something invincibly
boyish and youthful in him. His personality, as he himself says, has
become almost symbolic--symbolic, that is, of a certain shameless and
beautiful defiance of the world, expressed in an unconquerable
insolence worthy of the very spirit of hard, brave, flagrant youth.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" is perhaps the gayest, least
responsible, and most adorably witty of all English comedies; just as
"Salome" is the most richly colored and smoulderingly sensual of all
modern tragedies. One actually touches with one's fingers the
feasting-cups of the Tetrarch; and the passion of the daughter of
Herodias hangs round one like an exotic perfume.

In "De Profundis" we sound the sea-floor of a quite open secret; the
secret namely of the invincible attraction of a certain type of artist
and sensualist towards the "white Christ" who came forth from the tomb
where he had been laid, with precious ointments about him, by the

In "The Soul of Man" another symbolic reversion displays itself--that
reversion namely of the soul of the true artist towards the
revolutionary organization which, along with insensitiveness and
brutality, proposes to abolish ugliness also.

The name of Oscar Wilde thus becomes a name "to conjure with" and a
fantastic beacon-fire to which those "oppressed and humiliated" may
repair and take new heart.


Whatever one may feel about Mr. Kipling's other work, about his
rampagious imperialism, his self-conscious swashbucklerism, his
pipe-clay and his journalism, his moralistic breeziness and his
patronage of the "white man's burden," one cannot help admitting that
the Jungle-Book is one of the immortal children's tales of the world.

In spite of the somewhat priggish introduction, even here, of what
might be called his Anglo-Saxon propaganda, the Jungle-Book carries
one further, it almost seems, and more convincingly, into the very
heart and inwards of beast-life and wood-magic, than any other work
ever written. The figures of these animals are quite Biblical in their
emphatic picturesqueness, and never has the romance of these spotted
and striped aboriginals, in their primordial struggles for food and
water, been more thrillingly conveyed. Every scene, every situation,
brands itself upon the memory as perhaps nothing else in literature
does except the stories in the Old Testament. The best of all
children's books--"Grimm's Fairy Tales" itself--takes no deeper hold
upon the youthful mind. Mr. Kipling's genius which in his other work
is constantly "dropping bricks" as the expressive phrase has it, and
running amuck through strenuous banalities, rises in the Jungle-Book
to heights of poetic and imaginative suggestion which will give him an
undying position among the great writers of our race.

91. CHARLES L. DODGSON. ALICE IN WONDERLAND. _The edition with the
original illustrations_.

It would be ridiculous to compile a list of a hundred best books and
leave out this one. Lack of space alone prevents us from including
"Through the Looking Glass" too.

"Alice" is after all as much of a classic now and by the same right,
the right of a universal appeal, to every type of child, as Mother
Goose of the Nursery Rhymes. She had only to appear--this
slender-legged, straight-haired, Early-Victorian little prude, to
enter at once the inmost arcana of the temple of art. The book is a
singular evidence of what the power of a desperate devotion can do--a
devotion like this of Mr. Dodgson to all little girls--when a certain
whimsical genius belongs to the possessed by it.

The creator of Alice has really done nothing but permit his absorbing
worship of many demure little maids to focus and concentrate itself
into an almost incredible transformation of what was the intrinsic
nature of the writer into what was the intrinsic nature of the

The author of this book has indeed, so to speak, eluded the
limitations of his own skin, and by the magic of his love for little
girls has passed--carrying his grown-up cleverness with him--actually
into the little girl's inmost consciousness. The book might be quite
as witty as it is and quite as amusing but it would not carry for us
that peculiar "perfume in the mention," that provocative enchantment,
if it were not much more--Oh, so much more--than merely amusing. The
thousand and one reactions, impressions, intimations, of a little
girl's consciousness, are reproduced here with a faithfulness that is
absolutely startling. What really makes the transformation complete is
the absence in "Alice" of that half-comic sententious priggishness
which, as soon as we have ceased to be children, we find so curiously
irritating in Kingsley's "Water Babies."


John Galsworthy is almost alone among modern writers in the possession
of a genius, which in the most exact sense of that admirable word, can
only be described as the genius of a gentleman. It is a style
singularly sensitive, a little vibrant perhaps sometimes, and so tense
as to become attenuated, but of a most rare and wistful beauty. His
humor which is his weakest point is a thing of almost feminine
perceptions but quaintly pliable, as the sense of humor in women often
is, to an odd strain of peevish extravagance.

The chivalrous nobility of Mr. Galsworthy's habitual mood is at once
the cause of certain fragilities and betrayals in the mass and weight
of his art and the cause of the indignant pity which evokes some of
his finest touches.

It seems to irritate his nerves almost to frenzy to contemplate the
shackles and fetters with which, whether in the domestic or social or
legal world, the free spirits of men and women are bound down and

The touching figure of Mrs. Pendyce in the "Country House"--the tragic
figure of Irene Soames Forsyte in the "Man of Property"--the pitiful
figure of the little Model in "Fraternity"--have all something of the
same quality.


In this remarkable book Mr. W. Somerset Maugham surpasses by a long
distance the average novels of recent appearance. The portion of the
book which deals with Paris, especially with that mad poet there, who
expounds the philosophy of the "Pattern," is as suggestive a piece of
literature as any we have seen for half a dozen years.

The passage towards the end of the book on the subject of the genius
of El Greco is also profoundly interesting; and the sentences which
comment so gravely and beautifully upon the cry of the Christ,
"Father, forgive them; they know not what they do," have a rare and
most moving power.


"Round the Corner" is perhaps Mr. Cannan's best book but "Young
Earnest" and "Old Mole" are also curious and interesting volumes.

Mr. Cannan is as typical a modern writer as could be found anywhere.
And yet modernity is not his only charm. He has genuine psychological
insight and though this insight comes in flashes and is not continuous
it often gives an original twist to his characters which helps to make
them strangely convincing and appealing. "Round the Corner" is a
genuine masterpiece. It is the history of the most charming and
touching clergyman described in all English fiction since the Vicar of
Wakefield; and the massive, solid manner in which the story is
constructed, the vigor and reality of the interplay of the various
members of Francis' family, the admirable portrait of the mother, the
grand and solemn close of the book, make it one of the most powerful
works of fiction England has produced during the last decade.

Now and again--and what praise could go further?--there are little
touches of clear-cut realism, of that kind which has a mystical
background, which actually suggest some of the lighter and more
idyllic work of Goethe himself. The book has genuine wisdom in it, of
a sort superior to any philosophical system, and one feels at the
close the tonic and soothing effect of a powerful moral influence,
sweetening and refining one's general reaction towards life.

97. VINCENT O'SULLIVAN. THE GOOD GIRL. _Published by Dutton & Co._

This admirable work of art is not known as well as it deserves either
in England or America. It is a work of genius in every sense of that
word, and it produces on the mind that curious sense of completeness
and finality which only such works produce.

Mr. L.U. Wilkinson--himself a writer of powerful achievement--says of
"The Good Girl": "It does what I have always desired should be done;
it reduces 'atmosphere' and 'nature' to their proper subordinate
place. It wastes no energy. It focuses one's intellect and one's
emotion. It creates characters who resemble none others in fiction. It
is imaginative realism of the highest level of excellence."

The complex figure of Vendred, the hero of the story, the evasive
provocative Mona Lisa-like portrait of Mrs. Dover, the extraordinary
and stimulating art with which her husband is described, the agitating
and tragic appeal made to us by Vendred's child-wife, the unfortunate
Louise--all these together make up one of the most absorbing and
unforgettable impressions we have received for many years.

Of Mr. and Mrs. Dover in their relation to one another the following
passage reverberates through one's mind:--"They would sit opposite one
another silently, criticising with a drastic pitiless criticism. This
in itself showed where they had arrived; for faith has to be shaken
before there is room for criticism, and if love survives the criticism
of lovers, it is altogether different from the love they began with.
Lovers can be almost anything they choose to each other and still be
in love, but they cannot be critical. That is blighting."

Perhaps the most tragic thing in the book is the letter written by
Louise to Vendred when the luckless child discovers her husband's
intrigue with her mother:--"I came to you in the middle of the night
last night because I was afraid of the wind. The fire was burning and
I saw. I am gone, you will never see me again."

The last scenes of the unfortunate girl's life--indirectly described
by the ruffian who got possession of her in Paris--produce on the mind
that sickening sense of the wanton stupidity of the Universe which
fills one with hopeless pity.

The author of this book must have a noble and formidable soul.


"The Story of Louie" is the last and finest volume of an astonishing
trilogy--the first two volumes of which are named respectively "In
Accordance with the Evidence" and "The Debit Account."

The mere fact that in the midst of our contemptible hatred of "long
books" this excellent trilogy should have appeared, is an indication
of the daring and originality of Mr. Oliver Onions.

Mr. Onions is one of the few modern writers--along with Hardy, Conrad
and James--who is entirely untouched by political or ethical
propagandism. His trilogy is a genuinely creative work of a high and
exclusive order. The manner in which, to quote Mr. L.U. Wilkinson
again--"the whole prospect is, as it were, strained through the
character of one or other of the leading persons is in itself a proof
of this writer's fine artistic instinct." The way in which all the
leading persons in the book stand out in clear relief and indelibly
print themselves on the mind is evidence of the value of this method.
And what masterly irony in the contrast between "Evie" for instance as
Jeffries sees her and "Evie" as she is seen by her rival Louie!

Nowhere in literature, except in Dostoievsky, has the ferocious
struggle of two women over a man been so savagely and truly portrayed
as in the great scene in "Louie" between that young woman and Evie
when the latter visits her in her rooms.

Oliver Onions' humor has that large and vigorous expansiveness,
touched with something almost sardonic, which we associate with some
of the very greatest writers. There is always present in his work a
certain free sweep of imagination which deals masterfully and
suggestively with all manner of sordid material.


"Clayhanger" with its sequels, "Hilda Lessways" and "These Twain,"
makes up an imposing and convincing trilogy of middle-class life in
the English Pottery Towns. To these books should be added "Old Wives'
Tale," "Anna of the Five Towns" and all the others among this writer's
works which deal with these Pottery places he knows so superbly well.

Outside the Five Towns Mr. Bennett loses something of the power of his
touch. He is an interesting example of a writer with a definite
"milieu" out of whose happy security he is always ill-advised to

But within his own region he is a powerful master. No one in modern
English fiction has treated so creatively and illuminatingly the least
interesting and least romantic strata of human society which is
perhaps to be found in the whole world.

And yet he endows this paralyzing bourgeoisie with astonishing life.
One turns back from much more exciting literature to these ignorant,
conceited, restricted and undistinguished people.

One turns back to them because Mr. Bennett shows one the tragic
humanity, eternally and mysteriously fascinating, to be found beneath
these vulgar and unlovely exteriors. Nor when it comes to the problem
of sex itself is this writer less of a master. Never has the undying
conflict, the world-old struggle, between those who, in the Catullian
phrase, "love and hate" at the same time, been more convincingly
brought into the light than in the relations between these
uninteresting but strangely appealing people.

Arnold Bennett's knowledge of the Five Towns gives to his work a
background of significant congruity whose interaction upon the
characters of his plots has the same kind of weight and portentousness
as the interaction of Nature in the books of Mr. Hardy.

Such a background may be in itself materialistic and sordid, but in
the imaginative reaction it produces upon the characters it has the
genuine poetic quality.


This is by far the best anthology of English poetry, its only rival
being the first series of Palgrave's Golden Treasury. Those interested
in the work of more recent poets and in the latest poetic "movements"
in England and America would be wise to turn to Putnam's "Georgian
Poetry"--two series--and "The New Poetry" by Harriet Monroe, published
by Macmillan. The compiler of this selection of books feels himself
that the most poetical among the younger poets of our age is Walter de
la Mare and of the poems which Mr. de la Mare has so far written, he
finds the best to be those extraordinary and magical verses entitled
"The Listeners" which seem to come nearer to giving a voice to the
unutterable margin of our days than any others written within the last
ten years.

The following pages contain an alphabetical list by author of the One
Hundred Best Books, also the titles of other books recommended in the
text by Mr. Powys. The numerals following the titles of the books
refer to the number given the books in this list, while the prices
attached thereto are the Publisher's list prices. If sent by mail or
express it is necessary to add the cost, which is usually about 10 per
cent, of the price.


And Other Books Mentioned In the Text

Binding and
Author Title Leather Cloth

Artzibasheff ........ Sanine (52) ....................... $1.35
Artzibasheff ........ Breaking Point .................... 1.40
Austen, Jane ........ *Pride and Prejudice (61) ......... $1.25 .75
Balzac, Honore de ... *Lost Illusions (29) Centenary ed.. 1.35
Balzac, Honore de ... *Cousin Bette (30) Centenary ed.... 1.35
Balzac, Honore de ... *Old Goriot (31) Centenary ed...... 1.35
Bennett, Arnold ..... Clayhanger (99).................... 1.50
Bennett, Arnold ..... Hilda Lessways .................... 1.50
Bennett, Arnold ..... These Twain ....................... 1.50
Bennett, Arnold ..... Old Wives' Tale ................... 1.50
Bennett, Arnold ..... Anna of the Five Towns ............ 1.20
Bronte, Emily ....... Wuethering Heights (62) ............ 1.75
Bourget, Paul ....... Le Disciple (38)................... .75
Browne, Sir Thos..... *Religio Medici and Urn Burial
(11) in Scott Library ........... .40
Browne, Sir Thos..... *Religio (Golden Treasury Series) . 1.00
Cannan, Gilbert...... Round the Corner (96) ............. 1.35
Cannan, Gilbert...... Young Earnest ..................... 1.35
Cannan, Gilbert...... Old Mole .......................... 1.35
Catullus............. Loeb Library Edition (5) .......... 2.00 1.50
Cervantes............ *Don Quixote (27) trans. W.J.
Jarvis ........................... 2.00
Carroll, Lewis....... Alice in Wonderland (91) ......... 1.00
Carroll, Lewis....... Thro the Looking Glass ........... 1.00
Chesterton, G.K...... Orthodoxy (86) ................... 1.50
Conrad, Joseph....... Chance (75) ...................... 1.50
Conrad, Joseph....... Lord Jim (76) .................... 1.50
Conrad, Joseph....... Victory (77) ..................... 1.50
Conrad, Joseph ...... Youth (78) ....................... 1.50
Conrad, Joseph ...... Almayer's Folly (79) ............. 1.35
Dante ............... Divine Comedy (6) ................
Temple Classics, 3 vols. ......... 1.35
D'Annunzio, G. ...... The Flame of Life (40) ........... 1.50
D'Annunzio, G. ...... The Triumph of Death (41) ........ 1.50
de la Mare, Walter... The Listeners .................... 1.20
Dickens, Charles..... *Great Expectations (60),
Oxford Edition ................. .75
Dickens, Charles..... *Great Expectations, Oxford
Red Venetian ................... 1.25
Dickens, Charles..... *Great Expectations, India paper,
Lambskin ....................... 1.75
Dostoievsky, F....... *Crime and Punishment, trans. C.
Garnett (42) ................... 1.50
Dostoievsky, F....... *The Idiot (43), C. Garnett ...... 1.50
Dostoievsky, F....... The Brothers Karamazov (44) C.
Garnett ........................ 1.50
Dostoievsky, F....... The Insulted and Injured (45) C.
Garnett ........................ 1.50
Dostoievsky, F....... The Possessed (46) C. Garnett .... 1.50
Dreiser, Theodore.... The Titan (26) ................... 1.40
Emerson, R.W......... Essays (23), first and second
series in one volume. Cambridge
Classics Edition ............... .90
Euripides ........... The Bacchae (3), trans, by Gilbert
Murray ......................... .65
France, Anatole ..... The Elm Tree on the Mall (34) .... 1.75
France, Anatole ..... The Opinions of Jerome
Coignard (35) .................. 1.75
France, Anatole ..... My Friend's Book (36) ............ 1.75
Galsworthy, John..... The Country House (92) ........... 1.35
Galsworthy, John..... The Man of Property (93) ......... 1.35
Galsworthy, John..... Fraternity (94) .................. 1.35
Georgian Poetry...... 1911/1912 ........................ 1.50
Georgian Poetry...... 1913/1914 ........................ 1.50
Goethe............... *Faust (12) trans. by Bayard Taylor 1.25
Goethe............... *Wilhelm Meister (13) trans. by
Carlyle ........................ 1.25
Goethe............... Goethe's Conversations with
Eckerman (14) .................. 1.25
Gourmont, Remy de.... A Night in the Luxembourg (37) ... 1.50
Gorki, Maxim......... Foma Gordyeeff (50) ... 1.00
Hardy, Thomas ....... Tess of the D'Urbevilles (70) .... 1.50
Hardy, Thomas........ The Return of the Native (71) .... 1.50
Hardy, Thomas........ The Mayor of Casterbridge (72).... 1.50
Hardy, Thomas........ Far from the Madding Crowd (73) .. 1.50
Hardy, Thomas........ Wessex Poems (74) ................ 1.85
Hardy, Thomas........ Poems of Past and Present ........ 1.60
Hardy, Thomas........ Satires of Circumstances ......... 1.50
Hauptmann............ The Fool in Christ, (20) ......... 1.50
Heine ............... Prose works and "Confessions"
(18), Scott Library ............ .40
Heine ............... Life of--Great Writers Series .... .40
Horace............... *Odes (4) prose translation ...... 1.25
Hugo, Victor ........ *The Toilers of the Sea (28) ..... 1.00
Homer ............... *The Odyssey, (2) Butcher and
Lang ............................ .80
Ibsen................ *The Wild Duck (21) .............. 1.00
James, Henry ........ The Ambassadors (64) ............. 2.00
James, Henry ........ The Tragic Muse (65) 2 vols. each. 1.25
James, Henry ........ The Soft Side (66) ............... 1.50
James, Henry ........ The Better Sort (67) ............. 1.35
James, Henry ........ The Wings of a Dove (68) 2 vols. . 2.25
James, Henry ........ The Golden Bowl (69) 2 vols. ..... 2.25
Kipling, Rudyard..... The Jungle Book (90) ............. 1.50
Lamb, Charles ....... *Essays of Elia (55) Eversley Ed. 1.50
Masters, Edgar Lee... Spoon River Anthology (25) ....... 1.50 1.25
Maugham, W. Somerset. Of Human Bondage (95) ............ 1.50
Maupassant, Guy de .. Madame Tellier's Establishment
(32) paper ..................... .40
Meredith, George .... Harry Richmond (65) Pocket ed. ... 1.00
Milton ......(10) Eversley Edition (or*), 3 vols. set 4.50
Monroe, Harriet ..... The New Poetry ................... 1.50
Nietzsche, F......... Zarathustra (15) ................. 2.00
Nietzsche, F......... The Joyful Wisdom (16) ........... 1.60
Nietzsche, F......... Ecce Homo (17) ................... 2.00
Nietzsche, F......... Commentary by Lichtenberger ...... 1.50
Nietzsche, F......... Life of by Daniel Halevy, trans. . 1.25
Onions, Oliver ...... The Story of Louie (98) .......... 1.25
Onions, Oliver ...... In Accordance with the Evidence .. 1.25
Onions, Oliver ...... The Debit Account ................ 1.25
O'Sullivan, Vincent.. The Good Girl (97) ............... 1.35
Oxford Book of English Verse (100), crown 8 vo. ....... 2.00
Oxford Book of English Verse, India Paper Edition ..... 2.75
Palgrave ............ Golden Treasury, First Series* ... 1.00
Pater, Walter ....... Marius the Epicurean (80), 2 vols. 4.00
Pater, Walter ....... Studies in the Renaissance (81) .. 2.00
Pater, Walter ....... Imaginary Portraits (82) ......... 2.00
Pater, Walter ....... Plato and Platonism (83) ......... 2.00
Pater, Walter ....... Gaston de Latour (84) ............ 2.00
Rabelais ............ (7) Edition with Dore Illustrations
Rare Selection in French Classics
for English Readers' Series .... 1.25
Rolland, Romain ..... Jean Christophe (39)
(trans. G. Cannan), 3 vols. .... 4.50
Scott, Sir Walter ... *Guy Mannering (56), Dryburgh
Edition ........................ 1.25
Scott, Sir Walter ... *Bride of Lammermoor (57) ........ 1.25
Scott, Sir Walter ... *Heart of Midlothian (58) ........ 1.25
Shakespeare ......... Troilus and Cressida (9), Temple . .55 .35
Shakespeare ......... Measure for Measure, Temple ...... .55 .35
Shakespeare ......... Timon of Athens, Temple Edition .. .55 .35
Shaw, George Bernard Man and Superman (85) ............ 1.25
Stendhal ............ The Red and the Black (33) ....... 1.75
Sterne, Laurence .... *Tristram Shandy (53)
Lib. of Eng. Classics,
2 vols. each ................... 1.50
Strindberg, August .. The Confessions of a Fool (22) ... 1.35
Sudermann ........... Song of Songs (19) ............... 1.40
Swift, Jonathan ..... *Tale of a Tub (54), Bohn Lib. ... 1.25
Thackeray, W.M. ..... *Henry Esmond (59), Cranford
Series ......................... 2.00
Thackeray, W.M. ..... *Henry Esmond, Oxford Edition .... .75
Thackeray, W.M. ..... *Henry Esmond, India Paper ed. ... 1.75
Turgeniev ........... *Virgin Soil, trans. Constance
Garnett, 2 vols. each (47) ..... 1.00
Turgeniev ........... Sportsman's Sketches, trans.
Constance Garnett,
2 vols. each (48) .............. 1.00
Turgeniev ........... *Lisa, trans. Constance
Garnett, (49) .................. 1.00
Tschekoff ........... The Sea Gull (51) ................ 1.50
Voltaire ............ Candide (8) in Morley's Universal
Library ........................ .35
Whitman, Walt ....... *Leaves of Grass (24) ............ 1.25
Wilde, Oscar ........ Intentions (87) Ravenna Edition .. 1.25
Wilde, Oscar ........ The Importance of Being
Earnest (88) ................... 1.25
Wilde, Oscar ........ De Profundis (89) ................ 1.25

An asterisk (*) before the title of a book indicates that it may be
obtained in Everyman's Library, as well as the edition named, price 40
cts, in cloth, and 80 cts. in leather.






_12mo, 722 pages, $1.50 net_

This is an epoch marking novel by an author "who is dramatic as is no
other now writing."--Oakland _Enquirer_.

In this startling and original romance, the author turns aside from
the track of his contemporaries and reverts to models drawn from races
which have bolder and less conventional views of literature than the
Anglo-Saxon race. Following the lead of the Great Russian Dostoievsky,
he proceeds boldly to lay bare the secret passions, the unacknowledged
motives and impulses, which lurk below the placid-seeming surface of
ordinary human nature.

It has been reviewed favorably by all of America's principal
newspapers, as the following extracts from press notices will

BOSTON TRANSCRIPT: "His mastery of language, his knowledge of human
impulses, his interpretation of the forces of nature and of the power
of inanimate objects over human beings, all pronounce him a writer of
no mean rank.... He can express philosophy in terms of narrative
without prostituting his art; he can suggest an answer without drawing
a moral; with a clearer vision he could stand among the masters in
literary achievement."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "Psychologically speaking, it is one of the most
remarkable pieces of fiction ever written.... I do not hesitate to say
that a new novelist of power has appeared upon the scene."

EVENING SUN, New York: "Mr. Powys, master essayist, comes forward
with a first novel which is brilliant in style, absorbing in plot,
deep and thoughtful in its purpose."

PHILADELPHIA PRESS: "It undoubtedly will set a new mark in
literature of the contemporary period.... Mr. Powys' style is the
style of Thomas Hardy."

PHILADELPHIA RECORD: "Every page is a joy, every chapter a fresh
proof of Powys' genius."

N.Y. EVENING POST: "The best novel one reviewer has read in a good

NEW YORK TIMES: "Mr. Powys is evidently a keen observer of life and
responsive to all its phases."

N.Y. TRIBUNE: "A good story well told."

N.Y. HERALD: "Here is a novel worth reading."

THE NATION: "A book of distinctive flavor."

REVIEW OF REVIEWS: "An exceptional novel ... a brilliant
intellectual piece of work."

PHILADELPHIA NORTH AMERICAN: "A notable achievement in fictitious

SPRINGFIELD REPUBLICAN: "This is a book which will have more than
the ephemeral existence of the average novel."

NEW HAVEN COURIER JOURNAL: "One of the most notable and important
novels that has appeared in the last twelve months."

HARTFORD COURANT: "The book is very interesting, provokingly

DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, ROCHESTER: "Among the few works of fiction
that stand out in the very forefront of this season's production."





_12mo. About 400 pages. $1.50 net_

The New York _Evening Post_ said of Mr. Powys' first novel "Wood and
Stone" that it was "one of the best novels of the twelvemonth" while
the Boston _Transcript_ said that "with a clearer vision he could
stand among the masters in literary achievement." The Chicago
_Tribune_ said of the same work, "Psychologically speaking, it is one
of the most remarkable pieces of fiction ever written." The
announcement of a second novel by the same brilliant author is
therefore one of extraordinary interest.

In this new novel, Mr. Powys, while unhesitatingly using to his
purpose those new fields of psychological interest opened up for us by
recent Russian writers, reverts, in the general style and content of
his story, to that more idealistic, more simple mood, which we
associate with such great romanticists as Emily Bronte and Victor


_12mo. About 320 pages. $1.35 net_

While this is Dr. Hannah's first novel, it is his eighth published
work; he thus brings to bear the skill of the literary craftsman upon
his dramatic theme of the Quakers' conscientious objections to war. To
fight or not to fight is the problem that confronted Edward Alexander
when he witnessed the bombardment of Scarborough; he decided as an
Englishman, not as a Quaker--but, the next day a telegram came
summoning him to the death-bed of his mother, who demanded as her
dying wish that he should not abandon the principles of the Friends.
He had the strength to reverse his decision but neither his fiancee
nor his best Cambridge friend could understand. How he nearly lost the
former while saving the life of the latter on the battle field in
Flanders is the basis of an absorbing plot which holds the interest
from beginning to end of this thrilling story of young love. An
admirable book recommended especially to those who detest alike the
mawkish sentiment of the "best-seller" and the revolting realistic
novels of our day.


_12mo. About 320 pages. $1.25 net_

This is a book for girls of from 13 to 16 written for a child rescued
from the _Lusitania_. Many complain that girls' books are too tame and
prefer those written for boys. Mr. Holborn therefore promised to write
a girls' book with as much adventure as Stevenson's "Treasure Island."
He has succeeded and the hair-breadth escapes of the heroine should
satisfy the most exacting. The scene is laid in the stirring times of
the Reformation and those who know the author as an archaeological
lecturer will recognize his bent in several picturesque touches, such
as the striking dressing scene before the heroine's birthday-party.
The book is a remarkable contribution to children's literature and
suggests a raising of the standard if more were written by men of
learning and scholarship who are true child-lovers. After all was not
"Alice in Wonderland" written by an erudite Oxford don and everyone
who has read the present author's volume of poems "Children of Fancy"
will know him as a lover of children.



Recommended by the A.L.A. Booklist

Adopted for required reading by the Pittsburgh
Teachers Reading Circle




_8vo, 298 pp. Half White Cloth with Blue Fabriano Paper Sides,
$2.00 net_

This volume of essays on Great Writers by the well-known lecturer was
the first of a series of three books with the same purpose as the
author's brilliant lectures; namely, to enable one to discriminate
between the great and the mediocre in ancient and modern literature:
the other two books being "One Hundred Best Books" and "Suspended

Within a year of its publication, four editions of "Visions and
Revisions" were printed--an extraordinary record considering that it
was only the second book issued by a new publisher. The value of the
book to the student and its interest for the general reader are
guaranteed by the international fame of the author as an interpreter
of great literature and by the enthusiastic reviews it received from
the American Press.

REVIEW OF REVIEWS, New York: "Seventeen essays ... remarkable for
the omission of all that is tedious and cumbersome in literary
appreciations, such as pedantry, muckraking, theorizing, and, in
particular, constructive criticism."

BOOK NEWS MONTHLY, Philadelphia: "Not one line in the entire book
that is not tense with thought and feeling. With all readers who crave
mental stimulation ... 'Visions and Revisions' is sure of a great and
enthusiastic appreciation."

THE NATION AND THE EVENING POST, New York: "Their imagery is bright,
clear and frequently picturesque. The rhythm falls with a pleasing
cadence on the ear."

BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE: "A volume of singularly acute and readable
literary criticism."

CHICAGO HERALD: "An essayist at once scholarly, human and charming
is John Cowper Powys.... Almost every page carries some arresting
thought, quaintly appealing phrase, or picture spelling passage."

REEDY'S MIRROR, St. Louis: "Powys keeps you wide awake in the
reading because he's thinking and writing from the standpoint of life,
not of theory or system. Powys has a system but it is hardly a system.
It is a sort of surrender to the revelation each writer has to make."

KANSAS CITY STAR: "John Cowper Powys' essays are wonderfully
illuminating.... Mr. Powys writes in at least a semblance of the Grand

"Visions and Revisions" contains the following essays:--

Rabelais Dickens Thomas Hardy
Dante Goethe Walter Pater
Shakespeare Matthew Arnold Dostoievsky
El Greco Shelley Edgar Allan Poe
Milton Keats Walt Whitman
Charles Lamb Nietzsche Conclusion





8vo. about 400 pages. Half cloth with blue Fabriano paper
sides............................................$2.00 net

_The Book News Monthly_ said of "Visions and Revisions":

"Not one line in the entire book that is not tense with thought and

The author of "Visions and Revisions" says of this new book of essays:

"In 'Suspended Judgments' I have sought to express with more
deliberation and in a less spasmodic manner than in 'Visions,' the
various after-thoughts and reactions both intellectual and sensational
which have been produced in me, in recent years, by the re-reading of
my favorite writers. I have tried to capture what might be called the
'psychic residuum' of earlier fleeting impressions and I have tried to
turn this emotional aftermath into a permanent contribution--at any
rate for those of similar temperament--to the psychology of literary

"To the purely critical essays in this volume I have added a certain
number of others dealing with what, in popular parlance, are called
'general topics,' but what in reality are always--in the most extreme
sense of that word--personal to the mind reacting from them. I have
called the book 'Suspended Judgments' because while one lives, one
grows, and while one grows, one waits and expects."






"Rhymes or Real Poems?"--_Boston Globe_



_8vo, 120 pages, $1.25 net_

In these remarkable poems Mr. Powys strikes a new and startlingly
unfamiliar note; their interest lies in the fact that they are the
unaffected outcries and protests of a soul in exile, and their
originality is to be found in that they sweep aside all facile and
commonplace consolations and give expression to the natural and
incurable sadness of the heart of man.

NEW YORK EVENING POST says: "As regards what Mr. Powys modestly
calls his 'rhymes,' we hesitate to say how many years it is necessary
to go back in order to find their equals in sheer poetic originality."

BOOK NEWS MONTHLY says: "Such poems as those are worthy of a
permanent existence in literature."

KANSAS CITY STAR says: "It is unmistakably verse of lasting


An Answer to Professor Musterberg


_12mo, 113 pages, 60 cents_

Mr. Powys says of this book that he has sought to correct that
plausible and superficial view of the Russian people as "the
half-civilised legions to whom we have taught killing by machinery"--a
view to which even so independent a thinker as George Bernard Shaw
appears to have fallen a victim.

The _Nation_ says:--"It is more weighty than many of the more
pretentious treatises on the subject."



_12mo, 144 pages, $1.00_

A profoundly original interpretation of life by the great lecturer's
hermit brother of which the Dial, Chicago says: "Truly a satirist and
humorist of a different kidney from the ordinary sort is this
companionable hermit. There is many a chuckle in his little book."





_Second Edition, 256 pages, $2.00 net_

This volume has a special claim to attention as the poet was invited
to read these poems at Oxford University at the 1915 Summer Meeting.
The Oxford Chronicle in a long account "of one of the greatest
pleasures provided for the Meeting," remarked that "the ideal is
perfectly attained when the poet can recite his own poems with the
artistry with which Mr. Holborn introduced to his audience his
charming 'Children of Fancy.'"

Mr. Holborn swam with part of the MSS. from the _Lusitania_, and the
Edinburgh _Evening News_ says that "he has commemorated the tragedy in
lines of sublime pathos."

AMERICAN REVIEW OF REVIEWS says: "Mr. Holborn's poetry is delicate,
musical, rhapsodic; often shaped to enfold classical themes, always of
proportioned comeliness, filled with a vague haunting of indefinable
beauty that can never be embraced in words. It is a book of poetry for
poets; one can hardly say more."

Adopted for Required Reading by the Pittsburgh Teachers Reading Circle


_Cloth, 116 pp., 75 cents net_

The object of Mr. Holborn's little book is to show that the peculiar
evil of the present day is a lack of the proper love and appreciation
of Art and Beauty. Our social and political problems which we attempt
to tackle on scientific and moral lines can never be righted in that
way, as we have not made a scientifically correct diagnosis of the

He makes a careful analytical survey of the three great epochs in our
past civilization and clearly demonstrates that wherever one of the
fundamentals of man's existence is wanting the man as a whole must

It makes no difference whether the lack be on the intellectual,
artistic or moral side--the result is equally disastrous to the
complete man.

THE BOSTON TRANSCRIPT says: "This is one of the greatest little
books of the age. If it is not epoch-making, it should be. It treats
in charming style and convincing manner a theme of vital and universal
interest. The thoughtful man who reads it will feel that a new classic
has been added to the world's literature."


_Blue Buckram, Gold stamping, 264 pp., $2.00 net_



Recommended by the A.L.A. Booklist

Specially suitable for Schools and Colleges




_12mo, 256 pages, $1.23 net_

This work, which has had a large sale in England, will be invaluable
when the terms of peace begin to be seriously discussed. Every
European people is reviewed and the evolution of the different
nationalities is carefully explained. Particular reference is made to
the so-called "Irredentist" lands, whose people want to be under a
different flag from that under which they live.

The colonizing methods of all the nations are dealt with, and
especially the place in the sun that Germany hasn't got.

NEW YORK TIMES says: "Such a volume as this will undoubtedly be of
value in presenting ... facts of great importance in a brief and
interesting fashion."

BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE says: "It is hard to find a man who presents
his arguments so broad-mindedly as Dr. Hannah. His spirit is that of a
catholic scholar striving earnestly to find the truth and present it

PHILADELPHIA NORTH AMERICAN says: "It is in no sense history, but
rather a preparatory effort to mark broadly the outlines of any future
peace settlement that would have even a fighting chance of permanency.
Only in perusing a critical study of this character can the vast
problems of post-bellum imminence be fully apprehended."

PHILADELPHIA PRESS says: "His work is immensely readable and
particularly interesting at this time and will throw much fresh light
on the situation."


Eastern Asia, A History ..................................$2.50
Capitals of the Northlands (A tale of ten cities)......... 2.00
The Berwick and Lothian Coast (in the County Coast Series) 2.00
The Heart of East Anglia (A History of Norwich)........... 2.00
Some Irish Religious Houses (Reprinted from the
_Archeological Journal_) ............................... .50
Irish Cathedrals (Reprinted from the _Archaeological
Journal_) .50



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