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THE GREEK ROMANCES IN ELIZABETHAN PROSE FICTION. By Samuel
One's view of a book, like one's view of a landscape, depends
Dr. Wolff's study confines itself to the three most famous of
it is noticeable that the critic cannot refrain from making merry with the novelists themselves. It seems almost impossible to refrain from poking fun at such a pretentious stilt-walker as Heliodorus; and Achilles Tatius, whatever his other merits, is nearly as destitute of humor. In this respect they both resemble Richardson. As for Longus, though he had in his sort a pretty taste for a joke, yet as Launcelot Gobbo says, "he doth indeed grow to, and hath a kind of taste" which from a modern point of view is no more than a little queer in such a eulogist of primitive innocents. In fact, bombast, fustian, high-falutin' "fine writing," and a most insufferable crop of "conceits" flourish in these authors as in few others, and their heroes and heroines are such utterly impossible and often such utterly contemptible people from every modern Christian point of view that few or no critics can refrain from finding them amusing in the wrong way. Just the weaknesses, however, that excite our amusement or contempt were the attractions to the original readers. And what the decadent Greeks admired, the Elizabethans admired equally, to judge from their imitations of them.
This is well brought out in the second part of Dr. Wolff's treatise, which discusses the influence of these three romances on John Lyly, Sir Philip Sidney, Robert Greene, Thomas Nash, Thomas Lodge, and Shakespeare. Thus Sidney's Arcadia, which he analyses at length, is found to be a direct study from Heliodorus, and Dr. Wolff thinks that Shakespeare derived elements of the plot of the Winter's Tale both from Heliodorus and Longus.
At the very end of the book the reader is tantalized with still another far-reaching query: Were the English novelists of the eighteenth century directly influenced by the Greek romances? The author hints that Richardson was. In the tangled mass of early fiction in the classic and the modern languages, it is a bold critic who dares assert the definite lineage of any particular trait, yet on a careful reading of Joseph Andrews would not anyone who knows the manner of Heliodorus find himself on familiar ground at the end, where Joseph and Fanny seemed to have turned out to be brother and sister?
Dr. Wolff has performed his double task well. The student
of Elizabethan literature will be particularly grateful to him for the analysis and comparison of the two versions of the Arcadia. The general reader will perhaps be astonished to find the Greek novels at least more modern than those of Shakespeare's time. As for Daphnis and Chloe, which is certainly the most artistic of the three, far from being an ideal in the classic spirit, like the Nausicaä episode of the Odyssey, or the idyls of Theocritus, or even archaistic like Leon Bakst's Greek shepherdesses, who would seem to have come from Lesbos by way of Crete, it is really a piece to be illustrated by Watteau or Bouchier. The most famous descendant of Longus's precious pair of innocents, Bernardin de St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia, resembles Daphnis and Chloe less than do his contemporary Marmontel's Moral Tales.
One element, and that the most important, the love-motive, they share not only with the Elizabethan but with all other novels. "Love is not love when it alteration finds," but there are many sorts of love in novels as in life. In Heliodorus Sir Philip Sidney found ready-made all the interminable eloquence which he reproduced in the Arcadia and among the characters in the novel of Achilles Tatius, Roderick Random himself would hardly have felt uncomfortable. L. P. CHAMBERLAYNE.
DEMOCRACY AND RACE FRICTION. By John Moffatt Mecklin. New York: The Macmillian Company. $1.25.
This book is a readable and stimulating analysis of the race problem. The author holds the essence of the race problem to inhere in the existence of two different races, side by side, with the stronger barring the weaker from social assimilation and social equality with itself. In the detailed analysis of this problem three primary points are discussed: race differences, social solidarity, and the probable outcome of the present racial situation in its relation to traditional American ideas of democracy and equality. In all phases of the discussion the problem is shown to be one of the group rather than the individual.
Important differences between the white and the negro races
are due to different hereditary instincts and impulses created by a fundamentally different physical and social environment. Mobility of temperament, openness to suggestion, and powerful sex impulses in the negro race are accompanied by weak powers of inhibition. The negro cannot control these impulses and instincts, and failure to do this incapacitates him for adapting himself to the complex civilization of the white race. No positive opinion is given regarding the significance of these racial differences. "When the question is raised as to whether these hereditary racial differences of the negro brand him as inferior or as incapable of assimilating the civilization of the white to the extent demanded for the highest social efficiency there is the greatest discrepancy of opinion" (pp. 74, 75). Dr. Mecklin believes that the time is not yet ripe for an answer to this question. The negro is on trial now and the issue of inferiority rests in his hands.
The insistence upon racial solidarity by the white race is due in the last analysis to the instinct for race preservation. No two social groups can live side by side and maintain standards of equal authority and value. One must occupy a dominating, the other a subordinate position. "The race discriminations which one meets at every turn in the South become in their last analysis a form of self-preservation adopted by the group mind of the white" (p. 15). The author admits the insolubility of the problem in accordance with our traditional ideas of democracy and equality on account of the existence of the racial solidarity of the white race. The best that can be attained is a modus vivendi. Two feasible ways of treating the problem are suggested. One is to permit a "status based upon race traits and the resulting caste distinctions" (p. 268). This, of course, would require a modification of our traditional political ideas. And it would serve "to perpetuate and to stereotype rather than solve the problem" (p. 269). The alternative to this practical caste system is to subject the negroes to industrial competition and let them find a natural level, both as individuals and as a group. "It may very well be that competition and social selection, stretching over long periods of time, will bring about that ethnic homogeneity which seems to be a prerequisite to social solidarity
and an efficient democracy" (p. 270). Here the author does not seem to be consistent with the facts. Competition has eliminated the negro as an economic factor in the North and has helped to intensify the racial differences between him and the white man. This does not give any ground for hoping that ethnic homogeneity will be brought about in the South by competition. Indeed, some evidence is accumulating to show that the result of industrial competition in the South will be the same as that in the North.
An interesting possibility in the race problem is touched upon but not fully and clearly discussed. If the negro cannot equip himself for economic efficiency without closer association with the white race which is now denied him, would not the inevitable result be racial retrogression and economic extinction? If this should happen, what would be the fate of the negro? Would he be eliminated as a race or would he constitute a lingering disease in the social body, placing an enormous burden upon the white race by his presence?
At times Dr. Mecklin seems to shrink from the logic of his conclusions. His feelings seem to be at variance with his logic. But even with a certain inconsistency and incompleteness of treatment the book has done much toward analyzing and making clear what the race problem really involves. It is a contribution to the literature which attempts to explain the social psychology or group thinking that is at the basis of race relation.
J. G. STEVENS.
SOCIAL FORCES IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA. By H. G. Wells. New York: Harper & Brothers.
In describing the social forces of English and American life, Mr. Wells has covered a broad range of disconnected subjects, developing them with his usual insight and charm of style. Such topics as Socialism, the Modern Novel, Divorce, the Ideal Citizen, the American Population and Modern Warfare give evidence of the scope of discussion. The point of view is characteristic of the author. His attitude is that of the speculative social philosopher and prophet. He looks to the future,