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against the solid timbers of the commonplace. None the less, this is a comprehensive and a human-hearted book, the fruit of inexhaustible observation and a quick and sensitive insight.
Mr. Goodwin has much to say about the shady side of life, but he lights it up with a wise judgment. 'S urban matrons,' he remarks, 'gasp with horror at the mention of the word “criminal”; but the husbands and sons of many of these virtuous females are not beyond reproach. The line of demarcation between a crime and what they gloss over as "a good stroke of busi
" has often to be looked for with a microscope.' Our author has conversed with cracksmen and learned the secret of their trade. He knows almost as much as Scotland Yard about the way to plunder a safe.
Mr. Goodwin has a wonderful 'flair' for the behavior of a crowd. On Epsom Downs, on Hampstead Heath, in the crowded cabarets and dance-halls, or in a railway carriage, he takes in at once every detail of the scene. He notices what most men miss. He sees the tired judge at the Old Bailey watching with curious eyes the gradual lighting up of the electric lamps; he fixes the features of a 'highbrow' lecture indelibly upon the page. He has both humor and horror at the point of his pen, and he can glide from one to the other with the ease of an acrobat. In short, he is an accomplished journalist, with all the art of his calling in full flower. His work is actual, vivid, and impressive.
Anatole France was as brilliant a talker as Wilde. He loved to talk, and M. Le Goff has treasured some of the limpid treasures which flowed in such generous cascades from those smiling lips. Epigrams scintillate throughout the book. ‘Russia knows only the government of the knout.' He had a profound contempt for the Republic and, as might be expected from the author of Les dieux ont soif, for the Revolution from which it emanated. One of his favorite jokes was to reply to the repeated query, 'Are you a Republican?' with ‘Do you take me for an idiot?' He would say that General Joffre first heard of the victory of the Marne in the pages of the Petit Parisien. There is something very characteristic in the fine sentence: ‘La faillite de la France n'est pas à envisager pour le moment. Un pays si riche et si beau ne peut mourir que lentement.' Rousseau he described as 'a vicious lackey.' It was clear that he had no understanding of and little sympathy with any country except his own. Great Britain, Russia, the United States, and Germany all came under the lash of his caustic tongue. His love of Racine, as might be expected, was perpetually being expressed. After Racine came André Chénier. He could not tolerate Romain Rolland. He was not too severe on the politicians, and seems to have had a certain respect and liking for M. Poincaré and M. Barthou. He feared rather than respected M. Clemenceau, particularly when he was Premier, and sent his friend, Mr. Robert Dell, about his business. His love and admiration for women were constantly being expressed. As a young man the Maître had a preference for shop-girls. M. Le Goff mentions a mysterious Countess who came now and then to La Bèchellerie. For Madame France he had obviously a great liking, but even she was not spared.
It is clear from this book that Anatole France had fears probably groundless
for his own safety during the war. He was cautious in the extreme in the expression of his opinions, and he had a profound dread of the tyranny of democracies, contrasting the severe treatment meted out to certain dissidents during the struggle with the freedom accorded to Voltaire, the friend of Frederick the Great, during the Seven Years' War. He was, of course, profoundly pessimistic concerning the war, its results, and the peace which followed from it. Anatole France, indeed, had no faith in man or in his political institutions.
[Morning Post] M. LE GOFF met Anatole France at La Bèchellerie, his property near Tours, shortly after the outbreak of the war, and formed an intimate friendship with him which lasted till the death of the Maître. It is a singularly vivid and engaging picture which M. Le Goff, following the examples of M. Gsell and M. Brousson, gives of the writer. Anatole France was amazingly affable and approachable. He apparently was at home to all the world, and so we have a succession of visitors - men of letters, politicians, pretty women, anarchists, journalists, and swarms of American generals who were dumped down at Tours when President Wilson had made up his mind to fight. To all and sundry the great man was gracious and, behind his white beard, politely ironical. If he was bored, he concealed it, and his malice was as pleasant in his talk as it is in his books. He of course laughed at them all, particularly at the American generals whom to his astonishment, he says, he found even more stupid than those of his own country.
BOOKS MENTIONED ZWEIG, STEFAN. Der Kamf mit dem Dämon.
Vienna: Insel Verlag, 1925.