The Spyglass, Views and Reviews, 1924-1930: Selected and Edited by John Tyree Fain

By Donald Davidson | Go to book overview

presumption of cleverness such as afflicts many of Aiken's contemporaries. His presentation of the modern consciousness varies from the vulgar to the rhapsodical; but instead of the precocious bitterness of, say, John Dos Passos, Aiken has a poet's own tenderness. His people are all fully alive. His Mr. Smith, for example, is a truer Babbitt than Sinclair Lewis's own creation. And Aiken's use of language is nothing short of astonishing. On the one hand he can write small talk with stunning variety; on the other, he can write Demarest's subjective soliloquy, covering nearly eighty pages of rumination as Demarest lies on his bunk trying to go to sleep, with a fecundity, color, richness of invention and pursuit of associations and images that overwhelms you and leaves you breathless. Readers of Marching On, A Good Woman, and similar straightaway novels will not comprehend Conrad Aiken's devious ways, for Aiken is not so plausible a writer as Boyd and Bromfield; Aiken's book is indeed, a sort of sweet poison, dangerous to the system; but I prefer his poison to many modem kinds I can think of.

Frances Newman


Critic's Almanac May 13, 1928

After reading all of the 295 pages in Frances Newman book Dead Lovers Are Faithful Lovers, I turned over and read what was on the back cover. The publishers had thoughtfully recorded the opinion of James Branch Cabell, H. L. Mencken and other important people that the mind of Frances Newman of Atlanta is profound, interesting, witty. It was encouraging to come upon these plain-spoken

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