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

By Donald Davidson | Go to book overview

Ellen Glasgow--Social Historian Critic's Almanac April 13, 1930

More than four years ago, the late Stuart P. Sherman discovered in Ellen Glasgow a novelist who treated "provincial life from a national point of view." Sherman was not the first to "discover" Ellen Glasgow; in fact, he was a little late in improving his mind to that extent. But one wish of his, expressed at the time, has come to pass: he hoped for a collected edition of Miss Glasgow's works, since he had been put to much trouble in rummaging through bookshops to find them. The Old Dominion edition of Ellen Glasgow's novels is now a reality in which we may all rejoice. To have it in hand confirms not only Stuart Sherman's good opinion of her, but the general one as well. . . .

The first issue of the Old Dominion edition includes four volumes: The Battleground, originally published in 1902 (when Miss Glasgow was 28); The Deliverance, 1904; Virginia, 1913 and They Stooped to Folly, 1929. Each volume has a short preface in which Miss Glasgow sets forth her intention as to the particular novel. Whether she has revised the text itself, I do not know; but I imagine she has not heeded Sherman's humble petition to reduce her novels twenty per cent in bulk "out of tender regard for the brevity of man's life." For they are spacious novels-- especially the early ones--that take their own time about getting under way and finishing up. Often they are laborious. Nearly always they are more loquacious than they need be--even in the entirely modern They Stooped to Folly. For a mind alternately goaded and enervated by the galvanic excitement of modern literature, they make slow

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