(The review of "Confusion" by Mr. Code which appeared in a recent issue of the CRIMSON, was printed at the time with several omissions. It follows in entirety.--Ed.)
"Confusion," a novel by J. G. Cozzens '26, is the biography of Cerise D'Atree. More significantly, it is a record of life as she found it: superficially, a tapestry of intricate, brilliant, and picturesque detail; inwardly, desperate and futile. There is nothing sordid or even tragic in any scene of this story to account for the complete disenchantment of life, which is the ultimate effect of the book as a whole. Its scenes are full of charm and delight and beauty, through which moves air extraordinary variety of real persons, most of whom accept the world at its face value and make the most of it. The materials of this tragedy are the materials of romance, almost Arcadian romance, in their detachment from difficulties and responsibilities and in their remoteness from city life.
Treatment is Entirely Objective
Nor is there any stylistic distortion or facts to account for the impression the book makes, any morbid autorial analysis such as the pseudo-psychological novelists affect, any "expressionism", that insane effect produced by filtering all impressions through the distorted vision of one character. The style is not in the least hysterical. The treatment is entirely objective. The author records his chronicle of scenes and persons and action with an abundance of that sort of exact detail which makes "realism the only method for romance." If his style maybe said to ring with any prevailing tone, except the tone of accuracy and sincerity, it is a tone, not of desperation or weariness with life, but of constant feeling for color and beauty.
The effect of the story is made, the theme is developed, as themes should be, entirely in action. A girl with every advantage of noble family, education, beauty, health, strength, physical skill, intellect, and emotional sensitiveness lives with the freedom of wealth and position in the most delightful places on the Continent and in America, associates with the most agreeable acquaintances, companions, and friends, . . and dies. And the reader, not the author, closes the book with the conviction that for Cerise D'Atree, and perhaps for all others, life is a futile and desperate thing painful to leave, but terrible to endure, and therefore best to leave.
Criticism of Modern Life
The obvious sincerity of this book defends it from the charge of following a modern cult of futilitarianism. The restraint and maturity defend it from a charge of youthful cynicism. It is a well documented criticism of modern life and demands an answer. Of course there are several obvious retorts. If the author had not given Cerise, without her effort, every object of human desire, she might have wanted something in life worth striving, worth living, for. She might have found the happiness of life in effort if it had been necessary for her to make any effort. There is also a suggestion that if Blair, the boy she loved, had been able to give her the intellectual companionship of Pelton, her guardian, she might have found in marriage the purpose she sought.
Those who wish to endanger their souls with teleology will find authentic material in "Confusion,". And the casual reader, who finds pleasure if not purpose in the records of life, will find in "Confusion" a breadth of canvas, a freshness of color, and a human interest worthy of an older master.