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EDITORS DAILY CRIMSON.-It was with the utmost surprise that I read, in our college papers, the reviews of Mr. Wendell's romance, "The Duchess Emilia;" nor was that surprise lessened by a second careful reading of the book itself. Such blind and undiscriminating praise as was lavished upon it, can be but harmful to any but the strongest work. Mr. Wendell's romance has been called the "most powerful and original that has been produced in America since Hawthorne;" "as a piece of literary workmanship, almost perfect." The reviewers have suffered only from dearth of words in which to express this enthusiasin, and the slight blame which they throw in seems to be rather a propitiatory offering to justice than an honest belief in the existence of faults. The fact is that the book has many faults. As a "piece of literary workmanship" it is far from perfect; the book abounds in inharmonious and loosely-constructed sentences; it contains positive errors so glaring as to be palpable to the merest survey; the use of metophor is carried to such an extent as to be wearisome; and the sole merit of the book is the entertaining way in which a clever but fantastic and imaginative, idea is developed into an interesting story. For interesting it certainly is, but decidedly not powerful. The manner in which the story is told is another ground for criticism, for the grand climax of the book, the part which should be strongest, is not equal to the steps by which we approach it, and the book leaves a sense of something wanting, a promised strength which is not forthcoming. It also lacks unity, and the first chapters, treating of the boyhood of Beverly, present anecdotes of him, which entirely fail to delineate his character with any vividness. One might also think that the Italian language was not a common study for a boy of ten or twelve, in the New England of fifty years ago.
But were the book free from all the defects which I have mentioned, it would still be open to criticism from its lack of humanity, or more explicitly, the element of human nature in the characters. The adventures and for tunes of the actors are those of no flesh-and-blood creations, and the book lacks the vividness and realness of the truly great novels and romances of the world. And this fault is a great one in the opinion of all who see a novel's greatness in its truth to human nature, and not in a clever plot and romantic adventures.
I wish to make no sweeping condemnation of the book in what I have said, but only to point out, as best I may, the extravagance and lack of discrimination of such criticism as has appeared in our college papers.
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