News

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Talks Justice, Civic Engagement at Radcliffe Day

News

Church Says It Did Not Authorize ‘People’s Commencement’ Protest After Harvard Graduation Walkout

News

‘Welcome to the Battlefield’: Maria Ressa Talks Tech, Fascism in Harvard Commencement Address

Multimedia

In Photos: Harvard’s 373rd Commencement Exercises

News

Rabbi Zarchi Confronted Maria Ressa, Walked Off Stage Over Her Harvard Commencement Speech

ON THE STREAM OF TRAVEL. By James Norman Half. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 1926. $3.00.

By H. W. Bragdon .

EVEN before reading this "Odyssey" have always felt that among the types of men who could not write literature were war heroes and professional journalists. War heroes usually make the stuff of romance seem commonplace; journalists lose distinction of style and the ability to take pains.

Mr. Hall is both a former ace of the Lafayette Escadrillc and a journalist, and as a result starts two laps behind the field. He never makes them up. He travels from the little Iowa village of his birth to a prison camp in Germany, to forgotten islands of Polynesia, to Iceland and back to Tahiti. His first chapter set in the Iowa village and describing the various soldiers of fortune passing through on the sleepers gives promise, but for the rest Hall is too self-conscious, inadequate, and careless.

Then, too, he comes from Iowa, a land of pioneers and Methodism. With the wanderlust he combines a purpose, which for me rather crippled its appeal. He feels it "a fitting thing that men of nomadic habits should give, from time to time, some account of their wanderings to the Spartan souls who carry on the world's work. Thus may all itinerants render some small service to society, and--those who will--take the road again with a lighter conscience." Mr. Hall then writes from a sense of duty. Now a sense of duty is not inspirational--I know, because I am writing this book-review from a sense of duty. Now a sense of duty is not inspirational--I know, because I am writing this book-review from a sense of duty. There came a time when even in Tahiti the rents had to be paid. He set out in leisurely fashion and produced the quite delightful and mellow first chapter. Then his portable typewriter clicked off the pages without revision, embodying scraps from his note book in toto, even including some doggerel verse--verse undoubtedly as fine as was ever written by any Iowa-born American in the French Air Service. But it is not literature, not until the next-to-last chaper. In these forty pages Mr. Hall describes the fate of "The Forgotten One," an Englishman who chose almost absolute solitude on a tiny island as the goal of life. For some years he was happy, but of a sudden his evesight failed; madness followed. Mr. Hall reaches here his highest level.

He is not able to keep it up, however, and drops back to the earlier vein to tell us why he lives in Tahiti. He appears to have sufficient reason and convincing: Tahiti, by common consent, isn't such a bad place anyway.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags