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

Romance in Cocked Hats and Shirt Sleeves

THE HIGH ADVENTURE, by Jeffery Farnol; Little Brown, and Company, Boston. 1926. $2.00.

By D. S. Gibbs

THERE is a broad highway in the life of every man, a romance-strewn avenue of happiness. But seldom does anyone in this age of mechanics and materialism dare to remain long on his particular highway. It is much safer and far more profitable to stand on the curb and sell motor cars or lead pencils. So only in the evenings by the hearth fire when the world of skyscrapers and tabloid newspapers and directors' meetings is obscured by thick curtains and a desire for rest and refreshment does courage come--vicarious courage, of course--and the world worn modern takes from the shelf a book of one of those who have made much of their highways, who have journeyed long upon them to find tinkers and troubles and girls with blue eyes.

Such a novel was "The Amateur Gentleman", such a novel is "The High Adventure". Jeremy Veryan with his stick and his dog and his prowess at arms and the game beloved of a certain Marquis of Queensbury betakes himself forth upon his highway. And many adventures curious and great test the stick and the dog and the prowess. For there are always evils to meet on any highway, especially a Jeffrey Farnol highway. Yet Jeremy has the light of dauntlessness in his eyes-and he loves a lady-two inimitable means of success in novels-or even in life. So it is a victorious Jeremy who faces the reader as the book ends, an impossibly epic Jeremy-and a delightfully epic dog.

Yet when the world-worn modern (which is a much better name than tired business man) completes his vicarious journey and betakes himself from romantic reading to classic slumber he has really wandered a rather inferior road. "The High Adventure", after all, is not quite so lofty as its name might suggest. For the most half romanticist feels the need of certain tricks of style and thought to keep him from waking to reality. And Mr. Farnol has given him few in this particular work. The plot is very, very apparent. One reality guesses who the real villian is early in the story, and from the moment Olivia Revell descends her ladder into the world of Jeremy it is obvious that she is his forever. Mystery does not befog this highway, though the author try to build mazes of confusion in the good old romance manner.

Mr. Farnol--and anyone will agree who has read his earlier works--has done much better than this. He has apparently lost the flair and vigor of "The Broad Highway" even of "Peregrine's Progress", and the book suffers from the absence of that vitality. True there is Jessamy Todd, the Methodist-pugilist, and an occasional character of the Farnol tradition--which is the Dickens tradition-but they are wraiths compared with the coves he used to draw. A certain dashing style and a gallant exuberance of spirits is necessary for success in the kind of novel Mr. Farnol enjoys writing. And that verve and esprit he certainly fails to reveal in "The High Adventure".

But his is not an easy task in this age and particularly when he has written so many in the same vein. Not even the most vigorous literary adventurer can endure too many adventures. So this last leaves Mr. Farnol rather weak. Yet there are still a great many world-worn moderns, tired equally of Main Street and Mencken, who wish occasionally to roam along paths--and "The High Adventure" leads them thus. So perhaps it is not fair to damn, even with faint praise. "The High Adventure" will beguile many a world-worn modern--and more than beguile many a boy of fourteen who can take his dog for a grand walk when the book is read, a grand walk with stick a-flourishing and mind a-scurrying down the broad highway of youth and of romance, the highway scorned by authorities on comparative literature, by pedants and by profiteers.

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

Tags