Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties
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temper but also a boldness and an independence, learned in the same lanx; school, that when made him intolerant of other people's policies own judgment, and prevented him from hesitating a moment about throwing up any job, no matter how fraught with prestige, when printhey conflicted with his demanded between submission and resignation. The idea that "social betterment" and the "elevating" effects of the arts were the most important things in the world and causes to be served gratuitously
openly eral so provocatively and makes himself unpleasant that the reader must himself be German spy, and is led to think that this character patriot masquerading as a is a who in genat first French later im- wonder how he has ever held down his job. The hero, Bastineau, leader of the mountain resistance, pelled to combines the glamor of Charles Boyer with the locomotive proficiency of Superman. Adored by his followers almost as a god, he constantly outwits the Germans, per-
folklore of the Barrymores; and, as you read, you can smell the aroma of the Manhattans and highballs and cigars of the old Hoffman House and the Knickerbocker bar, you seem to drift on the long late conversations at the Players club and the Lambs on which the Barrymore mythology was nourished. John Barrymore did in a sense live his legend; but you cannot really feel its validity unless you see it presented in terms of the smoking room, the city room, the green room, of the mirrors behind the
his letters CLASSICS 138 AND COMMERCIALS —runs amuck, takes to dissipation and is broken down young. But poor Barrymore never realized himself in either his painting or his acting as, say, Poe or Stephen Crane did in his writing, and he never found can standards was only when some aspect of a character he was playing coincided with some aspect of his own personality that he was really creative on the stage: the scenes in which Hamlet takes his bitterness the right thing to do or be. It
meant Henry the dramatist really if that we must in why should this V be taken to be the case? more conventional Shakespeare's always, in order to understand them, look for a personal pattern behind the ostensible was a ing, as I did above, that Shakespeare and potboilers both at the beginning mean In say- plot. fabricator of at the end of his imply that these pieces, 'even aside from their magnificent poetry, had nothing life, I did not of course them in of