1893-08-15, English, Article, Journal or magazine article edition: Our Book-Shelf in the Bush, (15 August 1893)

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Our Book-Shelf in the Bush, (15 August 1893)
 
Bookmark: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/257893467
Physical Description
  • 1733 words
  • article
  • Journals
  • Magazines
Published
  • vra, Twopenny, Pearce and Co., 1893-08-15
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • Our Book-Shelf in the Bush, (15 August 1893)
Appears In
  • The Australasian pastoralists' review : a monthly journal and record of all matters affecting the pastoral and landed interests throughout Australasia., v.3, no.6, 1893-08-15, p.47 (ISSN: 0314-7096)
Published
  • vra, Twopenny, Pearce and Co., 1893-08-15
Physical Description
  • 1733 words
  • article
  • Journals
  • Magazines
Part Of
  • The Australasian pastoralists' review : a monthly journal and record of all matters affecting the pastoral and landed interests throughout Australasia.
  • Vol. 3 No. 6 (15 August 1893)
Subjects
Summary
  • Our Book-Shelf in the Bush, * t * All boohs, novels, or 'publications intended for review must reach our Sydney or Melbourne offices not later than the 20 th of the month. “’Twixt Old Times and New,” by Baron de Malortie (London: Ward and Downey) is the new edition of a very entertaining volume of gossipy stories by a clever raconteur. It comprises a good many anecdotes of the late ill-fated Emperor Maximilian, and of the disastrous campaign in Mexico, some excellent tales of Waterloo, and a lot of others of more recent date. “A Reminiscence of Bernadette” is one of the most striking and remarkable incidents we have come across for a long time, and which we do not remember ever having seen in any form before. Courage, patriotism, heroism, comedy, and history form part themes of the Baron’s stories, and we have no doubt he can give us at least another as welcome and readable book if he pleases. “ In Tent and Bungalow” (London : Methuen and Co.), is by the author of “Indian Idylls,” a work published in America, and which, so far, has not fallen into our hands. The twelve stories of Anglo-Indian life, which are here presented, are pleasant and readable contributions to the literature of the time. They are not pretentious, nor imitative of Kipling’s well-known short tales, but they enhance the interest in India which has undoubtedly been aroused by Kipling’s writings. Some of them have a touch of humour, while others have pathos and sentiment to recommend them. Finland, of all countries in the world, has produced little in the way of literature, and the undoubted taste for foreign works, which has become a feature of the present day, has induced publisherslike like theatrical managers—to unearth novelties. “ Squire Hellmann, mann, and other Stories” is one of Mr. T. Fisher Unwin’s latest additions to the Pseudonym Library. The author, Juhani Aho, it is safe to say, has never been heard of before by English-speaking people. There is a vein of humour running through the principal story, and some of the shorter ones possess a kind of able simplicity, mingled with crudity, and for which the translation— difficult in the extreme—may be partly responsible. “Pretty Michal” (London : Chapman and Hall) is a romance by the famous Hungarian author, Maurus or Moritz Jokai, one of the most prolific writers of the century, honoured both in his own country and abroad. Only three of this literary giant’s productions have so far been translated into our language—“Timar’s Two Worlds,” “Doctor Dumany’s Wife,” and “Pretty Mikal.” The first, which never went out of threevolume volume form, may justly be pronounced one of the finest and noblest works of fiction ever penned, and which no person who has ever read can or will forget. The next contains some powerful writing, such as the wonderful description of the railway accident; but the last is unequal, and not worthy of the masterhand, although the lightning flashes of genius illumine its gloomy, lurid, and repellant scenes. The story of how the public executioner compels his son—a priest in holy orders —to adopt his own calling, is marvellously vellously vivid, yet repulsive. The writing is good, but the subject is bad, and one regrets it from start to finish. The clever character of Simplex, the trumpeter, is a foil to the darker passages ; but the introduction of the fraudulent witches counteracts the effect produced. duced. Some twelve months ago the publication of M. Jokai’s “Under the Crescent” was announced, but, for some unexplained reason, the book never appeared. The author is now a very old man—born, we believe, in 1825—and, as generally happens, it takes the advent of death to make a writer’s appreciation commensurate with his ability, we may expect many of his best works “ done into English,” when he has ceased to write. At present he represents Kassa in the Hungarian Diet, or Parliament —the city in which a good deal of the interest of “ Pretty Mikal” takes place—while in “ Timar’s Two World’s” he introduces his birthplace, Komorn. It has been estimated that Jokai has made use of 70,816,464 letters in his literary works, weighing over 35,000 kilograms ! Truly a prodigious record. The translation of “Pretty Mikal” has been excellently performed by Mr. R. Nisbet Bain, much more so than in his version of “ Squire Hellmann,” “The Diary of an Idle Woman in Constantinople,” by Frances Elliot (London, John Murray), is a book with a misleading title, but an able book withal. It is a series of word pictures and descriptions tions of the capital of the Turkish empire in its many kaleidoscopic aspects. The authoress is somewhat irritating at times in her rapid transit from the past to the present; in fact, she goes from ancient history to modern with the rapidity of dissolving views, “ Constantinople” and the “Bosphorous,” what a dazzling glamour of bogus tinsel, of gorgeous magnificence, of dirt, squalor, misery and corruption these words conjure up before the mind’s eye in thinking of the East! Constantinople, whose very stones are bespattered and cemented with blood, whose luxury and indolence are a by-word of the very world! The authoress, in her idle diary, has torn aside the veil with a ruthless band, and shown us the very Sick Man of to-day, tottering to his doom. The more one reads of Constantinople, the more one regrets that the hand of civilization tion cannot smite hip and thigh, and thus rescue it from dissolute, stagnant barbarism ; but before this ever happens, and the plague spot of Europe is transformed, an Armageddon will arise that will cause the very earth to tremble at its shocks. Of the present Sultan, our authoress tells us that “he is the most wretched, pinched-up, little sovereign she ever saw. A most unhappylooking looking man, of dark complexion, with a look of absolute terror in his large eastern eyes. People say he is nervous, and no wonder, considering the fate of his predecessors; yet this is to be regretted, for if he could surmount these fears his wmuld be an agreeable and refined countenance, eminently Asiatic in type, and with a certain charm of expression. . . His eyes haunted her for days, as of one gazing at some unknown horror. So emaciated and unnatural is his appearance that, were he a European, we should pronounce him in a swift decline. . . His greatest friend and favourite is his physician. And no wonder, for he must need his constant care, considering the life he leads. How all the fabled state of the Oriental potentate falls before such a lesson in royal misery. The poorest beggar in his dominions is happier than he!” The supposed suicide of Abdul Aziz —the insanity of the deposed Murad, whom no one knows to be alive or dead, and the terrible vengeance of Hassan the Circassian, are all of the highest possible dramatic matic interest, and told with powerful incisiveness. The life of a sultan, like that of the policeman in the “ Pirates _of Penzance,” is not a happy one. We are told: —“Possessing boundless power over millions he cannot insist on the slightest change, however trifling. Surrounded by guards, ministers, and courtiers, who kiss the earth before him, his life is in his hand from day to day. The master of a harem of all the loveliest women in the world, he can neither raise one to the throne, nor acknowledge a child not born of a slave. Dreaded by Mussulmans throughout his empire, the Christian citizens of his capital laugh at him, and ridicule both him and his religion. While his life and prosperity are prayed for by millions of Mussulmans in the remotest corners of the world, the man himself lives surrounded by conspirators, intriguers, and enemies, who secretly often execrate and curse him. Apparently the most powerful of sovereigns, he is in reality the weakest and most miserable, for he knows that at least half of his predecessors have died a violent death. Placed beyond Europe and Asia, he belongs to neither. Adored as a god by so many different creeds and races, he ends by being deceived, blinded, watched, and tormented, until a life of perpetual danger and torment among his nearest relations too often ends by a voluntary tary resignation or assassination.” Our authoress says of the Turk that “ much as he may desire to cling to Asiatic barbarism like Falstaff, he is now forced, in a degree, ‘to purge and live like a gentleman,’ whether he will or no.” She speaks of the race as “ cruel with the senseless cruelty of fanatics. Ignorant, stolid, with rare exceptions, which do not affect the rule ; indifferent and repulsive to everything but their own world. Had they remained in their native Asia the Ottoman Turks might have been respected as a conservative race clinging to their own religion, manners, and habits; but as transplanted into Europe, and taking a plac° among civilised nations, one comes absolutely to detest them as mere political necessities, maintained in a position they fail to fill.” The massacre of St. Sophia, and that of the Janissaries, are told in strong, stirring, well-chosen language, and the book will be welcomed by all men and women of culture as a valuable addition to our knowledge of a fascinating subject. With some publishers it seems to be a matter of etiquette to charge high prices for their books, and this one is invoiced at 14s. It is accompanied by four illustrations and a map. “The Last of Six,” a book of short stories by the well-known explorer, Ernest Favenc, has just been issued from the press of the Sydney Bulletin Company. It is not often that one can commend the re-publication of tales that have appeared in serials or weekly papers and magazines in a collective form, but it is a matter for congratulation that these stories have not been allowed to die, for they were well worthy and deserving of reproduction. They are mostly weird and picturesque, with a touch of uncanny ghostliness in places, but they are of tropical Australia—most certainly Australian. One deals with Borneo, and another the coast of New Guinea, but the bulk are North Australian. A slice of humour is interleaved at times, but the majority of the stories are serious and dramatic. The eulogistic preface, by “ Kolf Boldrewood,” is fully ustitied in every respect to the letter,
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