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might get away on a hunting trip, and that everybody else concerned might hurry through with their work. The judge pronounced sentence -three years - and it was to him instead of the department store proprietor that Mary Turner made the speech that now ends the first act of 'Within the Law.'
"I did not have to invent this. Such conditions actually exist and have existed for years. I knew the whole police and criminal courts situation backward, thanks to my experience of several years as a reporter. I covered' police headquarters in New York for a long period before I took to play writing. During that time Theodore Roosevelt was police commissioner, Jake' Riis was doing headquarters for the Sun, Lincoln Steffens for the Evening Post, and I for the Evening Mail. In no other way can a man acquire such a thorough knowledge of and insight into the realities that make our civilization hideous, as by the work that falls to the lot of a police reporter. He knows the inside of the system by which poor people are exploited for the benefit of the unscrupulous. He sees nothing but the reverse of the medal. He learns the hollowness of the pretenses by which the system is maintained.
"The next three acts developed naturally out of this situation. It is only right to make due acknowledgment to Alexandre Dumas, for, as you have no doubt recog nized, the idea of the person wrongfully convicted and imprisoned carrying out a systematic plan of vengeance is nothing but the plot of Monte Cristo.' The main difference is that it is a girl instead of a man. Most of the managers I subsequently took the play to threw up their hands in horror at this idea. They declared we never in the world could win the sympathy of audiences for a woman who devoted all her energies to revenge. They could not see that this is one of the most elemental feelings in human nature. Some big elemental feeling must be the basis of all drama. And the instinct to say I'll get even with you' is one of the most universal. I made the
girl set out deliberately to injure the man who had sent her to prison. The natural thing for her to consider was: Where can I hurt him most? Obviously his affection for his boy was his tenderest spot. Moreover, as he had irreparably ruined her life, it was logical for her to attack his. And the best way to damage it was to associate it by marriage with that of a convicted felon, so that by marrying his son she inflicted a two-fold injury on her enemy. Hence her crucial speech in the second act: 'You took away my name and gave me a number. Now I have given up that number and I've got your name!'
"The change in the first act from an attack on the jury system to an attack on department stores came about in this way: I set aside the court room scene so as to use it in another play. I left the heroine as she was, a salesgirl wrongfully accused of theft. And I made her plight the basis of an attack on the department store system in particular and Our economic system in general. I am free to admit that I saw the pictorial value of existing conditions and particularly for the first act of 'Within the Law.' They made a first act just as suitable as the previous one that 1 set aside for future use. The subsequent acts followed it just as naturally as they followed the other..
"To return to the original process. Knowing the police methods, it was perfectly easy to imagine the girl's history after she was let out of jail. It is the almost invariable practice of the police when they see an ex-convict to warn the employer. So naturally the first thing that would have happened to Mary Turner soon after she obtained a job would be for a detective to come into the shop and give the boss full information about her. After a few attempts to earn an honest living, being determined not to become a prostitute, she would say to herself: "Oh, very well; if they won't let me be honest I'll get money in the same way the big, successful crooks, the politicians, and the grafters gets theirs, — dishonestly, but within the law. At the
same time I made her execute her scheme for revenge on Gilder.
"The fourth act I stole. Almost every incident in it is a matter of public record. The third degree trick worked on Joe Garson by Inspector Burke in the play is precisely the same trick that was carried out by Inspector Byrnes, undoubtedly the best policeman who ever lived, on a crook named McGloin. Everybody down at headquarters knows about it-in fact it is related in Byrnes's book.
"As for the trap laid for Mary Turner by the inspector, that also was comparatively easy. Police methods are invariably simple. Whenever they want to catch criminals and cannot procure evidence the policy is to entrap them into committing some crime at which they can be caught. This they do by means of a stool pigeon; hence the character of English Eddie.' Originally I had the woman take part in the burglary of Gilder's home for additional revenge. It was thanks to an excellent suggestion from Charles Klein that I changed this. He pointed out that this would alienate the audiences' sympathy, which her previous wrongs had won for her. Accordingly, I had her go to Gilder's house, not to share in but to prevent the robbery. Then occurred the problem of how to account for her finding out about the burglary scheme. One thing a playwright always has to avoid is giving audiences cause to puzzle over any point. Once they do that their attention is distracted from the action and the suspense is broken. It was Roi Megrue who suggested that I have the inspector telephone her anonymously so as to inveigle her into the trap. These changes were made after the play had opened in Chicago.
"The Maxim silencer business I put in because there was a great deal in the newspapers about the invention just at the time I was writing the piece. I think every play should be, as largely as possible, a reflex of what is in the papers at the present timenot only in lesser details such as this, but in larger affairs. When the silencer was publicly tested it was said that reporters in the next room had been unable to hear the
sound of the shot. So I thought: If reporters, why not policemen ?' The introduction of the incident in the second act, when Joe Garson shows how effective the silencer is by shooting at a vase, was merely a matter of ordinary technical skill. You must let the audience see things like that for themselves it is not sufficient to explain them.
"Incidentally, a great many people who saw the play have wondered whether the vase is really shot. If guns used on the stage were actually loaded with bullets I shudder to think of the calamities that might follow. I would not trust my life to the marksmanship of the average actor. There is a very simple mechanism by which the vase is smashed at just the right moment in such a way that it seems to have been shattered by a bullet.
"The revolving searchlight from the Metropolitan tower which flashes in through the window in the third act and reveals the dead body of English Eddie to Inspector Burke was the result of mere accident. This was not in the play originally, but was introduced during the Chicago run of the piece. For some time, however, I felt the need of a spot light to account for the inspector's seeing the body while the room was almost in total darkness. But I could not figure out any plausible excuse for bringing it in. One afternoon I was talking to Al Woods in his room on the sixth floor of the Sherman House in Chicago. Suddenly a bright light was reflected on the ceiling from the street. I jumped up, went to the window and saw that a wagon was passing by with a large plate of glass. This had caught the sunlight and flashed it up into the room. That gave me the idea for the third act: 'Why not a searchlight?' I remembered that there were two such in New York, one on top of the Hippodrome and the other on the Metropolitan tower, and it just became a question of which was the more expedient to use.
"When Archie Selwyn, who was, still is, and always will be, my business agent, took Over the play from Mr. Brady, he paid Mr. Brady ten thousand dol
lars for the property, and assumed Mr. Brady's contract with me, which called for an unusually high royalty for a beginner five per cent. on the first four thousand of the gross receipts and ten per cent. on everything over that amount. Selwyn had been very pleased, as a play agent, over this contract, and he didn't seem to mind it greatly when he took it over as a manager. But we both thought it a good deal of a joke. I especially enjoyed it.
"None of us thought for a minute that Within the Law' would be the success that it is. We all looked for a moderate hit and a run possibly until the first of the year, but that we should sell out on the second night that the play was presented in New York and never have an empty seat in the house for three hundred performances was beyond our wildest dreams.
"The play will make a fortune for Mr. Selwyn and his associates, and it's doing very well indeed for me, too, thank you kindly."
Arnold Bennett's Views on Writing. One reason why a play is easier to write than a novel is that a play is shorter than a novel. On the average one may say that it takes six plays to make the matter of a novel. Other things being equal, a short work of art presents fewer difficulties than a longer one. The contrary is held true by the majority, but then the majority, having never attempted to produce a long work of art, are unqualified to offer an opinion. It is said that the most difficult form of poetry is the sonnet. But the most difficult form of poetry is the epic. The proof that the sonnet is the most difficult form is alleged to be in the fewness of perfect sonnets.
whereas it is doubtful whether anybody but Turgenieff ever did write a perfect novel.
A short form is easier to manipulate than a long form because its construction is less complicated, because the balance of its proportions can be more easily corrected by means of a rapid survey, because it is lawful and even necessary in it to leave undone many things which are very hard to do, and because the emotional strain is less prolonged. The most difficult thing in all art is to maintain the imaginative tension unslackened throughout a considerable period. – Arnold Bennett, in the Metropolitan Magazine.
LITERARY ARTICLES IN PERIODICALS.
[Readers who send to the publishers of the periodicals indexed for copies of the periodicals containing the articles mentioned in the following reference list will confer a favor if they will mention THE WRITER.]
ON ALLOWING THE EDITOR TO SHOP EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS. Leonard Hatch. Open Letters. Century for July.
RECOLLECTIONS OF FREDERIC REMINGTON. With pictures by Frederic Remington and portrait. Augustus Thomas. Century for July.
DIFFERENCES IN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN USAGE. Thomas R. Lounsbury. Harper's Magazine for July. THE AUTHOR OF "ROBINSON CRUSOE" (Daniel Defoe ). Edith Wyatt. North American Review for July.
THE YOUNGER NOVELISTS. Mrs. W. L. Courtney. North American Review for July.
Browne). But such
There are, however, few more perfect sonnets than perfect epics. A perfect sonnet may be a heavenly accident. accidents can never happen to writers of epics. Some years ago we had an enormous palaver about the art of the short story," which numerous persons who had omitted to write novels pronounced to be more difficult than the novel. But the fact remains that there are scores of perfect short stories,
THE DIAL'S PURITAN EDITOR (Francis Fisher With portrait. American Review of Reviews for July. WRITING PLAYS. Arnold Bennett. Metropolitan for July.
GLIMPSES OF THOMAS CARLYLE. Percy Fitzgerald. Contemporary Review for June.
ANDREW LANG. Eastern and Western Review for June.
FRANCIS FISHER BROWNE, 1843-1913. Dial for June 1.
J. M. Barrie has been made a baronet. Hall Caine at sixty is said to be getting at least $50,000 a year from his literary work.
Jack London announces that he will not only exact good prices hereafter for motion picture delineations of his short stories and novels, but will also act in them, so as to insure the right sort of interpretation of his heroes.
The French Academy has awarded its literary grand prize of $2,000 to Romain Rolland, the playwright, novelist and historical writer, author of "Jean Christophe." The prize was intended for a novel published within two years, but a debate arose as to whether it should be awarded to a beginner or as a recompense for distinguished career. The Academy adopted the latter view, but in 1912 it adopted the former suggestion, when the prize given to Lafon's pupil Gilles. The award is so difficult to make that it was not given to any one in 1911, when the prize was founded.
Thomas Nelson Page has been made ambassador to Italy, and Henry Van Dyke has been nominated for minister to the Netherlands. Meredith Nicholson has declined the nosition of minister to Portugal.
The papers by Robert Sterling Yard, the new editor of the Century, on book publishing which have been appearing recently in various periodicals will be published in book form in the autumn by the Houghton Mifflin Company, under the title, "The Publisher."
A new biography of John Keats is being written by Sir Sidney Colvin.
"Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters: A Family Record," compiled by William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh, is published by E. P. Dutton & Co.
The present Earl of Lytton is preparing a biography of his grandfather, the novelist, to be published in the fall.
A brief "Life of William Ernest Henley," by L. Cope Cornford, is published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.
"The Son of a Servant," by August Strindberg, translated by Claude Field and published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, is a record of the early years of the author's life.
Ellen Key: Her Life and Her Works," by Louise Nystrom-Hamilton of Stockholm, translated from the Swedish by Anna E. B. Fries, is published by the Putnams. In "The English Lyric," by Felix A. Schelling, published by the Houghton Mifflin Company, Professor Schelling, beginning with the earliest emergence of English song, traces the development of the lyric in England down to the present moment, giving due heed to its characteristic forms in succeeding ages and to the various influences that have from time to time affected it.
"A Sunny Life," by Isabel C. Barrows, published by Little, Brown, & Co., is the biography of Rev. Samuel June Barrows, clergyman, editor, congressman, and secretary of the Prison Association of New York.
The American Sunday School Union offers $2,000 in three prizes for three books, as follows: (1) One thousand dollars to the author who presents the best original work upon Christian Unity: Jesus Christ's Idea of It How and Why It Should Be Realized To-day;" (2) six hundred dollars for the best original work and (3) four hundred dollars for the next best original work, to be written upon the topic, Amusements How Can They Be Made to Promote the Highest Well-Being of Society?" The Society desires works of a practical, instructive, and popular character, convenient in size, having from about 40,000 to about 70,000 words in each book. Manuscripts must be submitted by October 1, 1914, to the American Sunday-School Union, 1816 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Penn.
"The Poet and Philosopher," published at Tampa, Fla., by Fritz L. Schmidt, Jr., LL. B., editor and manager, is quarterly magazine devoted to the art of poetry.
has been formed in Louisville, Ky., to publish a monthly illustrated magazine which will be issued as a supplement to daily papers in the smaller towns of Ohio and Indiana. The first issue will be dated August 9. George G. Fetter, head of a large printing establishment of Louisville, which will print the paper, is president of the company, Howard C. Wedekemper, of the same company, is treasurer, and Jack Woodson, formerly of the editorial staff of the Louisville Times, is editor.
William B. Howland, publisher of the Outlook for twenty-three years, has resigned his position, and will go to the Independent, in which he has bought a large interest. His sons, Karl V. S. Howland and Harold J. Howland, have also resigned their Outlook positions, and Harold J. Howland will become associate editor of the Independent. Mr. Howland has retained his share in the ownership of the Outlook, and Karl V. S. Howland will continue to represent the Howland interest on the board of directors of the Outlook Company.
The Woman's World (Chicago) has been purchased by Woman's World, Incorporated. This follows the placing of the business of the Woman's World Publishing Company in the hands of Curtis P. Brady as receiver in bankruptcy. The new company is capitalized at $1,500,000. The old company was capitalized at $2,500,000. It is announced that the various departments of the magazine will continue to be under the same management as heretofore.
A receiver for the Watchman, the old Boston Baptist weekly, has been asked for by George E. Horr, who claims $2,100; Joseph S. Swaim, who claims $1,100; and Edmund F. Merriam, who claims $2,400. Mr. Swaim and Mr. Merriam are editors of the Watchman and Dr. Horr is president of the corporation. The assets exceed $10,000 and the liabilities are less than $9,000, but there is a disagreement among the stockholders of the paper.
Robert J. Kellogg, president of the Kellogg Music Publishing Co., was arraigned in New York June 18, charged with using the mails to defraud. According to Postoffice Inspector Mayhew, ambitious poets were the victims. He charges that Kellogg advertised to set poems to music, publish them, and pay the authors liberal royalties. A fee of $21 was charged. Mr. Mayhew says that the songs rarely were published, but when a client became insistent the publisher would print a few copies for the author. In such cases, the inspector says, he set the song to old music.
Colonel Harvey in his valedictory says that Harper's Weekly has been losing money for twenty years.
Frederick A. Ober died at Hackensack, N. J., May 31, aged sixty-four.
Alfred Austin, British poet laureate since 1896, died in London, June 2, aged seventy
Rev. Dr. Charles A. Briggs died in New York, June 9, aged seventy-two.
Thomas A. Janvier died in New York, June 18, aged sixty-three.
Mrs. Mary Harrison Seymour died at Litchfield, Conn., June 26, aged seventy-eight.