19 December 1920

19 December 1920

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

We speak thus openly, for Mr Benson confesses that in his opinion ‘the short story is not a lyre on which English writers thrum with the firm delicacy of the French, or with the industry of the American author'. He opines that if the ten best short stories in the world were proclaimed they would be French stories; while if the million worst were brought together, they would be found to be written in America. Chi lo sa! as d'Annunzio's heroines were so fond of murmuring. But our eye wanders to the small green volumes of Turgeniev and Tchehov. Russia is evidently torn out of Mr Benson's atlas.
Just Open, by Mr Pett Ridge, is adapted for a railway journey on which the train stops at all the stations - one of those journeys when one is constantly rearranging one's knees, saying one does not mind at all having the golf-clubs thrown on to one's paper of violets, and swearing that it is not - and never was, thank God! - one's copy of The Daily Mirror on the floor. In these surroundings dips are all the reader is fit for, and dips are all that the author provides - they are sketches of little people who, entangled for ever in the net of circumstance, are yet alive enough to make some protest when they feel an extra jerk. There is a slight commotion, a swimming together, a lashing of tails, a wriggle or two. But it lasts only a minute; with the turn of the blank page there is calm..

[KM's review of The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories by E. F. Benson; Just Open by W. Pett Ridge; A Man of the Islands, by H. de Vere Stacpoole, in the Athenaeum, 26 November 1920.]