The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Book reviews

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4115255The Czechoslovak Review, volume 3, no. 12 — Book reviews1919


Czechoslovak Fairy Tales, translated by Parker Fillmore, illustrated by Jan Matulka. Harcourt, Brace, and Howe, publishers. Price $2.00.—A pleasant surprise for the Christmas table of friends of Czecho-Slovak people, their arts and literature, has been prepared by Mr. Parker Fillmore who, ably assisted by Mr. Jan Matulka, brought out a well selected and admirably rendered translation of Czechoslovak Fairy Tales. Czechoslovak folklore collected by the masterly hands of Erben, Němcová, and others has already found translators and the present work will, no doubt, win new interest among the English reading public. Mr. Fillmore’s version is fairly true to the original and he reproduces well the naive delicacy and vigorous feeling in which the tales abound. We might add that these stories hold an important place in the development of the national Czech life. In the dark days of oppression, when almost no printed books were allowed to circulate, they lived on the lips of “babičkas” and sustained the national traditions. Let us hope that they, conveying to the American public an insight into the artistic feeling and conception of the Czechoslovak people, will soon be followed by further translations from Czech modern masters.

The illustrations of Mr. Matulka are done in a rather queer modern style. Why seek new when men like Aleš, Schwaiger, Panuška, and Kašpar have shown us so well how to recreate in line or color the spirit of these tales!

We hope that the book will find a large appreciation among our readers, especially among the young folks; it well deserves it.—J. V. N.

Sanctus Spiritus and Company, by Edward A. Steiner, New York, George H. Doran Company.

This is a novel of more than ordinary interest to readers of the Czechoslovak Review, because it deals with Slovak characters and Slovak scenes. The title refers to three lovable old men, a Catholic priest, a Jewish distiller and a Protestant landowner whose ill-assorted friendship earned them the nickname of Sanctus Spiritus and Company in their hometown of Hraszova. But the hero of the story is a young man who went to America as a boy and came back as a minister, thoroughly Americanized, almost an Anglo-Saxon. At first a stranger to his people he soon enters into their life, falls in love, takes part in an election campaign and is pulled by opposing motives, until he is compelled to fly suddenly back to America to escape the wrath of the Magyar government. He becomes a pastor in a Slovak settlement in a steel town. Then war comes, and he and his people who left Hungary because of their oppression by the ruling race now be come the object of undeserved suspicion and harsh intolerance by the Americans. The story closes with the receipt of first letter from liberated Slovakia.

The author knows the Slovaks thoroughly, both in their old homes and in America. His characters, like the three old men, the schoolmaster and the doctor, are real and the description of life in the Slovak village is so vivid that the reader who was born on the other side feels transported to the days of his childhood. There is realism about the story that does not fear to touch upon the darker sides of life in the village and in the steel town, yet withal the book is pervaded by deep human sympathy and noble idealism; without tedious preaching it condemns equally the intolerance and jingoism of Magyars and of American demagogues. It is well worth reading.

This work was published before January 1, 1929 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 95 years or less since publication.

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