The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Rikki Tikki Tac

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RIKKI TIKKI TAC. In spite of solid qualities, the popularity of ‘Rikki Tikki Tac,’ like that of many of the stories of Henri Conscience, is due in part to adventitious elements; for considered purely as a work of art it must stand on a lower plane than many another brief romance of its type. In construction of plot and the handling of incident its author here fails to show that deftness and sureness of touch which characterize the work of other masters, like Merimée or Turgenieff or Stevenson. Its appeal, as so often in the case of Conscience's work, is to sentiment. A life of hardship and suffering patiently borne and a love which triumphs through adversity provide a characteristic theme of life in Flanders in the days of Napoleon and after, and through it all, like sad, remembered music, runs the long, inexplicable, haunting refrain of the blacksmith's song. This with the description of the acrid smell of fires of sod, the shrilling of the cricket, the monotonous wide stretch of plain about Antwerp and the sense of tenderness, homesickness and loneliness, testify to the patriotic interest and homely, simple faith of its author.

Christian Gauss.