Hoping ""to bring Don Marquis' genius to the attention of a new generation of readers and to remind old friends that he wrote much more than Archy and Mehitabel,"" McCollum has gathered together a sampling of his early-20th-century correspondence--arranged by subject-matters, emphasizing Marquis' religious/literary interests (and his personal anguishes). Unfortunately, however, though a few of the letters are amusing or touching (especially those to Christopher Morley or Hugh Walpole), the collection--only intermittently entertaining in itself--will hardly inspire many readers to dig out Marquis' novels, plays, poems (some reprinted here), and theology writings. ""I am interested in nothing else in the world, seriously, except speculations and wonderings about God,"" writes Marquis in 1922 (after the deaths of his young wife and small son). Elsewhere he ponders Jesus and Einstein: ""the effort to arrive at a basic unity for the cosmos always persists parallel to an instinctive perception of its operative duality. . . ."" But, in the bulk of the letters, Marquis broods over his up-and-down career: the lost days of his newspaper-column happiness; the failure of his later, theological plays (""the American theatre is a lousey institution and I hope it chokes to death""); the critical lack of interest in his serious poetry; the need for paying work in his Inter, ill years (occasionally pathetic). And, most affectingly, there are his reactions to a Job-like string of family tragedies. Despite a buried treasure or two, then (like a proposed 1932 scenario for a Marx Bros. comedy), the selections here, non-chronological and often-repetitive, give only a fuzzy, verbose impression of the much-beloved Marquis-along with some highly unlovable racist remarks; McCollum's annotations are spotty, more loving than wise; and, notwithstanding all the good intentions, this grab-bag of Marquis-iana will probably do little to change his identification as The Man Who Wrote Archy and Mehitabel.
Pub Date: Dec. 5, 1982
Page Count: -
Publisher: Northwoods Press (P. O. Box 249, Stafford, VA 22554)