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104 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY too sober) perfonnance, which makes obsolete alr other biographies of Smollett, and will be the standard work of reference on him for years to come. Professor Knapp advances nothing but what is based on fact and has been at great pains to reconstruct the life of Smollett in its most minute details. He has drawn on his extensive knowledge of English literary life in the eighteenth century and utilized all available sources in his documentation: contemporary periodicals and memoirs, public records in Scotland, England, and Jamaica, parish rate-books (to detennine the different residences of Smollett in London), etc., and has been able to identify a surprising number of the minor figures with whom Smollett came in contact. However, perhaps because of his very thoroughness, Professor Knapp tends to discuss certain of these peripheral figures at some length, thus occasionally slowing up the text with material whicb might properly have been relegated to the notes-although the notes and references (always carefully done) are numerous enough. However, these are but tiny blemishes, which do not in the least detract from the great value of this indispensable biography. Professor Knapp has gathered an impressive array of facts but, more important still, has shown us at last in a new perspective a Smollett who was not only a navy surgeon, physician, novelist, critic, historian , and political writer, but over and above all a typical eighteenthcentury gentleman, eminently worthy to have associated with the greatest men of letters of his time. Smollett, who called Samuel Johnson the great Cham of literature, could rightfully have claimed that he himself was, briefly, the great Cham's precursor. There is a kind of hesitation that paralyses all literary students embarking on a study of an author of whom no critical biography exists; henceforth, however, students of Smollett can sail full steam ahead: the course has been charted. EUGENE jOLlAT The Novel of Violence in America, 1920-1950. By W. M. FROHOCK. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press. 1950. Pp. viii, 216. $3.75. W. M. Frohock, Associate Professor of French at Columbia, has analysed the violence manifested in a large number of the important novels written in America between 1920 and 1950. He makes a basic distinction between two strains of sensibility in these novels: one found in novels which he calls "novels of erosion," the other in SHORTER NOTICES 105 "novels of violence." His distinction is based in great part upon the role which time plays in the particular novel under discussion. In novels of erosion, time is the agent, predominating over all human effort. Characters are passive victims who change and evolve according to the will of time; they undergo rather than act. In the novel of violence, the role of time changes completely. Time in these novels is not the agent; it is not a question of what time does, but what a man does in the time allowed him. These novels are dominated by a sense of urgency. They culminate in decisive acts--usually self-destructive acts. The novelist feels that the way in which a man meets his destiny has rich significance, and that significance arises from man's vigorous participation in the struggle that is life. Thus in a sense novels of violence may be (or approach) tragedy. Technically the novel of violence resembles the action drama. Although he speculates briefly about the economic and social reasons why the novel of violence seems to have become more prevalent in the 1930's, Professor Frohock is little concerned with the writing of literary history, and although he makes numerous and revealing comparisons between the novelists under discussion and other novelists--especially French, he also is little concerned with sources or influences or schools. His strength lies in his careful and sensitive reading of individual novels as unified works of art; his chief tool- ably used-is his explication. The body of the book is made up of single chapter examinations of the novels of Dos Passos, Thomas Wolfe, James Farrell, James M. Cain, William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway. His guiding concept seems most rewarding when he applies it to Faulkner, Caldwell, Cain...


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