User:Garamond Lethe/sandbox/Trajan (novel)

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Trajan: The History of a Sentimental Young Man, with Some Episodes in the Comedy of Many Lives' Errors
Author Henry F. Keenan
Country United States
Language English
Published 1885 (Cassell & Company Limited)
Pages 650
Text Trajan: The History of a Sentimental Young Man, with Some Episodes in the Comedy of Many Lives' Errors at Google books

Trajan is the nth novel published by Henry F. Keenan. The story follows a young American, Trajan Gray, through his participation in many of the major events of the revolution that marked the end of the Second Empire.[1][2]

Several chapters of the book were published anonymously in The Manhattan shortly before it closed.[2]

Plot[edit]

The book was the first assigned for review to the young George Bernard Shaw by the Pall Mall Gazette.[3] Shaw summarizes the plot as follows:

"A shipwreck, a man and bull fight, a war, the siege of Paris, and a revolt vary highly wrought domestic scenes, at the conclusion of which the gentleman stagger, ghastly and despairing, from the premises, while the ladies are found prone on the carpet, with their hands clenched over the undone masses of their hair. Bouts of brain fever ensue; but all the characters are in good condition for the final massacre, which they manage to escape in sufficient numbers to ensure a happy ending amid the fire and carnage of the suppression of the Commune."[3]

The anonymous notice in the Saturday Review provides a few additional details:

"[Trajan] gives the Empress his arm in her escape from Paris, gets kissed by Jules Favre for saving Napoleon's life and so making the Republic possible, pays a visit to Bismarck, and finds him in high military boots and drinking a glass of mixed beer and champagne while he listens to his secretary, who is reading aloud a leader from the London Times. He is a prisoner with the Archbishop of Paris, sees him murdered, and hears "the confused gurgling of insatiable execration" that is raised as the deed is done."[4]


Advertising[edit]

"Among the new novels of the season, Mr. Henry F. Keenan's 'Trajan' must be promptly accorded the first place." — New York Herald

"It is much the best novel that has ap- peared for years in the English or any other language."—Phila. Evening Bul- letin.

E. C. Stedman pronounces "Trajan": "Graphic and spirited .... Which no one can read without interest, and which renders a welcome certain for the future productions of its author."

Hjalmar H. Boyesen writes: "An exceptionally brillant novel. It is as clever in description as it is vigorous in characterization."

"'Trajan' is a classic, a real gem plucked from the mass of rubbish with which the bookstores are crowded."— Boston Times

"Every careful bibliographer of the 20th century ought to mention 'Trajan' as a novel to be read for scenes of the 19th century in Paris and New York."— Hartford Post.

H. H. Furness, the famous Shakes- spearean scholar, says: "I like 'Trajan,' first, for the delightful way the author has given the very atmosphere of that May afternoon in Paris! Its sights are in my eyes; its sounds are in my ears, and its very smells are in my nostrils. No picture of Meissonier's can be more faithful." [5][Note 1]


More advertising[edit]

The characters are distinctly and nicely drawn, not mere abstractions, but human beings clad in the flesh of our own mortality. The style of the work is excellent; subdued, unsensational, picturesque and full of evidences of that reserved power which shows the author to be complete master of his subject and not painfully under the dominion of his own effort and expression. * * * If I were given to prediction, I should predict a great success for 'Trajan', for it seems to me to promise to be a long way above the average of successful novels of the day. These words ahve all been weighted as I wrote them! [6]

The advertising copy attributed to more notable personalities is not necessarily true. The The Times carried a notice on April 1st of 1885 that read in part: "Mr. W. D. Howell says that Trajan is the best book he has read for many years." This passage was quoted by the book reviewer of The Spectator, prompting Mr. W. D. Howells to respond with a letter to the editor stating that he had never read the book.[7]

Reviews[edit]

Trajan is not, as might be supposed, an ancient Roman, but a modern Yankee. He is introduced to us in Paris just before the Franco-German War began, with the lines of his mouth deepen- ing with a shade of the malign as he became conscious that the imperial eye was upon him, and he takes his leave of us in New York married and a little stouoter. In the interval his experiences are enough to thin any man. He gives the Empress his arm in her escape from Paris, gets kissed by Jules Favre for saving Napoleon's life and so making the Republic possible, pays a visit to Bismarck, and finds him in high military boots and drinking a glass of mixed beer and champagne while he listens to his secretary, who is reading aloud a leader from the London Times. He is a prisoner with the Archbishop of Paris, sees him murdered, and hears "the confused gurgling of insatiable execration" that is raised as the deed is done. In fact he goes to more places and sees more horrors than could reasonably have been requred of a dozen Special Correspondents. .... There are characters enough and there are words enough. The only thing that is altogether wanting is a little common sense.[4]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Griswold, William Maccrillis, ed. (1890). Descriptive List of Romantic Novels. W. M. Griswold. pp. 303–304. OCLC 4989002.  The unsigned review is attributed to The Atlantic.
  2. ^ a b "Weekly Record of New Publications". The Publishers' Weekly 27 (686). New York. March 1st, 1885. pp. 325–326. 
  3. ^ a b Tyson, Brian, ed. (1991). Bernard Shaw's Book Reviews: Originally Published in the Pall Mall Gazette from 1885 to 1888. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 19–21. ISBN 0-271-00721-4. 
  4. ^ a b (Unsigned) (June 27, 1885), "Four Novels", The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art 59 (1548): 862, OCLC 457833970 
  5. ^ Harland, Henry. Mrs. Peixada, by Sidney Luska. New York: Cassell & Company, Limited. OCLC 2354483.  The endpapers of this and other contemporary works published by Cassell contains advertisements for their other novels, including Trajan.
  6. ^ (unsigned) (April 1885). "(untitled)". Brooklyn Magazine (Brooklyn, NY) 2 (1): vi. OCLC 1537456. 
  7. ^ Howells, W. D. (May 30, 1885). "Mr. Keenan's "Trajan"". The Spectator 58 (2970): 708. 


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