Edna Ferber | Critical Review by Frederic Taber Cooper

This literature criticism consists of approximately 10 pages of analysis & critique of Edna Ferber.
This section contains 638 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by John Farrar

Critical Review by Frederic Taber Cooper

SOURCE: A review of Dawn O'Hara, in The Bookman, New York, Vol. XXXIII, No. 5, July, 1911, p. 534.

In the following slightly favorable review of Dawn O'Hara, Cooper praises Ferber's ability to convey her tragic story with "light-heartedness" and a "warm-hearted understanding of the things which go to make the essential joy of living."

Dawn O'Hara, by Edna Ferber, is a book that [offers] a problem and in a certain sense answers it in its own subtitle. The problem is this: supposing a girl, after a few months of mad happiness, finds that she is bound for life to a man who has suddenly broken down and whom the doctors pronounce incurably insane. The sub-title of the book is "The Girl Who Laughed;" and that is not a bad answer to a good many of life's most trying problems. At the opening of the story, however, Dawn is very far from being in a mood for laughter. Ten years of unrelieved strain on a New York daily paper, with the driving necessity of paying her husband's hospital bills ever at her heels, at last breaks her down; and her sister and her fairly well-to-do brother-in-law pick her up bodily and transfer her to the peace and quiet of their home somewhere not many miles from Milwaukee. At this point it is not surprising for the reviewer to discover that he has a story before him which he is simply going to spoil if he tries to retell it. Supposing, for instance, he should say bluntly: This is the story of a young woman who has no right to think of love and marriage, and to whom a perverse fate has sent the kindest, staunchest, most lovable young German doctor you can well imagine. He makes a well woman of her by the sheer magnetic force of his will to have her live. And then, when they both realise what they mean to each other and what the hopelessness of their case means to both, they try to bury themselves in hard work, he in his Milwaukee practice, she in newspaper reporting on a paper in the same city, where his influence has found an opening for her. And then, at an hour when it seems as though nothing worse could overtake them, fate does give one added twist of the screw and her husband is released from the asylum as cured and comes to Milwaukee to claim her. None of this begins to touch the real essence of the book because, although it deals in tragedy, it is a fabric woven from threads of sheer light heartedness, unquenchable courage, warm-hearted understanding of the things which go to make the essential joy of living. There are, for instance, certain chapters in the book picturing a delightful, unique, inimitable German boarding-house in Milwaukee that makes one sigh while reading them, partly from a vague nostalgia for happy bygone days in German pensions, partly also from sheer envy of the subtle touch that penned them. And then, too, there is one portrait of a broken-down sporting editor, a man whose days are numbered, a man vulgar in speech and with many sins upon his conscience, but who, nevertheless, is rich in some of the rarest gifts that human nature knows and whose final tragedy leaves a vacant spot in the heart akin to that of a personal bereavement. For these reasons it seems the part of wisdom to inscribe the name of Edna Ferber in some easily accessible part of our memory whereby there shall be no danger in the future of missing anything that may come from her pen. It would seem that she is a young woman who has gone some distance already on the road of achievement and is likely to go much further.

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This section contains 638 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by John Farrar
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