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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (April 1, 1889)
just as eminent, in a magazine just as well known, finds all
sorts of faults in the book, and goes to great pains to pick
flaws and show inconsistencies in the book. Take sides by
all means, and then get the book and change your views or
have them strengthened as the book pleases or displeases you.
Now that the writers of the French school arc attracting
so much attention by their productions, they being inferior
only to the Russian and English novelists, it may not be out
of place to give a short sketch of one of their most popular
novels. The scene is laid in France, with branches in nearly
every country on the globe, and the description is not only
lifelike but true to nature. The story opens with a little
conversation on board a ship in the harbor of Paris, in the
course of which the hero casually remarks that he is politi
cally so and so. The next thing we sec the hero in a dank,
dark deck, surrounded by stone walls twenty fcc( thick.
After remaining here some few years, say five, he began to
dig his way out, but was unsuccessful. One day he heard a
slight picking sound on the floor oi his dungeon and upon
inquiring into the cause, discovered a man engaged in tuncl
ing the solid rock, making a road to freedom. The other
prisoner turned out to be his uncle on his mother's side, and
the two soon struck up a friendship. After a time the old
man died, leaving all his wealth to his nephew, who, ten or
fifteen yeais after the funeral, escaped. It Should be stated,
however, that the cause of the uncle's death was due to eat
ing too heartily of the ice cream furnished by the prison
contractors. After escaping, the hero went to his uncle's
garden and exhumed the latter's treasure, saying as he did
so, "I am possessed of this mundane sphere." After getting
the money, the hero went ta travel in order to complete his
Several years after this a strange man appeared in the
metropolis of France, a man of vast education and wealth.
Of course he was at once the idol of all the feminine hearts.
I3ut the friends he made were not all women. After a time,
however, misfortune began to overtake his male friends, all
of whom had been connected in some way or other with the
imprisonment of the innocent young sailor twenty years
before. Of course people jumped to the conclusion that the
sailor and the fine gentleman were oik- and the same. After
bringing destruction on all his enemies, Mont, the hero,
departed for the golden sunny climes of the Orient, saying,
as he stepped upon his vessel, "Wait and hope."
The style of this story is inimitable, as those who have
read it will testify. Get it and read it during vacation. The
book can be procured from any second hand newsdealer.
Probably a very small number of the students in the Uni
versity have read Nikolai V. Gogol's "Dead Souls." The
book has only lately been placed in the library, but now that
it is here there is no reason why many should not take
advantage of the opportunity to read it. It is not a new
work, in fact its author has been dead many years, but it has
been translated into English and published in this country
only in the last two or three years. Gogol was one of the
first of the modern Russian novelists, and in no way was he
unworthy of his successors. The plots of his books, while
seeming to be exceedingly simple, yet are really much more
involved than appears at first glance. In "Taras Bulba,"
for example, the story seems at first only concerned with the
wild freedom and fierce bravery of a few Cossacks of the
fifteenth century, but behind this there is a great deal; the
description of all that strange growth, the Cossack state
wjiicj) alone saved Russia' from the Mongolian horde?, So
in "Dead Souls,'! the thread of the narrative is to all appear
ances, simple enough, but when one reads the book the
beauty, and the artful artlessncss grow upon him. It was
surely no careless, happy-go-lucky writer, that portrayed so
clearly all the consummate rascality of the hero of "Dead
But what are "dead souls?" Well, that is a question
that naturally comes up and that ought to be answered. But
Gogol docs not answer it until he is far along in the midst of
his story, and then he tells it in such a gradual, gentle way
that the full meaning is not seen at first Then "dead souls"
arc deceased muzhiks (peasants, serfs). So, then, this story
deals with the qualities (and perhaps the quantity) the death
and the hereafter of a simple, uninteresting class? No, it is
this way. The "souls" are bought and sold, and that is the
story. Tchitchikoff, the hero ofthc novel, in order to
appear before men 'as a land and slave owner, adopts the
expedient of buying dead peasants, not their bodies, to be
sure, but their names. This he could do more readily
because the owners of serfs had to pay tax on all "souls"
whose names were down on the assessors' list, whether they
were dead or not. Then every so often a revision of the list
took place. .Still some owners hesitated and some even
refused to sell or give him the bills of sale for the "souls."
Of course he did not tell the sellers what he wanted with
these dead men's souls, but alleged some fanciful reason, as
generosity or eccentricity, a love for psychology or apian to
defeat a stingy old uncle's will. Now, all this seems simple
enough, but read the book and see. The idea is certainly a
startling one, and one that at first prejudices one against the
book, but then one remembers that "soul" means slave, and
becomes interested. But in that very meaning of the term
"souls" there is much to think of and much to arouse
one. A Russian, if asked the amount of his property,
would have replied in the old slave days, "So much land
and so many souls." Aye, that is it, the most intolerable
system of slavery that ever stained this world, a system that
claimed to own not only the bodies and lives of its vic
tims, but even maintained its right to the ownership of their
very souls, or as much of them as they could keep; that was
the old slavery in Russia. Though only the name "soul,"
was all that could be held in earthly bondage, it was not
the will nor the wishes of the slave owners that kept the soul
itself out of their hands. That word "soul" as used to denote
a slave opens up to view a long vista of misery and degrada
tion that mokes the heart turn sick.
HOW THE "NO FINAL" SCHEME WORKS.
Acting Chancellor; (in chapel) School will close for the
term Friday, March 22. Recitations will continue regularly
to the last day as by vote of the faculty final examinations
have been done away with this term. (Applause.)
Later: Prof. A. The class will be prepared for an oral
quiz Wednesday and then a written review Friday on the
work of the term.
Prof. B., Prof. C. and Prof. D. Ditto.
Prof. E. The class may omit the recitation they have
prepared for this morning and we will have a little written
review on the last four hundred pages of the term's work so
that I may have something on which to base the standings
for the term.
Prof. F., Prof. G Prof. H., I. "Ditto."
Prof. K. The class may come prepared to answer any
questions I may ask. I will confine myself to topics treated
upon by works that may be found in the library,
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