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THIS is a remarkable book... an achievement in itself. In its time, it was one of the most brilliant novels added to American fiction in many a year. As the reviewer on the New York Tribune declares: The Harbor is "the first really notable novel produced by the new democracy... a book of the past and the present and the future, not only of New York and of this country, but of all the world. Ernest Poole is an author of exceptional gifts, of ideas and convictions."—New York Tribune.
Ernest Poole's The Harbor was one of the treats of the year during it's first year of publication — in fact—THE big treat. Through the pages of this book we relived our college days and glowed again with the hopes and joys and illusions of youth. Through the varied and ever human experiences through which Poole takes his hero, the one phase that he was happy enough to miss, and with which, alas! we were inoculated, was the season when Youth imagines that it will set the old World by the heels and will solve all the problems that are worrying society.
Poole's hero fell in love with the great God Efficiency, but the labor agitator, who reminds us of Bill Haywood, took him behind the scenes at the Harbor and the young man takes part in a great strike of the transportation workers. And this is what he says:
"I have heard them (the workers) say to these governments:
"Your civilization is crashing down. For a hundred years, in all our strikes and risings, you preached against our violence—you talked of your law and order, your clear deliberate thinking. In you lay the hope of the world, you said. You were Civilization. You were Mind and Science, and in you was all Efficiency, in you was Art, Religion, and you kept the Public Peace. But now you have broken all your vows. The world's treasures of Art are as safe with you as they were in the Dark Ages. Your Prince of Peace you have trampled down. And all your Science you have turned to the efficient slaughter of men. In a week of your boasted calmness you have plunged the world into a violence besides which all the bloodshed in our strikes and revolutions seem like a pool besides the sea. And so you have failed, you powers above, blindly and stupidly you have failed. For you have let loose a violence where you are weak and we are strong. We are these armies that you have called out. And before we go home to our homes we shall make sure that these homes of ours shall no more become ashes at your will. For we shall stop this war of yours and in our minds we shall put away all hatred of our brother men. For us they will be workers all. With them we shall rise—and rise again—until at last the world is free!"
"What change was coming in my life? I did not know. Of one thing only was I sure. The last of my gods, Efficiency, whose feet had stood firm on mechanical laws and in whose head were all the brains of all the big men at the top, had now come tottering, crashing down. And in its place a huge new god, whose feet stood deep in poverty and in whose head were all the dreams of all the toilers of the earth, had called to me with one deep voice, with one tremendous burning passion for the freedom of mankind."
that a big revolution is just ahead, men who are certain that a strike, to take in half the civilized world, is coming in the next ten years.” “I don’t believe that.” “I know. You can’t. You’re still too soaked in the point of view of your efficiency father-in-law.” “So you don’t feel you can sign this?” “No.” That day I sent my story to a small magazine in New England, which from the time of the Civil War had retained its traditions of breadth of view. Within a week the editor wrote that he
For just so soon as in the camps the first burst of enthusiasm had begun to die away, as the millions in the armies began to grow sick of the sight of blood, the groans and the shrieks of the wounded and dying, the stench of the dead—and themselves weary of fighting, worn by privation and disease, began to think of their distant homes, their wives and children starving there—then these socialists in their midst, one at every bivouac fire, would begin to ask them: “Why is it that we are at war?
Eleanore is not above using her influence with corporate bosses to help relieve misery in the slums created by those same corporate bosses. At the novel’s end her visits to the poorest dockside tenements with a female strike leader tip the balance, pulling her away from conventional identification with the leisure class and toward a life lived in closer contact with poverty. “I’ve changed,” she announces, “I saw the worst of it, things so wrong in the tenements that big reforms are needed.” By
the criminals,” she said. Her voice was carefully casual now but her eyes were a little excited. “He’s a man who made up his mind that he wanted to get way down to the bottom, and see how it feels to be down there. So he took the very worst job he could find. For two years he was a stoker—on ships of all kinds all over the world. And now that he knows just how it feels, he has an office down on the docks where he’s getting the stokers and dockers together—getting them ready for a strike—on your
I breathed the fragrant scent of them and of the flowers that they wore, I saw their fresh immaculate clothes, I heard the joyous tumult of their talking and their laughing to the regular crash of the band—all the life of the ship I had known so well. And I walked through it all as though in a dream. On the dock I watched it spellbound—until with handkerchiefs waving and voices calling down good-bys, that throng of happy travelers moved slowly out into midstream. And I knew that deep below all