“A Method and a Marvel.” The Bookman (New York). July 1927, pp. 582-83.

A Method and a Marvel

“The Road to Xanadu” (Houghton 
Mifflin) and Virginia Woolf’s “To 
the Lighthouse” (Harcourt, Brace) 
may seem curiously dissimilar books to 
review under the same heading, yet 
Professor Lowes’s method in criticism 
and Mrs. Woolf’s in fiction are so 
similar that I do not beg pardon for a 
seeming paradox. Lowes seeks to 
interpret poetry by a reconstruction of 
mental processes. Mrs. Woolf seeks to 
interpret life by the same means. Both 
are amazingly successful.

It was horrifying to read in one of the 
reviews of literature a letter from 

[new column]

M. R. Werner, in which he criticizes 
the Lowes book bitterly. Mr. Werner 
is an excellent biographer and a good 
journalist; but when he attempts to 
belittle what probably is the most 
important piece of critical writing ever 
produced in America, it is nothing 
short of tragic. If you want to read 
an extended and a well informed review 
of “The Road to Xanadu”, Professor 
Tinker’s in “The Saturday Review of
Literature” is by far the best. Never 
before, so far as I know, not even in 
Amy Lowell’s “John Keats”, has the 
progress of the poetical mind been so 
well analyzed, or the very stuff of 
genius been so interpreted and proved. 
Starting with the mind of Coleridge 
was no easy task, but it presented 
fascinating problems. Professor Lowes 
has not shirked them. Bit by bit he 
reconstructs the building of two of the 
world’s greatest poems. He does it, 
to be sure, with the analytical care and 
power of the academician; but in such 
glowing prose, with such beauty of 
phrase, that parts of this huge work 
read, themselves, like poems. Any 
student of literature who does not taste 
these pages has missed not only an 
intellectual but an emotional experience.

Of Virginia Woolf much has been 
written, and rightly too. When the 
chaff of this century’s writing blows 
away, we shall probably find that her 
contribution to the development of the 
novel is far greater than we at present 

“To the Lighthouse” is in some 
ways a simpler and a more beautiful 
book than “Mrs. Dalloway”; its flights 
of imaginative writing strike me as