SEPTIMUS (Illustrated)by William J. Locke
William J. Locke brings us both laughter and tears; but even his tears savor not of salt, but of a sympathy sweetly human. Septimus, the extravagant and quixotic hero of this novel, is more like a
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THERE is so much sorrow and ugliness in life and in its mirror, art, that we are sure to welcome a man who bears laughter in his hands like a gift from the gods.
William J. Locke brings us both laughter and tears; but even his tears savor not of salt, but of a sympathy sweetly human. Septimus, the extravagant and quixotic hero of this novel, is more like a character in a fairy tale than in a
twentieth century novel; yet he seems more real, more live to us than the sordid creatures of Zola groping like so many diseased microbes in the entrails of Paris; and, if we close the book momentarily, we almost expect his radiant visage to beam upon us from a rocking chair.
Septimus Dix; Zora Middlemist, a widow whose six weeks of married life had been one of love's nightmares, not its dreams; her sister, Emmy Oldrieve, a frivolous, volatile young actress madly infatuated with a "star" whose twinkling proves to be illusory; and Clem Sypher, inventor and prophet of a skin cure, are the remarkable quartet that enliven the story.
Septimus is a simple-minded inventor of guns, utterly lost in the world, and he meets Zora most unconventionally in Monte Carlo. He confides to her that he had never had the pleasure of lunching with a lady before. "No one has ever wanted me," he remarks. "It has always puzzled me to know how men get to know women and go about with them. I think it must be a gift. Some fellows have a gift for collecting Toby jugs. Everywhere they discover a Toby jug. I couldn't find one if I tried for a year."
Soon after the meeting between Zora and Septimus, Sypher makes his entrance. He is a devout believer in his cure, and his experience when it fails him is related with humor and pathos. Septimus loves Zora, but when her sister is deserted by the man she loves, he elopes with the deceived maiden to save her from the consequences of her amorous indiscretion.
There never was a man in all the world who did what Septimus did for love of the woman he did not marry; perhaps there was never in all the world a creature quite so fantastic. But there have been men who have wished for a brief moment anyhow — to do what Septimus did, and there have been men who would have been just as simple if the world had let them.
Perhaps there has never been in all the world a manufacturer of patent medicine quite like Clem Sypher; but there have been men who saw themselves almost that way, and there have been martyrs in plenty for many causes not one whit less absurd."
It is perhaps William J. Locke's greatest achievement that he has lifted his characters from the atmosphere of pure farce into the atmosphere of pure literature. "Septimus," is one of those rare stories that attract us first of all in our lighter mood and then lay hold upon us with the force of a strong ideal.
Zora Middlemist does not at first impress us very favorably. The abandon that follows the few bitter weeks of her married life is not attractive, and although we know that she will not remain a widow, we do not quite see why anyone
should fall in love with her. Her sister Emily is of the non-descript variety, pretty, good-natured, weak and silly. We glance at her and forget her. Septimus himself, at a first introduction, appears almost a caricature with his
inconsequence, his eccentricities, his absent-mindedness, and his genius for inventing artillery, while as for Clem Sypher, with his universal 'Cure,' he seems to be a type of the self-advertising nostrum maker redeemed from a hopeless vulgarity only by an unquestionable enthusiasm.
We feel that we have got among a very funny crowd of people, and we resign ourselves to a prospect of three hundred pages of clever burlesque. It says much for the author's power that he is able to lift us from the comic to the magnificent, and from the domain of farce to the plane of a moral grandeur that leaves us almost breathless."
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Nice book but prefer real sep by Angie Sage ps harry potterpoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo stinkz