Douglas Ellis has sent along another interesting item from the pages of POPULAR magazine.
This time, it’s a WHH mention in the “A Chat With You” portion. The write-up is for Hodgson’s story, “The Getting Even of ‘Parson’ Guyles”, which appeared in the February, 1916, issue.
The following is the text as it appeared:
Of the stories by men beginning their career as writers that come in to us unsolicited, a large percentage are either stories of newspaper life or stories of crime. We know whereof we speak, because we actually go through carefully all the manuscripts that come to us. The newspaper stories are explained by the fact that a great many writers serve their apprenticeship as newspaper men, and write about the things they are best acquainted with. The crime stories are written because a criminal enterprise of some sort seems the most obvious means by which thrill, incident, and danger may be woven into the fabric of ordinary civilized life of to-day. As we say, we like to have as few rules, especially of a negative sort, as possible. We are strongly tempted, however, to make it a rule that no story in which the hero, being a reporter about to be fired, redeems himself by getting a “scoop,” will ever appear in our magazine. So many stories with this plot have been printed, and so many, many more have been written! But perhaps that story will come along again, in new guise, and it will seem so clever, so exciting, so amusing that we will take it. Similarly we have read so many sordid unpleasant stories of crime and criminals, so many foolish stories of sentimental burglars, so many unethical stories of greedy crooks who prosper largely that we are tempted sometimes to shut out the criminal classes altogether. Then along will come a story like one which appears in the next issue of the magazine which we simply must have, and which proves to us yet once more that there are glittering exceptions to all the rules.
This particular story has an odd title. It is called “The Getting Even of ‘Parson’ Guyles.” It was written by William Hope Hodgson, a writer new to the pages of THE POPULAR. In the first place, it is a really brilliant piece of characterization. The “Parson” is a mechanical genius, of religious tendencies, who tries with all his might to keep straight, but is tempted and falls. The more ordinary crooks who assist him in his enterprise are excellent foils. The very strength of character drives the Parson to try so hard to live down his past makes him a creature of dynamic force, mastering and compelling the other two by sheer dominance of idea and personality. The enterprise is the breaking into the carefully guarded strong room of a great bank. The speedy action, the vivid scenes that stamp themselves on the imagination of the reader, the tense excitement, the overpowering anxiety that holds the reader while offices of the law on one side and breakers of the law on the other fight against time make this rather long short story something to be remembered for a long time.
Although I think that this is a bit much in terms of hyperbole, it’s always interesting to see what contemporary sources have to say about Hodgson’s fiction. Especially when they heap so much praise on Hodgson’s ‘characterizations’ which is something many critics have considered to be one of WHH’s greatest weaknesses.
Thanks again to Douglas Ellis for supplying this excellent item!