The Silent Places clear winner in 1904 list

The standout novel from 1904 is a novel whose title and author were both unknown to me: The Silent Places by Stewart Edward White.

The novel is an adventure set in the early 1700s when North America was a wilderness. Its laws were those of nature and the directors of the Hudson Bay Company.

The Company assigns two men to capture an Indian who skipped out without reimbursing the Company for payments advanced him.  Sam is a seasoned woodsman with a keen mind; Dick is a less experienced woodsman with good instincts but duller mind.

White takes all the usual story lines and turns them inside out.

Here’s the older man’s summary of more than a year’s work:

“We went with old Haukemah’s band down as far as the Mattawishguia. There we left them and went up stream and over the divide. Dick here broke his leg and was laid up for near three months. I looked all that district over while he was getting well. Then we made winter travel down through the Kabinikágam country and looked her over. We got track of this Jingoss over near the hills, but he got wind of us and skipped when we was almost on top of him. We took his trail. He went straight north, trying to shake us off, and we got up into the barren country. We’d have lost him in the snow if it hadn’t been for that dog there. He could trail him through new snow. We run out of grub up there, and finally I gave out. Dick here pushed on alone and found the Injun wandering around snow-blind. He run onto some caribou about that time, too, and killed some. Then he came back and got me:—I had a little pemmican and boiled my moccasins. We had lots of meat, so we rested up a couple of weeks, and then came back.”

Dick’s mental and psychological growth is almost visible as the men push themselves to accomplish their task. Turning back is not an option either every considers.

By comparison to White’s novel, the other titles on the 1904 bestseller list seem puny, even though some of them are good entertainment.

An online literary biography says White was born in 1873 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father, a lumberman, introduced his son to the outdoors and ornithology. In later years, Stewart was to work in other outdoor occupations, such as ranching and mining.

The younger White took a composition course during his undergraduate work in philosophy at University of Michigan. His prof encouraged him to write.

By the time he collected his diploma, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1895 he had been paid for his writing. Before he finished his  M.A. at Columbia University in 1903, he had published three novels.

White was a prolific writer, and a versatile one. He wrote not only fiction, but travel, history, and children’s books. Late in life, he became interested in psychic phenomena and wrote a series of books on the spirit world.

He died in 1946.

Stewart Edward White is certainly an author I’ll look for again.

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni



What were your favorite novels of 1904?

I know most of my readers didn’t read the 1904 bestsellers the year they were originally published.  I hope, however, that some of you have sampled some of the them this year, perhaps in e-book form.

Now’s your chance to register your favorites and/or tell us what you think the best of 1904’s novels are for today’s readers. You can choose up to three.

Feel free to use the comment section to share more than just a click.

1904 Bestsellers Slated for Review

Rebecca peers over fence on cover of Rebecca of Sunnybrook FarmIn the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the bestselling novels of 1904.  Here’s the list of titles and dates you can expect to read my review. As usual, links will take you either to an online copy of the work, if I haven’t already reviewed it, or to my review.

  1. The Crossing by Winston Churchill [Sept. 23]
  2. The Deliverance by Ellen Glasgow [Sept. 27]
  3. The Masquerader  by Katherine Cecil Thurston [Sept. 30]
  4. In the Bishop’s Carriage by Miriam Michelson [Oct. 4]
  5. Sir Mortimer by Mary Johnson [Oct. 7]
  6. Beverly of Grustark by George Barr McCutcheon [Oct. 11]
  7. The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come by John Fox Jr.
  8. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin [Oct. 14]
  9. My Friend Prospero by Henry Harland [Oct. 18]
  10. The Silent Places by Stewart Edward White [Oct. 21]

This list finishes up my planned reading for this year.

Project Gutenberg

The remainder of 2014  I’ll be filling in the gaps in my reading with titles from 1919 and 1929 that I hadn’t been able to find yet when their anniversary years rolled around.  I’ll post that schedule on November 1. There are some fine novels among them, so keep an eye out for the reviews.

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Rereading for 2014: Vintage Bestsellers on Their Anniversaries

Linda Aragoni reading a vintage novel
Rereading “Bambi: A Life in the Woods”

If your New Year’s resolution is to get mentally fit in 2014, good books may well be best equipment to help you shape up. You don’t need to buy expensive volumes on astrophysics or advanced macroeconomics. Novels will give your little grey cells a workout and entertain you at the same time.

During 2014, we’ll pay anniversary visits to the bestseller lists of five or more decades ago, beginning with the 1964 list and working backward to 1904. Posts will be published Tuesdays and Saturdays.

In addition to the seven sets of bestsellers celebrating their anniversaries, GreatPenformances will be looking at some novels that didn’t make the bestseller list the year they were published but went on to become classics.

Reading sets of novels  from different decades a painless way to learn about how society has changed since 1900. Reading just the bestsellers lets you make some reasonable inferences about such current news topics as the gap between rich and poor in society, America’s attitude toward immigrants, and popular attitudes toward Congress.

A handful of bestsellers we missed on their anniversary years will round out the year.

Here are bestsellers slated for review here at GreatPenformances in 2014, with review publication dates  in brackets. If a novel was reviewed here previously, the title is linked to the review.

1964 novels slated for review in 2014

dust jacket of ArmageddonFirst, we’ll look at the bestsellers for 1964. From first to tenth place, they are

  1. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré [Jan. 4]
  2. Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg [Jan. 7]
  3. Herzog by Saul Bellow [Jan. 11]
  4. Armageddon by Leon Uris [Jan. 14]
  5. The Man by Irving Wallace [Jan. 18]
  6. The Rector of Justin by Louis Auchincloss [Jan. 21]
  7. The Martyred by Richard E. Kim [Jan. 25]
  8. You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming [Jan. 28]
  9. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart [Feb. 1]
  10. Convention by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II [Feb. 4]

1954 novels slated for review in 2014

  1. Not As a Stranger by Morton Thompson [Feb. 22]
  2. Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier [Feb. 25]
  3. Love Is Eternal by Irving Stone [Mar. 1]
  4. The Royal Box by Frances Parkinson Keyes [Mar. 4]
  5. The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
  6. No Time for Sergeants by Mac Hyman [Mar. 8]
  7. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck [Mar. 11]
  8. The View from Pompey’s Head by Hamilton Basso [Mar. 15]
  9. Never Victorious, Never Defeated by Taylor Caldwell [Mar. 18]
  10. Benton’s Row by Frank Yerby [Mar. 22]

Then on March 29  we’ll look at a 1954 novels that was not a bestseller  but went on to become a classic:  The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

dust jacket of The Royal Box

1944 novels slated for review in 2014

  1. Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith [Apr. 12]
  2. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
  3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  4. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor [Apr. 15]
  5. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham [Apr. 19]
  6. The Green Years by A. J. Cronin [Apr. 22]
  7. Leave Her to Heaven by Ben Ames Williams [Apr.26]
  8. Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth George [Apr. 29]
  9. A Bell for Adano by John Hersey [May 3]
  10. The Apostle by Sholem Asch

1934 novels slated for review in 2014

  1. Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen
  2. Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller [May 24]
  3. So Red the Rose by Stark Young [May 27]
  4. Good-bye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton [May 31]
  5. Within This Present by Margaret Ayer Barnes [June 3]
  6. Work of Art by Sinclair Lewis [June 7]
  7. Private Worlds by Phyllis Bottome [June 10]
  8. Mary Peters by Mary Ellen Chase [June 14]
  9. Oil for the Lamps of China by Louis Bromfield [June 17]
  10. Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen [June 21]
Students harrass country box enterering college
Hazing the first year students, 1920’s style

1924 novels slated for review in 2014

  1. So Big by Edna Ferber [July 5]
  2. The Plastic Age by Percy Marks [July 8]
  3. The Little French Girl by Anne Douglas Sedgwick [July 12]
  4. The Heirs Apparent by Phillip Gibbs [July 15]
  5. A Gentleman of Courage by James Oliver Curwood [July 19]
  6. The Call of the Canyon by Zane Grey [July 22]
  7. The Midlander by Booth Tarkington [July 26]
  8. The Coast of Folly by Coningsby Dawson [July 29]
  9. Mistress Wilding by Rafael Sabatini [Aug. 2]
  10. The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher [Aug. 5]

1914 novels slated for review in 2014

  1. The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright [Aug.19]
  2. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
  3. The Inside of the Cup by Winston Churchill
  4. The Salamander by Owen Johnson [Aug. 23]
  5. The Fortunate Youth by William J. Locke [Aug. 26]
  6. T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  7. Penrod by Booth Tarkington [Aug. 30]
  8. Diane of the Green Van by Leona Dalrymple [Sept. 2]
  9. The Devil’s Garden by W. B. Maxwell [Sept. 6]
  10. The Prince of Graustark by George B. McCutcheon  [Sept. 9]

1904 novels slated for review in 2014

  1. Rebecca with big eyes and big straw hatThe Crossing by Winston Churchill [Sept . 27]
  2. The Deliverance by Ellen Glasgow [Sept . 30]
  3. The Gambler by Katherine Cecil Thurston [Oct. 4]
  4. In the Bishop’s Carriage by Miriam Michelson [Oct. 7]
  5. Sir Mortimer by Mary Johnson [Oct. 11]
  6. Beverly of Grustark by George Barr McCutcheon [Oct. 44]
  7. The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come by John Fox Jr.
  8. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin [Oct. 18]
  9. My Friend Prospero by Henry Harland [Oct. 21]
  10. The Silent Places by Stewart Edward White [Oct. 25]

1919 novels slated for review in 2014

I previously posted reviews of a few bestsellers of 1919. I’m going to post reviews of the rest before year’s end.

  1.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpse by V. Blasco Ibanez
  2. The Arrow of Gold by Joseph Conrad
  3. The Desert of Wheat by Zane Grey
  4. Dangerous Days by Mary Roberts Rinehart [Nov. 18]
  5. The Sky Pilot in No Man’s Land by Ralph Connor [Nov. 22]
  6. The Re-Creation of Brian Kent by Howard Bell Wright [Nov. 25]
  7. Dawn by Eleanor H. Porter [Nov. 29]
  8. The Tin Soldier by Temple Bailey s [Dec. 2]
  9. Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Armin s [Dec.6]
  10. In Secret by Robert W. Chambers [Dec. 9]