Sunday, December 19, 2004

Satan's Bushel

Many bloggers use their sites to "live-blog" television broadcasts, such as the Presidential debates or press conferences. In this case, I am going to live-blog a book. I started reading Garet Garrett's 1923 novel, Satan's Bushel, about two weeks ago.

I have never actually seen the book. I photocopied my copy from the microfilms of "The Country Gentleman" magazine, where the book was serialized in six editions in late 1923.

I don't fully know what to expect, but I found this passage particularly striking early in the book, as Garrett describes the travels of a wheat speculator in western Kansas on his first trip outside the city:

Riding by railway through the wheat fields on a very warm May evening is an exquisite experience if you give yourself to it. All sounds are muted. Those that are naturally harsh become pleasing and satiny. I suppose this is from the fact that the grassy ocean absorbs them, somewhat as snow does. The shriek of the locomotive at road crossings is like an echo. The wheels on the rails sound like a lathe tool cutting soft iron. You would think the train was stealing its way on tiptoe for fear of waking something. And all the time the air is vibrant and musical with the rhythm of phantom castanets playing just over and under the lowest pitch audible to the human ear. You rather feel than hear it. And that aromatic pungency of the growing wheat! The smell of the sea, so fresh and clean is a fabricated, purified smell. This is a living, untainted essence, originally sweet - - distillation of sunlight trapped in the dew.

My expectations from this book were created by two writings. In
2002, Bruce Ramsey and Caxton Press published a collection of Garrett's Saturday Evening Post articles. The collection was entitled Salvos Against the New Deal. [I will have more to say about that in a later post.]

In the introduction, Ramsey summarized Garrett's novels. I had never heard of any of these books before. The reference to Satan's Bushel stated the following:

Satan's Bushel (1924) was an allegory of agriculture and its
struggle with overproduction. ("Satan's Bushel" was the bushel that broke the price.)

I haven't reached that part yet.

Ramsey's description reminded me of Chapter 4 of A Bubble that Broke the World. That chapter dealt with pre-Hitler Germany, and its flirtation with financial disaster through a policy of flooding the world with cheap goods made by means of cheap credit supplied by Western governments. Garrett wrote "Bubble" and its component articles in 1930-1932. When I read that chapter around January, 2002, I was fascinated for reasons I still don't fully understand. [I will write more about "Bubble" in future posts.]

When I saw Ramsey's description of Satan's Bushel, I was left to wonder if Garrett had managed to fictionalize the events of @ 1930 Germany - half a decade before they occured!

I am about to find out over the coming days and weeks.

Update - click here for part II of the Satan's Bushel review.

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At December 31, 2004 at 1:02 AM, Blogger Boileryard Clarke said...

Well done sir! Thank you for keeping Garret's name out in the public! We have blogrolled you at The Boileryard, where you will also find great admiration for Chodorov, Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, John Flynn, Robert A. Taft, and more.

The Old Cause isn't dead yet.


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