• U.S.

People, Nov. 21, 1938

2 minute read
TIME

Arriving in Manhattan to watch rehearsals of his new revue, Set to Music, brilliantine Author-Actor Noel Coward insisted: “I really never wrote an epigram in my life . . . only the crack dirty.”

In Manhattan the 88th birthday of the late Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was celebrated by proxy by Mrs. Annie Ide Cockran, who has had full and undisputed right to Stevenson’s birthday (November 13) for 47 years. Reason: in 1891 her father, General Henry Clay Ide, U. S. Land Commissioner in Samoa, told his great & good friend Stevenson that his small daughter Annie always felt aggrieved because her birthday fell on December 25. Straightway Author Stevenson drew up, signed, had witnessed a document transferring to her all the rights & privileges to his.

When Pearl Sydenstriclcer Buck heard one morning last week that she had won the Nobel Prize for Literature (about $40,000), her first thought was “O pu sing sin” (Chinese for “I don’t believe it”). Her first words were, “That’s ridiculous; it’s incredible.” Outclassed by earlier prize-winners like William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Mann, by women novelists like Selma Lagerlof or Sigrid Undset who have won it before her, Pearl Buck would be placed by most critics below such U. S. possibilities as Theodore Dreiser, Carl Sandburg, Van Wyck Brooks.

But politics have always played a big part in Nobel Prize selections. In politically-conscious Europe Pearl Buck is famed for The Good Earth, for her pungent, telling attacks on dictators, for her tributes to the common people of China. In a broadcast to Sweden, modest Pearl Buck said simply that the award should have gone to Theodore Dreiser.

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