Bromfield, Louis: The Rains Came
(researched by Vandna Gill)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Louis Bromfield. The Rains Came: A Novel of Modern India. New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1937. Copyright: Louis Bromfield Parallel first editions: First British and Canadian edition: Louis Bromfield. The Rains Came: A Novel of Modern India. London and Toronto: Cassell and Company, 1937. Source: National Union Catalog, vol. 77
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American edition published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
304 leaves, [10] 1-250 [251-252] 253-314 [315-316] 317-504 [505-506] 507-597
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
No editor. A list of books by Louis Bromfield faces the title page. Book dedicated to Bromfield's Indian friends. No formal introduction.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
No illustrations aside from a map of "the setting of the story" (Ranchipur) on inside of front cover and endpaper with an exact replica on inside of back cover and endpaper
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Readability is excellent with comfortable line spacing. Margins are tolerable but not comfortably sized. Text not divided into chapters, but is divided into four sections, labeled Part I, II, III, and IV. Pages depicting part separations are blank with two thin black lines separated by 37 mm bordering part labeling. First word of text at beginning of Part I and subsequent parts is uppercase and bolded with first letter in an outlined font different from rest of text. Headers on these initial pages of text in sections have a thin border consisting of three black lines, two top lines separated by 4 mm. and bottom top line and absolute bottom line separated by 24 mm. 90R. Book size: 210 mm. x 143 mm.; Size of text: 163 mm. x 110 mm. Type Style: Serif
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Wove paper with even texture. Paper is off-white, bordering on yellow tint, with a brownish tint along side of book. No outstanding stains on surface of paper. Quality of paper is thick and smooth and is even throughout book with the exception of the ten pages preceding text, including the title page, which seem to be printed on slightly thinner paper. Untrimmed edges along side, rugged to touch. Paper is straight and smooth on top. Uneven pages on bottom, some appear to be bound or cut with bottom end a little higher.
11 Description of binding(s)
Trade cloth binding, criss-cross grain, black. Embossed golden rectangle with black lettering of title and author on front cover. Small replica of embossed golden rectangle with title and author on top portion of spine and golden lettering of publisher along bottom of spine. No dust jacket. Illustration depicting a map of "the setting of the story" (Ranchipur) on inside front cover and endpaper with an exact replica on inside of back cover and endpaper. Description of map: light green background with labels of buildings and other sites having black text similar to handwriting. Twenty-one total sites on map including The Great Palace, Ranchipur River, The Bazaar, The Hospital, and Race Course Road. Map also includes six total arrows leading, for example, to "the Untouchable Quarter" and "the American Mission." Border of map 7 mm. in width with dark green background and successive triangles, half dark green and half black. Measurements of map border from one end to the other: 195 mm. x 264 mm. No legend. Bookplate on bottom center of inside front cover atop map with name of book donor. Bookplate on back inside cover stating ownership of the book by University of Virginia library. Transcription of spine: THE| RAINS| CAME| [symmetrical flower-like design]| Louis Bromfield| HARPERS Transcription of front cover: THE| RAINS| CAME| [symmetrical flower-like design]| Louis Bromfield No information on back cover.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: THE| RAINS| CAME| A Novel| Of Modern India| BY| LOUIS BROMFIELD| [publisher's crest]| Harper & Brothers Publishers| New York and London| 1937 Verso: THE RAINS CAME| Copyright, 1937, by Louis Bromfield| Printed in the United States of America| 10-7| FIRST EDITION| I-M| All rights in this book are reserved. It may not be used| for dramatic, motion- or talking-picture purposes without| written authorization from the holder of these rights.| Nor may the book or part thereof be reproduced in any| manner whatsoever without permission in writing. For| information address: Harper and Brothers, 49 East 33rd| Street, New York, N.Y.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
n/a
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Transcription of dedication: For all my Indian friends| the princes, the teachers, the politicians, the| hunters, the boatmen, the sweepers, and for| G.H. but for whom I should never have known| the wonder and beauty of India nor understood| the Indian dream. Author also mentions that he is indebted to his friend Erich Maria Remarque. Transcription of dialogue preceding Part I: Two men sat in a bar. One said to the other, "Do you like Americans?"| and the second man answered vigorously, "No."| "Do you like Frenchman?" asked the first.| "No," came the answer with equal vigor.| "Englishmen?"| "No."| "Germans?"| "No."| There was a pause and the first man, raising his glass, asked, "Well, who| do you like?"| Without hesitation the second man answered, "I like my friends."| [For this story the author is indebted to his friend Erich Maria Remarque] Transcription of bookplate on inside front cover: From the library of| Mr. and Mrs. Randolph Catlin| presented to the University of Virginia| by the sons| Avery and Randolph Catlin Transcription of bookplate on inside back cover: University of Virginia| Library| Rare Book Room| * PS3503| .R6bR3| 1937| 593537| Copy 1 Transcription of note at end of book on p. 597: Begun in Cooch Benar, January, 1933| Completed in New York, July 1937
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Harper & Brothers did not release another edition of The Rains Came, but reprinted at least thirty-two editions of the original edition. Source: National Union Catalog vol. 77 (pre-1956), WorldCat, RLIN
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Cassell & Company: 1937 - London, 5 p.l., 3-578 p., 8 vo. Collier: 1937 - New York, 597 p., 20 cm. Grosset & Dunlap: 1937 - New York, 597 p., 21 cm. New York Public Library Edition: 1937 Buccaneer Books: 1937 - Cutchogue, N.Y., 597 p., 23 cm. (Published by arrangement with HarperCollins) 1942 - New York, 597 p., 21 cm. Aeonian Press: 1976 - Mattituck, N.Y., 597 p., 22 cm. (Reprint of the ed. published by Collier) Source: WorldCat, National Union Catalog vol. 77
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Cassell & Company: 1938 - London, Second Edition, [10], 3-578 p., 20 cm. The rains came [microform]: a novel of modern India 1938 - London, Thirteenth edition, viii, 578 p., 20 cm. 1940 - London, Seventh Edition, 578 p., 21 cm. Corgi: 1986 - London, 591 p., 18 cm. A. Scherz: 1943 - Berne, 2 vol. (IV, 312p; IVp., 315-392) ; 18x11 cm. Series: Scherz Phoenix Books ; 15, 16 Signet: 1951 - New York, First Paperback Edition, 524 p. [Mass market paperback] Source: WorldCat, RLIN
6 Last date in print?
In print as of February 2000 Source: International Books in Print (Active Record)
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
unavailable
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Excerpt from Publisher's Weekly (Dec. 11, 1937): "Harper reports that during the first week after publication sales of The Rains Came passed the record for the biggest week's sales of any Harper book for more than a year." Further information unavailable. According to Pulisher's Weekly, The Rains Came sold for $2.50 in 1937. Source: Publisher's Weekly, vol. 132 (Oct.-Dec. 1937)
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
From the New York Times Book Review (Oct. 24, 1937): The background depicts a sketch of "native Indians" in a jungle type of setting and the arrival of two white foreigners, one male and the other female The advertisement reads: "A Distinguished New Novel of India by the author of 'The Green Bay Tree'"; excerpt from the summary of the novel's plot given: "ÖAll restraint is swept aside in an orgy of passion that involves brown and white alikeÖ"; this advertisement also shows a copy of the Edna Ferber insert seen in the Publisher's Weekly advertisement (described below) From the New York Times Book Review (Dec. 5, 1937): BROMFIELD| The Rains Came| In this rich and dramatic story of| modern India, Louis Bromfield has written his greatest novel, and achieved his greatest| success! 'Moves almost as swiftly as the| flood which bore down on Ranchipur.| Peopled with dozens of diverse and interesting| personalities, bright with exotic detail.' -New York Herald Tribune, $2.75 Publisher's Weekly pre-publication two-page advertisement (July-September 1937): THE RAINS CAME| A NOVEL OF INDIA| Price $2.75| One distinguished novelist salutes another!| "By far his best work!"| says EDNA FERBER of| this new novel by| LOUIS BROMFIELD| Coming Oct. 20| 240,000 words| Has not been serialized| Edna Ferber goes on to describe the novel as "a magnificent and noble piece of work" and she states, "It will sell by the hundreds of thousands."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Publisher's Weekly indicates that there was a "heavy ad campaign" and posters promoting the sales of The Rains Came prior to publication. Aside from endorsements for the movie versions of the film, no other major promotion appears to have been employed. Source: Publisher's Weekly (vol. 132), Sept. 18, 1937, International Movie Database
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
The Rains Came was made into two films: The first film, The Rains Came,, directed by Clarence Brown (and with script by Philip Dunne) released Sept. 8, 1939 by Twentieth Century Fox Picture (in black and white) featuring Tyrone Power, Myrna Loy, George Brent and Nigel Bruce The second film, The Rains of Ranchipur, directed by Jean Negulesco, released Dec. 15, 1955 by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation featuring Lana Turner, Richard Burton, Fred MacMurray and Joan Caulfield; [12 reels of 12 (ca. 9360 ft.): sd., col.; 35 mm. ref print.], Corporate author: Copyright Collection (Library of Congress) DLC Source: Bibliofind, International Movie Database, http: //user.icx.net/~cowkisses/PowerRains.htm, RLIN
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Der Grosse Regen: roman [German] Publisher: Im Bertelsmann-Lesering Year: 1946 574 p., 19 cm. Also published by A. Scherz, 1946 in Bern and in 1956 with Author: Rudolf Frank and published 1939 in Berlin by im Propyl?en-Verlag (Physical description: 608 p.; 23 cm.) Arviz Indiaban: regeny [Hungarian] Place: Budapest Publisher: Dante Konyvkiado Year: 1941 684 p., 20 cm. Llegaron las Lluvias [Spanish] Place: Buenos Aires Publisher: Editorial Sudamericana Year: 1948 778 p., 19 cm. Vinieron las Lluvias [Spanish] Place: Barcelona Publisher: Editorial Vergara Year: 1976 558 p., 24 cm. La mousson: Roman sur les Indes modernes [French] Publication info: Paris: Editions Stock, 1939 Author (of translated version): Berthe Vulliemin La mousson : [Roman] [French] Author (of translated version): Berthe Vulliemin General note: [Trad. publ. avec l'autorisation des Editions Stock, Paris] BN. Physical description: 2 vol. 432, 399 p. ; 21 cm. Publication info: Lausanne : Editions Rencontre, [1970] Uki Kitaru [Japanese] Place: Tokyo Publisher: Okakurashobo Year: 1950 357 p., 19 cm. Lieti nak: romans [Latvian] Place: Riga Publisher: Liesma Year: 1981 590 p., maps, 21 cm. Lieti nØak : rØomans par moderno Indiju [Latvian] Physical description: 554 p. : map ; 21 cm. Publication info: [S.l.] : Apgads "Gramatu draugs" ; H. RudzØitis, 1950. Kdyz nastily deste: roman moderni Indie [Czech] Place: Praha Publisher: Nakl.Fr.Borovy Year: 1941 668 p., 21 cm. Source: WorldCat, RLIN
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
No indication of serialization. Source: Publisher's Weekly, vol. 132 (July-Sept. 1937), Periodicals Contents Index
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
No indication of sequels or prequels. Source: Publisher's Weekly (volumes from 1937 and 1938), WorldCat, National Union Catalog (vol. 77)
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
(A biographical overview of Louis Bromfield can be found in the entry for Night in Bombay) The Rains Came, published eleven years after his Pulitzer Prize winning novel Early Autumn, was Bromfield's twelfth novel (out of thirty-four) and his fourth book with Harper publishers. Beginning with his visit in 1933, "an interlude of residence in India produced a new background for Bromfield's fiction" (Current Biography 67). His view of "England's ideas of colonization [versus] their practical workings in her colonies interest[ed] him?" (Woodward, Sat. Review 6). However, instead of joining actively on the social level as he originally planned, he decided to write a novel packed with symbolism regarding the East and West. Louis Bromfield was influenced by the Jeffersonian ideal that his father and grandfather strove toward and promoted. It became Bromfield's belief that with determination and dedication anyone could direct his own destiny. Bromfield applied this idea to the social struggles in India under the colonial power of the British and also to the fundamental relationships of man to his fellow man and man to nature. "?[I]n India, among the few who had cast aside superstition and?had refused to become enamored either of things or of power, he found people who?believed in the values that he had thought were destroyed forever" (Anderson 97-98). The Rains Came was a novel that came closest to his actual "personal philosophy" and "the portrayal of world as [he] would have it?in which his natural aristocracy would survive and triumph?" (Anderson 108). In 1937 "Bromfield at last attained success on a really big scale" and with the considerable amount of money that he earned from profits on The Rains Came, he purchased a farm near his birthplace of Mansfield, Ohio (Obituaries 100-101). Bromfield named the farm after a coastal area in India called Malabar. After settling at Malabar Farm, Bromfield continued to write, but "his fiction evolved into sleek, sensational, Hollywood-slanted bestsellers" (Current Biography 66). Thus, The Rains Came is often regarded as Bromfield's writing at its best, but also as his last notable work before a progressive decline in the caliber of his writing. Described as "restless, gregarious, and?easy-going," Bromfield appeared to be so busy living that no one knew when he found time for his writing (Sat. Review 23). He wrote for only a couple hours daily, concentrating his time after the writing of The Rains Came to issues of greater concern to him, particularly related to farming. This trend in Bromfield's life is reflected by his decision to return with his family in 1939 to America from his "expatriate" residence in France. Bromfield wrote screenplays for the movies The Rains Came (with a script by Philip Dunne) and The Rains of Ranchipur, both based on his novel The Rains Came. Twentieth Century Fox released both films. The Rains Came was released on September 8, 1939 while The Rains of Ranchipur was released on December 15, 1955 (Internet Movie Database). His tendency in later years to subscribe to the bestseller formula through commercialization efforts such as Hollywood movies unfortunately lowered critics' appreciation of his literary talent. Sources: Anderson, David. Louis Bromfield. Twayne Publishers, Inc. N.Y. 1964. Current Biography (1944). The H.W. Wilson Company, N.Y. 1945. Internet Movie Database. www.imdb.com Obituaries From the Times(1951-1960). Newspaper Archives Development, Ltd. 1979. Woodward, Frances. "Waters Over India." Saturday Review of Literature. vol. 16 (May 1- Oct 23 1937), Oct 23, 1937.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"One may easily imagine [Bromfield] crying out to his friends, 'By Shiva, Kali, or Vishnu, I am going to write a novel about this country!'" (NY Times Book Review) The Rains Came, when it appeared on the scene in 1937 had a generally positive reception, aided by the fact that Bromfield had already acquired much success with his earlier works and critics were eager to rate another potential Bromfield bestseller. According to David Anderson, "Although the book was well received in England and France as well as in India, it received a cool reception among the major American critics who for the most part attacked it because they found Bromfield's philosophy tinged with an apparent fascism that he neither presented nor implied" (Anderson 110). Whether or not they agreed with the underlying facets of the novel, American critics did, for the most part, agree that The Rains Came had an engaging premise with captivating action. A typical review of the novel consisted of a mostly positive response with a line or two also commenting on a negative aspect of the book, mainly in relation to characterization. The following are examples of typical reviews of The Rains Came: "A novel packed with incident, excitement, pictures, and vigor. The Rains Came is good story telling [and] enjoyable?" (Woodward 6). "This long book?is peopled with dozens of diverse and interesting personalities, and bright with exotic detail?the picture is both exciting and convincing?Mr. Bromfield has written an excellent story, and perhaps that was all he intended. But he intended more, and the outcome, in terms of the people of the story, seems to me too simple to be natural" (Ross 3). Some critics, such as Fanny Butcher, decided to emphasize only the positive attributes of the novel declaring that The Rains Came was "[f]ar and away Louis Bromfield's best novel" (Butcher 17). This statement would have more than likely been contradicted by numerous other critics who believed Bromfield's works even prior to The Rains Came, such as Early Autumn, were more representative of his best writing. As far as the numerous characters in The Rains Came were concerned, some critics argued that Bromfield's depiction, particularly of the Indians in the novel, was generally underdeveloped. However, other critics argue that Bromfield's depiction of characters is credible, particularly reviewers in England, who valued the author's portrayal of characters from both the West and the East. The following are examples of this contradiction in reviews: A reviewer for New York Times states, "Here is no ordinary novel, but rather a tour de force. It was some four years in writing and no wonder?[yet] so many of the Indian characters in Mr. Bromfield's novel emerg[e] as what Forster calls 'flat,' two dimensional, rather than 'round' and full. It is possible, of course, that most of Mr. Bromfield's numerous readers will not notice or miss any of these things, and, in any case, they are sure to find his latest book as colorful and interesting as anything else he has ever done, and in many respects much more so" (Forman 5). This particular example is also outstanding for its apparent quality of mocking Bromfield's readers for their imperceptive judgment and reliance on fast-moving and "colorful" story lines instead of examining its content. An excerpt from London Mercury asserts, "?[W]hat is so impressive is the patient justice with which he examines in turn Indians and British?His types are flamboyant?and yet the majority of this large gallery of portraits are convincing. If Mr. Bromfield errs on the side of romanticism it is a refreshing fault" (London Mercury 564). A reviewer for Boston Transcript comments, "Mr. Bromfield has a very interesting and very varied set of characters in the story and it is no new factor that he can manage an unusual number of characters convincingly. The catastrophe and complications give his ability full scope, but what is new in this story is a fire and enthusiasm, a sense of vision which places this book above all his recent work, and perhaps all the work he has ever done" (Mann 3). A Catholic World reviewer states, "With all the art of a fine theatrical director, he brings together and harmonizes and unifies the various elements of life in the ideal little town, Ranchipur in India?For this, much commendation is due him. But after all, a novel is concerned with people, too, and here Mr. Bromfield has run amuck" (Catholic World 504). According to Time Magazine, Bromfield placed his characters into "one of those 'marooned-in-the-midst-of-civilization' crises so tempting to novelists" in the 1930's (Time 76). The article, "Storm Over India," goes on to insist that to many readers the results presented in The Rains Came were somewhat trite and that Bromfield's method of writing appears "too tedious to make first-class reading" (Time 76). Time makes the distinction that although most readers were not surprised that Bromfield had written another long book, they were "surprised to find it brown-skinned" (Time 77). Essentially, this statement reveals that readers were amazed that Bromfield had chosen to write a novel in such a different setting (that of India) and tone from his previous novels. Sources: The following sources of reviews (designated by asterisks) were obtained from excerpts in Book Review Digest (Mar. 1937- Feb. 1938) N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Company, 1938: 129. *Butcher, Fanny. Chicago Daily Tribune. 23 Oct. 1937: 17. *Catholic World. vol. 146, Jan. 1938: 504. *Mann, D.L. Boston Transcript. 30 Oct. 1937: 3. *Ross, Mary. Books. 24 Oct. 1937: 3. Forman, H.J. New York Times. 31 Oct. 1937: 5. London Mercury. vol. 37: 1937-38. March 1938: 564. New York Times Book Review (July-Dec. 1937) 31 Oct. 1937. "Storm Over India." Time. vol. 30. 25 Oct. 1937: 76-77. Woodward, Frances. "Waters Over India." Saturday Review of Literature. vol. 16. 25 Oct. 1937: 6.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"One may easily imagine [Bromfield] crying out to his friends, 'By Shiva, Kali, or Vishnu, I am going to write a novel about this country!'" (NY Times Book Review) The Rains Came, when it appeared on the scene in 1937 had a generally positive reception, aided by the fact that Bromfield had already acquired much success with his earlier works and critics were eager to rate another potential Bromfield bestseller. According to David Anderson, "Although the book was well received in England and France as well as in India, it received a cool reception among the major American critics who for the most part attacked it because they found Bromfield's philosophy tinged with an apparent fascism that he neither presented nor implied" (Anderson 110). Whether or not they agreed with the underlying facets of the novel, American critics did, for the most part, agree that The Rains Came had an engaging premise with captivating action. A typical review of the novel consisted of a mostly positive response with a line or two also commenting on a negative aspect of the book, mainly in relation to characterization. The following are examples of typical reviews of The Rains Came: "A novel packed with incident, excitement, pictures, and vigor. The Rains Came is good story telling [and] enjoyable?" (Woodward 6). "This long book?is peopled with dozens of diverse and interesting personalities, and bright with exotic detail?the picture is both exciting and convincing?Mr. Bromfield has written an excellent story, and perhaps that was all he intended. But he intended more, and the outcome, in terms of the people of the story, seems to me too simple to be natural" (Ross 3). Some critics, such as Fanny Butcher, decided to emphasize only the positive attributes of the novel declaring that The Rains Came was "[f]ar and away Louis Bromfield's best novel" (Butcher 17). This statement would have more than likely been contradicted by numerous other critics who believed Bromfield's works even prior to The Rains Came, such as Early Autumn, were more representative of his best writing. As far as the numerous characters in The Rains Came were concerned, some critics argued that Bromfield's depiction, particularly of the Indians in the novel, was generally underdeveloped. However, other critics argue that Bromfield's depiction of characters is credible, particularly reviewers in England, who valued the author's portrayal of characters from both the West and the East. The following are examples of this contradiction in reviews: A reviewer for New York Times states, "Here is no ordinary novel, but rather a tour de force. It was some four years in writing and no wonder?[yet] so many of the Indian characters in Mr. Bromfield's novel emerg[e] as what Forster calls 'flat,' two dimensional, rather than 'round' and full. It is possible, of course, that most of Mr. Bromfield's numerous readers will not notice or miss any of these things, and, in any case, they are sure to find his latest book as colorful and interesting as anything else he has ever done, and in many respects much more so" (Forman 5). This particular example is also outstanding for its apparent quality of mocking Bromfield's readers for their imperceptive judgment and reliance on fast-moving and "colorful" story lines instead of examining its content. An excerpt from London Mercury asserts, "?[W]hat is so impressive is the patient justice with which he examines in turn Indians and British?His types are flamboyant?and yet the majority of this large gallery of portraits are convincing. If Mr. Bromfield errs on the side of romanticism it is a refreshing fault" (London Mercury 564). A reviewer for Boston Transcript comments, "Mr. Bromfield has a very interesting and very varied set of characters in the story and it is no new factor that he can manage an unusual number of characters convincingly. The catastrophe and complications give his ability full scope, but what is new in this story is a fire and enthusiasm, a sense of vision which places this book above all his recent work, and perhaps all the work he has ever done" (Mann 3). A Catholic World reviewer states, "With all the art of a fine theatrical director, he brings together and harmonizes and unifies the various elements of life in the ideal little town, Ranchipur in India?For this, much commendation is due him. But after all, a novel is concerned with people, too, and here Mr. Bromfield has run amuck" (Catholic World 504). According to Time Magazine, Bromfield placed his characters into "one of those 'marooned-in-the-midst-of-civilization' crises so tempting to novelists" in the 1930's (Time 76). The article, "Storm Over India," goes on to insist that to many readers the results presented in The Rains Came were somewhat trite and that Bromfield's method of writing appears "too tedious to make first-class reading" (Time 76). Time makes the distinction that although most readers were not surprised that Bromfield had written another long book, they were "surprised to find it brown-skinned" (Time 77). Essentially, this statement reveals that readers were amazed that Bromfield had chosen to write a novel in such a different setting (that of India) and tone from his previous novels. Sources: The following sources of reviews (designated by asterisks) were obtained from excerpts in Book Review Digest (Mar. 1937- Feb. 1938) N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Company, 1938: 129. *Butcher, Fanny. Chicago Daily Tribune. 23 Oct. 1937: 17. *Catholic World. vol. 146, Jan. 1938: 504. *Mann, D.L. Boston Transcript. 30 Oct. 1937: 3. *Ross, Mary. Books. 24 Oct. 1937: 3. Forman, H.J. New York Times. 31 Oct. 1937: 5. London Mercury. vol. 37: 1937-38. March 1938: 564. New York Times Book Review (July-Dec. 1937) 31 Oct. 1937. "Storm Over India." Time. vol. 30. 25 Oct. 1937: 76-77. Woodward, Frances. "Waters Over India." Saturday Review of Literature. vol. 16. 25 Oct. 1937: 6.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Louis Bromfield's The Rains Came enjoyed popularity as a bestseller in the late 1930s in part because of the author's persona and previous success with novels, which were also bestsellers. Thus, in a sense, The Rains Came teaches us that bestsellers can acquire their status with impetus from an author's reputation: Bromfield, by 1937, belonged to prominent social circles in both Europe and the United States and his writing was accepted as having a degree of literary merit. In addition, the book represents an extension of the author's Jeffersonian philosophy, the notion of directing one's own destiny and the concept of an independent, self-made man or woman, to a new setting, that of an exotic, disaster-ridden India. What does this choice of setting and social commentary contribute to the book as a bestseller? How is The Rains Came a product of its time and how does it compare to other novels and bestsellers of the 1930s? In context of the bestseller scene in the year of its publication, The Rains Came stands out as a novel set in a non-American locale. Northwest Passage and Drums Along the Mohawk, for example, as bestsellers in 1937, both incorporated the backdrop of a colonial American frontier. Bromfield's step in the opposite direction with a story set in the East may have disillusioned his reading audience at first, but this element came to be regarded as a sort of novelty and attracted more attention than it deterred. Bromfield's ability to entertain audiences with the winning Hollywood formula was exemplified by The Rains Came as it incorporated the "catastrophe approach" popular in the 1930s, similar to other books on the scene such as The Hurricane and The Grapes of Wrath. The novel also fits into the category of the "romance in a far-off land," appealing particularly on the verge of World War II, a time when people wanted to hear that the romance could still flourish amidst seemingly inevitable confusion. In the 1930s Cass Canfield of Harper publishers wanted to sign up "three young American authors whose knowledge and wit and cultivated writing added much luster to literature and life both here and abroad," one of whom was Louis Bromfield (Exman 241). Thus, since The Farm in 1933, Bromfield remained with Harper and Brothers. The publishing release of The Rains Came in October of 1937 appears somewhat strategic in the sense that it was only five days after one of Hemingway's novels and in time for the holiday season. These factors aided the novel's "jump?to bestsellerdom immediately" and contributed to the fact that it was "in big demand for Christmas gifts" (Publisher's Weekly 1852, 2365). It was also no coincidence that Harper promoted The Rains Came with the input of Edna Ferber, another bestselling author of the era. Her insert praising the novel as a great achievement of literature could be found in numerous locations including the New York Times Book Review and Publisher's Weekly. What does this show about the power of the publisher in a novel's success? Mainly, these factors reveal that a publishing company can market a book with the "bestseller" label by effective use of its promoting skills, particularly in coinciding publication dates and utilizing other well-known figures in the writing industry. The Rains Came made its first appearance on the Publisher's Weekly hardcover fiction bestsellers list as number ten on November 13, 1937 and attained its peak position at number three on the list on December 11, 1937, remaining at this spot for twenty weeks. Its combined total on the New York Times list and the Publisher's Weekly list was sixty-eight weeks, revealing that the book, through successful advertisement and the winning formula of Bromfield's writing, was able to appear on the annual bestseller list in both 1937 and 1938. Bromfield was known as an "entertainer" in both his writing and everyday life. He had been described as a "sparkling conversationalist" and one who was always eager to talk, as long as it was not about himself or his books (Democratic Digest 11). His involvement in numerous organizations, including those related to war relief and farming, helped to build his persona as a man of action and reputation. The November 1941 issue of The Democratic Digest describes the typical life of the "good democrat" Louis Bromfield: "[T]here's the Farm Bureau meetings, and?a British War Relief carnival?dances and parties?a steady stream of friends, house guests, world famous actors and actresses, writers, and all sorts of celebrities?" (Democratic Digest 11). It is no wonder that the public was intrigued by Bromfield's writing: it gave the readers a glimpse into the life and mind of a man with virtual celebrity status. The publishing of The Rains Came was no exception to this facet of his persona. In fact, the varied personalities, from Tom Ransome to the Maharani, and gripping action he portrays in the novel appear to reflect his cosmopolitan lifestyle and encounters, while at the same time revealing his strong connection to the land. At a time when Americans were particularly eager to relieve their worries through entertainment, Bromfield's fast-moving novels and movies were in high public demand. "His books created a path to the world of Hollywood - Bromfield's novels were among the first adapted for feature-length sound films. By the mid-thirties, he had attained fame and riches in an era when reading was an international pastime and movies had just begun to influence American culture" (www.pbs.org). During the Depression era, "movies were one of the strongest sales" and Hollywood provided an escape on numerous levels (www. geocities.com). The movie production of The Rains Came was no exception in the 1930s and 1940s, when numerous bestsellers, including Gone with The Wind, Of Mice and Men, and The Citadel were transformed into big screen versions. Winning the Academy Award for best special effects, "[The Rains Came] marked the final storm in a decade of screen extravaganzas?complete with all the romance, intrigue, suffering and action of the book" (Trent 166). Released in 1939, after the novel dropped from annual bestseller lists, the film did not appear to maintain or increase sales of Bromfield's book. However, what is notable in The Rains Came is an attempt to bridge cultural gaps, a break from solely a depiction of "The White Man's Burden" that prevailed in earlier portrayals of India. This is representative of the contemporaneous struggle for India to acquire an "identity" and the movement toward Indian independence from Britain, a sentiment with which Americans could relate. Bromfield's ability to incorporate the American notion of the Jeffersonian ideal, based on directing one's own destiny, into an Indian setting led some Americans to retract the cynicism that accompanied the Depression to a degree and focus on the roots of democracy. In The Rains Came, the essence of this ideal is illustrated by the nurse, Miss MacDaid, and her revelation: "?[T]here was a sense of fate, a sense of dedication, which Miss MacDaid had discovered long ago existed in many Indians" (Bromfield 17). At the same time, the fact that Bromfield shifted the setting of his novel to the East reflects a type of disillusionment with American society and the West in general during the 1930s, especially with its focus on industrialization and profits. "In?late 1930s and early 1940s works, any promise that might have been found in America is presented as dead, defeated by circumstances both economic and moral" (Wagner-Martin 54). Bromfield uses the characters of Lord Esketh and Tom Ransome to portray characteristics of the Western "illness": "Now [men from the West] were all like Esketh, greedy and ruthless and evil or like Ransome, warped and barren and tired. Ransome?was an ill man and his illness was the illness of Europe?" (Bromfield 147). The reviewers, for the most part, praised Bromfield's use of "exotic" detail and his elaborate presentation of catastrophe and crisis. Why so much emphasis on how crisis was portrayed? This may have to do with the fact that The Rains Came entered the American scene during the Great Depression, which lasted from 1930 to 1939. Readers were more likely to sympathize with situations similar to their own, being themselves victims of natural disasters such as floods, drought, and the "dust bowl" prevalent during the Depression in America. How could American readers sympathize with the plight of characters living in India during monsoon floods and earthquakes depicted in The Rains Came? As was the case with Pearl S. Buck's book set in China, The Good Earth, published in 1931, The Rains Came was particularly notable for its "universality of plot" (Entry on The Good Earth). The notion that many of the struggles that people were facing in America during the 1930s could and did happen in other regions of the world was an appealing aspect for readers of both The Good Earth and The Rains Came. In addition, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, continued the theme of the "chaos-stricken" workers and the notion of a common human bond, an idea that Bromfield seemed to have in mind while writing about the relationships between Europeans and Indians in the city of Ranchipur. How did Indians feel about Bromfield's portrayal of their society? According to David Anderson, "?[The Rains Came] has, in fact, found more acceptance among modern Indians than E.M. Forster's A Passage to India?in total impact it should rank high among the books of its time" (Anderson 110). Although The Rains Came may not have the literary caliber that is often associated with A Passage to India, Anderson's comment teaches us that bestsellers can sometimes have a greater impact on society than other "great works" of literature because of the publicity they gain and media that they span. It is interesting to note that Bromfield was one of a number of authors (such as Hemingway and Dos Passos) during the so-called "lost generation" who drove ambulances during World War I. Although one might believe it to have little significance, ambulance service, in this case, provides some insight into the effect that writers of this period had on their audiences: "?[O]ne might almost say that the ambulance corps and the French military transport were college-extension courses for a generation of writers. But what did these courses teach??They carried us to a foreign country, the first that most of us had seen; they taught us to make love, stammer love, in a foreign language? They made us more irresponsible than before?they made us fear boredom more than death?ambulance service had a lesson of its own: it instilled into us what might be called a spectatorial attitude" (Cowley 38). If there is nothing worse than a sense of boredom, what can be done to amend it? The solution offered by Cowley in Exile's Return is to take risks, for "[d]anger [is] a relief from boredom, a stimulus to the emotions?" (Cowley 42). In The Rains Came, the narrator comments on Lady Esketh's irrepressible sensations of monotony: "She was so bored that it seemed to her she could feel every nerve in the complicated network which ran through her body" (Bromfield 219). The solution for Lady Esketh involves promiscuity and relations with men such as Tom Ransome and Major Safti outside her marriage. Lady Esketh's "challenge" to seduce Major Safti can be seen in the context of the "exotic" and "forbidden" romance so alluring to reading audiences. Lady Esketh comments, "Maybe through Major Something-or-other I could begin to discover India. Maybe he would be able to kill that last vestige of prejudice" (Bromfield 193). Thus, in addition to the social commentary Bromfield offers in The Rains Came, there is also a sense of the appealing "untamed" quality found in the East. The New York Times Book Review described this phenomenon as a striking and refreshing attribute: "All restraint is swept aside in an orgy of passion that involves brown and white alike" (NY Times Book Rev.). The notion of "escape" is a prominent quality in The Rains Came and it is a topic that Bromfield was definitely interested in and familiar with prior to 1937. In fact, Bromfield thought that four of his earlier novels, including The Green Bay Tree (1924), Possession (1925), Early Autumn (1926), and A Good Woman (1927), could be grouped "under the general title of Escape" (Dictionary of Lit. Biography 59). Numerous bestsellers spanning the decades, such as Return to Paradise (1951) to Shogun (1975) use an exotic setting as the means of conveying an escape from daily life. The character of Miss Hodge describes the power of the East: "It seems impossible to tear yourself away, one the Orient gets into your blood?so strange and different and colorful" (Bromfield 221). If for no other reason but to escape into a distant land, readers are drawn to novels like The Rains Came for their "exotic" and remote backgrounds. Although Bromfield may not have "fulfilled" his literary potential according to critics, he definitely knew how to win over his reading audience. Hollywood also realized the dramatic nature of his books and took his plots to a new level of entertainment. The Rains Came is an example of a bestseller with many of the necessary ingredients: an author with an established persona, a successful and knowledgeable publisher, and a reflection of the public's interests and desires. Sources: Anderson, David. Louis Bromfield. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964. Bromfield, Louis. The Rains Came: A Novel of Modern India. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937. Cowley, Malcolm. Exile's Return. New York: The Viking Press, 1951. Dictionary of Literary Biography. vol. 4: 1920-1939. Exman, Eugene. The House of Harper: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Publishing. New York: Harper and Row, 1967. Geib, Helen. "Louis Bromfield - Country Gentleman and Democrat." The Democratic Digest. Nov. 1941: 10-11. "Great Depression." www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/1545/farmandcitylife.htm New York Times Book Review (July-Dec. 1937) 31 Oct. 1937. Publisher's Weekly. (vol. 132), Sept. 18, 1937. Rogers, Gwen. The Good Earth Entry in Bestsellers Database. "The Man Who Had Everything." http://www.pbs.org/wosu/bromfield/whois.html Trent, Paul. Those Fabulous Movie Years: The 30s. New York: Barre Publishing, 1975. Wagner-Martin. The Mid Century American Novel, 1935-1965. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997.
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