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The Eternal City   By: (1853-1931)

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By Hall Caine

Author of "The Christian," etc.

"He looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God."



Copyright, 1901, 1902 By HALL CAINE Popular Edition

Published October, 1902


Has a novelist a right to alter his novel after its publication, to condense it, to add to it, to modify or to heighten its situations, and otherwise so to change it that to all outward appearance it is practically a new book? I leave this point in literary ethics to the consideration of those whose business it is to discuss such questions, and content myself with telling the reader the history of the present story.

About ten years ago I went to Russia with some idea (afterwards abandoned) of writing a book that should deal with the racial struggle which culminated in the eviction of the Jews from the holy cities of that country, and the scenes of tyrannical administration which I witnessed there made a painful and lasting impression on my mind. The sights of the day often followed me through the night, and after a more than usually terrible revelation of official cruelty, I had a dream of a Jewish woman who was induced to denounce her husband to the Russian police under a promise that they would spare his life, which they said he had forfeited as the leader of a revolutionary movement. The husband came to know who his betrayer had been, and he cursed his wife as his worst enemy. She pleaded on her knees that fear for his safety had been the only motive for her conduct, and he cursed her again. His cause was lost, his hopes were dead, his people were in despair, because the one being whom heaven had given him for his support had delivered him up to his enemies out of the weakness of her womanly love. I awoke in the morning with a vivid memory of this new version of the old story of Samson and Delilah, and on my return to England I wrote the draft of a play with the incident of husband and wife as the central situation.

How from this germ came the novel which was published last year under the title of "The Eternal City" would be a long story to tell, a story of many personal experiences, of reading, of travel, of meetings in various countries with statesmen, priests, diplomats, police authorities, labour leaders, nihilists and anarchists, and of the consequent growth of my own political and religious convictions; but it will not be difficult to see where and in what way time and thought had little by little overlaid the humanities of the early sketch with many extra interests. That these interests were of the essence, clothing, and not crushing the human motive, I trust I may continue to believe, and certainly I have no reason to be dissatisfied with the reception of my book at the hands of that wide circle of general readers who care less for a contribution to a great social propaganda than for a simple tale of love.

But when the time came to return to my first draft of a play, the tale of love was the only thing to consider, and being now on the point of producing the drama in England, America, and elsewhere, and requested to prepare an edition of my story for the use of the audiences at the theatre, I have thought myself justified in eliminating the politics and religion from my book, leaving nothing but the human interests with which alone the drama is allowed to deal... Continue reading book >>

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