The Best Book of the Year

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Best Book of the Year is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in The Young Man in january 1893.

It was part of the "Our Debating Club" section. The second article was from Herbert W. Paul, M.P.

The Best Book of the Year

The Young Man (january 1893, p. 9)


The two new books which I have read and re-read most frequently during the Year have both been books of poetry. The one is Henley's Song of the Sword and the other is Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads. Henley's title piece is, as it seemed to me, the least satisfactory in the book, as it is pitched in a key which no mortal voice could sustain without cracking; but the London voluntaries show a power over the whole range of expression, from the daintiest, met delicate description, to the savage strength of the cast find passage, which in my opinion puts them in the very forefront of poetry. The fog and wind portion has no mate in modern literature. It is Elizabethan in its tremendous piling up of an effect, and yet modern in its close observance of actuality. Kipling's book is very different in matter and method, though there is a heroic grain which is common to both. It is a rollicking, beer-drinking, sabre-clashing little book, with the verses lifting along like the drumming of a squadron's hoofs, but the spirit and dash of it is inexhaustible. There is the danger that the reader may be deceived by the music-hall rhythm and rhyme, and may look upon the poems as mere superficial catches. In one or two instances they are so, but in the vast majority the simplicity is that of the highest art. Kipling is hardly second to Swinburne in producing metrical effects. What a dying fall of unutterable melancholy here is in the "Kabul River," and who else was ever striven for or imagined such an effect to cockney English without a word in the poem which the rudest of troopers might not have used. It is a great book, and a valuable document to our posterity. What would we not give to have some authentic record which did for Cromwell's Ironsides what this does for the nineteenth-century Tommy.