Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 37
The first thing Martin did next morning was to go counter both to Brissenden's
advice and command. "The Shame of the Sun" he wrapped and mailed to THE
ACROPOLIS. He believed he could find magazine publication for it, and he felt
that recognition by the magazines would commend him to the book-publishing
houses. "Ephemera" he likewise wrapped and mailed to a magazine. Despite
Brissenden's prejudice against the magazines, which was a pronounced mania
with him, Martin decided that the great poem should see print. He did not intend,
however, to publish it without the other's permission. His plan was to get it
accepted by one of the high magazines, and, thus armed, again to wrestle with
Brissenden for consent.
Martin began, that morning, a story which he had sketched out a number of
weeks before and which ever since had been worrying him with its insistent
clamor to be created. Apparently it was to be a rattling sea story, a tale of
twentieth-century adventure and romance, handling real characters, in a real
world, under real conditions. But beneath the swing and go of the story was to be
something else - something that the superficial reader would never discern and
which, on the other hand, would not diminish in any way the interest and
enjoyment for such a reader. It was this, and not the mere story, that impelled
Martin to write it. For that matter, it was always the great, universal motif that
suggested plots to him. After having found such a motif, he cast about for the
particular persons and particular location in time and space wherewith and
wherein to utter the universal thing. "Overdue" was the title he had decided for it,
and its length he believed would not be more than sixty thousand words - a
bagatelle for him with his splendid vigor of production. On this first day he took
hold of it with conscious delight in the mastery of his tools. He no longer worried
for fear that the sharp, cutting edges should slip and mar his work. The long
months of intense application and study had brought their reward. He could now
devote himself with sure hand to the larger phases of the thing he shaped; and
as he worked, hour after hour, he felt, as never before, the sure and cosmic
grasp with which he held life and the affairs of life. "Overdue" would tell a story
that would be true of its particular characters and its particular events; but it
would tell, too, he was confident, great vital things that would be true of all time,
and all sea, and all life - thanks to Herbert Spencer, he thought, leaning back for
a moment from the table. Ay, thanks to Herbert Spencer and to the master-key of
life, evolution, which Spencer had placed in his hands.
He was conscious that it was great stuff he was writing. "It will go! It will go!" was
the refrain that kept, sounding in his ears. Of course it would go. At last he was
turning out the thing at which the magazines would jump. The whole story
worked out before him in lightning flashes. He broke off from it long enough to
write a paragraph in his note-book. This would be the last paragraph in
"Overdue"; but so thoroughly was the whole book already composed in his brain