Books: Fragile Conceit

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THE VENETIAN GLASS NEPHEW—Elinor Wylie — Doran ($2.00). "Peter Innocent beheld a golden griffin lift his wings to fan the air; a stag of azure glass dappled with the same gold, stepped with a fairy pride across the expanse of Chinese lacquer which separated him from his mate, and the two, meeting, caressed each other with delicate gestures of affection. A hummingbird, with feathers blown in pearl color and crimson, flew from his perch, alighting on the leafy chandelier; the spray that received him bent and swayed and from its largest rose a petal drifted to the floor."

Just such a petal is this curiously perfect little conceit, drifting out of the forest of new books in delicate descent. The hummingbird pen that despatched it is that of a lady who steeps herself in the precious odors, flavors, and disillusions which modern aesthetes ascribe to 18th century Italy. The episodes related are some that were consequent upon the fact that Cardinal Peter Innocent, not having nephews like the other cardinals and the chaste Pope, happened in Venice upon a glassblower and a chevalier who, for sufficient sequins, fashioned for him a nephew of finespun glass. This manikin, though at once christened Virginio, was human enough to fall in love with spirited little Rosalba Berni.