Lloyd Osbourne Criticism - Essay

The Bookman (essay date 1906)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Baby Bullet, in The Bookman, London, Vol. XXIX, No. 173, February, 1906, p. 225.

[In the following review, the critic characterizes Baby Bullet as a pleasant but essentially popular novel.]

The fine literary quality that distinguished many of the stories in Mr. Lloyd Osbourne's Love the Fiddler and The Queen versus Billy is lacking in his Baby Bullet, which is a light readable novel of the more popular kind, written in the easy, agreeable, somewhat commonplace style that seems essential to popularity. Not that the story itself is commonplace—it is an amusing and ingenious romance of a pretty American girl and her governess who are making a walking tour through England, and come into possession of an obsolete-pattern motor-car, which is continually breaking down, and involves them in all manner of difficulties and delectable adventures, but carries them to an altogether idyllic happiness at last. There is enough technical motor talk to delight the expert, and not enough of it to worry the ignorant; the love episodes are touched in with a charming airiness; the humour of the book verges at times on the broadly farcical, but the interest of it never flags for a minute, and it makes very pleasing reading throughout.

The Bookman (essay date 1906)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Wild Justice, in The Bookman, London, Vol. XXX, No. 176, May, 1906, pp. 75-6.

[In the following review, the critic praises the stories of Osbourne's Wild Justice for their "vividness and beauty and straightforwardness. "]

The collective title of Mr. Lloyd Osbourne's nine tales refers apparently to the rough equity of the South Sea Islands; to the justice of sailors safely away from legal machinery, of natives, and of the two in their relations together. It also, we fancy, has reference to that deeper justice which makes a great passion worth while, whatever the tragic consequences, and which led Baudelaire to exclaim: "Mais qu'importe l'éternité de la damnation à qui a trouvé dans une seconde l'infini de la jouissance!" For in these stories where white man meets brown, the nature of the former is stirred to its primitive depths.

Many have been moved by the scene in Westward Ho! where the sailors are found living with native women in the wild. It will be remembered that Joseph Conrad has treated the interaction of black and white with matchless insight; has used it, indeed, as a searchlight on our civilisation. Mr. Osbourne is not so subtle a psychologist as the author of Lord Jim. He is more of a story-teller. In the best of this nine, Jack Haviland—yearning to leave the squalor aboard and the debauchery ashore of life in a tramp's fo'c'stle, and to have a home—deserts from "the sea, that took all and gave nothing." A Samoan girl and her kinsfolk develop all the good which was latent in his nature, and he works for them as they never could themselves. Their life is a successful idyll, until the Powers harry the islands, and then—the end. If the psychology of the story holds good—and we think it does—"The Renegade" is a very fine effort. It is told with the vividness and beauty and straightforwardness that distinguish this volume. Wild Justice is a book to be recommended. There are men in it.

The Nation (essay date 1907)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Adventurer, in The Nation, New York, Vol. 85, No. 2214, December 5, 1907, p. 518.

[In the following review of The Adventurer, the critic praises Osbourne's versatile imagination and engaging storytelling. ]

Mr. Osbourne's new story is characteristically ingenious and fantastic. The centre of the stage is held by a wonderful land-going ship, the Fortuna, constructed for the purpose of treasure-hunting beyond the South American llaños. Supported on eight gigantic wheels, and carrying two lofty schooner-rigged masts, she drives, day after day, across the trackless plain, bounding, jolting, careening before the trade-wind—her goal a deserted city of unknown antiquity, where ingots of gold lie stacked in subterranean caverns. The voyage of the Fortuna is full of vicissitudes. There is mutiny among her crew; there are hurricanes and calms, and accidents to gear and canvas; worst of all, there are hordes of screaming, half-naked savages, from whom the good ship escapes only after deadly battle. The final success of the enterprise is due, in large measure, to Kirkpatrick, the resourceful young captain. At the opening of the story he appears as an unsuccessful jack-of-all-trades, looking for employment in London. Pertinaciously following up the clue of a mysterious newspaper advertisement, he is led into the midst of an adventure, the objective of which is completely hidden from him, until he finds himself under the very masts of the Fortuna, in the far interior of the Orinoco country. An entertaining and varied group of persons embark upon this expedition with him, among them a German archaeologist, a wealthy dowager from Paris, a manufacturer from Jersey City and his plucky daughter. Vera, between whom and Kirkpatrick develops an engaging romance.

Mr. Osbourne's versatile imagination seems never to fail him. There is not a lull in the action, not a paragraph of dull writing. It is to be regretted that, in a tale so extravagantly fanciful, the author should have given himself free rein in the description of sickening carnage and violence. In spite of this defect of taste, and the too liberal amplification of a plot which is, at best, only a conceit, The Adventurer bids fair to take its place among a not too numerous company of Stocktonian and Stevensonian kindred.

The Bookman (essay date 1908)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Adventurer, in The Bookman, London, Vol. XXXV, No. 205, October, 1908, p. 58.

[In the following review, the critic calls The Adventurer a "clean and invigorating tale. "]

Dr. von Zedtwitz, guiding a scientific expedition from the city of Quito into the unexplored regions of the Southern Llanos, fell into the hands of the savage aboriginals and spent three years in captivity. It was then that he happened by chance upon a place called Cassaquiari, and found the ruins of an antique city, and among the ruins the actual strong-room of the citadel, and in the strong-room five thousand ingots of pure gold. He escaped from captivity and one day met Mrs. Poulteney Hitchcock. She was a millionaire and was soon persuaded to finance an expedition to recover the buried treasure. Westbrook, the famous inventor, designed the vessel Fortuna that was to bear the weighty mass across the land—a topsail schooner running on gigantic wheels. And then a band of men was got together to make the great adventure. Lewis. Kirkpatrick was one of these, before long captain of them, and he is the hero of this swinging tale. Other romancists have shrunk from the last mendacity and have called fire down from heaven or up from the bowels of the earth to prevent avaricious hands from wresting treasure from the grave where it has been buried. Not so Mr. Lloyd Osbourne. He works to a finish. With breezy courage he takes his gallant company out and leads them home again, bringing their golden tale behind them. Lewis Kirkpatrick's share of the sport was 437,000 dollars and a wife—Vera, the lovely daughter of Westbrook the inventor. That, it will be admitted, was fairly good hunting. "Corking—simply corking," was Wicks's description of the picture made by the treasure in the ancient vault, and "corking—simply corking" is the happiest label to attach to Mr. Osbourne's book The Adventurer. It is a clean and invigorating tale of adventure, the breeziest that has been written for many a day.

William Morton Payne (essay date 1912)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of A Person of Some Importance, in The Dial Vol. LII, No. 613, January 1, 1912, pp. 23-4.

[In the following review, Payne sees A Person of Some Importance as inventive but disappointing in style and characterization. ]

The romantic story of the Austrian archduke who separated himself from civilization some twenty years ago, his subsequent history and fate to remain a mystery, has been taken by Mr. Lloyd Osbourne for the groundwork of the tale which he entitles A Person of Some Importance. Last year, it will be remembered, the missing man was declared to be legally dead, and his estate settled. Mr. Osbourne's invention (for which...

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The Bookman (essay date 1922)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Wild Justice: Stories of the South Seas, in The Bookman, London, Vol. LXII, 369, June, 1922, p. 143.

[In the following review, the critic lauds Wild Justice as a fascinating blend of tragedy and humor. ]

It is not fair of Mr. Lloyd Osbourne. Here are we, packed more or less securely in some of the biggest cities of the world, taking shelter from rain, wearing clothes that afflict us in hot weather and are not particularly comfortable in cold weather, catching trains and colds and running offices and paying—or trying to pay—incometax; and he considers this a suitable moment to call our attention to those South Sea isles where nature...

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The Bookman (essay date 1929)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Peril, in The Bookman, London, Vol. LXXVI, No. 451, April, 1929, p. 64.

[In the following review, the critic recounts the plot of Peril and comments on the "charm and fragrance" of its love story.]

There is a briskness about this latest story [Peril] by Stevenson's stepson and collaborator which quickly arrests the attention and retains it. For hero, Mr. Lloyd Osbourne presents in Hal Curwen—novelist, thirty-six, divorced—a portrait which may owe something to his own early New York experiences; but his setting and the other characters are wholly of the New York and Long Island and California of to-day. The delightful Nigma is certainly of the present. "She belonged to the new type of expensively educated young American women in whom femininity is guarded like a jewel; who can ride and swim and play games without impairing their essential charm; who can wear the appropriate clothes with elegance." And Tim Reardon, "one of the copper millionaires," is as decidedly of the nineteen-twenties. The Sherlock Holmes, too, is essentially of the United States and up-to-dateness. He is a dentist, and "blows in" to the coroner's inquest to prove that the body which had been accepted as that of Tim Reardon is nothing of the kind, for he was Tim's dentist and while Tim had not a single gold tooth in his head, the corpse had three. But Mr. Osbourne gives his readers more than mere smartness. The love story of Hal Curwen has charm and fragrance of rare quality.