Copy Text Source and Contemporary Reviews for The Open Question

Copy Text Source and Contemporary Reviews for The Open Question

Copy Text Source

This electronic text is based upon the Second edition of the Harpers text, which identifies Elizabeth Robins as author. The copy consulted has a "rebound" plain black boards cover. It contains numerous advertisement pages at back. The pagination of first and second Harpers edition is the same.

Additional editions of the text have been examined:

A. The first edition of the Harpers text has these features: Green boards, a red printed and embossed wheel design on cover, gold lettering on cover:


Gold lettering on spine:


A title page appears to be excised from the copy on hand; the shadow of its printing indicates that "C.E. Raimond" appeared on the title page.

B. The second Heinemann edition, olive green boards white lettering on spine:


White embossed design of two overlapping shields, black lettering on cover:


Title Page:

Open Question
A Tale of Two Temperaments
Elisabeth Robins * (C. E. Raimond)
Author of 'George Mandeville's Husband,' 'Below the Salt,' Etc.
William Heinemann

* [Note aberrant spelling of Elizabeth]
View photo of Heineman title page
Detail of this title page, showing misprint

recto of this second printing of Heinemann editon:

First Impression, October, 1898
Second Impression,
December 1898
All rights reserved page

next leaf:

Note. The poem on page 318 is quoted, by permission, from 'A Shropshire Lad," by Mr. A. E. Housman (Grant Richards).

There are 419 numbered pages of text.

Other differences from Harpers edition:

Single quotation marks used and quotations within quotations use double, as per English typographical style.
Blocked quotations are in italics rather than smaller type.
The last paragraph of this edition of the text matches the second to last paragraph of the Harpers text and reads:

Sam Cornish filled his pipe. He watched Yaffti drop down the bay, and sail away into the sunset.

[The last paragraph of the two Harpers editions examined is not included in this edition:

That night the Pacific coast was strewn with wreck. But of the Yaffti not spar was ever found.]

Bottom of last page:

Billings and Sons, Printers, Guilford.

Reviews published at the front of Heinemann second edition:
The first leaf, an unnumbered page, sequenced before title page, includes selections from press reviews of The Open Question:



[Title of book is rendered in italics instead of in double quotation marks. --ed.]

St. James's Gazette: 'This is an extraordinarily fine novel. We have not, for many years, come across a serious novel of modern life which has impressed our imagination or created such an instant conviction of the genius of its writer. Public taste in these matters is capricious, but if The Open Question is not recognised as the most thoughtful piece of constructive fiction, not merely of the year or last year, but certainly since Mrs. Humphrey Ward made her reputation with Robert Elsmere, we shall be surprised. At any rate, we express our decided opinion that the book, setting itself a profound human problem treats it in a manner worthy of the profoundest thinkers of the time, with a literary art and a fulness of the knowledge of life which stamp a master novelist. . . . It is not meat for little people or for fools: but for those who care for English fiction as a vehicle of the constructive intellect, building up types of living humanity for our study, it will be a new revelation of strength, and strange, serious beauty.'

The Daily Chronicle: 'Mr. Raimond gives us three deeply differentiated beings, in whom yet some family likeness of mentality is made to appear, and he draws them with that concern for the value of each stroke which was known to masters of etching, and to them only. There is a seriousness of purpose, an artist's genuine humility before his material, mated to a rare sense of life and the play of strong hearts and souls, which makes this a book of the moment. . . . Mr. Raimond is to be congratulated. We have been deeply held by his work: we offer him our grateful recognition of its innate excellences.'

Mr. W. L. Courteney in 'The Daily Telegraph': ' The Open Question, clearly one of the most remarkable books of the time . . . its merits are deep-lying.'

The Outlook: 'The splendid art, the frequent magic, the leashed power wherewith Mr. Raimond has wrought out his story--no gloomy story by any manner of means, rather a thing of light and colour and laughter, touched here and there with shadow: a web of gossamer fineness, extinguished and blown from us by the final storm that ends this tragedy. This is a serious book, but it is never a heavy book. It has a style which moves with ease and distinction; it has wit, it has humour--more wit, more humour, than any recently read novel; the narrative is swift and varied, with the sense of movement everywhere, an ever-increasing volume of force; and, lastly, there is no thought in it, no line in it, that has not been weighed, selected, tested, that has not sprung from the life-experience of an important personality. It is no book to read hurriedly, with brain alert for sensation and curried sentiment, but something leisurely and spacious, a book to enjoy.'

The Pall Mall Gazette: 'It would not surprise us very much if this proved to be the novel of the season. From the outside one is much struck with the author's penetration of detail and clever pointedness of style. It is a book which makes a reputation.'

Literature: 'Taken all round, The Open Question must be pronounced one of the most remarkable novels of the present year.'

The Daily Graphic: 'This is one of those astonishingly clever books which impress one with the amount of thought and power which have gone to the making of them.... The story, indeed, contains passages of very remarkable writing.'

Vanity Fair: 'The characterization is excellent, and there are so many striking, thoughtful and original passages in this clever book, that it cannot fail to grip the reader.'

The Academy: ' The Open Question has aroused unusual and widespread interest. We think that interest is justified, for the book is mightily uncommon, and deserves serious attention.'

The recto of this unnumbered leaf, facing the title page:



Crown 8vo., cloth, price 6s.

The St. James's Gazette: 'Clever sketches of life and character, one entitled "Vroni" being a singular study. There is a fine sense of humour throughout, and this feature is one which goes far to sum up the interest which the volume possesses. C. E. Raimond's writing is always good in the matter of literary capacity.'

The Queen: 'Each story is in its way a clear-cut and shining gem. The are intensely good, these little stories of what goes on every day downstairs in our households; they are told with real sympathy, quick discernment of character, and fine insight, and they are delightful to read from the humour which abounds in them.'

The Daily Chronicle: 'Life below stairs has been a little neglected by storytellers. Mr. Raimond's amusing sketches are specially welcome. The nine examples of the author's study here collected are all cleverly told, vivacious, life-like, observant sketches.'


Cloth, 3s. net ; ornamental wrapper, 2s. 6d. net. Pioneer Series.

The Athenaeum: 'The chief merit of the book lies in the portrain of the husband; there is very great dramatic propriety in many of the little touches which indicate his nature and contrast it with his wife's. Very charming, too, is the alliance of the father with his only daughter, and there is much pathos in their furtive conclaves. . . . It is a most excellent and powerful piece of work.'

The Spectator: 'Mr. Raimond is undoubtedly an artist of great power, and he certainly understands women's distinctive graciousness and ungraciousness as few women appear to understand it.'

The Pall Mall Gazette: 'This is a very good novel of character . . . and it proves that its author is a very able writer and a keen satirist.'

The Guardian: 'This is a novel of rare concentration combined with powerful delineation of character. . . . It is a story of extraordinary power and simplicity, and told in the most admirable English.'


Cloth, 3s. net ; ornamental wrapper, 2s. 6d. net. Pioneer Series.

The Daily News: 'It is a moving story, and in the supreme crisis it vibrates with restrained passion. The crisis is all the more impressive that the note of triumph and purity rings through its anguish. A background of misty and visionary terrors is made to blend artistically with the fatal close.'

The Saturday Review: 'The emotional pahses are drawn with amazing force and sympathy. The book is a profoundly moving one, seizing hold of the reader from the very outset, and it makes a worth member of what promises to be a very brilliant company of story-books indeed.'


At the back are 32 unnumbered pages of advertisements for Heinemann titles

Additional Contemporary Reviews and Accounts

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Available since April 1999