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OF THE MAKING OF LITERARY CRITICISM
chine control were bringing together imagination. It is that we would at last those two divergent lines of bring the inspiration and joy of the thought, romanticism and realism; romantic into our daily task, that we they were tending to reunite and would illuminate the generally drab concentrate man's mental energy in paths of our humdrum work with the the pursuit of the mastery of the dif- fire and beauty of desire, that we ficulties of existence, to harness that would pursue with a song the lure of vast reservoir of power, the imagina- the greatest adventure the world has tion, to the problems of living, to to offer--the overcoming of the conmake man "romantic about reality.' ditions of a hostile environment for
the betterment and happiness of the This scientific spirit and the ma
race. And once we achieve the dechine discipline, by their very nature, flection of fifty-one per cent. of our were engendering a world-order of
mental capacity over to the world of peaceful co-operation based on reality, once we harness imagination socialised effort to understand and to work, desire to effort, we will bemaster these difficulties of living, and come irresistible, no hostile menace had there been time the process can stand before us, and the world might have had a logical develop: will flock to our banners. Such has ment. But the combination of been the case with the world's great mediaevalism and high technical effi men-they have been eminently ciency without the cultural practices
And such will be the case of modern life, as it existed in Ger. with the new world-order that is upmany, was an element too unstable, a on us—the order of social co-operamisunderstanding of the world too tion under the guidance of the men vast-it precipitated the process into of inherent power, the workers and a catastrophe. Still the result is teachers who with heart and brain equally sure—it is only immeasur and hand strive to make the world ably hastened by the grim horror of a fit dwelling-place for man-and war. For the life-and-death struggle strive to make man fit to move, domi. of the battle-lines is compelling un nating and like a god, in his natural der pain of extinction the applica- home, the world. tion of our whole energy and imagination, our whole effort and thought, These thoughts have been called to the grasping of the forces of the forth here by two recent books of lit. material world for the achievement
erary criticism. For, as the world of power, to the co-ordination and co thinks and moves, so it finds expresoperation of the energies of mankind sion in its literature—the literature everywhere for social solidarity of the imagination and that of critiand effectiveness, brotherhood and
cism. Last month, under Chronicle strength. The struggle is demand and Comment, Professor Stuart P. ing the quick concentration of ro Sherman's critical volume, On Conmanticism-imagination and desire
temporary Literature, was discussed -upon the problems of reality, it is at some length. Professor Sherman achieving, as it were over night, the is that most curious of critics who, healing of that schism in man's while believing that “truth is a per. thought that through the ages has sonal and private matter," talks with baffled him, made his efforts futile fearless inconsistency of the “aim of and kept him a stranger in his own the human organisation” and on the home, the world.
basis of this "truth" (whatever it It is not that we would forego ro may be, though we venture to say it manticism, that we would renounce can be neither personal nor private) the cultivation of the beauties of the affects to evaluate the work of his
contemporaries. Professor Sherman is a shining illustration of the at tempt to create values and standards in the super-real world of idealismthe only result is hopeless confusion. But enough of this—the dead past can do its burying as well to-day as in our poet's time. There is another book of literary criticism, just issued, that belongs to a different category. It is Some Modern Novelists, by Helen Thomas Follett and Wilson Follett. These authors see with a clear vision the trend of thought and the social changes that are in process to-day; their book is a modern book.
flected in our modern fiction, these authors say:
The only fiction which remains tolerable at all is that which speaks in a clear voice to some direct human needs created or reemphasised by the war; the only standard of criticism worth raising is the sum of those very needs. Art must be, as never before, a ministry to need; criticism must be, as never before, the quick response of need ministered to, the indifferent silence of need ignored or travestied.
Some quotations from the Folletts may be interesting. Of that world of super-reality, of romanticism and idealism, which "art" is popularly supposed to infest, and which man has painstakingly and perversely elaborated in his effort to dodge the responsibilities of being alive, these authors write:
How can we for an instant put up with the notion of literature as simply an escape from the actual, a cloister of quiet and release? How, especially, can we find any. thing but a mockery in the sentimentalism that infests so much of our English litera. ture, and nearly all of our American fiction --that sentimentalism which, as Meredith
And of the ideal of the art of fiction to-day:
Among all our various actual and possible ideals, there is obviously one element in common: call it the sense of community, the social conscience, human solidarity. It is the thing that craves some form of human understanding, that will be always trying to cross or break down the innumerable barriers of race, of creed, of class, to in. crease the feeling of kinship among the members and groups of the human guild. It gives us our democracy, our sociology, our general disposition to abolish the misunderstandings that keep the weak degraded, the powerful haughty ... this perception that, despite our various artifices of creed and class, we are after all a world full of creatures in the same boat, fleeing from the same storm, and certainly doomed un. less we pull together.
pruriency, and which may be defined as the childish and spoiled desire to have our cake and eat it too? In this latter respect, our sentimentalism, we are a cynical people.
i In business, in politics, we are always droning about the need to be practical, to "face the hard facts of life"—whereas in our edu. cation, our religion, our novels and dramas and paintings, those facts are precisely what no consideration could hire us to face.
All these fashions of sundering art from life are fashions of belittling both—how cynically, it takes a decade and a war like the present completely to disclose to us.
Then, of that change in the direction of man's interest, of that grow. ing determination to face and master the seriousness of living, as it is re
I wish I could go on quoting from the Folletts' book. These authors have synthetic minds, a grasp of the great drifts of thought that express themselves in their various saliences through the work of the modern novelists. They have a definite standard of truth, an objective and a correct standard—the standard of human needs-by which they ob- : serve our modern fiction. Their conclusions are interesting and stimulating, although it is inevitable that some readers will disagree with some individual criticisms. Some Modern Novelists is a genuine contribution to the literature of criticism.
G. G. W.
CHICAGO'S OPERATIC DRIVE
THERE are persons for whom the that spiritual radiance we call Genius. art of the opera (if we may call it an This impalpable, galvanic, propulsive art) is a negligible consideration. force departed from the Metropolitan Many musicians affect a fine scorn of with the departure some years ago this phase of music. Their attitude of Olive Fremstad and Arturo Tossavours of artificiality. Opera is not canini. We do not find it there now and never can be the dignified me in the smallest degree. By no stretch dium of expression that the sym of amiable intention can it be cred. phony is, but this fact should not ited to Geraldine Farrar. This persuade us against accepting opera woman is to the highest degree as a necessary and sometimes su clever, but her gifts are external, they premely beautiful form of musical do not emanate from within. Caruso, entertainment. There are not lack
of course, is out of the question. Ten ing critics who would accord a higher years ago he was the greatest voice rank to Wagner's Tristan than to all of our age. To-day he is a dramatic the symphonies of Beethoven and impertinence. Martinelli might acBrahms put together. It is obvious complish more than he does if his that opera merits a serious considera- surroundings tended toward earnesttion. Unfortunately, it is over ness of purpose. As it is, he remains susceptible to adulterations, and it is crude, a logical representative of a taken advantage of by materialism system wherein operatic art is bared and superficiality. No wonder that of all adornment, of all enticement, its gold becomes so easily tinsel, that of, in a word, that so precious and its glowing, delightful colours wear necessary thing, Illusion. thin and threadbare and tawdry and meretricious.
The present writer does not place
the blame for this state of affairs The Chicago Opera Association has upon the Metropolitan management; brought back to New York that he places it upon the New York indefinable something so long lacking public. Mediocrity is supported in in the operatic activities of this this city to so overwhelming an extent city-namely, charm. Presented to that the most virile enthusiasm sucus though it is in a gaudy, second-rate cumbs to discouragement.
The environment, and unsupported by musical public of this city accepted any of the sophisticated graces and the dismissal of a Fremstad, perhaps amenities of demeanour characteristic the most sheerly beautiful of all of Metropolitan audiences, it never Isoldes, and listened to her successor theless projects that atmosphere of with avidity. It accepted the deparromantic glamour so essential to the ture of Toscanini, perhaps the greatcreating of any acute kind of enjoy. est conductor that ever lived, and enment. It is precisely this kind of thused over his successor, Bodanzky, atmosphere that is lacking in the a man of limited emotion and feeble performances of the Metropolitan dynamic force. It seems to possess Opera House.
no tenacities of judgment, no loyal
ties, no fine discriminations. Had it All art is a question of personality. not been for the sensational success Theoretical or technical considera of Galli-Curci, it would probably tions alone can never satisfy us; we have failed to support the Chicago crave that inner ferventness of appeal, Opera Association, although this or
ganisation possesses what the Metro parallel the unforgettable impersona. politan does not possess and has not tions of the past. Muratore has done possessed for years-a great, roman. this thing; under his gracious witchtic tenor, Lucien Muratore, a man ery of gesture, of exquisite, symwhose magnetic personality and vi metrical poise the past lives again. brant voice effect a combination that In watching him we are watching has not been heard in this city since Romance, Romance come down over the departure of Jean de Reszke. long centuries, and out of old strange
lands and legends. His Romeo is, The Chicago Opera Association has
for the present writer, the most beausupplied us with a something we had
tiful performance on the operatic
stage of to-day. almost despaired of securing-individual genius of a compelling, inde The writer assumes no responsi. scribably satisfying nature. The bility for recording a prevalent ruMetropolitan has, in recent years, not mour to the effect that the Metropolionly failed to do this, but it has tan has done all it could to impede apparently made no effort to supply the success of the Chicago Opera Asthis city with pre-eminent person sociation. If this is so, it suggests a alities. The present writer is abso dastardly condition of affairs in the lutely ignorant of the inside workings operatic activities of this city. The of the Metropolitan management. He Chicago Opera Association possesses insinuates nothing, he merely pro three artists of a quality so superior claims the facts as they appear on to anything possessed by the Metrothe surface. The Metropolitan's tardy politan that no comparison is posre-acceptance of that authentic, ex sible. Galli-Curci, the unique Mary quisite artist, Olive Fremstad, cannot Garden and Lucien Muratore are cancel the fact that we are indebted artists in the true sense of that muchto the Chicago Opera Association for abused
abused word. . They are artists the revelation of the first really fine because they fulfil the essential funcFrench tenor that New York has
tion of art-to vivify, to enrapture, known since Saleza. The rôles of to win us away from reality and Romeo, Faust and Don Jose- lead us captive into the long time the last the most appealing and ago. We can think of no one at the poignantly picturesque rôle in all Metropolitan capable of exerting this opera—have remained dormant in magic influence. We can even fancy this city entirely because of the fact that the Metropolitan might look that we have had no one of sufficient upon such notions as objects for histrionic grace — that inimitable surreptitious ridicule. something of poetic savoir faire-to
C. L. B.
CHRONICLE AND COMMENT
This month THE BOOKMAN ap- Bodoni type; indeed, we know of no pears in a slightly changed dress. other magazine that has yet taken With
We like it, many advantage of this latest achievement
friends of the maga of typography Becoming
zine who have been Modesty
consulted like it too Then we are beginning a most im-we hope you all will like it. In portant service for the study of THE deed without exception every change
BOOKMAN in schools, that has been made was first sug.
colleges and clubs, gested by some subscriber or friend
which we believe also either personally to the Editor or by
will prove of real inmail—it has been most gratifying terest and help to all our readers. that so many people have shown This new department, appearing for such a really helpful interest in the convenience in the advertising sec. development of the “new” BOOKMAN, tion, will consist (as it does this for hardly a week goes by that we do month) of questions, suggestions and not receive some suggestions for en outlines based on the discussions and larging the usefulness of the maga comments in the current issue. News zine. And from all these ideas we items of the literary world, literary have put into effect those that from questions and current literary prothe point of view of our immediate duction, the broad problems of our problems seem the most practical at modern life, the revaluation of the the present time; other changes that classics of literature and the new have been suggested will appear later light upon them that it is the funcas the opportunity for their adoption tion of a literary magazine to furnish presents itself, and indeed many —all these are some of the aims and changes have been incorporated in ideals of this new service to Book. the past months that may have gen- MAN readers. Indeed in our schools erally passed unnoticed, as they were and study courses so often the connot of the obvious character of the sideration of literary themes is made present innovations. We have de- so dry, so unrelated to modern intercided to give THE BOOKMAN a new ests, so foreign to the warm, human sub-title: A Review of Books and spirit of desire, of idealism, of the Life. It is the same “Bookman” that craving to know of life, to experience it has always been, but to call it a for ourselves the vagaries and the “Review” is more in keeping with adventures through which our nature the seriousness and dignity of its is struggling upward toward the effort to interpret the books and the light, that the wonder is that the inlife of the times. The type of the terest in literature does not die of text matter, too, has been changed dry rot and inanition. A truly alive with these same considerations in literary magazine must revitalise the mind. This new type is known as old in the light of modern living “Bodoni,” a very recent development needs, must infuse into the new the of the printer's art, considered to be warm contact with the earth from very attractive, dignified and with which we all gain our vigour and our character, yet graceful and readable joy of living—such is the aim of our to a high degree. Not all printing magazine and such the aim of our establishments are equipped with new study service.