Although there have been wild moments in the past when the editors of the Harvard Monthly rushed about indiscriminately with muck-rakes, the magazine has usually disregarded literary fads and enjoyed a conservative reputation. The Monthly is still conservative in appearance; no artist's model smirks on the cover; but the contents of the excellent November number show here and there ravages of the bacilli that beset the ten-cent magazines, Mr. Petersen, for instance, has caught the--Red Blood Craze. His cattleship story called "Murph"--well-constructed and boldly written and vivid as it unquestionably is--is too full of perspiration and profanity and filth. Mr. Petersen's leading character has nothing distinctive about him, excepting an odor like a New England barnyard after an April shower." This sentence is more suited to a report of the Sewer Commission than to a work of literary art. Even Mr. Calvert Smith's "Nueva Andalucia," a gracefully written and brilliantly colored--though uneven--story of South America, shows a similar tendency toward the odoriferous. and in "Nueva Andalucia" the good red blood is not content with remaining red; it blackens before our eyes, while the banana skins rot in the middle distance, and an "unclean native smell" fills the air.
The Sex bacillus has also found its way into this conservative magazine. Mr. Nathan's one-act play, "Atoms," takes up a question that we have perhaps heard enough of lately from the dramatists. It is a relief to find Mr. Nathan's treatment of the subject sincere and vigorous.
The germs of Red Blood and Sex have luckily spread no further. Mr. Pichel's story about "Miss Clearwater's Morals" threatens to lead us into the literary red-light district, but turns out to be only a clever conversational sketch, strained and obscure in places, but entertaining throughout. Mr. Nathan, in going from drama to verse, leaves sex subjects and gives us poetry of real descriptive power and contageous feeling. Mr. Skinner and Mr. Selders both contribution sensible articles of protest: Mr. Skinner against the misleading rhetoric of those who preach "progress" and care not whether they are progressing; Mr. Seldes against the critical judgments of the Boston Drama League. Altogether, the November number of the Monthly, despite its partial subservience to the literary fads of the moment, is sound literary work and good reading.