ADVOCATE GIVES EVIDENCE OF REAL CRITICAL ABILITY
Reviewer Finds That Writers Fail to Choose Subjects Equal to Their Ability--Book Reviews Among Best Works of Issue
Perhaps the most gratifying effect on the reader of the current issue of the Advocate is the high standard of literary taste which is quite obviously possessed by the Editors and contributors. If in their own productions they are not always able to come up to this standard, they nevertheless demand it from others and judge them accordingly. This reviewer has not seen a number of the Advocate in many months which so clearly gives evidence of real critical ability.
It is scarcely proper, in reviewing a publication, to begin with the columns of book reviews. In this case, however, this department is so clearly the best thing in the magazine that it might almost deserve priority. They are all excellent, and show a keen appreciation of literary values and no small ability in technical criticism. "Washington Close-ups" receives its just valuation, and is not permitted to take rank beside "The Mirrors of Downing Street", to which position so many reviewers seem willing to raise it. Occasionally, one feels the lack of literary background on the part of the reviewer, especially in the case of such a criticism as that of Major Beith's "Willing Horse". The books selected for review are varied in character and likely to merit serious consideration. That they receive it from an undergraduate publication, is in itself no small achievement. The most pretentious work in this issue is Mr. Ludlam's "King of Dougal Court". Mr. Ludlam's choice of words is generally so good, and he is so skillful in the management of his plot, that we rarely feel inclined to remember that the story is not actually new. It is effective from an emotional standpoint, and not by any means bad prose. For description, Mr. Cleaves' account of a bull fight is vivid, and effective. For sheer nonsense, "Hicks the Half Back" is undeniably funny, and the reader laughs shame-facedly in spite of his conviction that the article is rather beneath his notice. And the naive way in which the story stops when the writer's well of humour goes dry is not the worst thing about it.
The verse, as is generally the case with undergraduate poetical efforts, is rather difficult to judge. "The Night by the Sea" is a pleasant trifle and we cannot help liking it. "Dead Leaves" and "The Seer" both have the merit of an intelligible idea, although the former is far better able to express it. It is difficult to find any justification for "Hilaria", with its tortuous rhetoric and unnatural choice of words. Probably "Captive's Prayer" comes as near being real poetry as any of them.
The remaining articles, consisting of Mr. Trumbull's outline of the football season and Mr. Kane's remarks on undergraduate support of the football team, are timely and interesting. The editorials seem generally slight, but they are written with technical skill.
On the whole, one leaves this number of the Advocate with the feeling that the abilities of its writers do not always find subjects worth their metal. In general, as I have said, the level of taste is high, but the standard of production is far from attaining this level. And one is led to the conclusion that with subjects about which they feel deeply, these authors would write something really worth while.