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Review of January Monthly


The new number of the Monthly is well up to the average quality of that magazine, interesting even--or, rather especially--in its faults. For, while it is part of the reviewer's business to point out failures, it is his pleasure to note the aspiration and ambition that are so often the occasion of these failures.

Mr. Seldes appears here uttering. I think, his third lamentation over the deplorable condition of American fiction. In spite of his iteration, the reviewer is not convinced that American novels are as bad as Mr. Seldes believes, nor is he much enlightened by such a paradox as this: "They offer vividness, interest, lightness of touch, superficial interest; What perverse tenth muse broods over them, then, that they result only in stupidity, dullness, vanity, and vexation of spirit?" Can a vivid and interesting book be at the same time stupid and dull? Yet the article shows the author an acute observer of literary matters, with a pronounced taste of his own. His chief fault is an excessive eagerness to appear grown up and sophisticated. He is grown-up enough to afford to be simple, if he would only believe it. Let him reserve mere cleverness for such amusing sportiveness as he exhibits in "Marionettes."

Mr. J. Garland contributes two pieces of verse: one in simple "Wreek of the Hesperus" style, seems strangely old fashioned among its up-to-date surroundings; the other, "Old Books to Read," a happy treatment of a theme that never grows stale. Mr. Bradley Randall's "Memoir of my Dead Past" deals with a phase of experience too remote from the reviewer for him to pass judgment on its truth. But it is clearly the kind of thing that must be handled delicately if at all: and it is hardly suitable material for the experiment of an apprentice. Mr. R. S. Mitchell, in "Lolomi," is not ineffective, but the story is almost smothered in local color, and his hero's coat is "of the same goods" as his trou sers. Mr. B. Winkelman, in a sketch reeking of the odors of Memorial and Randall, tells with some pathos but no distinction a fanciful incident of College life. Finally, Mr. R. G. Nathan contributes a vigorous bit of verse in his "Song of the Mountaineers", and an unconscious parody of the weaker elements in Mr. Galsworthy's style in his "Appreciation" of that writer's recent volume of essays.

Taken altogether, the issue is a far from discouraging reflection of the literary tastes of the College today

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