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"This number of the Monthly is devoted to criticism of Professor Santayana's new book, 'Winds of Doctrine.' . . . Each of Professor Santayana's six essays (on The Intellectual Temper of the Age, Modernism and Christianity, The Philosophy of Mr. Henri Bergson, The Philosophy of Mr. Bertrand Russell, Shelley, and The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy) is treated in a separate paper. We also include an exposition of the philosopher's metaphysics by one of his former students. Professor Santayana was of the class of '86, and was one of the founders of the Monthly. The present editors wish this number to be some small tribute to his genius."
It is evident from the above statement of plan and purpose that the latest issue of the Monthly is unusual. More important--it appears, from the quality of the articles included, that the editors' venture was wise. Mr. Santayana will be happy to see his work so warmly appreciated by the group of men who have thus undertaken to discuss it, and will be particularly gratified to recognize that in so doing they have caught something of his own rare spirit. His own attitude--judicial but generous, frank but reverent, cultivated but strong--is reflected in their essays concerning his. Nor does one note as much difference as one would expect between the style of the master and that of his disciples: the number is well written throughout, and in parts shows true distinction.
Studies of studies, criticisms of criticisms, comments on comments, might easily have been repetitive, desultory or dull. But such is not the case here. Each writer has given as much of himself as of his teacher, and some a great deal more. Everywhere in the number one seems to be in contact with "men thinking," and not with easy-going youths chiefly troubled about turns of phrase. Indeed, in what these men exhibit of their own quickened imaginations and strengthened capacity to handle ideas, lies perhaps the most striking witness they offer to Mr. Santayana's power. That he has never desired obsequious allegiance is plain from the independence of his pupils' views. Regret grows that Harvard could not keep a professor so peculiarly fitted to inspire a select body of students to superior intellectual life.
It is hardly to be expected that this number of the Monthly will interest ordinary undergraduates, who are not given to reflect seriously about poetry and philosophy. But it will undoubtedly stimulate its more mature readers to valuable questioning, and that makes it abundantly worth while. If the Monthly did not exist, it is improbable that this excellent discussion of contemporary problems by young men at Harvard would ever have been prepared, let alone printed. The Monthly has justified itself.
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