Here is a number of the Monthly to make the heart of an ex-editor glad, not only because the number provides interesting entertainment, but because it is so joyously youthful and so youthfully sincere. The spirit that founded the Monthly, and through lean and fat years kept it true to its old gods, is in these pages--the love of literature and life; of beauty, of humanity, of song; of quiet nature and of outlandish romance; of all those things, in fact, which a man, when he is but just become a man, yields to as he never will again. The Monthly endures because it expresses the best that is in the heart of man in his most idealistic, unfettered period, because the spirit that gives it life is the spirit of youth itself. The undergraduate, intent on baseball and comic opera, sighs that the Monthly is remote. It is he who is remote--from his own inner self.
The present issue begins rather brilliantly with an essay on "The Spirit of the Renaissance", by one G. S., clearly, almost exuberantly, conceived, and compactly expressed, but by ten pages too short; it ends with an editorial on "College Life" by the same gentleman, rather hazily thought out and very much too long. Between, lie a story or two, a charming imaginary letter of Horace to Maecenas by Mr. S. L. M. Barlow, a number of poems and a jaunty, not to say fresh, review of a new book on "Faust". The poems all have sincerity, imagination and force, but as sometimes happens in undergraduate verse, they are not all crystal clear. Mr. Nathan's "Death", after three or four readings conveys a certain sense of vastness but very little more; Mr. Cummings's "Sonnets", too, full of fancy as they are, defy a close search for the meaning. "Sas Agapo", by Mr. Reinhard, is clear enough, on the other hand, but a little thin. The best poem in the number is Mr. Thayer's "Portrait", full of imagination and music, but better yet, full of a real tenderness and awe that make one forget the "ivory glee" of the lady's smile, and certain stumbling lines.
The week place in the issue is the place that in an undergraduate magazine should by rights be the strongest, the fiction. One thinks longingly of the vigorous college stories of Paul Mariett and Lucien Price, the exquisite child stories of Chester Brown, the dramatic tales of High Society by Edward Sheldon; and wonders where the story-tellers are keeping themselves. In this number, they are not very well represented. "The Boy and Glenvil," by Mr. Burlingame, cries for compression, for composition in the painter's sense, the focusing of detail on the central figure and suppression of irrelevancies; "The Cursed of Apo," by Mr. George Seldes, is too unrestrained, too full of shrieks. Tragedies both, they both fail to stir the reader's sympathy possibly because they did not in the first place stir the writer's sufficiently.
Taken as a whole, the May number is a pleasure to read and to ponder on. The Harvard undergraduate does manage, month by month, to send a paper out into America which the great magazines of the country may well look upon as a youthful, sometimes crude, but always much-to-be-respected colleague