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Professor George Parker Winship '93, whose recently published work on the history of printing from Gutenburg to Plantin is now on sale in the bookshops on the Square, has written the following review of the March issue of the Advocate especially for the Crimson:
It is one thing to glance at a new Advocate, to get an impression of how things are going in that particular eddy in the stream of undergraduate life, and quite another to read the latest issue straight through. This thorough reading, despite the distracting necessity of watching for something which can be made to serve as a text for the CRIMSON's review, supplies the material for very definite opinions about undergraduate writing, so far as conscious literary effort is concerned, at the moment.
Achieves Consistent Merit
The significant thing about the March issue seems to be that nothing rewarded the watching for a reviewer's text. It is neither very bad nor superlatively good, but of a consistent merit which is the aim of every seasoned magazine editor. The stories can be read to the end; the scant verse rhymes, once unpleasantly; the editorial page assures us that it has been a hum-drum season, above stairs and below. The one article of distinctive quality is Mr. Pell's "Documentary Adventures in Old New York", the third in a series, and if it lacks a little of the high finish of the two preceding contributions, this is accounted for in part by the increasing difficulty of picturing the period with which it deals. In brief, this younger brother of the current magazine family is quite good enough to hold an inconspicuous place on the outskirts of the professional ranks.
A single characteristic of this number shows that it belongs to the academic world. This is the high percentage of articles that strive to reproduce the phrasing and atmosphere of other times--of American Revolutionary days, or of England in the age of Puck of Pooks Hill. This sort of thing is, next to translating, one of the best possible fields for literary experimenting, largely because nothing, except translating, is more difficult to do well. That the efforts of the Advocate's contributors are passable, is high praise. Their common failing is less their individual fault than that of the readers of nowadays.
People Read Without Thinking
Everyone now reads so much that writers perforce take it for granted that nobody will think while he is reading. And without thought, by writer and reader alike, allegorical writing is impossible. Allegory is the only class of writing in which the imitation of outworn literary styles can justify imposing itself upon the readers' attention. There ought to be, in the Advocate articles on Merlin and on the Dragon, a neatly concealed but none the less obvious reference to some Harvard problem or situation in which everyone hereabouts is interested. Mr. Demos does this in a more direct way, in his comparison between science, art, and philosophy, wherein perchance he proves too much for his own chosen partisans. Perhaps his subtlety goes as far on the way toward inferential suggestion as is safe in these days when nobody reads leisurely. All the same, if the Advocate contributors must try their hand at the literary tricks of the various romantic periods, the results would be much more entertaining if they kept in mind the infinite possibilities of allegory
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