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The resurrection of the "Harvard Monthly" and the founding of the more specialized "Harvard Guardian" suggest a thorough examination of college publishing by undergraduates of a literary turn of mind. Backers of the vested interests along; Mount Auburn Street are most vitally affected, for the periodical trade will feel the keen edge of competition. Founders of the two new magazines would deny that their publications are competitive in intent or effect, and would emphasize the necessity of rounding out the picture of student activity. Yet competitive they are, since the potential reading public remains relatively stable and its budget for publications, although to a degree elastic, shows none of the expansive possibilities of the federal debt.
First and foremost of the troubles besetting the "Monthly" is what appears to be a confusion of motives in the minds of its sponsors. The aim of publishing a current review of topics interesting to Harvard men deserves a spirited rendition of "Wintergreen". It touches the weakest spot in the armour of "Lampoon" and "Advocate" partisans. The "funnyman" makes no more mature interpretation than youthful jollity and a liberal allowance of beer can produce, while the muses of the "Advocate" often walk too high on literary Helicon for the vulgar population to follow them. Yet if the intended sacrifice of intellectuality to readability in the new magazine means a shoddy, superficial interpretation of Harvard life, the price for its existence will be exorbitant.
As for the "Guardian" its subject matter will be drawn from the outside world, its appeal will be limited to perhaps a fourth of the College. But it must capture that fourth if it is to exist. Its specific aims, as well as its support by the faculty, insure a better chance of perpetuation than the "Monthly". Further, its position will not be nearly as competitive as the latter magazine.
Most vital to the life of both new periodicals is a solution to the problem of contributions. With two well entrenched magazines already on the seen prepared to swallow available talent, with the traditional "don't-give-a-damn" attitude of Harvard men to combat, the enthusiasts of tonight will face a discouraging morning after. Whether heirs to a new venture like the "Monthly" can be found is a matter of grave doubt. Meantime, the established periodicals will put up a spirited fight for existence.
If these factors are taken into consideration, the opportunity to serve the college does not appear to lie with the "Monthly". It points out, however, that the existing publications are not holding up the mirror to all phases of Harvard life. It suggests that experimentation with controversial subjects might blast away time-honored indifference. The "Guardian", on the other hand, appears to face fewer, but by no means minor difficulties. If either or both can avoid a misdated, shot-gun marriage with older publications, if either or both can overcome the manifold difficulties, and particularly the inertia of students, they deserve a long and happy life.
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