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Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6 by courtesy of the Review of Reviews: No. 3 copyright by American Press Assn.; No. 6 copyrighted by Davis & Sanford, N. Y.

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his chief characters are often Americans sojourning abroad. It was almost inevitable that our modern emphasis upon our local and National life should have caused some writers to reach out in the direction of the exotic and the introspective. They are exceptions that prove the rule, though the rule scarcely needs the proof they afford. The spread of our newspapers and the greater interest taken by them in literature, the rise of the cheap magazine, the widely diffused movement for the creation and support of a native drama, the partial success of the efforts for better laws of copyright, the addition of English and American literature to the school curriculum, and the great prevalence of the public school system - these and similar phenomena may fairly be said to have necessitated, not only the liberation and expansion of our National literature during the past four decades, but also its unparalleled quantitative and qualitative growth.

The last sentence suggests the propriety of asserting that the democratization of our recent literature is as marked as its National liberation and expansion. Ours is essentially a literature designed for the greatest good of the greatest number. There are no giants among our men of letters, but there is a truly extraordinary number of writers that really count. Never before was the average of style so high-whether in newspapers, magazines, or books. Even in poetry, with its restricted rewards both in



money and in reputation, the advance made in technique during the last generation has been remarkable, and it has been confined to no one section of the country, as any compiler of a sectional anthology can testify. Publishers know, through the reports of their readers, that one of their chief difficulties lies in the fact that now-adays comparatively few manuscripts are really bad, and that a formidable number are fairly good — good enough at least to demand consideration. But with all this improvement in style, with the equally remarkable spread of literary ambition through all classes and all parts of the country, the number of contributors to creative literature of high merit and presumptive permanence does not seem to be embarrassingly large. It is not surprising that when the tidal wave of the best sellers" receded, few traces of its presence were left in the shape of deposits upon the shores of time. But it is disconcerting to look back over a period of more than a generation and discover how few novels and collections of short stories and volumes of poetry a young man or woman eager for culture must be advised to read. There are literally hundreds of volumes and scores of writers he or she may read with profit and pleasure; there are many books which one ought to read if one wishes. to be cognizant of the best that one's countrymen are saying, thinking and doing; but to be posted about one's country and to spend one's time not

unpleasantly and not unprofitably will scarcely seem to the true lover of literature the proper be-all and end-all of his literary existence.


What the true lover of literature is forever seeking is the masterpiece that gives rapture, the work that approximates perfection and is sui generis, the book that takes its place of divine right among the classics of its kind— in a word, the creation of authentic genius. The patriotic American looking back upon the literary productivity of his country for the past halfcentury may " point with pride ”— to hundreds of conscientious and creditable minor poets, to a large number of talented novelists and writers of short stories, to an army of versatile miscellaneous writers of ability — journalists in the main and to a fairly imposing array of excellent scholars, competent and in a few cases brilliant critics, conscientious historians, some working on a large and some on a minute scale, and finally to an increasing and important class of what we may conveniently designate as "sociological writers." These men and women - for in the literature of our period the American woman both as reader and as writer has more than held her own with the American man-have done a truly noteworthy work in lifting the mass of our literature to a comparatively high level of excellence; they have made it perhaps the most extraordinarily efficient instrument for the spread of popular, democratic culture

by means of newspapers, maga zines, books, lectures, libraries, schools and universities, literary clubs and theatres that has ever been known in the world. But it may be doubted. with regret, whether they have often stirred the pulses or thrilled the hearts of those lovers of literature who, having been born liege subjects of the Muses and having trained their taste upon the supreme classics of the ages, are forever demanding from the books they read that truly aristocratic virtue, the power to produce rapture. We have done well in our literary evolution during the past half century, we have probably done all that was humanly possible through literature to lift the masses of our heterogeneous population and to weld them into a united people of high aspirations, we have made literature, as never before, subserve the greatest good of the greatest number; but in the service of literature in and for itself and in the interests of those to whom it is not only the greatest of the arts but the very breath of their being, we have done-to put it mildlynot superlatively well. We have added to our territorial possessions, we have distributed the products of our invention and our industry throughout the world, we have helped to feed the nations, we have been aggressive expounders of American ideas, we have won respect for our art and science and stimulated foreign interest in our literature; but we have produced, apparently, no book of


world-wide importance since Uncle Tom's Cabin. Perhaps, when we reHect that the two greatest writers of very modern times seem to be a Norwegian and a Russian, we may console ourselves with the thought that we are at least no worse off than most of the older countries of Europe in respect to our lack of great representative writers, and that, of all nations, we are probably the best off in respect to the beneficent influence of our literature upon the masses. The fact remains, however, that the material aspects of our civilization are still those that most impress the world at large.

But we seem to have wandered far away from the question whether the literature of the past decade is not clearly differentiated from that of the preceding generation, which saw the decline of the New England school of writers, the rise of the South and the West in literature, and the practical supremacy of New York, if not as a true literary centre, at least as the home of the chief magazines and publishing houses

that is to say, as the literary emporium of the country. Perhaps we have not wandered so far away from this question, after all. The statement that it is the material aspects of our civilization that most impress the world at large suggests the question the very important question whether it is these aspects that most impress ourselves. And the answer to this question, with its vital bearing upon our future literature,

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must surely be that, while the material aspects of our civilization do greatly impress us, they impress us with an increasing sense of dissatisfaction, not to say dread, which in time produces a determination to dress the balance, to reduce our material interests to their proper subjection to our spiritual interests-in brief, to purify and elevate our democracy. This sense of moral responsibility for our own prosperity, this determination to purify our democracy, this increasing realization of the need of considering the interests of the people as a whole above the interests of any class or classes, forms the dominant note of American life and thought during the past decade; and, reflecting as our literature always does the course of our life and thought, it is naturally the dominating note of our most recent literature.

This does not mean that in our latter-day literature the "muckraker" has usurped the place of any or all of the nine Muses. The muckraker and the magazines and newspapers that employ him have been influential; but they produce journalism, not literature. It is rather in much of the fiction of the period, some of which has not been without effect upon remedial legislation, in the speeches of public men, in the works of economists and sociologists, in biographies and autobiographies of leading public servants, and in that increasingly important class of writings which, for want of a fitter name, we may call the

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