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Current Literature

    There has just been issued the first number of a new artistic periodical, entitled the Dial, edited by Messrs. C.H. Shannon and C. Ricketts, and published by the former at The Vale, King’s Road, Chelsea. The Dial cannot be found fault with on the score of ultra-conventionality. Its price is an extraordinary one,—seven shillings and sixpence. The illustrations it contains are extra-ordinary, alike in their exquisite finish and in the French prominence— which is not quite the same thing, however, as French realism—that is given in them to the nude female figure. The letterpress is notable mainly for extraordinary subjects treated in an extraordinary style. Finally, the editor’s “Apology” contains this extraordinary statement :—“Intelligent ostracism meets one at every door for any view whatsoever, from choice of subject to choice of frame. If our entrance is not through an orthodox channel, it is not, therefore, entirely our fault; we are out of date in our belief that the artist’s conscientiousness cannot be controlled by the paying public, and just as far as this notion is prevalent we hope we shall be pardoned our seeming aggressiveness.” Messrs. Shannon and Ricketts may be pardoned their aggressiveness, but it will be difficult for those readers of the Dial who have not been initiated into certain artistic mysteries, to pardon them the jargon which is the characteristic of certain of their articles. The paper on Puvis de Chavannes is not, indeed, marked or marred by any worse eccentricity than “cocksureness;” and much the same thing may be said of “Les Goncourts,” the author of which, Mr. John Gray, knows his subject almost too well. But as for the rest of the Dial—“The Worm,” “Sensations,” even Mr. Ricketts’s powerful word-picture, “A Glimpse of Heaven”—it would require a special course of education to understand, much more to enjoy it. Was it quite necessary for Mr. R. Savage, in his “Notes,” to speak of “the ahurissement of the audiences,” or to tell us that M. Christophle’s statue “kills the realistic knees and feet, the liquid workmanship that surrounds him”? Need the author of “Sensations” have gone out of his way to say that “the rictus of the thunder was decidedly nasty;” or, in describing one of “two overfed young Englishwomen vilely dressed,” to remark that she “has constantly clipped the straggling hairs upon the nuque, till now she has a festoon of bristles from ear to ear”? It would be impossible to predict the future of the Dial. We cannot conceive its becoming generally popular; we can easily conceive its being adored by a small section of artists and art-lovers who admire beauty in execution—there is no question whatever as to the quality of Mr. Shannon’s work—and do not object to extravagance and even absurdity in style.

MLA citation:

“Current Literature.” Rev. of The Dial, vol. 1, 1889, The Spectator , vol. 63, no. 3192, 31 August 1889, pp. 279-280. Yellow Nineties 2.0 , edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2020.