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From The Saturday Review The Pagan Review”: Review of The Pagan Review

    THE Pagan Review is the last new periodical. A
certain canniness presides over the Pagan Review,
which requests “subscriptions in advance,” and a
certain honesty may be admired, as the Pagan Review,
if it dies very young, will remit “unexhausted sub-
scriptions.” It will publish nothing save by writers
who, theoretically or practically, have identified, or are
identifying, themselves with “the younger men.”

    Copies may be procured from Mr. W. H. BROOKS,
Backs Green, Rudgwick, Sussex, a county celebrated
as the birthplace of SHELLEY. The Review announces
itself as “frankly, pagan,” and its conductors probably
do not know what paganism was. For paganism
did not stand in a false following of Mr. THOMAS
VERLAINE, but in a traditional body of ancient usages,
and in a poetry not accessible to aspiring but un-
educated intellects. Real paganism to the modern
Neo-Pagan would have seemed Tory in politics, bald
in art, and unadventurous in morals. The Neo-
Pagan is a revival of the young man whom ARI-
STOPHANES particularly detested. If the New Pagan
had any knowledge of the old paganism he would
choose for himself some other nickname. The New
Pagan, even in his “Foreword,” splits his infinitives,
and aspires “to really withdraw from life the approved
“veils of convention.” This fresh Pagan Review, of
course, has a rallying cry—” Art for Art’s sake.” Very
well, but let it be Art! The silly exhibitions of
adjectives which do duty as prose in the Pagan Review
are not “Art,” they are gabble. First, in “The Black
“Madonna” we are presented with some allegorical
nonsense by Mr. FANSHAWE. The scene is apparently
laid in the Soudan. A chief named BIHR is crucified
after vapouring in a dialogue with the Black Madonna.
The Black Madonna “was ASHTAROTH of old,” u.s.w.
BIHR cannot even speak grammar. He says, “Thou—
thou, will I worship.” Mr. FANSHAWE, the author,
is young enough, we hope, to have received a School
Board education; but it avails him not, unless pagan-
ism be a conscious revolt against the English lan-
guage. BIHR would have been birched, not crucified.
What befalls Mr. FANSHAWE, if still at school, when
he writes Tu adorabo? Meanwhile he “ruffles the
“opaline flood into a flying foam of pink” with the
best of them.

The Black Madonna.
What would’st thou?


    This is worse than the famous proposal of the young
English officer to the Spanish lady:—





    Why should “copy” of this kind be called “Art”?
It is not pagan. The Greeks knew their own lan-
guage, if they knew no other.

    Mr. GEORGE GASCOIGNE cries, in italics, “Lift, lift
“thine eyes to mine who love so wildly, madly
“—it is the
Pagan printers who print so madly, wildly. Then Mr.
DREEME obliges with a narrative, “The Pagans.” The hero
is a Mr. TRAQUAIR, apparently, and he has an affair with
a Frenchwoman, and her brother, who for some family
reason does not kick him, disapproves thereof; but
this exciting romance is To be continued, and, for ob-
vious Scotch reasons, we do not criticize unfinished
work. The “Rape of the Sabines” is finished, and it is
to this effect:—

    Two Italians stab two other Italians, who, it must
be confessed, “richly deserve it.” The story is told
in the overloaded style which distinguishes new pagan
from ancient pagan literature. The tendency to cloud
over the matter with layer upon layer of heavy cloying
adjectives marks the work of most modern pagans
who write about Italy. The same fault pervades a
sketch called “The Oread.” An Oread, who has
access to mountains, runs away from a deerstalker
while he is clothed, but runs to meet him when
he strips for a swim. He was a fortunate youth;
he got his stag, and he secured, apparently, the affec-
tions of his Oread. We do not know whether we
are expected to be shocked. A fragment of a poem
on “Dionysos in India” is pretty arid pleasing, if it
contains no very unusual promise. From the adver-
tisements it appears that the authors of these pieces
propose to offer them to the world, with other per-
formances, in books. Thus almost all the work is, in
a sense, half-done work. The critical remarks by the
editor show that he is not so young but that he can
admire, not only Mr. HARDY and Mr. MEREDITH, but
also the Laureate and Mr. STEVENSON. We never
despair of anyone who believes in Lord TENNYSON,
and it is pleasant to find that les jeunes are still
capable of enjoying the author of Treasure Island. A
scornful remark on the Naulakha suggests that Mr.
KIPLING is one of les jeunes, but that he does not
swagger on the strength of his youth. The Naulakha
is not his best work; but if all these young men pile
up adjectives till they are grey, it is unlikely that their
combined efforts will be worth one page of Mr. KIPLING,
who is not pagan.

    It is always worth while to look over the short-lived
periodicals of youth; occasionally there is a gem in
the waste-paper basket. In this case the gem is still
to be waited for in hope. Les jeunes should not make
it their chief aim to shock Mrs. GRUNDY. That is like
the conduct of small boys, les plus jeunes encore,
whose ambition is content with scrawling naughty
words on the walls. The Pagans are really not very
shocking in this Review, except to the shade of
PRISCIAN now and then. If their periodical fails, it
will not be because they are young, but because they
are dull; not because they are shocking, but because
they are stupid. Youth, which has usually nothing to
say, is justly anxious to say it well. But the art of
writing well is not the trick of laying on adjectives
with a palette-knife. That is an illusion which most
writers have to outgrow. There can be no better cure
for the errors of Neo-paganism than a study of the old
pagans, HOMER, SOPHOCLES, VIRGIL. They, not M.
even “BEAUDELAIRE” (as the Pagan Review calls that
author, who himself smote the Neo-Pagans in a memo-
rable essay) are the guides to follow.

MLA citation:

“The Pagan Review.” Review of The Pagan Review, vol. 1, The Saturday Review, 3 September 1892, pp. 268-69. Yellow Nineties 2.0 . Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021.