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From The Academy: “The Yellow Book”

issued the first number of The Yellow Book,
a new and bulky and well-printed miscellany,
which is to be published once a quarter. Its
cover, I am sorry to say, might go a long way
to damn it as a serious venture; for tasteful
people can only suppose that the design was
a joke of a third-rate order, sent back as
unacceptable from the office of Pick-me-up.
Mr. Aubrey Beardsley—a gentleman of some
parts, though not much known to fame—is,
I understand, the author of this cheerful eccen-
tricity. Nor are his efforts in The Yellow Book
confined to this design: he has several in the
body of the volume, perhaps equally meaning-
less, and quite as unhealthy. His “Education
Sentimentale” is a comic puzzle, not without
a certain attractiveness of “line”; but before
he can do justice to that measure of talent
which I conceive him to posses, Mr. Beardsley
must forget the Japanese as surely as Mr.
Houseman must forget the sexless modern
Pre-Raphaelite. Mr. Will Rothenstein, another
illustrator, is at least as deserving of being
known as either of the gentlemen we have
named. Indeed, he has more of individuality
than Mr. Houseman; but he, too, counts some-
what, it would seem, on the advantage of
eccentricity in securing prompt notoriety of a
certain sort and degree. In his case this is
superfluous, for he is exceedingly clever. His
portrait of a lady lying on her stomach will
doubtless best please the initiated—in other
words, an out-of-the-world clique of limited
sympathies and yet more limited knowledge;
but the plain man and the qualified critic will
agree to entertain a preference for Mr. Rothen-
stein’s “Portrait of a Gentleman.” Mr.
Rothenstein’s gentleman is young and pleasant
and comparatively healthy, and is very inge-
niously presented: “Que diable va-t-il faire dans
cet galère?” Yet he has some companions not
unworthy of him. In an effective study of
artificial light Mr. Walter Sickert drops the
tear of regret over the old Oxford Music Hall.

Coming to the letterpress, some of which
belongs to literature, and some to the puffed
nonsense of the moment, there is a clever story
by Mr. Henry James, which is nothing at all
if it is not a satire on that “larger latitude”
—in other words, the license to talk about ugly
things inartistically—which finds itself indulged
in one or two improbable stories contained
within the covers of this very Yellow Book.
Good as Mr. James’s satire is, it is hardly likely
to last, if only because the kind of thing that
it satirizes is itself so certainly doomed.

Of the further contents of the first number
of this new miscellany we have only time
and space to mention three items. Mr.
William Watson sends a sonnet of distinc-
tion and real dignity, called “Night on Corbar
Edge”; somebody contributes “A Defence of
Cosmetics”—a worthless, silly article on an
insignificant theme; and by Mr. Arthur Waugh
there is a sane and manly, an instructed and
well-written essay, on “Reticence in Litera-
ture.” Here is, indeed, a very curious, perhaps
almost an unexampled, mixture of the steadily
excellent with the cheaply eccentric. In the
next number let the latter, if it cannot be
banished, be at least accorded a less prominent


MLA citation:

Wedmore, Frederick. “The Yellow Book.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol. 1, The Academy 28 April 1894, p. 349. Yellow Nineties 2.0. Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.