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From Pall Mall Gazette: “The Second ‘Yellow Bookʼ”

IF the editors of the Yellow Book were not so wantonly anxious to
be new and aggressive they would make a better product of their
venture. Though the second number is an improvement upon the
first, there lies upon it still the original taint of the idea which gave
the quarterly birth. The editors seem to face the public and the
world of letters with a grinning complacency in their own boldness.
And yet theirs is the audacity rather of indiscretion than of
conviction. They would seem not so much to know when
they have found a new thing which is good as to believe
that they have found a good thing because it is new. All new
movements harbour within the pages of the Yellow Book, which is
like to take thence a greater reputation for hospitality than for taste
or judgment. The sooner the editors begin weeding the better for
both the art and literature of the volume. It is a mistake to be too
generous, and a greater mistake to be too enthusiastic. To indulge
with kindness the errors of the heady young is very different from
slapping them into ruthless print, and displaying them in shop
windows as literature and art.

The editors need a touch of distrust in human nature. A woman
with a strange name or a man with a new mode is not necessarily a
genius. These remarks, we admit, do not apply so seriously to this
number as to the last. But considering the pretensions of the publi-
cation and its reputed sale, there is far too much for yawns in the
book. Mr. Beardsley‘s cover is certainly better than his last, though
the colour is as raw and rank as ever; but of his numerous drawings
within we hesitate to write lest our pen carry our distaste into extreme
language. There is none to deny the skill of the arrangements in black
and white masses, but the trick—for it is nothing more—palls upon the
eye; while no economy of line or dexterity of sweep can compensate
for the corrupt suggestion which the artist embodies in his human
figures. Among the best pieces in the book are Mr. Alfred Thornton’s
quiet landscape which, though reminiscent of Corot and others,
has a manner of its own, and clever studies by Mr. Steer,
Mr. W. Sickert, and Mr. Hartrick. Why Mr. Steer calls a picture of his
own legs and that of a young lady’s a “Portrait of himself” is
beyond us, but it is good for all that, as is Mr. Sullivan‘s “The
Quick and the Dead.”

We can commend Mr. Henry James‘s story, “The Coxon Fund”
for extreme and dexterous reserve; but it is surely a trifle dull
and over long. Mr. Greenwood contributes a gentle memory, which
reminds one that he once wrote a novel, and has not forgotten the art
of narrative. With the exception of a tale by Ella D’ Arcy, which shows
some qualities of originality, the other short stories call for
little notice. Mr. Harland‘s “A Responsibility” is in the vein
of Mr. James, but lacks the subtlety of that ingenious and elusive
writer. Mr. Kenneth Graham‘s sketch is characterized by the feeling
which may be noted in all his work, and is distinctly humorous
withal. There is no particular reason for the intrusion of Mr.
Max Beerbohm‘s defence, which stands at about the level of
his original article. Mr. Hamerton contributes an honest but sin-
gularly colourless criticism of the first number of the Yellow Book;
and Mr. Hubert Crackanthorpe writes discursively and automatically
of “Reticence in Literature.” The verse is sadly lacking,
despite the poetastic names that underwrite it.

MLA citation:

“The Second ‘Yellow Book.'” Review of The Yellow Book, vol 2, July 1894, Pall Mall Gazette, 20 July 1894, p. 4. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.