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From The Speaker: “Literature, ETC.”

The short story which is the tri-
umph of modern literary art some-
times realizes the “purgation of
pity and fear,” in the sense which
Aristotle, according to the best modern com-
mentators, did not adopt. It “excites pity and fear
in the minds of the spectators,” but not in such an
effectual way as to still those passions and purge
them out. It merely purges them of all alien
material by arousing them in an unadulterated and
intense form, and stopping short before a reaction
is possible. These remarks are suggested by the
current number of the Yellow Book (London: John
Lane). Such stories as George Egerton’s “The Cap-
tain’s Book,” Mr. Marriott Watson’s “The Dead
Wall,” and Mr. Enoch Bennett’s “A Letter Home,”
leave us with our feelings harrowed up by their
power and pathos, but with a consciousness that we
are no better for the process, but rather grown
worse. We are made unhappy and left hopeless.
We cannot quite say the same of the first story
in the number, Mr. Henry James’s account of an
unsuccessful but artistic author. It is too esoteric,
too much like studio talk, too carefully written — at
least, for a reviewer in a hurry — to excite our
feelings much. Moreover, it is half humorous all
through. The book contains also some very at-
tractive verse — notably two sonnets by Mr. Theodore
Watts — some curious allegories, some “prose fancies”
— the politics of a literary man — by Richard Le
Gallienne, and some remarkably beautiful pictures,
as well as some which strike us as remarkable only
in their oddity. It is all, or almost all, amazingly
clever, and it is curiously un-“decadent” – as de-
cadence has recently been understood.

MLA citation:

“LITERATURE, ETC.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol. 6, July 1895, The Speaker 20 July 1895, p. 12. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.