Lapas attēli

cumstances of Shakspere's course of love and the nature of the persons to whom the sonnets are addressed – the dark lady and the fair young man are very much open to conjecture. In the case of the “Sonnets from the Portuguese," we are helped by knowledge from other sources as to circumstances and characters. If we had only internal evidence to go by, these sonnets, too, might be interpreted to have other than their actual meaning, with reference to some wrongly-guessed state of affairs. The deeper and stronger a love-poem is, the less of a story it is apt to tell.

Turning from the poem to the novel, we find that the novelist's effect of power is produced in a manner contrarywise. The strength of the novel depends on the proper presentation of the characters, their setting, and the sequence of events by which the story reaches its culmination.

The love-theme as treated in the novel admits of various inter-relations between hero and heroine. This inter-relation, except in narrative poems like “ Locksley Hall," “ Lady Geraldine's Courtship," and “The Statue and the Bust," is seldom expressed in poetry. In the love story we also find described the places of action, the personal appearance of the chief characters, the style of clothes they wear, their manner of behaving and talking. Certain types of love story are repeated over and over again, the author's mode of looking at life, his wealth of subsidiary material, and his verve of treatment serving to give each story new scope and individuality.

Let us note here several recurrent forms and well-known types of love story:-

1. Something in a pastoral vein. The hero and heroine are surrounded by lovely scenes of nature. They wander in the woods and by the brookside, discussing problems of life and the books they have read. They quote poetry harmonizing with the scene, and feel their bond of sympathy growing closer and closer, till at last they find this sympathy reveal itself as love.

The story of a young woman who is slave to her passion of love. Cecelia Hal

kett in Meredith's novel, · Beauchamp's Career,” is an example of this type. She recovers from her unreasoning love and from her complete absorption in Beauchamp to marry dispassionately, after all.

Not so Hardy's heroines, who are carried away by their passion, to their detriment.

3. The story of a heroine who loves secretly, the object of her love being pledged to another a Jane Eyre sort of heroine.

4. The story of a hero who saves the heroine's life. Upon this, they fall in love as a matter of course.

5. The story of a young man in love with a

woman older than himself favorite theme of Thackeray's.

6. The story of a serious man in love with a flippant young girl who is hard to catch and subdue. This is the theme, very crudely stated, of “ Lady Rose's Daughter” and of · The Honorable Peter Sterling."

7. The story of illicit love, a theme of George Moore's, and sometimes of Meredith's or Hardy's.

8. The story of a heroine who stands by the hero through thick and thin, like Esther in “Felix Holt” and. Bettina in “ The Shuttle."

A list of such themes might be greatly extended The theme already popularized by one author may be effectively used by another who brings a fresh point of view and a new style of workmanship to his consideration of the subject. But is there any reason why these themes should belong wholly to the novelist? Are they unfit for poet-uses ? So much depending as it does on treatment, why should they not be given poetic treatment ?

There is compressed in the four stanzas of “Auld Robin Gray” as much of the tragedy of human life as would keep keyed up the interest of a good-sized novel. Few poems tell so plainly the details of a love story or relate so explicitly the reasons for an anguished state of heart.

It is not, however, a compressed treatment of the novelist's themes which is here recommended to the poet, but rather their


extended elaboration in metrical form. To us the story, as well, with unstinted descripask the poet to use his art in telling love tion of outward accessories, and with due stories is, in fact, to advocate the poetical estimate of helps or hindrances in the novel, something in the “Aurora Leigh,” story's course. the “Lucille," or the “Evangeline” style. Here is a large field almost unclaimed by The poet's powers of description and

the poet.

Yet the masterpieces already analysis, and his expression of impassioned completed in this line of work proclaim that feeling may all find excellent scope in the he would not lack readers for his pains. poetical novel. His deftness in the use of One may prophesy that he would, by venfigures and fanciful illustration will give turing into this field, enlarge both the grace and adornment to his tale. He may bounds of his art and the measure of his use his poet's insight to treat of love in its

Alwin West. most secret manifestation ; but he will give BROOKLYN, N. Y.




In Mark Twain's Private History of the * Jumping Frog' Story” occurs a curious error, which I venture to speak of only after carefully re-reading the article, lest my own understanding prove at fault. It seems to have escaped the attention of other readers and of the author himself, who, in this instance, appears to afford an example of the not uncommon forgetfulness of writers regarding their own creations. To quote :

“To him and to his fellow gold-miners there were just two things in the story that

worth considering. One was the smartness of its hero, Jim Smiley, in taking the stranger in with a loaded frog; and the other was Smiley's deep knowledge of a frog's nature -- for he knew (as the narrator asserted and the listeners conceded) that a frog likes shot and is always ready to eat it. Those men discussed those two points, and those only. They were hearty in their admiration of them. ..."

Now in Mr. Clemens' delightful tale it was the Stranger — not Jim Smiley – who


loaded the famous frog with shot. It was the Stranger who “took in Jim Smiley with a “loaded frog," not Jim Smiley who deceived the Stranger. Nothing is said of Smiley's knowledge of a frog's taste for shot ; on the contrary, he is depicted as greatly surprised at Dan'l's condition, and

discovering it only after the wily Stranger has departed with the stakes. Mark Twain himself says, in conclusion : “In both the ancient and the modern cases the strangers departed with the money. The Baotian and the Californian wonder what is the matter with their frogs ; they lift them and examine ; they turn them upside down and out spills the informing ballast."

How can one reconcile this with "the smartness of Jim Smiley in taking the stranger in with a loaded frog," etc. ?

Charles Reade once forgot the name of his hero. Has Mark Twain confused the identities of those two immortals — Jim Smiley and the Stranger ?

Julia Lawrence Shafter. Pacific Grove, Calif.


Published monthly by The Writer Publishing Com

pany, 88 Broad street, Room 414, Boston, Mass.

list a pension of $2.50 a week each, “in recognition of the literary eminence of their grandiather, and in consideration of their straitened circumstances.” It is justly pointed out that if literary works in England had the same protection as other property, Dickens's granddaughters would not be in

It is true that Dickens left an estate valued at $500,000.

[blocks in formation]


The Writer is published the first day of every month. It will be sent, postpaid, ONE YEAR for ONE DOLLAR.

All drafts and money orders should be made payable to The Writer Publishing Co. Stamps, or local checks, should not be sent in payment for subscriptions.

The WRITER will be sent only to those who have paid for it in advance. Accounts cannot be opened for subscriotions, and names will not be entered on the list unless the subscription order is accompanied by a remittance.

*** The American News Companv. of New York, and the New England News Company, of Boston, and their branches, are wholesale agents for The WRITER. It may be ordered from any newsdealer, or direct, by mail, from the publishers.

Not one line of paid advertisement will be printed in The WRITER outside of the advertising pages.

Advertising in Tue WRITER costs fifteen cents a line, or $2.10 an inch ; seven dollars a quarter page ; twelve dollars a half page ; or twenty dollars a page, for one insertion, remittance with the order. Discounts are five, ten, and fifteen percent. or three, six, and twelve months. For continued advertising payments must be made quarterly in advance.

Contributions not used will be returned, if a stamped and addressed envelope is enclosed. THE WRITER PUBLISHING CO.,

88 Broad street, Room 414, P. O. Box 1905.


The statement that in the july number of the Atlantic Monthly there are short stories by three young writers who had never before contributed to the magazine should encourage young writers. And they should not be discouraged by the statement that it was not until George Meredith was an old man that he began to reap any reward from his books. It is true, however, that he was at least sixty years old, if not more, before he was able to leave the offices of Chapman & Hall, the publishers, where he acted as Reader.


[blocks in formation]

The New York Herald received manuscripts from nearly 5,000 contestants in its $10,700 short-story competition. There were, it says, exactly 4,878 in all, divided as follows: School teachers, 847 ; amateurs and other writers, 4,031. The manuscripts came from all parts of the country and from almost every place in the world where Americans have taken up their residence and where the English language is spoken. Among the contestants there were

a few professional writers, but the vast majority, including, of course, the school teachers, are engaged in earning their livelihood in various vocations not directly or even indirectly connected with literature. There were lawyers, doctors, typewriters, clerks, salesmen, and saleswomen. Many of these had never before attempted fiction. “A few would-be contributors,” says the Herald,

were detected in plagiarisms. Stories translated from the French, and badly translated at that, were traced to their origin and summarily rejected. Worse remains behind. Some of the fraudulent competitors actually


Four granddaughters of Charles Dickens have been awarded from the English civil

pilfered old magazines for stories, which they submitted for examination. One of these people had been so awkward of choice as to fall upon a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne which had first appeared anonymously in a magazine and was later included in his “Twice Told Tales.' Immediate detection followed, and all the stories submitted by this author,' every one of which had excited suspicion by reason of their oldfashioned style, was promptly returned with a justifiable rebuke."


[blocks in formation]



esoteric one of divination - an intuition of the public's prejudices and preferences that would be almost superhuman were it not inspired by the currents and counter-currents of opinion that reach the editor from many sources, and transform the simplicity of his functions into complexities that make meteorology seem an exact science.

Acting on this suspicion, we recently ventured to address the following questions to the editors of the Century, the Atlantic, and Harper's :

In general, do you accept the kind of articles, stories, poems that gratify your own taste and engage your personal interest ; or have you certain theories concerning what the public likes or dislikes, in distinction from your own preferences ?

If you do entertain such theories, , whence are they derived ? How can the public taste be measured ? What are the tests — the specific tests ?

3. Do you often reject stories or articles that please your artistic sense or that otherwise appeal to your personal taste ?

4. There is a rather general complaint on the part of fastidious readers no longer in their first youth that the contents of the monthly magazines are less interesting than of old. A former editor of the Atlantic has expressed the opinion that the magazines are dull and badly written ; but the greater

; number of critical readers complain rather that the magazines are dull, though well written, because the writers have so little to say, and their themes are so uninteresting. Is there any ground for these criticisms ? If so, is it because the supply of really good matter does not keep pace with the increasing demand ?

There are not a few ingenious persons who believe that the conduct of a great monthly magazine is a very simple affair. Given the necessary working capital and an editor of liberal and impeccable aesthetic tastes, and the task of assaying the pure ore in the uncounted tons of proffered material would seem to be one of mere energy and patience. “It is, of course, impossible to please everybody," says the supposititious editor to himself, “but I embody a trained opinion, regulated by fairly well-defined principles of taste and art, and in pleasing myself I am sure to please the intelligent and cultivated audience of my readers. All that they can reasonably ask — apart from those purely journalistic features inevitable in an age of action - is that the fiction shall be informed with truth and life, the poetry with imagination and sentiment, the essays with — but the essays are a negligible quantity."

Very simple, is it not ? – and plausible enough ? However, it isn't true. We have long suspected, from a more or less constant perusal of our leading periodicals, together with certain data supplied us by professional contributors, that the editorial faculty most vigorously exercised is the

These queries elicited some frank and explicit answers. “I think it inevitable,” says Bliss Perry, editor of the Atlantic, “that an editor, like a picture dealer, should distinguish between his personal preferences and the supposed preferences of his patrons. In the purchase of articles he can sometimes gratify his own personal taste, if it is not too eccentric, but in general his judgment

ing that magazines can take the place of books. They cannot. They are admirably adapted for their specific and limited purpose, and should be judged accordingly.”

Henry M. Alden, the veteran editor of Harper's, assures us that “no individual personal interest, taste, or predilection has properly anything to do with editorial functions."

“ the

The editor of a certain New York magazine of excellent reputation has been quoted as saying that he edited his publication to please himself. Can such a policy be carried out successfully ?

We submitted that report, with its accompanying question, to the Atlantic alone, and record the somewhat skeptical an


should be guided, it seems to me, by an objective study of the tastes of that portion of the general public which is likely to buy what he offers for sale."

In the Century office, we are assured, there is “a constant cross-fire of opinion. One story may be read by from two to five readers. The 'personal equation' is unescapable, and this is fortunate because frank liking is a very valuable element of opinion. An editorial force comes to be trained in wide sympathies, and this keeps acceptances away from ruts."

As to theories, — "I should prefer to call them observations,” says Mr. Perry, – result of experience in watching the effect of different articles. But no exact

ment of public taste is possible.” Says the · Century's editor : “We certainly entertain

theories of the public's likes or dislikes, and they are derived from near and far sources, from often very subtle indications, and again very violent ones.”

“Yes," " Constantly,” are the answers to Question 3.

With respect to criticism of the magazines : “We hear complaints, and we hear the opposite of complaints," responds the Century's spokesman. “ Encouragement comes from various sources from sales, of course ; from newspaper notices of various kinds, editorial or under book notices ; and largely from conversations and letters.

“We think there is a great deal of vitality in the magazine writing of to-day,” he continues. And finally - a word that cheers :

There are some indications that the essay is coming again into its own."

swer :

“ Theoretically, yes, -- provided the editor of the magazine of 'excellent reputation' were sufficiently many-sided to feel a personal interest in each of the endlessly varied topics which a good editor ought to offer to his readers. Practically, such enthusiastic omniscience is rare.” – “W. T. L.," in Life.




“ That former editor of the Atlantic who thinks all magazines dully and badly written is a perfectionist,” remarks Mr. Perry. “Besides, he forgets the World's Work, which is both amusing and well written.”

This will doubtless gratify Walter Page, even when it is added that we were not quoting him, but another “former editor" of the Atlantic. In Vr. Perry's opinion, “there is an endless supply of 'really good' magazine matter. The mistake lies in think

Mazie V. Caruthers, who had a poem, "The Road to Yesterday," in Lippincott's for June, was born in Norwich, Conn., of a Southern mother and an English father. She began writing verses about ten years ago, her first poem appearing in Puck very happy day for her, she says, as every young scribbler realizes. Miss Caruthers has done a little short-story writing, and has written some tales for children, and some historical sketches for the Springfield Republican, but her main work has been writing verse, which has been published in Munsey's, the Harpers' publications, Town Topics, Vogue, Lippincott's, the Delineator, and the New York Times, Sun, and Herald. “ The Road to Yesterday” was inspired somewhat by seeing the play of that name in New York, as well as by a habit of personal introspection. On reading this poem,

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »