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Index: Archived content

The function of criticism.

T.S. Eliot: ‘I do not deny that art may be affirmed to serve ends beyond itself; but art is not required to be aware of these ends, and indeed performs its function, whatever that may be, according to various theories of value, much better by indifference to them. Criticism, on the other hand, must always profess an end in view, which, roughly speaking, appears to be the elucidation of works of art and the correction of taste.’

Pierre Loti.

Henry James: ‘The closer, the more intimate is a personal relation the more we look in it for the human drama, the variations and complications, the note of responsibility, which the loves of the quadrupeds do not give us. Failing to satisfy us in this way such a relation is not interesting, as Mr. Matthew Arnold says of American civilization. M. Pierre Loti is guilty of the perpetual naïveté (and there is a real flatness of repetition in it) of assuming that when exhibited on his own part it is interesting.’

Ibsen’s new drama.

By JAMES A. JOYCE. TWENTY YEARS HAVE passed since Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House, thereby almost marking an epoch in the history of drama. During those years his name has gone abroad through the length and breadth of two continents, and has provoked more discussion and criticism than that of any other living man. […]

The new life of Whistler.

Walter Sickert: ‘If Whistler has himself left, in an interesting and passionately felt life-work, a contribution to our better understanding of the visible world, he has also done another thing. He has sent the more intelligent of the generation that succeeds him to the springs whence he drew his own art — to French soil. ‘

The rediscovery of the unique.

H. G. Wells: ‘Science is a match that man has just got alight. He thought he was in a room—in moments of devotion, a temple—and that his light would be reflected from and display walls inscribed with wonderful secrets and pillars carved with philosophical systems wrought into harmony. ‘

An English Lady.

Hugh Walpole: ‘More and more as the years passed she loved everything that was beautiful – pictures and music and scenery and books. In her young days she had had a very limited education, but her artistic judgment was very seldom wrong, although it was limited, of course, in its attitude to modern things by the generation to which she belonged.’

The history of Imagism.

F.S. Flint: ‘At that time, I had been advocating in the course of a series of articles on recent books of verse a poetry in vers libre, akin in spirit to the Japanese. An attack on the Poets’ Club brought me into correspondence and acquaintance with T. E. Hulme; and, later on, after Hulme had violently disagreed with the Poets’ Club and had left it, he proposed that he should get together a few congenial spirits, and that we should have weekly meetings in a Soho restaurant.’

The poems of ‘H.D.’

May Sinclair: ‘If ever we thought of “H.D.” as cultivating, exquisitely, a narrow plot, tied by her imagism, with these and her latest poems before us, we can have no misgivings as to her range. There is the pure imagism of “Evening” and the flower passage out of “Sea-Gods,” which I have already given. And the elegiac pathos of “Loss.”’

Thoughts on Germany.

Orson Welles: ‘His most recent set-back is popularly supposed to have taught Fritz to abhor the sight of uniforms and forever after loathe the sound of march music. Tourists from the victorious democracies can’t seem to get over their astonishment at finding German instincts less damaged than German cities. The truth is that human nature in this forest land is neither an invention of Doctor Goebbels nor an easy target for bombs.’

W. L. Courtney.

John KMarriott: ‘No one who knew the Oxford Courtney – the brilliant teacher, the keen metaphysician – doubted that he had a logic of the head; no one who knew him in his later and mellower and happier years could ever question the truth and depth of his “philosophy of the heart.” In pace requiescat.’

Things.

D. H. Lawrence: ‘The glow of beauty, like every other glow, dies down unless it is fed. The idealists still dearly loved their things. But they had got them. And the sad fact is, things that glow vividly while you’re getting them go almost quite cold after a year or two. Unless, of course, people envy you them very much, and the museums are pining for them. And the Melvilles’ “things,” though very good, were not quite as good as that.’

Ernest Renan.

George Saintsbury: ‘[Renan’s]] gospel may certainly be said to be a vague gospel, and the enemy may contend that Morgane la Fée is architect and clerk of the works at the buildings which he so industriously edifies with graceful words and, at the same time, with a vast quantity of solid learning. But of his literary skill there can be no question, and scarcely less of the admirable character of his intentions.’

Of wisdom and folly in art.

John Ruskin: ‘Over [the] three kingdoms of ima­gination, art, and science, there reigns a virtue or faculty, which from all time, and by all great people, has been recognised as the appointed ruler and guide of every method of labour, or pas­sion of soul; and the most glorious recompense of the toil, and crown of the ambition of man. “She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Lay fast hold upon her; let her not go; keep her, for she is thy life.”‘

Balthasar Gracian.

E. Grant Duff: ‘Those who look into his book for themselves will find here and there a maxim which will remind them of the age in which he live as the subject of Philip II, Philip III, and Philip IV, but such exceptional cases are rare, and most people will rise from the perusal of the work understanding much better how Spain became great, than how she fell. It ought to be remembered, too, that, as I have already said, the maxims were not collected into one whole by Gracian himself, but by his friend, Lastanosa, to whom also is to be attributed the proud, though perhaps not too proud, title.’

‘Jane Austen’ and ‘Jane Austen at home’.

Thomas Kebbel: ‘The danger to which a young lady is exposed by imagining too readily that a polite gentleman is in love with her; and the danger to which a young gentleman is exposed by imagining too readily that a good-natured girl is in love with him; the misunderstandings that arise from careless conversation, from exaggerated reserve, from overrated pretensions, from all the little mistakes which create the common embarrassments of ordinary society; these are the minor mischiefs which [Jane Austen’s] pen is devoted to setting in their proper light, and no man or woman turned forty will deny that such work may be of great utility, or that anybody who chooses to read her novels with a view to practical instruction may learn a great deal from them. ‘