Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/170

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166
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

SCIENCE AND POETRY
By Dr. CHARLES W. SUPER
ATHENS, OHIO

IN the year 1910 there were published in the United States, in round numbers, 13,500 books. This was an increase of about 2,500 over the preceding year. The total for Great Britain was nearly 21,000 for the same biennium. The German output was over 31,000 volumes, the variation between the two years being small. But compared with 1900 these figures represent an increase of nearly 6,000 volumes. The total number of book publications now reaches about 150,000 volumes annually, although in some countries pamphlets are also reckoned as books. In 1910 there were issued in the United States and Great Britain nearly 5,000 volumes under the head of fiction, poetry and the drama, the latter country slightly exceeding the former. To these should be added many translations, cheap reprints of novels of a more or less standard character, and a large number of plays, mostly comedies that are performed in every village, town and city from one end of the land to the other. Besides, a great quantity of both prose and verse never appears in book form. One can hardly take up a popular periodical without finding in it some of each, while many contain little else. Furthermore, a great many articles and even books are so permeated and even vitiated by the personality of the author when professedly dealing with facts that they may properly be relegated to the domain of fancy. Their contents pass through the mind of the reader, leaving hardly more residuum than the smoke that goes up a chimney. We need also to remember that the enormous output of the religious press is largely occupied with questions of a more or less theological character as distinguished from practical Christianity, and is so colored with the views of the writers that it may be classed under the head of imaginative literature. We may make the same statement of almost all history dealing with periods more remote than two or three centuries. Hardly any two writers agree as to the reliance that should be placed on the so-called original documents; and there is no way of deciding the points at issue. Even subjects of a strictly scientific character appear to need the touch of the magic wand of the writer endowed with a vivid imagination to make them popular. In this kind of literature the French occupy the foremost place. Such books as Macé's "History of a Mouthful of Bread," Verne's fantastic stories, Figuier's "World before the Deluge," and others, have been translated into almost all modern languages and sold in great numbers. When we take into account this enormous mass of printed matter, to