Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/725

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705
LITERARY NOTICES.

or lines of conduct which, howsoever much opposed to self-preservation, are not intended to destroy life. The questions relating to it are partly social, partly medical. It presupposes two necessary conditions: 1. Moral and physical impressions derived from without; and, 2. On the part of the recipient of these impressions, a nervous impressibility, which not only magnifies and distorts them, but which gives them a dangerous power to affect his happiness. Hence the causes of suicide naturally fall under two main divisions—the external or social, and the internal or personal. The general external causes exist everywhere and under all circumstances, and have their sources in extravagant religious and moral beliefs. Special external causes comprise all those various circumstances and accidents which result from the relations of individuals to each other in society. The internal or personal causes include ill health, insanity, and temperament. All these influences are set forth in the present volume. For the prevention of suicide, the author proposes legal measures, religious and moral training, and medical advice and treatment.

The Nature and Function of Art, more especially of architecture. by Leopold Eidlitz, Architect. New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son. Pp. 493. Price, $4.

Mr. Eidlitz is an architect whose works attest his accomplishments and his competency to discuss the subject. He believes that, while all other branches of art are alive and advancing, something is wrong' in the condition of that branch to which he is devoted; that, while the mechanic art of building never stood higher than now, architecture itself, alone of the arts, is silent, or rather has ceased to speak of living ideas. To inquire into the causes of this condition, and to define the nature and function of art in general and of architecture in particular, so as to show how it may again become a living and creative art, is the object of this volume. Mr. Eidlitz combats the idea that taste is the quality which enables men to produce works of art, or even to judge them, or that common sense alone is a safe guide. In all other branches of knowledge, study and acquaintance with technical principles are considered essential to even a fair degree of proficiency. So it is with architecture. The evil effects of too great reliance en taste, and too little attention to training, are illustrated in the ill-adapted buildings that we meet everywhere and that are still growing up around us, the multiplicity of which gives point to the author's remarks respecting the present condition of the art, that "it appears to be the accepted opinion that the sole function of architecture as an art is to make monuments pleasant to behold; that this may be done in any way which to the author of the monument may promise good results; that it is useless to seek for a clew to all this in the organism of the monument itself, or in the nature of the idea which has called it into existence, or to seek to establish an organic relation between the ornament and the structure. That such a looseness of definition of the nature of architecture," he adds, "must lead to false conceptions and to other illogical reasoning must be apparent." Mr. Eidlitz's own view is, that it is the province of architecture to express ideas by structures—a principle that may be illustrated by showing that "if a man tries to build a house which shall be as good as he can afford to make it; if he does nothing for show, and everything for structural integrity; if he builds it so that it may serve his purpose—then his house will be a monument to his purpose." In order to create a monument it is necessary that its author should be conscientious, and that he should respect the thing he is doing. He should not resort to mechanical expedients, no matter how sound in themselves, because they are desirable only on economical grounds, if they are lacking in, or detrimental to, clear art expression. Self-denial should be exercised in refraining from unmeaning display for the sake of show; there is no beauty but that which results from a forcible, clear, and successful expression of the idea in matter, and this must depend on the amount of character in various features of the structure. And, finally, "in creating a monument, the problem is mainly to give expression to the acts performed within its walls, which is done by giving the structure a form which will correspond with the groups performing those acts, and to its parts such masses, modeling, carved and color decora-