Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/235

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217
By Arthur Waugh

should repeople Eden with creatures imagined from a study of the serpent's head. In the history of literature this movement, too, will with the lapse of time pass unrecognised; it has mourned unceasingly to an age which did not lack for innocent piping and dancing in its market-places.

The two developments of realism of which we have been speaking seem to me to typify the two excesses into which frankness is inclined to fall; on the one hand, the excess prompted by effeminacy—that is to say, by the want of restraints which starts from enervated sensation; and on the other, the excess which results from a certain brutal virility, which proceeds from coarse familiarity with indulgence. The one whispers, the other shouts; the one is the language of the courtesan, the other of the bargee. What we miss in both alike is that true frankness which springs from the artistic and moral temperament; the episodes are no part of a whole in unity with itself; the impression they leave upon the reader is not the impression of Hogarth's pictures; in one form they employ all their art to render vice attractive, in the other, with absolutely no art at all, they merely reproduce, with the fidelity of the kodak, scenes and situations the existence of which we all acknowledge, while taste prefers to forget them.

But the latest development of literary frankness is, I think, the most insidious and fraught with the greatest danger to art. A new school has arisen which combines the characteristics of effeminacy and brutality. In its effeminate aspect it plays with the subtler emotions of sensual pleasure, on its brutal side it has developed into that class of fiction which for want of a better word I must call chirurgical. In poetry it deals with very much the same passions as those which we have traced in the verse to which allusion has been made above; but, instead of leaving these refinements of lust to the haunts to which they are fitted, it has intro-

duced