From The Bookman: Review of The Evergreen, Vol 1 and The Yellow Book, Vol 5
THE YELLOW BOOK. Vol. 5. 5s. net. (John Lane)
THE EVERGREEN. A Northern Seasonal, 1895.5s. net. (Edin-
burgh: Patrick Geddes and Colleagues). (London: T. Fisher
It is impossible to keep from grouping these two
“seasonals” together, and yet green is not nearly so unlike
yellow as these northern and southern cousins are unlike
each other. The ‘Yellow Book’ was never so yellow as
its reputation; how its particular reputation rose is diffi-
cult to see; perhaps from rumours of unfulfilled inten-
tions. But it is of the hour, and the hour has its unhealthy
moments. The ‘Evergreen,’ on the other hand, takes
glimpses into to-morrow, and by to-morrow it thinks deca-
dence, whatever that may be, will have died, if indeed it
ever breathed a living breath north of the Tweed. The
English quarterly aims only at being artistic and literary; its
Scottish cousin, on the other hand, has, besides, high civic
and social aspirations; it is a great deal more serious, and
— not a little dull. Perhaps it should not be judged by its
crude spring number; like the season of the year and the
movement it celebrates it is all uncertain and immature.
The stories are not first-rate; the essays are vague; the
poetry is but indifferent good; and the pictures are just as
bad as they could possibly be. It may for all that be the
first sprout of a vigorous plant whose fruits will be pure and
wholesome to the taste. The Celtic revival makes some
shaky but laudable attempts to express itself in fiction.
There is a glorious field here for a genius when he arises.
Perhaps the most definite note in the book is sounded in
‘La Littérature Nouvelle en France.’ It is written by
a learned and precocious young Belgian, M. Charles Sarolea.
It hails the new era of a purer, more spiritual literature, and
declares the brutal era of materialistic science and hysteria
is at an end. All this is very well, but youth is ever cruel
and ungrateful, and among the men and books M. Sarolea
dances on are some that deserve honour, whether they be of
the kind he likes or not. Whatever renaissance of good
spirits and spiritual belief be possible in these coming days,
any new movement that will exclude the darker, even the
uglier sides of life from literature, will be doomed with the
doom of the untrue and sentimental.
The literary contents of the present number of the ‘Yellow
Book’ are varied and readable, though there is no very re-
markable contribution — if we except Mr. Watson’s “Ballad
of the Sea.” Miss Ella D’Arcy, Mr. Harland, and Mr. H.
D. Traill contribute well written stories. M. Anatole France’s
“L’Evêché de Tourcoing” is clever but rather thinner and
rather more cynical than his are wont to be. The Hon.
Maurice Baring’s study of M. Anatole France, that master
of grace, is pleasant reading. Mr. John Davidson has
written better Eclogues than his latest one. The pictures
are sane, and none the less interesting.
“The Yellow Book & The Evergreen.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol.5, April 1985, and The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal, vol.1, Spring 1895, The Bookman June 1895, p. 91. Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Center for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=EG1_YB5_Review_Bookman_1895/