From The Graphic: “The Yellow Book”
The bright lights of The Yellow Book show no signs at
present of failing. Some of the soberer spirits who lent it dignity in
former issues are now absent, but the particular stars whose genius
it was called into existence to exploit are still here to support it
towards its first year of life. And we who criticise cannot, do less
than admire—admire it for its audacity, which may be a pose;
for its brilliancy, though this be the brilliancy of a candle flaring at
both ends, rather damaging to whatsoever it comes in contact with,
grease productive, and unstable, but withal compelling attention.
To Mr. Beardsley‘s pranks we are becoming accustomed. Perhaps
he feared this and in a wild moment sought to re-establish his reputa-
tion for disturbing souls by delivering himself of such an outrage
as “The Mysterious Rose Garden” before soothing his pen into the
mood for tracing the soberer lines of the cover or the portrait of Miss
Winifred Emery—a companion picture to the famous Mrs. Tanqueray,
though different, inasmuch as it is easily recognisable if once
the knowledge of its subject be but firmly fixed in the mind. Mr.
Rothenstein’s “John Davidson” requires no stinted praise; Mr.
Sickert’s “George Moore” is masterly (one need not expect from an
artist, least of all from a genius, the kindness of a photographer), it
has character, and the rest may be forgiven except, perhaps, by Mr.
George Moore. Mr. Conder hits a charming design for a fan, but it
wants colour. Mr. Hartrick is good, and then one turns to the lite-
rature. Here one may see the strain of yellowness tells somewhat.
Your mere artist—his audacity is of the surface—catches your eye
and you may he sent back reeling if the blow be sufficiently unex-
pected. But the writers of The Yellow Book, finding their recklessness
decently screened by type, not perceptible at a cursory glance,
seem disposed to wax bolder and yellower. Not in poetry perhaps:
Mr. Arthur Symons has taken his glowing imagery elsewhere, and
such tempestuous licence as Mr. Le Gallienne ever allows himself,
is always delicate in quality, but Mr. Wyllarde’s “Rondeaux
d’Amour” will suffice. Mr. Marriott Watson’s “The House of
Shame,” spite of its subject, is forcible and distinctive,
though the writer is better at comedy than tragedy. This
much may be said of The Yellow Book whether or no one
appreciates, that it is to literature like the street accident to a
walk down Bond Street—it breaks into the monotony of the
stereotyped, for one never knows who may be killed or what horrid
thing may have happened within it, and so it will be presumably until
its vagaries become in turn commonplace, and a vermilion book
is called for.
“The Yellow Book.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol. 4, January 1895, The Graphic 19 January 1895, pp. 58-59. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/yb4-review-graphic-jan-1895/