Humanism and Fiction


THERE are doubtless to be found, even now, persons who instinctively regard the novel as an insidious agency of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and, especially in English-speaking countries, the general suspicion of imaginative art held off the encroachments of modernism to a time within living memories. But, on the whole, fiction is a completely respectable institution at last, and those few who still decry it, on moral and religious grounds, have the air of incredibly quaint survivals. What they are survivals from is, of course, the Puritan rigor; and that in turn, in its hostility to the arts, was an exact survival from Hebraism, with its hatred and fear of the graven image. Both Hebraism and Puritanism, in the economy of ages, have been assimilated into everything else, so far as they were assimilable; and for the first time, as one consequence, the arts are left comparatively free to be themselves — among them the fine art of telling tales.

But it is, after all, no more than a comparative freedom into which they have entered. They are liberated in one way, only to become enslaved in another; escaping from the repressive Puritan idealism, they have fallen under the dominion of an equally, if not so tyrannously, repressive anti-Puritan materialism. And — of fiction, at least — it might almost be said that the latter state of art is worse than the former. From Puritanism the novel did at least try to escape, through sentimentalism and a sentimentalized romance. To the modern materialism, on the other hand, it obediently submits itself, with the gesture of docility which we name ‘realism.’ The novel has been given wings, on condition that it keep its feet on the ground; and it has not yet learned better than to plume itself on having exchanged the one inhibition for the other.

Let us try to see in some detail what has actually happened, and then, more adventurously, what force must triumph if the art of fiction is eventually to realize its wings.

Succinctly, the two philosophical forces most hostile to art have struggled together for mastery, and in the attendant confusion art has ceased to be the property of the vanquished and become that of the victor. One of those two forces is supernaturalism, of which the Puritan spirit is the great logical expression in Anglo-Saxondom; the other is naturalism, child of science, parent of efficiency, and almost undisputed tyrant of our modern life and mind. Naturalism has delivered the arts from supernaturalism, under which they atrophy; what shall deliver them from naturalism?

The answer is, in one word, Humanism; and the question, so asked and so answered, has the merit of reducing a whole span of literary history to such shapeliness as can be traced only from the outside and in perspective. Humanism is the continuum, the true thought, in art, the one art-making intellectual force; a spirit sufficient unto itself, armored against every attack from every quarter; one and the same, from Homer to Mr. Hardy; a sure guide from the past to the remotest future. It alone, of the possible ways of thinking about the universe, puts its centre of interest where art must put its centre — in the here, the now, the immediate and objective; in man and his tangled life of flesh and soul. Supernaturalism affirms that man is only a caprice of the will of God, on probation for eternity and ludicrously insecure in his tenure of this world; naturalism makes man a trivial footnote to the rest of creation. In the supernaturalist’s view, cause and eventual outcome are alone of supreme import; time is a nothing, a parenthesis of unreality, in the midst of eternal reality. To the naturalist, only processes and relations are momentous; man in himself is but an incident in the whole of nature. Both deny or ignore the significance of all that is most significant to the artist. Humanism alone finds its fulcrum in the instinct to affirm that a part is greater than the whole; that man is the most important thing in the cosmos — to man. And that instinct is necessarily the fulcrum of art, too; so that the triumph of humanism is the triumph of art, and the suppression of humanism is the death of art.

It may indeed be true, as I have just hinted, that of the two art-destroying philosophies, supernaturalism is ultimately the less corrosive. The conclusion is not, perhaps, one to flatter our modern self-esteem; but it is supported by a pretty decisive consideration in fact. The fiction being produced under naturalism expresses faithfully the sense and the implications of naturalism, whereas the elder fiction evaded and belied the supernaturalism to which it was nominally accountable. In other words, the elder novel was humanistic in its fundamental truth and excellence, and supernaturalistic only in the protective coloration of its superficial defects; but the new novel is honestly naturalistic all through, and seeks no escape from the philosophy which circumscribes it. The Georgian and Victorian novelists are half saved by the fact that they do not really believe in their belief. The post-Victorian is damned because he does believe, almost devoutly, in his unbelief.

This contrast is worth a moment’s amplification. In specific terms, the weakness of literature aforetime was precisely the weakness of a great deal of collective and individual action: the clash between faith and temperament, between the actual and the nominal reasons for every form of human effort. The novel was written, and read, by persons who understood intuitively that a good story, like any other form of beauty, was its own excuse for being, but who were forced by the pressure of great impersonal forces to invent quite other and irrelevant excuses for the good story’s existence. There really was this clash between the received theology and the trade of story-telling. Here was the artist proceeding on the assumption that our temporal life is the most important of all things, that it ought to seem so to us, and that the fortunes of mere men and women are enthralling beyond every other concern; and here was the preacher reducing that assumption to a hollow pretense in the white light of eternity. All pure art produced under a popular supernaturalism must have tacitly the nature of mere diversion or beguilement, meet at best for hours of ‘moral holiday,’ but inherently devoid of moral dignity, wantonly and impiously contravening the laws of the universe in the midst of which it is conceived, and imperiling the soul which dares take it seriously.

The inevitable result was that no pure art was produced; for the novelist overlaid his story with moralism, rendered lip-service to theology, and circumvented the hostility of the pulpit by making his novel ostensibly a sermon. From Lyly to Thackeray, all the Sir George Mackenzies who wrote stories insisted that the ‘ choicest pearls in the jewel-house of Moral Philosophy . . . were set off to the best, advantage, and appeared with the greatest lustre, when they were laced upon a Romance’; all the scandal-mongers of fiction, the Aphra Behns and Mrs. Haywoods and Mary Manleys, masked their licence as instruction by horrible example; all the Johnsons who wrote criticism worried themselves over a Shakespeare who was ‘more careful to please than to instruct.’ The novel was prone to purchase any cheapest sanction, if only that it might succeed in the struggle to survive at all.

‘It is also believed,’ says the Preface of Alonzo and Melissa, an ‘American tale’ published in 1831, ‘that the story contains no indecorous stimulants.’ The book is further described as ‘not unfriendly to religion and virtue. . . . One thing was aimed to be shown, that a firm reliance on Providence, however the affections might be at war with its dispensations, is the only source of consolation in the gloomy hours of affliction; and that generally such dependence, though crossed by difficulties and perplexities, will be crowned with victory at last.’ The greatest fiction of the century and a half after 1700 feels the moralistic impulse with less sincerity, and expresses it with more skill; but the apologetic tone is as characteristic of masterpieces as of this forgotten pious tale belonging to the outlawed underworld of sentimentalism.

All this didacticism was indisputably bad for both letters and religion. It bred unconscious hypocrisy in the writer, and furtiveness in the reader. Both traits certainly impaired the dignity of fiction — and it is notoriously bad for law to wink at the evasion of laws which are on the books. The practice and the enjoyment of fiction were sophisticated by the sentimental moralism which has also poisoned every other thing ever crossed by the trail of the serpent of Anglo-Saxon Puritanism — the Anglo-Saxon temper, so far as it is sentimental and moralistic, being the modern nemesis of ‘all bright careless forms of life.’

Nevertheless, under its veneer of illusions and self-deceptions, English fiction remained strongly enough based in truth, to carry, without being entirely crushed, its burden of didacticism. It is a fortunate thing, for the bare existence at least of the novel, that no modern generation has ever taken its nominal faith seriously enough to let it curb the egoistic human love of dreaming dreams. The impulse to art is quite the strongest thing in any nature in which it is present at all; and the hold of revealed religion has usually not amounted to very much in competition with it.

Of the century of novelists from Fielding to Thackeray, very few applied their faiths more seriously to the business of writing novels than the average nominal Christian of the same period applied his Christianity to the business of ordinary living. Both Fielding and Thackeray, for example, safe moralists though they are in theory, derive from the contemplation of human naughtiness an impish delight, which must greatly have perturbed them, if their theories had really come first. No one supposes that the exquisite high comedy of Jane Austen is invalidated by the failure of its world to show any particular correspondence with the orthodoxy of her ultimate beliefs; or that the democratic vaudeville of Dickens is greatly impaired by the Trinitarianism of Dickens.

These writers are humanists by intuition, and that is the most important fact about them. They are also supernaturalists by conviction — which is the relatively unimportant fact. Even the strong Puritanic bias of the common reader, which afflicted him with a feeling of secret sin whenever he could not help enjoying romances, was, in its way, a tribute of acknowledgment to the power of romance. The graven image of old time was no more hated than feared; for it was a very real and dangerous rival of the true God. Puritanism likewise felt the instinct to protect God by a censorship of the imagination; it perceived vaguely that the free imagination was more powerful than prescribed faith. ‘All art, which strove to make the sensations of a moment soul-satisfying, was dimly felt to be irreligious; for art performed what religion only promised.’1 Thus one modern character in fiction, himself an artist, in a passage of notable musings on the riddle of things.

Thanks, then, to what the Puritan code interpreted as the weaknesses and shortcomings of human nature, the novel did continue to exist, to wheedle a great public into enjoyment less and less covert, and to grow in truth as well as favor. The clash between the basis of religion and the basis of art was enough to keep the novel out of formal repute, enough to deny it the deep sanction of being frankly an embodiment of immediate truth about life, and to force it into a servile posture toward the prejudices which passed for ultimate truth; but not enough to evangelize its main impulse, or, more logically, to destroy it altogether. Writers who were intellectually anything but humanists profited by the extent to which they were unconscious humanists in taste and sympathy — the extent to which their temperaments failed to square with their theology.

Now, the more serious disadvantage of naturalistic fiction is that all its deficiencies are integral and wholly sincere. There is no chance of its being saved by a contradiction between what it feels and what it believes, because there is no such contradiction. The irreligion of natural law has taken possession of the artist, as the religion of revealed law never had a remote chance of doing; and his assumption of the cosmic point of view now threatens his dignity and the whole meaning of his work as crucially as ever a creed has done in time past. The naturalistic acceptance of things has been incorporated into our modern life to a single end: enthronement of the destructive material competition to survive, to exist, to get, to hold, to dominate. There is, in the ultimate view, nothing else left as a goal, in a world of individuals, classes, races, whole species seen as tossed on the surge of blind force, blind will acting senselessly. The artist of to-day is a person who has perceived that this monstrous illogicality is, indeed, the supreme logic of creation. He has seen man reduced to ‘a disease of the dust,’ reaching, at the highest, too puny a stature to be greatly tragic or comic; he tends more and more to interpret the spiritual in man as sentimental egoism and illusion, and the physical, the material, alone as real; and in the end he uses art to celebrate the downfall of the very faculties upon which the existence of art depends. Just as supernaturalism either stifles art altogether, or else treats it as something to be tolerated along with other mortal frailties, so naturalism tends to circumscribe art by confining it to ‘ realism’ — either the foul realism of those who are panegyrists of the brute in man, or the sterile literalism of those who report what is, exhausting the material facts of creation while ignoring our anxiety about the possible sense of it. On the one hand, a Jack London illuminating the primordial struggle for survival, a Theodore Dreiser depicting the more civilized struggle for prestige; on the other hand, a George Gissing choosing his subjects, as we are told on good authority, because of ‘his very repugnance’ to them. And in our present patronizing condescension toward the arts, there is even an odd parallel to our ancestors’ prolonged distrust of the novel on moral and religious grounds. The artist is trying, for the first time, to live in the same world with all the rest of us; we know instinctively that he will never be at home here, and that his rightful place is elsewhere; and we despise him for his futile resemblance to ourselves, almost as much as we used to fear him for his difference.

Naturalism develops, it would seem, a philosophical lucidity which is the negation of art. The civilized society in which art has a place of its own, is ‘an organized revolt against nature,’ a getting together by men to attain, as it were in defiance of the world-purpose, the things they jointly want; and the faith for art is the humanism which so affirms. It is the only philosophy which reconciles the opposed advantages, and escapes the disadvantages, of the other creeds and doubts. It is sincere and open-eyed in its acceptance of man’s spiritual will as the focal point of everything, where supernaturalism is insincere and sentimentally blind. It is cognizant, as naturalism is, of the physical basis of life, without limiting its cognizance to that. Humanism is avowedly anthropocentric, as all thinking done by men has got to be; and by virtue of this very frankness of avowal, this emphasis on the inevasible condition, it enters the infinitude of our freedom for art, exactly at the point of our one greatest limitation as sentient beings. Because we can know nothing except in its relation to ourselves, we can know everything in that relation. So humanism admonishes us, as the greatest in art has always done. Humanism may almost be called the artistic temper itself rationalized. Nor need we be greatly disturbed if any one point out that, as such, it is also a philosophy based on the negation of philosophies.


So far the generalizing theory, negligent, as it must here remain, of sideissues uncounted, and dogmatically set forth to make it pocketable, but meant suggestively for all that. Now, for rounding out the theory, a parable of humanism in art, chosen for a double duty: first, to illustrate how humanism is indeed the continuum, the universal element, in literature of the imagination; secondly, to advance the argument by propounding a pragmatic method for criticism of the artist as philosopher. And, that we may deal with a figure grand enough to provide a crucial test of any such sweeping generalization, let the parable consist of a restatement from this angle of some problems and principles in the understanding of Shakespeare. Shakespeare was not, to be sure, a novelist, even of the archaic Elizabethan modes; but any imagination can bridge the gap between the sorts of plays Shakespeare wrote and the sort of novels he would have written if he had lived in the time of Fielding. Besides, it is well to give these speculations enough scope to include the whole body of imaginative fiction, of which the novel and the romance are but specialized members, having to this generation something of the importance which the drama had to Shakespeare’s.

What I have in mind is this: every scientific attempt of textual criticism to identify the meaning of Shakespeare with the tenets of any age or sect has resulted simply in the belittling of Shakespeare. Assume him Anglican, and you have cut off a part of him that we should all like to keep; assume him Catholic, and you have made him only part of what he seems to us. He is not atheist, he is not theist; that is, he is not primarily either one or the other. In his pragmatism, the question whether God made man, or man made God, makes no conceivable difference to anything that can be known or experienced. Every critic who has attempted to define Shakespeare by a definite formula of faith or of doubt, has subjected Shakespeare to a limitation unsanctioned by anything in the total effect of the plays and poems. Now, when you scan, one after another, the special and restricting interpretations and pick out the weakness in each; and when, having done that, you search for the formula which escapes all the weaknesses and leaves Shakespeare meaning the utmost that he can mean when set free to interpret himself, you find that the only theory which robs him of no glory, the only one which leaves him in full possession of all that we actually find in him, is precisely the theory of his humanism. The Shakespeare whom we know through the plays and poems was a man who could have made the epigram, ‘If God had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent him ’; for Shakespeare had the supreme revelation that, whether God did exist or whether man did invent him, the effect on man’s conscious life in the knowable world is one and the same. This is the revelation which makes our Shakespeare, not Anglican, not Catholic, not demonstrably pagan or Christian, Epicurean, or Stoic, but pragmatist by temper, and by intuition humanist.

The central disclosure of the plays to us is this: that they are the work of a man who understood — whether with the intellect as well as with the intuition makes little difference — that eternity, fate, God, the immortality of the soul, eventual punishment and reward, are in one sense, the sense of art, simply not man’s affair at all; that they are fundamentally unintelligible to his finite mind, the most irrelevant, even if perhaps the most enthralling, of his concerns. These things are in the lap of the gods; and man’s affair, to state it in some very modern-sounding words, is to ‘will what the gods will, without, perhaps, being certain what their will is — or even if they have a will of their own.’ We do not in the least know whether Shakespeare believed in the existence of God; but we do know that, if he so believed, the meaning of God was all in man’s desire of him. We do not know whether he believed in the immortality of the self-conscious soul; but we do know that, if he so believed, it was the will to immortality that interested him, and not the immortality itself as a hypothesis. In every way he accepts, faithfully and joyously, the finite conditions of life here and now, the impassable bounds beyond which neither reason nor experience can penetrate. We cannot imagine him as being indifferent to anything that was human; but neither can we imagine him as being much interested in anything except because it was human. And when he listens to man’s ‘Fables of the Above,’ it makes little difference whether he takes them as fables or as truths: either way, what touches him most nearly is that they are man’s, wrought out of man’s own desire or need.

All that need be insisted on at this moment is the extreme fitness and justice of our letting the plays read themselves in the light of certain ideas which greatly enhance their meaning for all time, even if we doubt whether Shakespeare understood those ideas. By way of good measure and of responsibility assumed, I like to add a personal conviction that he did understand them clearly. Either Shakespeare consciously believed those doctrines in the light of which the plays crave to be interpreted. or else he was the lightest, most irresponsible of mortals, a mere ‘master of the revels,’ with not a shred of consistency to identify Shakespeare the artist with Shakespeare the man. It is easier for me to believe that those two are one, than that Shakespeare was only a facile trickster, admitting no connection between the words he wrote and the man he was, and achieving by some queer accident forty complete works that just happened to focus themselves on an interpretation of life that he had never thought of, and on a belief that he had never held. This alternative seems precluded by the very nature of the relation between the creator and the creation, in art or in anything; and therefore, I say, the doctrines which make the plays mean most to us and, so far as we can judge, to all time, are the doctrines which Shakespeare believed. If any one likes to believe that the doctrines which do most for the plays are the doctrines which Shakespeare did not believe, he is welcome to that self-indulgence.

At all events, this hypothesis of Shakespeare’s humanism can be defended historically, in terms of his own sixteenth century. The Renaissance came late to England, but with intensity. And when it came, it put England almost at once in possession, not only of the classical learning, but of all the modern humanistic embroidery thereon of a century of continental Renaissance. Every one who has studied, even superficially, the Cinquecento in Italy knows how merely nominal was the subservience of philosophy to religion, and how orthodoxy was subtly corroded by speculative doctrines preached from within the very Church, and calculated to deceive the very elect. The Church was largely given over to materialism; and, so long as its temporal power was not endangered, it was not above housing and feeding the philosophers who gave it intellectual prestige even while they undermined its doctrinal foundations. The Church was avidly making to itself, as now, friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness; and it was an age when one could hear atheism and the mortality of the soul brilliantly preached in high places, in discourse which paid to the Church no other tribute than the use of its ritual and its vocabulary.

In short, it was an age of humanism and free-thinking; and one of its chief symptoms is the delight of intellectualists in metaphysical speculation for its own sake — that is, for the training of the mind in subtlety, agility, and poise, and for sheer rapture in the sense that the human intellect could get beyond revelation, beyond and outside everything. It was an age in which both scholarship and philosophy were nothing if not humanistic; and from a thousand references in the plays and sonnets, from the general exultation of Shakespeare in metaphysical hair-splitting, sometimes almost purely verbal, one can trace his profoundly sympathetic kinship with these developments, his joy in the intellect as an instrument capable of giving man sway over space and time. Nor need we, for the present purpose, extend the ancestry of humanism to classical Greece and Rome — the great harbors of ancient cultivation, in which all that is most to be prized in the Middle Ages has its origins, and in which, rather than in the Reformation or Puritanism, the best moral and spiritual life of our time has its secure anchorage.

When, finally, we come to the supreme works themselves, we find almost everything to corroborate, almost nothing to deny. Shakespeare everywhere shows a strong tendency to let his vivid realization of man’s temporal life take the form of a complete and untroubled agnosticism about everything else. There is plenty of evidence that he conceived death as a sweet oblivion, a surcease from that of which life is full enough; and the finality of that repose, the deep immobility of that sleep, immune from even the dreams which should prove life not utterly extinguished, are lyrical notes sounded always with a tenderness which must have had something to do with Shakespeare’s own desire. Death is to him a ‘dateless night’; and again and again he expresses the purely humanistic notion of immortality, in contexts where, if he had believed in any other notion, he must have given some hint. All his sonnets of the love of men and women are haunted by the sense that there is beauty in the very finiteness of the experience. In the sonnets of remembered love there is nowhere expressed the hope of reunion after death, or of any renewal except that of memory re-creating out of its need the desired shape, the lost presence.

All of the phrases which, isolated, bear some seeming hint of orthodox faith, seem in their contexts to require another interpretation. The exquisite antiphonal dirge in Cymbeline speaks of a task done, a home reached, wages ta’en; but that home, it at once appears, is the grave’s ‘quiet consummation,’ and the wages are oblivion for the consciousness and renown in the memories of others.

Thou hast finished joy and moan.
To thee the reed is as the oak.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!

— Such negative immortality is the reward, and the only suggestion of a positive immortality is that thoroughly humanistic faith that the living can confer perpetual life upon the dead by not forgetting their lives.

Even the famous and controverted Sonnet CXLVI, with its cry of triumph over death, —

And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then, —

seems on analysis to be a plea for intensifying the inward life of the soul by a process very like the religious ascetic’s mortification of the body. This sonnet is one of many records of the duality of Shakespeare, of the perpetual conflict in his life and mind between a starry poet, dreamer, and idealist, and an earth-bound respectable citizen quite capable of taking thought for the morrow, both tenants of the same clay.

Why so large cost, having so short a lease.
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?

Rather, let the soul live on the loss of its servant, the body; let the soul, renewed in its own ardent extra-physical life, glory in the body’s failure and decay; do not devote the powers that are at best short-lived to making costly provision for the worms which are ‘inheritors of this excess.’ Instead, ‘feed on Death, that feeds on men ’; that is —

Within be fed, without be rich no more.

The sonnet comes down, then, to the simple assertion that, when we live most spiritually and least materially, we rob death by leaving so much the less for palpable dissolution, and so much the more for the cherishing memories of other men to seize on; we diminish death by withdrawing his sustenance. This idealistic humanism seems to be everywhere Shakespeare’s principal thought about eternity.

In the ghosts of the plays we find, oddly, a further corroboration. It is true enough that Shakespeare may have accepted unthinkingly — or, for that matter, thinkingly — the superstition of his time. He may have believed in the reality, even in the corporeality, of spirits of the dead. But it is to be noted that that was essentially a pagan, not a Christian, superstition; a belief, not in immortal spirits, but simply in the unlaid ghost. Oblivion was coming; but there was some debt left unpaid in the flesh, some wrong unrighted, which stood between the tortured spirit and the longed-for ‘quiet consummation’ of the grave. The failure to have achieved oblivion was always in itself a disaster, and the ghost’s one concern was to shake off those evil dreams of reality which had persisted even beyond the body’s corruption. This done, it might lie down to an eternity of rest.

Whether or not Shakespeare did accept this superstition is a matter of the least consequence. His plays neither gain nor lose anything of moment, whether the ghosts are staged as visible apparitions, or as ideal and symbolical perceptions in the minds of the actors. For, whatever Shakespeare’s own attitude toward the pagan concept of the unlaid ghost, he found the only way to cheat it of its grossness. The ghost always exists, not to show something about a life other than that of our senses, but to show something purely spiritual and moral about this life. Its revelation is of guilt or of duty here and now, not of a promised hereafter. The ghost of Hamlet’s father exists for Hamlet, the ghost of Banquo for Macbeth; they exert a further pressure, the one upon a feeling of responsibility, the other upon a feeling of guilt, which feelings exist already as products of causes by no means supernatural. And so it is everywhere in the plays. The meaning is the same, whether the ghost be understood by the audience as having an objective or a subjective reality.

In fine, we make out everywhere Shakespeare’s pragmatic emphasis on what things are to man and how they work in human life, and his refusal to treat any cosmic doctrine whatever except as a leverage in human thought, emotion, and conduct. In the glare of light which this reading of Shakespeare throws upon the history of fiction, the artist ought to be able to decipher a broadly complete rationale for the philosophy therein, and his critic a rationale of criticism. It ought to be possible, for example, by the same pragmatic method which snatches Shakespeare from the supernaturalists, to snatch Mr. Thomas Hardy from the naturalists. Mr. Hardy is a pessimist. Is not pessimism unconsciously a humanistic protest against modern naturalism, as Shakespeare’s seeming agnosticism was against the doctrinaire parts of the Reformation and the Puritan movement? The pessimist accepts the senseless universe of natural law as a fact, but he also cries out against it as a nightmare. In that cry of despair or rage, he has set man back at the centre of everything. The very feeling that a purposeless universe is evil proves that there is a purpose, evolved by man for himself in defiance of the gods, and obscurely present in all that man does. The rational kinship of the pessimist is with naturalism, but his temperamental kinship is with humanism; he is the humanist discouraged. This second fact is the more important, for the ultimate test of art is what it makes us feel. The pessimist makes us feel that civilization is indeed an organized revolt against nature, even though it be futile and foredoomed; and thus he shows us in a tragic light, as Meredith’s optimism shows us in a comic, not any affair of remote beginnings and endings, but ‘what you are now weaving.’

This one certain reality of the moment, denied by theology because it asserts the omnipotence of man and the impotence of God, denied by science because science has no instruments for measuring the imponderable phenomena of the spirit — this one certain reality is the substance and the end of creative art. And the humanism which extricates and reveals it in a clear light is the first causal principle of the creative impulse, the impulse to beauty — which is the greatest thing in the world.

  1. The Cream of the Jest. By JAMES BRANCH CABELL. New York: Robert M. McBride & Company.