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man greater than we. This, too, is the ultimate meaning of the demands of style. Lucidity, indeed, there must be, — identity with the thought; but besides the value of the thought in its approximation to the conditions of our being, we seek the vividness of that thought, the perfect moment of apprehension, as well as of experience. It is the beauty of style to be lucid ; but the beauty of lucidity is to reinforce the springs of thought.
Even to the minor elements of style, the tonecoloring, the rhythm, the melody, the essence of beauty, that is, of the perfect moment, is given by the perfecting of the experience. The beauty of liquids is their ease and happiness of utterance. The beauty of rhythm is its aiding and compelling power, on utterance and thought. There is a sensuous pleasure in a great style ; we love to mouth it, for it is made to mouth. As Flaubert says somewhat brutally, “ Je ne sais qu'une phrase est bonne qu'après l'avoir fait passer par mon gueuloir.”
In the end it might be said that literature gives us the moment of perfection, and is thus possessed of beauty, when it reveals ourselves to ourselves in a better world of experience; in the conditions of our moral being, in the conditions of our thought processes, in the conditions of our utterance and our breathing; - all these, concentric circles, in which the centre of repose is given by the underlying identity of ourselves with this world. Because it goes to the roots of experience, and
seeks to give the conditions of our being as they really are, literature may be truly called a criticism of life. Yet the end of literature is not the criticism of life ; rather the appreciation of life the full savour of life in its entirety. The final definition of literature is the art of experience.
But then literature would give only the perfect moments of existence, would ignore the tragedies, ironies, pettiness of life! Such an interpretation is a quite mistaken one. As the great painting uses the vivid reproduction of an ugly face, a squalid hovel, to create a beautiful picture, beautiful because all the conditions of seeing are made to contribute to our being made whole in seeing; so great literature can attain through any given set of facts to the deeper harmony of life, can touch the one poised, unconquerable soul, and can reinforce the moment of self-completeness by every parallel device of stimulation and concentration. And because it is most often in the tragedies that the conditions of our being are laid bare, and the strings which reverberate to the emotions most easily played upon, it is likely that the greatest books of all will be the tragedies themselves. The art of experience needs contrasts no less than does the visual or auditory art.
This beauty of literature, because it is a hierarchy of beauties more and less essential, exists in
all varieties and in all shades. If the old comparison and contrast of idealism and realism is referred to here, it is because that ancient controversy seems not even yet entirely outworn. If realism means close observation of facts and neglect of ideas, and idealism, neglect of prosaic facts and devotion to ideas, then we must admit that realism and idealism are the names of two defective types. Strictly speaking, whatever goes deep enough to the truth of things, gets nearer reality, is realism; yet to get nearer reality is to attain true ideas, and that is idealism too. The great work of literature is realistic because it does not lose sight of the ideal. Our popular use of idealistic refers, indeed, to the world seen through rose-colored glasses ; but for that possible variety of literary effort it is better to use the word Romance. Romance is the world of our youthful dreams of things, not as they do happen, or as in our nobler moments we will them to happen, but as, without any special deeper meaning, we should wish them to happen. That is the world of the gold-haired maiden, “ the lover with the red-roan steed of steeds," the purse of Fortunatus, the treasure-trove, the villain confronted with his guilt. “Never the time and the place and the loved one all together!” But in Romance they come together. The total depravity of inanimate things has become the stars in their courses fighting for us. Stevenson calls it the poe try of circumstance — for the dreams of youth are properly healthy and material. The salvage from the wreck in “ Robinson Crusoe,” he tells us, satisfies the mind like things to eat. Romance gives us the perfect moment of the material and human with the divine left out.
It has sometimes been made a reproach to critics - more often, I fear, by those who hold, like myself, that beauty and excellence in art are identical — that they discourse too little of form in literature, and too much of content. But all our taking thought will have been vain, if it is not now patent that the first beauty of literature is, and must be, its identity with the central flame of life, — the primal conditions of our being. Thus it is that the critic is justified in asking first of all, How does this man look on life? Has he revealed a new-or better — the eternal old meaning? The Weltanschauung is the critic's first consideration, and after that he may properly take up that secondary grasp of the conditions of our being in mental processes, revealed in the structure, march of incidents, suspense, and climaxes, and the beauty or idiosyncracy of style. It is then literally false that it does not matter what a man says, but only how he says it. What he says is all that matters, for it will not be great thought without some greatness in the saying. Art for art's sake in literature is then art for life's sake, and the informing purpose,” in so far as that means the vision of our deepest selves, is its first condition.
And because the Beauty of Literature is constituted by its quality as life itself, we may defer detailed consideration of the species and varieties of literature. Prose and poetry, drama and novel, have each their own special excellences springing from the respective situations they had, and have, to meet. Yet these but add elements to the one great power they all must have as literature, — the power to give the perfect experience of life in its fullness and vividness, and in its identity with the central meanings of existence, — unity and selfcompleteness together, - in a form which offers to our mental functions the perfect moment of stimu. lation and repose.