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A. C. M. Mtmstn in Charge of British Information Services at H. Oxford.E.. Sir FRED of Education and Director of Institute of Education.. UniivrsHy of London . Professor . LWDSAT. CARR-SAUJVDERS. M.M. Embassy. Dirtetor of the London School of Economics . (Own.B. D. Master of Balliol College.. : A.B.).A. Dr. C. M. Karl Mannheim HAROLD BUTLER.INTERNATIONAL LIBRARY OF SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION Editor: Advisory Board Washington . CLARKE.A.

SCHUCKING DR. PHIL. TRENCH..THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE by LEVIN L. TRUBNER & CO. LTD. E. BROADWAY HOUSE: 6ft-74 CARTER LANE. LONDON KEGAN PAUL.C-4 .

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science in Brunetiire. An attempt at the methodical explanation of the great upheavals in the life of literature was made by the famous French But his critic and historian of literature Ferdinand Brunetiirc. perfection. Thus Bruneti&re saw a repetition of Darwin's Origin of Species in the development of the fine arts and of literature.CONTEMPORARY TASTE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE The phenomenon of change in taste. Evolution des Genres dans VHistoire de la Literature (1890) appeared at a time when the world was so thrilled by the achievements it was all too ready to see in the Darwin and his successors had found for the which explanations processes of nature the key also to the problems of intellectual life. as seen. for instance. developments in artistic life in recent decades have baffled the majority of observers. and imagined that he could apply to these in a large measure the Darwinian principles of selection. the branching out into special generic forms. decay. and dissolution. has concerned itself hitherto almost exclusively with the work of art and the artist. On one side of the natural sciences that : . in the history of the drama he split up art into living genera. sometimes seem. its how and why. provided that we view them in their true historic and sociological environment. exhaustion. and the surprising progressions of youth. Explanation from natural The history of literature. with the rise from simple to complicated forms. In doing so he overlooked the fact that this was associating together things that in reality were not comparable and that had only apparent similarity with one another. and to some a sign of a general collapse which they bring into the closest connexion with the submergence of their But things are not so strange as they political or social ideals." has The result has been that certain scarcely been touched upon. ripening. The question of the develop" " " ment of artistic taste in the public. The nature of the change in taste that has made its appearance seems mysterious and fateful to many people. and particularly the history of art.

on the other creation dependent on human thought. blaming the art of these persons. should be compared to the species a it is difficult dominance taste. in which the struggle for existence is the dominant principle . The life of art certainly has at times a measure of superficial similarity with the life of nature. the difference that usually divides the older living generation from the younger in judgment of art would show itself here in a greatly accentuated form. is pure mysticism. to-day no longer read. in relation to articles in daily use. of literature devotes remarkably little attention to the question why. but it is not the genera. that all Even in regard to the so-called classics. not the works of art or the forms that decide between themBut in the life of human beings the selves. and to a thousand other things of which it is impossible " " of living nature. but they would point to other passages that seemed to them of more value than all the art of the following period. sold in thousands of copies on the day of publication . yet it is here that. again. and may therefore expire but this. too summarily. and a lock of Jean Paul's hair was regarded by thousands in Goethe's time as the most precious of Those who do ask this question sometimes dispose of it relics. still less with each other the individual works of art. but human beings. complete agreement . . In short. may at a particular time be without inner vitality the tendencies. as put out of date by its primitive psychology or its lack of sincerity and depth of feeling or its facile garrulity. They might abandon the defence of the weak passages in the work of their contemporaries. this change is most striking. not only in relation to change It is art but. Byron's narrative verse.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 2 was life propagating itself independently through procreation or the sowing of seeds . Thus of contemporary Apparent to consider art in entire isolation . Schiller placed a man like Fielding among the greatest classics . an of immense forms plays part. to take a few examples at random. such as they would be bound to recognize in the electric: light as compared with the oil lamp or the railway train compared with the stage-coach. But if the readers of that period could be shown the art of our own. that are at issue that can never be more than a simile but Brunettere thinks that a particular genus. as everyone knows. to dress. they would certainly not feel it to be an advance. in many The conventional history respects. such as the drama.

not only of literature but of the fine arts. not so much the literati were certainly aware of Shakespeare's greatness. And it may be clearly seen that even where the enthusiasm is constant it is far from being felt for the same aspects of the same objects. anyone who reads the delighted descriptions which Bettina von Arnim gives in her efforts on behalf of the painter Blechen. he replies that the opportunity is not worth taking. for instance. how a The reader of Lord Chesterfield's letters the very embodiment of the bon gout of the eighteenth century has so radically different a judgment from ours. since the artist in question painted nothing but caricatures. even in the case. the public. will be astonished to see how little mention there is of the merits on which the critics of our own day base the outstanding rank of that painter. term . This shows itself most plainly in the changing styles in the fine arts. was known. more or less THE AGE 3 it is an illusion withdrawn from Our own feeling is that Shakespeare. Even where the artist's position is to all appearance unchallenged. that of the dominance of a particular taste at a particular time. for belittled for centuries. who had just become so famous. and that is why in modern times. Similar cases in the fine differences.CONTEMPORARY TASTE AND THE would be difficult to obtain. And already the " " era of expressionism is coming into general use. To take yet another example from the fine arts. the Gothic Age is so largely disconnected now from the ogive that " " Gothic man has become a favourite phrase of late among students of the philosophy of civilization. the keen observer may recognize a process similar to the phases of the moon. We talk nowadays of the period of the Renaissance a phrase which to the generation that grew tions to up so recently as in the 'sixties and 'seventies of the last century The idea of usually denoted a particular style of architecture. instance. that there can be human any art that To is SPIRIT OF begin with. of Goethe. a continual waning and waxing of popularity. that when his son asks him whether he should take the chance of buying a few Rembrandts cheap. All this points to one and the same phenomenon. but it is clear that they praised in Shakespeare's art quite other things than we do. man who was we have become accustomed to giving generalized descrip- whole cultural periods. so strongly influenced by the fine arts are well to his son sees arts. The Elizabethans that is to say.

It was held that in Art. and above all in the fine arts. inexpressibly affected. especially in the fine arts. Man's attitude to things. Such was the theory. why there was blind to the will to form that wells depth of the people intuitively a ! Kapp putsch. It said Nothing more symbolical could have been found for the trial than the great hall in which the court sat. Art. be no more than an exaggeration of a fundamentally correct idea. as some nature-healers profess to read the whole state of the body in the eyes. There was a time when every third paper one took up was informing its readers of the interconnexion existing in this respect. the Spirit of the Age a man of truly sensitive pergains embodiment and shape can life of a period from the whole intellectual deduce ception its art. pretentious halls of state. Those who understand the language of form. is the finest expression of contemporary feeling. But what has our and in our architecture forward and art. tempting as it is to regard the art of a period in association with the other intellectual manifestations of the period. . still less a Kapp putsch. his ethical valuations and his emotional preferences. in the capitals of European rubbishy and American countries which had little part in the war and no collapse. learn from it the most about the thought of the period. are carried over into the direct expression in the arts of things perceived through the senses. For there are many this is to take too simple a view of things. Such chiromantic art criticism as this need.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 4 " But how far is the The connexion with the Spirit of the Age." To no question artistic style of a period an intrinsic necessity ? has the reply become se much a matter of course as to this one. of course. Art is a sort of seismograph that registers the slightest deviations from an existing intellectual point of rest. And does not the truth of the idea show itself in its pragmatic working-out ? Goethe once said that that is truth which helps man forward. one read. How widely that view was held was shown by the report of one of the leading German newspapers " on the Leipzig trials after the Kapp putsch. Yet. : : up unconsciously from the Anyone who looks at the state hall realizes why 55the war and the collapse came. helped especially architecture the building and internal arrangement of churches. which in the author's view are no less " " than the one at Leipzig. All that parvenu rubbish plastered over the walls mendacious.

permissible to Spirit feel some doubt as to what exactly this spirit of the age is. and principles of action in life. declaring that it is obvious that art Germany would be sure to shout that we have no problem here at all. history history of ideas and of their scientific and artistic forms. in corresponds to a particular Weltanschauung or general outlook. that." says Hettner. as a view of the world. It is the very thing that has to be proved. a valuation of the world. to formula periods The it Spirit is certain that the attempt involves a certain risk of questionIt is very easy to adduce as part of a demonstration begging. covered in its art. suppositions that were only partially correct have often led to the most wonderful results. however. so that the so art of to-day should not pride itself on building churches and altars in correct Gothic style. It is a striking fact that so much easier to reduce the Time Spirit of past always a than to do so for a contemporary world. by the conception of the past in the history of the Renaissance or of the Romantic style. Gothic* to cling style art was the expression of the life of the Gothic man. " for is the of instance. if the style of art of a period is des" Time cribed without reservation as the embodiment of the " or of the be it must (Zeitgeist) spirit age. for reasons that can be under- in its stood. But if is assumed to be substantially covered by Dilthey's tripartition." We may leave aside the question whether it is true that in the last resort all artistic forms presuppose ideas in Hettner's sense. for instance. period. " The For these people art is primarily a bearer of ideas. forgeries of Ossian. or in the history of literature by the Thus. A is first The deduced from its spirit art of the Gothic and then redis- follower of the philosophical outlook so highly developed us down here. literature. but must reflect the man of to-day language of form ? While. for instance. and that this Weltanschauung is what is meant by the spirit of the age. that does not place it above all critical examination. the question the conception of philosophy arises at once : observer of the Which sociological group is meant ? For any community as a whole quickly sees that in . of the Age and social groups.CONTEMPORARY TASTE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE 5 much as the establishment of the view that it is a sin against to rigid traditional forms. Particularly *in the life of art. we owe new life in the most various fields to this idea. as is evidenced. for instance.

But even this conception is not wholly free from ambiguity. religious differences play a part in these The groups. the ideals of the middle class were much the In the course of time. when the rise of the middle class was slowly taking The view and valuation of the world and the principles of conduct were entirely different at that time among the Puritan middle class and among the aristocracy. to marriage and family life. held that in many respects. such as the whole complex of ideas of pacifism." The groups To-day we no longer are too varied for their thinking to be brought so simply within common formula. were leaders in science The from the aristocracy. there are other groupings. art did not. the working class was the true standard- . for instance. some of them born among the bourgeoisie but more or less rejected by it. indeed. most outstanding are those produced by social differentiation. these ideals gradually won higher. of conduct the community varies very fundamentally within itself. spring it their main support found in and especially art. consider the conditions in pre-Hitlerite Germany. If what is meant is the class to whose will and resources advance in social life is due. see things as simply as Herder. sive ideas.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 6 respect of view and valuation of the world and principles. this class is by no means always identical with the mainstays of art and science. The most that can be done is to distin- a guish groups. through. Consider. But apart from these. for instance. true cultural aims. people have in view the more or less group which closely-held common stock of ideas of a particular dominant formative group. or the rescue of the artisan from the domination of the machine. To begin with. Or. Who then led? The workers could certainly make a strong claim For many progresto be at that time the formative class. But which of these are the true expression of the time ? Obviously. the aristocracy. Yet in this mainly supported by and period science. who con" the principles and opinions of ceived the spirit of the age as the most clear-sighted and most intelligent men. As a rule the social But posterity ideals of the two classes were sharply contrasted. but they and encouragement. place. The varied social atmosphere results in varied social ideals. in talking of the spirit of the age. is regarded as the the state of things in England at the outset of the eighteenth century. in regard.

In view of the lack of interest among the great mass of manual workers in purely intellectual questions. It will always be necessary to distinguish entirely different groups. a series of Spirits of the Age. which only gradually disappear with the improvement in their situation. The question with which of these groups the dominent art of is most closely connected depends upon various circumstances. This makes one thing particularly clear : there is no such thing as a spirit of the age . up to then at all events. with differing ideals of life and society. . so to speak. there are only. it can scarcely be claimed that advance in the fields of science and art. or in that of social life.CONTEMPORARY TASTE AND THE bearer. In these fields it But even Ibsen said. its SPIRIT OF THE AGE 7 " was in league with the future. it could be regarded as the dominant formative class. is mainly will economic dependent on the working class. and only the dweller in a Cloud Cuckoo Land any period will make the answer to it dependent on purely ideal factors." as best frienTTwouIS Keisitate^Td^maintain that.

Were it the one thing needed. fields of the immeasurable region open to us. The case is not so simple as that. Not But the history of literature. goes peoples. Among the many examples he quotes in evidence of this. that witty historian of literature. he points out that it was actually in the time and partly under the yoke of Napoleon that passed through her classic period in philosophy and so many years ago foreign observers were taking this fact as their text for consolatory and optimistic comment on Germany's difficulties after the Treaty of Versailles. It is affected by the history of States and of wars only in so far as they fill the imagination and appeal to the emotions of And Renan.II THE SOCIOLOGICAL MEDIUM OF LITERATURE IN THE PAST Vossler. certainly not of any great art or any art that bears an individual stamp. quickly find that We it is true that economically rich soil is enough. to those fields which have borne specially rich fruit. or almost so. Is it to be inferred that creative literary activity is independent of material circumstances ? Does it exist entirely apart from these ? That might conceivably be asserted of certain popular but forms. in his book UAvenir de la Science. Roses are not planted in cow-dung. teaches us to view generalizations of this sort with a cerLet us confine ourselves in what follows to a few tain mistrust. and let us see whether they can serve as examples. Germany art. in frost and storms. when he shows that the periods of great political and social storms and upheavals are just those that give life to great and fruitful new ideas. his : " Science and the fine arts somewhere may in require But imaginative writing is a flower that flourishes merrily among rocks and ice. Just as in natural history the characteristics of fauna and flora can only be recognized in association 8 not in itself . regarded in its sociological aspect. there would be periods during which the peasant would be bound to develop the finest art. says book bn Dante a rich economic soil." even farther.

like a modern poet laureate he felt impelled to pluck his harp. from. In other words. for several centuries. so in the history of literature existence and colouring and individuality proceed largely from the sociological soil from which the literary creation springs. mouthpiece of the suite. growing on the main stems that overshadow state and economic life. celebrated the deeds of the king and his forefathers. the history of literature is in large part the history of the beneficence of individual princes and aristocrats. The singer goes with the king.THE SOCIOLOGICAL MEDIUM OF LITERATURE IN THE PAST 9 with the peculiarities of the locality. must not forget his duty of gratitude. arid regarded himthe singer. The Teuton court singer. no feeling for the little man and no respect life of the poet in that age required The " no small measure of capacity for submissive acceptance of that " state of life. and while the moral backbone of the economically dependent seems to have been the product of a more recent development. How bitterly did. to our picture drawn from organic nature. there is for physical labour. like the rest of the suite to which he belonged. not because both live " auf " " " on the peaks of humanity but der Mensckheit HoKn because the prince is the only person with the means to support But that means that the person supported is in of receipt support. feudal lord . imaginative writing was a sort of lovely plant parasite. If that no longer the laureate's forte. Walther von der Vogelweide suffer. unto which it shall please God to call him. it is at least incumbent upon self as the on is . it may even To keep be said that. the fact that Nature had not provided him with the good elbows needed for keeping abreast of competitors at the Thuringian court These difficulties might occasionally be lessened by the fact \ ! that the poet. called scop in AngloSaxon. it maybe imagined that a defiant and independent mentality was not to be tempted into that specially precarious position. festal occasions him make to to himself the prophet of the creed of the ruling be conservative and a man oozing loyalty. powers In the Middle Ages . living within the circle of interests of his princely patron. much of the principal art kept entirely within the general outlook of the bread-giver. was naturally drawn into his way of thinking. consequently. Consequently both the bright and the very dark sides of that outlook are plainly The world is seen through the spectacles 'of the discernible. and con- . by his own confession. and.

. nevertheless. on lines. with the general understanding less. Such examples might be multiplied. at Milan. For the same reasons as in the Middle Ages it continues through The the Renaissance period. his wonderful sense of the Thing as It Is. But how often.IO THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE versely that an understanding Maecenas permitted his protg to go his own way in his art and took pleasure in playing the part of simple protector. is the aesthetic arbiter. who yet. his taste and wit and irony. of Gaunt. But by then his relations with the court had probably grown far less intimate. relation ! simple fact that the poet could not support himself by the sale For twenty years he was supported of his works to the public by the Colonna family . What I have done. the aristocratic employer circles. ran these They still left room for the play of activity his sense of grace and elegance. effort is made to strike the note regarded as ideal in the highest Thanks to his social standing. what I have to do patron the Earl of Southampton. though in rather different forms. Elsewhere. the conChaucer had his Visconti the unscruditions were still worse. but not for the real element in his popularity. then. as the between them most celebrated poet of his day. It is a piece of good fortune to achieve " entire agreement with him. In all of them the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune meant that attention had to be paid to the likings of the patron. ate the bread of a court at which He pulous John French taste and the rather stale theories of love of past cenand a good part of his literary turies were still accepted . which made him at the end of his life the most vivid portrayer of the Middle Ages. enjoyed an entirely exceptional Into what difficult situations he was brought by the position. and it may be that these descriptions were written for recital to an audience of burghers. must difference of view between the two have poisoned the whole some Think of Petrarch." writes in of his Rape of Lucrece to his the dedication Shakespeare " is yours . when Rienzi achieved his dream of the revival of the Roman Republic. his same Colonnas. This patronage loses little of its importance as determinant of aims through its incomplete exclusion of other possibilities. Petrarch carried on in ! support a bitter polemic against the tyrants of Rome those Later he lived for a considerable time with the terrible Visconti family.

clothing. Perhaps it would be scarcely possible to find a better example than this literature of Shakespeare's time of the extent to which the character of the work produced depends on the sociological is soil it grows. which. " below the salt. says to fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle This. Anyone who wished to get his works printed did well to seek the patronage of a great lord . naturally. can be done only within forms discipline. bearing. The didactical tendency aimed at has only an aristoideals. of ideas that no longer has anything in common with our own. or the narrative same period. and appearing imperishable through the vitality of its psychology and the verisimilitude of its representation of life and the poetic literature. < . because it lives in a world seems to reveals.THE SOCIOLOGICAL MEDIUM OF LITERATURE IN THE PAST II yours. The effect of these conditions on the character of art is In striving for the approval of the great lord. that its aim is age." This might be interpreted as polite phrasemaking.* moremanifest. anyone who wished to secure any return from the printing secured it only in the form of the gracious presents made in return for enthusiastic and fulsome dedications. in which the drama was not then fully counted." that is to say among the servants. of his greatest work. a group. Yes. Thus Spenser. We know how powerfully the aesthetic taste of a small aristocratic class was able at that time to impose itself in the field of true literature. the poets of that epoch largely obtained their sustenance literature. the greatest poet of that cratic world in view. at the time by the social group of the aristocracy. The main reason for this is that the determining sociological Pure literature was dominated factors differ in the two cases. not sat exactly a place of honour. The thing that strikes every reader the difference between the vivid Elizabethan drama on which to-day is which in its best examples stands still as nobly as on its first day. of the it in their patrons' castles. speaking directly to us. but that would be quite mistaken. and behaviour . where they then. The Faery Qyeen. at occasional meals. style. in spite of the poetic talent us centuries older. an which is made visible by his acceptance of the dedicaapproval is confined within the range of the lord's cultural the writer tion." that are in harmony with the other ideas of that group a group that strives to distinguish itself from the common herd in language.

in accordance with its whole training. and goes in search of The humanism and culture. that traditions should be respected . This provided quite other possibilities. physicians. . Elizabethan playwright is no longer dependent on the benevo- Quite different is It is true that the various companies lence of a single patron. and directly on the theatre managers who ordered plays from him. they are written to suit the aristocracy. Literature was written no longer with an eye to the approval of a particular aristocratic patron. as we know. like other literature. came eager visitors But the thing that is certain is that the voice to the theatre. but which shows itself especially in belittling the burghers.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 12 over. of a wide public played its part here. be wrong to seek it at the other pole of in the company of the noisy rowdies of whom we read so much in the descriptions of the Elizabethan stage it* certainly lay nearer an enlightened circle of jurists. receipts. who might easily demand. any more than Hauptmann's Weavers was written for a public of Socialist workers. But in the theatre the works that won applause were precisely those which through their closeness to life and their realistic to be foreign to the taste of the aristopsychology were bound and the work of the artist exclusive social group. whose taste. of the sociological group plainly lay in this case in quite a different direction from that of the group that determined the taste in this belles lettres. An infinitely wider sphere of activity showed itself. the plays of that period have in the main an aristocratic outlook. of course. is esoteric. New fields lay open. and It social life. though the In reality the influence characters are revolutionary in spirit. from whose professions. abominates realism. describe themselves of actors this is no more than a formality rendered necessary by It has also to be admitted that certain provisions of the law. would. as in the service of great aristocrats. in consequence of his conservative outlook. despises simplicity. seeks association with the antiquity of which the common people have no comprehension. : so on. strives after difficult and artificial forms. the position of the theatre in that period. But does not by any means imply that. was no longer directed by a small and whose atmosphere was the breath of his The artist depended instead indirectly on the box-office life.

struck off expression in the line in Hamlet Not a mouse " " " stirring.dramatic tension. Much depended. probably because the . In this respect the conditions in England. The conception of intellectual property was only halfformed at that time . considerations the fact that Shakespeare's most gifted forerunner. No more telling example of this effect of the social outlook on the determination of taste could be found than Voltaire's attitude. and by a treatment in gloomy. which had always been liberal. on whose early Hamlet Shakespeare almost certainly based his play. In Shakespeare's time things were different in England in A particularly benevolent fate had already proevery respect. before the highest persons in the nation. On the popular stage Kyd's real and exceptional talent had found scope in plays that exercised He had won the applause great influence on later literature. on the composition of the public in this theatre and on the latitude the various groups allowed each other. by his essays in profound psychological motivation. and before whom a similar language is required. vided for Shakespeare by placing the actor's talent in his cradle. abandoned the popular stage and went over to the aristocratic art. to those circles. the writer for the theatre received a good We may thus attribute to material deal less than the actors. who express themselves in noble language. An English critic had praised the natural cratic world. were clearly different from those in France. But these are not the aims of the classic art that finds its supporters in moneyed and Thomas Kyd went over aristocratic and academic circles. soldier may reply like that in the guard room. however." The nature of the classic style shows itself surprisingly clearly here as a product of court society. Thomas Kyd. of the crowd by his extreme. A What ? replied Voltaire. but not on the stage.THE SOCIOLOGICAL MEDIUM OF LITERATURE IN THE PAST I Thus the shackles of tradition could here be and a wealth of varied talents could find scope. mysterious colours. This enabled him to acquire a secure living at a theatre where a sort of socialization brought such rewards to the principal members of the company that they were entirely independent of the favour of the aristocratic world. Not all men were so well off.

14 THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE poor devil had suffered as was then usual had been robbed of the material fruits of his work. was publisher miserable. Subscription issues have rightly been called a sort of collective patronage. Only gradually. thanks to her political liberty. continued plainly in English literature down to the eighteenth century. Compared with the return obtained by modern writers. Among the first great publishers of the eighteenth century England. The influence on literature of the social power of the aristocratic group. which for a good part of the eighteenth century were the main feature of the more important publishing ventures . The pursuit of bread leads the artist away from the course his talent indicates. because the work of the scholarly had inadequate legal protection. with the diminishing influence of the aristocracy in social and political life and the growing economic and social importance of the middle class. the yield from the literary work of Rousseau. In this respect England. did another public grow up and conditions begin to resemble those of modern times. the continued powerful influence the aristocracy is still manifest : in of they were often advised by members of the aristocratic world.000 from the whole of his life's work. and readers were few. Diderot. In place of the patron came the publisher. purely material circum- may determine which of two competing tendencies profits by the adhesion of a man of outstanding talent. since the publisher depended on subscriptions. was well in advance of In France. restricted -to some extent. The author of the Nouvelle Helo'ise gained not much 1. He set himself to translate a tedious classicist tragedy by Gamier. and was supported by an insufficiently wide public. for the reasons here stances given. the publisher thus depended on the personal relations between the author and individual patrons. The case is no more remarkable than many others from that time to our own . suffered from rigorous censorship. Pirating was universal. proceeded a good deal more slowly. the new development the Continent. Only then did a real reading public develop on a wider scale. a work possessing none of the merits just mentioned but in harmony with the cultured taste of his patrons. So over . only in the theatre. for instance. men like Dodsley. and the others were in straitened circumstances throughout their lives. or the Abb< Prevost. His first appearance amounted to a sort of inter- mediate stage.

flowers do not grow in frost and ice. For this selection we find of importance in the past the circumstance that it proceeds from the literary interest of groups in possession of economic and social sources of power. with all that it involved. The mud does not create the eel as Aristotle thought. on which the creative artists are dependent. to keep to Vossler's picture. for instance. he says. Oliver Goldsmith makes that plain. but the generalization no mud. In England the conditions were substantially better. to view. of the Napoleonic era left entirely untouched the worlds in which literature had its being. At other times. The battles of Jena and Auerstadt. The tremendous storms. of course. Or. no ccl would be fairly near the truth. for instance. What happens in this intellectual field does not differ greatly from what happens in the realm of natural an endless variability of creation is influenced indefinite science : directions by a certain selection. if we venture to seek a fundamental principle for all those centuries for the formation of taste as a sociological process. for a really efficient writer to become rich if he sets out to do so. With his own sharpened sense of economic necessities. create the art. He remarks at the same time on the great change that had contributed to liberate the writer from the oppressive and humilia" " and to win for him " the great ting dependence on the dignity of independence. Where the sociological soil is destroyed or seriously injured by any external circumstances.THE SOCIOLOGICAL MEDIUM OF LITERATURE much the more essential IN THE PAST 15 was the continuance of the protection of a patron. It is not difficult. not be lost we might perhaps say that the sociological soil must The soil does not. however. this injury extends of necessity If in wars and other storms we find to the art that it supports. art continuing to develop unhindered. and book make it impossible for the schoolmaster-enthusiast surreptitiously to put his Jean legendary Paul into Napoleon's coach as the emperor drove past. wars have had quite other effects prices did not rise sufficiently to when the actual soil of the literature of the time has been affected so its existence or its creation began to shown on countless pages of the history of literature. even literary flowers do not. that the material conditions for fail. made little change or reduction in the German reading public. This is ." Thus. the reason can only be that in these cases the sociological soil is simply untouched.

Ill SHIFTING OF THE SOCIOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE ARTIST If we now turn away from the conditions of past centuries and consider more recent times and particularly our own day. of Parnassus always found ready and honoured acceptance in the highest circles of society. soil is mostly plain to see. how lamentably attempt to introduce a taste II failed in his Germany from above. for instance. who had reached the peaks particularly good. however. For this various circumstances are responsible. as odd when we hear that in 1 723 a comedy of Steele's enjoyed great popularity because the author was reputed to have an income of a thousand a year. To-day there are clearly many sources numbers of theatres. This failure many people the pleasant feeling that social power can no longer influence the course of true artistic taste in our day. For a long time the son of a " good family " was considered in some way to have lost caste if he became a professional writer . a public of varied tastes. the effective influence has not shifted to another social force. also clearly gone Emperor William : remember. again looking for the determining factors. In past centuries the position of the artist in society was never Those. One of the principal ones is the change in the social standing of the artist. It strikes us to-day. in brief. of course. as in other fields. by means of a court art. the influence of particular people of social eminence is manifest. Clearly there was nothing much in being a mere artist. associations. and there are only a few obvious centres from which the sustenance of the arts proceeds. at first sight everyIn earlier times the sociological thing seems to be changed. publishing houses. Social dependence has theoretically a thousand opportunities. Lord Chesterfield. and. expressly states somewhere that he always felt it a distinction to be in the company of such men as Pope or Addison. The into gave only question is whether here. who may be taken as an embodiment of the aristocratic culture of the eighteenth century in its highest manifestation.

for instance. and" Nikolaus Lenau (Niembsch. This social outlook changed only very gradually. Thus. Scott tions always preferred gentleman rather than as an author. for example. To live by the pen was not very respectable. an aristocratic admirer of Samuel Richardson. for instance in literary felt it assume middle-class pen-names (Count von Auersperg). actually one of the criteria by which the national cultures may be distinguished. crossed the Channel. though later these did not prevent him from extracting more money from the publisher for his works than any other poet of the nineteenth century. At the outset of his left lisher of his Elegy. Lady Bradshaugh. than in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Thomas Gray a small fortune in the possession of the pubit was beneath the dignity " invenof a gentleman to take money from a publisher for his as a to be known landed ". was so afraid of what her Lan" " cashire friends would say of her corresponding with an author that she kept the correspondence a secret as long as she could. many necessary to Anastasius Griin. Voltaire called to pay his respects to him. Congreve astonished Voltaire by replying that he was primarily not an author but a gentleman. and Halm (Baron von Miinch-Bellinghausen). This is. and for a long time after aristocrats who engaged work it. When he sent her his portrait she altered his signature to Dickenson. Edler " von Strehlenau an Edler corresponds roughly to a Baronet). How the family : * . It is significant that. one has regard to the great phases of development. these differences appear as no more than nuances. that in Germany at the beginning of the century. who had become the most famous of English dramatists. When Congreve. indeed. to prevent the acquaintance from coming to light. and mentioned that it was Congreve's fame as a writer that had inspired the visit. however. and still more if he became an actor. If. In this respect the circumstances have probably never been the same all over Europe. considering that career Byron indulged in some magnanimous gestures to his publisher. rather higher.SHIFTING OF THE SOCIOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE ARTIST 17 or painter. even in the twentieth century the social valuation of the artist has been rather different in Germany. Voltaire at once retorted that he would not have sought the acquaintance of Congreve the mere gentleman. In the matter of the social standing of the artist it is very significant.

1

THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTB

8

of Annette Droste looked askance at her literary activities
How reluctant the Kleist family was to talk about its son of
In his wonderful description of the 'thirties of the last
genius
in
The Newcgmes, Thackeray shows Lady Kew, genteel
century
to the bone, rooted in the ideas of the eighteenth century,
exclaiming with indignation at the news that a painter has
asked for the hand of her granddaughter
"
An artist propose for Ethel
One of her footmen might
and
she
Barnes
would bring the mesnext,
supposed
propose
!

!

:

!

'

The father came and proposed for this young painter,
"
and you didn't order him oijt of the room
Gradually a complete change set in. It was the natural
consequence of the changed outlook on life associated with the
Here again the way was led by Engrise of the middle class.
land, where the political revolutions of the seventeenth century
had begun to make great changes in the relative power of the
classes, which had remained unaltered through many centuries.
"
"
Since the
of 1688 it had been necessary
glorious revolution
for the Government to reckon with the factor of public opinion.
Consequently writers who could influence public opinion were
taken very seriously by the leaders of the State. They were
granted sinecures and flattered. Subsequently the writers suffered some change for the worse for a while, but during the

sage.

'

!

eighteenth century the belief grew in the power of the printed
word. In France, too, the prestige of literature grew steadily
up to the end of the century.

Gradually, too, the ideal of personality changed. The ideal
cavalier of the eighteenth century was the man of society with
The upper middle class brought art and
exquisite manners.
science into the place of honour ; it regarded the deepening of
the intellectual life and the artistic elevation of spiritual life as

important objects of existence. Art had played in the life of
the part of a decorative element ; in the life of
\ the aristocracy
ithe independent-minded middle class it had the more exalted
<task of serving as herald and prophet of the highest and the
Under these circumstances its
iprofoundest thought of mankind.
also
were
accorded
a
^representatives
higher place than formerly.
Byron, who with his aristocratic origin and interests sympathized in many things with the past, himself records the change,
with some surprise. He writes in his diary on November 24, 1 8 1 3
:

SHIFTING OF THE SOCIOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE ARTIST

"

1

9

do think the preference of writers to agents the mighty
made
about scribbling and scribes, by themselves and others
stir
a sign of effeminacy, degeneracy, and weakness. Who would
Action action
write, who had anything better to do ?
said
Demosthenes
Actions
action,'
actions,' I say, and not
of
all, rhyme."
least
writing,
In this there is a good deal of the earlier outlook. But now
I

'

'

:

figures like Byron's, seen in the Bengal light of romance, served
to give the poet a higher standing.
The poetic activity of a

man who moved among

the highest peaks of society elevated,

whole craft. Anyone who assumed Byron's air
of world-weariness, and adopted his way of tying his cravat,
gained, as he sought to gain, a portion of the interest and the
admiration felt for the poet-lord.
so to speak, the

Goethe's social position also exerted a powerful influence.
In literature itself the signs of the changed social standing of

made
how late

the writer
to see

It is particularly instructive
their appearance.
the artist is in appearing in literature as an

The hero in the romances of earlier centuries
a knight, a prince, a cavalier, an officer ; sometimes in the
When from 1709 on, Addison
eighteenth century a clergyman.
"
so-called
moral journals," the
the
and Steele began publishing
Taller and the Spectator, which quickly found eager readers and
imitators all over Europe, they represented themselves to the
public as a sort of editorial committee, but in doing so they
assumed the guise of a landed gentleman, a jurist, a great mer"
"
from the world of
chant, a half-pay officer, and an
elegant
not
artist
would
A
or
an
writer
yet have been
gallantry.
attractive figure.

is

considered dignified enough.
hundred years later all this was changed. Interest cenIn Goethe's Wilhelm
tred, for the first time, in the artist.
Meister the hero, characteristically, is something of an artist, and
the greatest English novelist of the nineteenth century, Thackeray,
in The Newcomes (1853), in many respects of all the novels the

A

makes his hero an artist.
which the newly revealed
For this middle
predilection of the dominant class is reflected.
its
dominance
on the ideas
it
established
class, though originally
of common sense and naturalness, had fallen victim to all sorts
of affectation, had become aristocratized and narrowed by a
best

documents of the

'thirties,

also

The two novels had many successors,

in

THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE

2O

thousand conventions. Half conscious of this inner discordance,
it nurtured a secret affection for the untrammelled existence, as
He was the embodiment of the human
it saw it, of the artist.
freedom for which it longed but which it scarcely dared to

approve openly,

still less

to practise.

He was

almost a higher

type of human being.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the artist is
gradually accorded a position of "which no earlier century would
have dreamed. Age-old aristocratic prejudices fail to withstand
Pen-names are thrown aside and the aristhis development.
tocracy now devotes itself openly to art, rejoicing if it is mentioned in connexion with artistic achievements. There was a

who

and took a valet with him
from the end of the century he appeared
in Germany and gave public recitals of his works, charging
for admission
happy to be able to describe himself as an

poet

on

his

lived in princely palaces

travels

;

artist.

Naturally this process was accompanied by a great increase
It is not difficult to produce
artist's self-confidence.
instances from earlier times in which witness is borne to artists*
But this witness now took on a special character. It
pride.
would be easy to compile a great garland of such statements
"
from the time of the romanticists onward.
The man who
stands above all others, the poet," declared the young Levin
Schucking in an essay, as though it were a self-evident truth,
and his friend Freiligrath claimed for the poet that he " goes
about the world in solitude with flaming brow." Very similar
views were heard at the same time in the rest of Europe. Tennyson, for instance, whose lyric diamonds were extracted from no
great depth below the surface, advised the common man with
priestly solemnity to give up the attempt to probe the poet's
"
unfathomable mind with his
shallow wit ". This attitude
in the

gathered strength as the century proceeded. It was
plainly visible at its extremest in France, very noticeable in
England, faintest at first in Germany. In an age that levelled
all external differences, the poet marked himself off from the
common man even in his clothes. Velvet coat, a flowing mane,
and if possible special headgear, served to set apart many of

visibly,

,

these elect, especially the artists.
Even in England, so exceptionally correct in externals, traces of this habit were to be

as the and already pened Review. as Schiller said. where Victor Hugo altered the ending of his tragedy Marion de Lorme at the desire of the public and under the influence of Prosper Merim^e and Dumas. there was not much sign of this in the Tennyson set his hat but not his head against ruling art.to a false relation between human and artistic values in the life of art. in his hands made the artist capable of the greatest achievements. intelligent people began to ask themselves. . what effect this exaggerated artists' assessment of their function. and in a different form would result of necessity in producing the artificiality and the estrangement from the natural and the popular which it was supposed had been happily overcome in the romantic movement. In the eighteenth century the wise Shaftesbury had expected almost a new flowering of " " literature from an increased in the status of personal dignity His phrase proved prophetic. new his customary poet's sombrero for the only correct wear. 1 Thus the picture slowly changed. though they did not succeed in effectively establishing themselves in face of convention. a top hat. j . it is true. as hapas early as 1872 in a very acute article in the Quarterly men. The sense of bearing tKcTpoet. But gradually the artist's position shifted. popular opinion. As his biographers almost unanimously relate. How patiently in the literary society of the Tunnel the criticism of dilettantes was endured itself.SHIFTING OP THE SOCIOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE^ ARTIST 21 found. How far from sovereign was the artist originally in Germany may be seen from many examples. Things were similar in France. 1 It is significant that on the morning of the day on which Tennyson was to make hi* first entry into the House of Lords after the peerage granted to him as him to urge him on this occasion at least to discard poet laureate. " the dignity of humanity ". At first. this separation of their intellectual sphere from that of the ordinary man. would be bound to have in the end on art how it would ultimately lead of necessity . and would certainly be wrong to say that it always made wise use The educated it This applies especially to its resistance to the entry of It seems to us to-day ideas in the sphere of the drama. a friend called on of it. He began to be enthroned above priest is enthroned above the faithful in church. ! public had here immense power in its hands. he always adjusted his own inner development often almost by force to the conception of what should be the nature of a poet who wants to give his people the bread of life in his art.

incapacitating doubts.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 22 almost incredible that at the Doll's House the concession first production in Berlin of Ibsen's to the public of bringing was made Nora back into the doll's house at the end. It is not always realized that past centuries did not hold such rigorous opinions on the subject. The new conception of art that came with the fall of the aristocratic world radically changed the attitude of the artist to his times. Art as divine service. It is difficult to say what is the more astonishing in this incident. he read it to his patron. Alexander Pope. and. for instance. Such proceedings had been allowed for centuries without protest by the artists. says Samuel Johnson. it was confidence so essential to creative work was maintained. in the presence of a large assembly . of expressions of dissatisfaction from artists in which the public and the critics it are charged with lack of understanding. own taste and He was guided now only by his conviction. The artisfs attitude to the public. in " caviare to the general ". the noble lord interrupted him now and then to propose improvements. and the author was preserved from torturing. galling. a conception of artistic creative work in which no regard was paid to the existing public and the writer had in view only the ideal reader. Yet when he had completed his chief work. Chaucer's famous when disciple Lydgate evidently regarded it as entirely natural his patron Duke Humphrey of Gloucester. brother of Henry V. charging them with bad taste. down are set as uneducated. Thus would be easy to collect instances from the sixteenth century onwards. Lord Halifax. that. who in permitting the change allowed the point of his problem play to be blunted. the translation of Homer. the selfShakespeare's phrase. was regarded in England almost throughout the eighteenth century as a poet of the very first rank. It has at all times been natural to the artistic temperament to get rid of the uncomfortable sense of failure by simply throwing the blame on others. a real marvel in the opinion of his contemporaries. and we know of exact . But what Especially they now came was some- thing different. In taking comfort from the thought that the work was too good. " corrected " his manuscript . and perhaps even from earlier times. the public aversion from new ideas or the deference to it of so furious a defender of all individual rights as Ibsen.

and had no hesitation in paying a good deal of attention to the criticism and advice tendered to him in that circle." The spread throughout Europe. producing and accepting his directives independent. through the development of publishing. it now became the accepted belief of an important literary movement. century as an obvious principle and nothing new " Write nothing. which later " aesthetic movement. not all also that Voltaire was only able to give play to his real nature and talents when he had established himself on his own estate near Geneva. but it is easy to understand what a burden it must have been for the artist. The artist emancipated himself more and more effectively from his environment. no longer. who in material respects was fairly for society. We know how to get together some he accordingly entered into financial of a very admirable character. Time reverses the judgment of the foolish crowd. The measure of hostility to the great public that may be detected in this statement from a passionate political democrat could be paralleled by earlier examples . the . Give wise counsel. At this time conditions were changing. This social pressure was not yet challenged. of the similar slavery to taste in England . 23 who was contemporary with Shakespeare. But we see speculations. and a few generations later there were no more naive attempts by aristocrats to improve the work of the foremost writers of their time. unless your conviction of its truth compels you to the writing. In France the conditions were similar to eighteenth century.SHIFTING OF THE SOCIOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE ARTIST to this in the parallels life of Spenser. With surprising speed the artist now proceeded toward the goal of entire autonomy. at all events. and he inferred very logically that the principal thing was capital.paying any attention to his Shelley declared at the beginning of the nineteenth public. Voltaire learned from Pope. and accept no counsel from the simple-minded. He read his Oedipus at Sceaux in the entourage of the Duchess of Maine. of the more tolerable character. Contemporary criticism is no more than the sum " of the folly with which genius has to wrestle (Retranslated from : the German version). this even in the Voltaire himself was essentially a writer works for a particular environment from it.

often. but however highly they had been appreciated they had been considered only in conjunction with other factors that had been valued more highly. to occupy themselves with the elements of art on which its appeal Its effect.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 24 springing up of this movement all over Europe was a natural result of a certain specialization in every field and of the increased Their interest in art led them respect for art in certain groups. they considered.couple of vowels. In the early part of the nineteenth century he continually expounded to his fellow-countryof the first in great success men in learned periodicals of such men as Marlowe. He had beyond question a keen eye for poetic beauties. on an educated taste cannot things outside art. the view of earlier generations were only the media of art depends. for poetry was not invented in the nineteenth century. Artist-priests performed their offices. rhythm. such as a morally uplifting or a stimuFrom this view came the cult of things that in lating subject. The ordinary man could not follow them. tone. Rossetti himself once drew ailear distinction between himself and Tenny" the son. with Rossetti enthroned at its centre. allusion. Europe to spread this view with any was Leigh Hunt. came into existence in England with the aim of protecting the arcana of its art from the profane. Another group. but the things to which he pointed were largely elements of their art which Marlowe and Spenser and Milton would not themselves have regarded as the essence of their achievement. there were no higher elements than One men these. In earlier times these things had not been ignored. lie in form. was always endeavouring to keep within . But for this new concerned with cultured only group. The issue between these groups and the public was not hushed up but proclaimed. entirely removed from the common herd by the extravagances in which they indulged at times. and so oft. or Milton. like Gautier and later his emulator Oscar Wilde. the elements of the poetic achievement Spenser. he said. who. and so confined it within a sacred In France fart life this cult art for art's sake. of the media of art was called Vart pour It divorced art from all influence over except the purely aesthetic. appreciation. grove whose priests were the artists. could not conceive why any sensible man should spend a whole day in the pursuit of the only right adjective or in the attuning of a .

and so it may not seldom be observed how. on principle. shows the same divorce on principle from the Bildungs" " The French talked of the five of (" cultural mob ")." The similar German movement. perhaps. The contemporary into a sort of mutual admiration society. suddenly threw themselves into the arms of the practitioners of a new art. and wove about his whole existence a veil that to his contemporaries seemed mysterious and romantic . and similarly the group around Stefan George long seemed to the curious to be wreathed in a cloud a more merciful one. weakens the priest for his service to beauty.SHIFTING OF THE SOCIOLOGICAL POSITION OF THE ARTIST 2 realm of the public ". Rossetti shut himself off even as a painter by refraining absolutely. recognition and misera plebs contribuens ". from the most intimate of needs. Even the priest. wTio had been more or less won over to the group's aesthetic Such critics proceeded from the circles of the aesthetes outlook. with the same inevitability as from any other logically developed It follows also that each of these esoteric groups grew system. This segregation from the public did not in all these cases mean a cessation of dependence on the public. . needs the crowd if only as " Not only that . world wondered why the critics. the public so proudly driven from the front door by Their Magnificences was cordially admitted by the back door. But it failed to take account of sociological processes. from holding an exhibition. which came late on the " scene. who had usually represented a conservative taste. as Friedrich Brie wrote in his Aesthetische Weltanschauung (1921). it was assumed. that is to say. to mark the narrow circle of the truly cultured . "the idea that the beautiful contains a higher morality in itself became the idea that beauty and art sanctify whatever is done in their name. in whom. The story is familiar of the opposition to the prevalent opinion into which the further development of this point of view drove Oscar Wilde. Contact with the public was maintained through the critic. or less But the only recognized critics were those who had the entry to the arcana and had been initiated persons. All connexion with the public. the admiration give wings to the artistic imagination. pobel us ". so that the artist can do no wrong. high as he stands above the crowd.

had written his most famous novels in the 'sevenhe sought admittance to the Academy in 1888. which. Of mope note was the German movement great importance. the trivializing influence of the great all these things combined to lead certain social groups cities . as reflected in the growing importance of the women's question the increase in the elements of conflict in social and political life. of this class. Emile Zola. the struggle against the so-called points of honour of privileged classes . indignantly hurled his lame imprecation (now of great historic interest) in Locksley Hall sixty years after against the new movement. Storm. In Germany at that time the main buttress of art was a cul- in class. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina was begun in 1874 . Baroness von Ebner-Eschenbach. largely made up of higher officials. the same time (1886) Tennyson.IV LITERATURE AND PUBLIC The deepening of the cleavage between public and art through The aesthetic movement in Germany was of no Naturalism. of Naturalism. but it had little to offer in art to the universally increasing body of those who had been brought by the conditions of the period into guarding of traditions. which had already had in the 'seventies a typical representative Henry James. the acceptance of scientific methods in every sphere. then an old man. In Germany naturalism (or realism) came remarkably late. authors who in their origin and outlook were closely united to it . About ties . In France its most eminent representative. into a passionate struggle in various fields of everyday 26 life against . due to the growth of competition. The sense of the hollowness of the religious conceptions that continued to dominate the school and the life of the State . the increasing hardness of the conditions of existence. in mainly consequence of the political stagnation that followed the victorious wars. restricted itself in every field to the careful tured middle The cultural leadership lay in the hands and it was able to point to fine work from Heyse. Ibsen's League of Youth dates from 1869. and others. a certain opposition to the past development.

but as a sociological current in taste. It would be very useful.LITERATURE AND PUBLIC what they 2J be empty phrases. in the determination to look life in the face and see things as felt after truth at to any they are. and what the satirical journals said. Thus it was only small groups of journalists in the great cities that took up the cudgels for the new trend in art. of the number of editions of* the old literature and of the new literature advancing. Many of these held extremely advanced political views and unconventional ideas in regard to religion. and the east and the west. This happened about the end of the 'eighties. Here we have to do with the greatest wholesale change of taste of the last century. and not a few were personally at feud with the social classes that set the tone. even. rooted in socially and politically reactionary conceptions. if it must be. how the capital and the smaller cities differed. to give a full account of these processes. gust. who had in the course of their ordinary duties to take up a definite position in regard to cultural questions. whether their political and denominational attitude played a part in this. We should sift the propaganda matter. and society. their ideas of decency and respectability corresponded to an economic order that was in process of dissolution. We should further over to the j < . but an everyday pilgrimage that does not shirk the investigation of any site. Their artistic needs were still confined to the family circle . It was difficult for such a view to win through anywhere. here we have the root of all later developments. and in some respects of many centuries . such as teachers or ministers of religion. and therefore in art as elsewhere. It would be useful to new know which newspapers and periodicals went tendency. We need an inquiry into the views of particular social groups and professions. everywhere. and it was nowhere more difficult than in the Germany of that For the cultured elements of the country were largely time. the south and the north. making it for them a moral duty simply to close their eyes to a large part of life. revealing this movement not always merely in its works and in particulars of individual lives. We need an examination of the sales of books. at the price of dis" The veil of fiction " is torn " from the hand of truth ". Naturalism is the striving price. and especially of those persons. the family. The path of art is no Sunday stroll through pretty country with a young flock. therefore.

of years the represented the dreams of humanity ? Had not children been named after heroes and heroines of poesy children whom their tender parents would fain have seen grow up into similarly radiant figures ? And now was art to be invaded by inexorably accurate observation in place of loving enlightenment ? Had ages implied selection? Had not fantasy been ? And now was a " cross-section of achievement highest " to suffice ? But all observations of this sort. would show at the outset what extraordinarily violent opposition was offered to the penetration of the new ideas. for instance. the representatives of which were almost held up to personal odium." were demolished by the . . It would show how at the beginning of the 'nineties there was a period during which every society. But at first there were no great works of art in the new style in Germany. in the new style thre came a criticism of the old style.THE SOCIOLOGY O? LITERARY TASTE 28 ascertain the attitude that the lending libraries took up. c V trend was indebted to the art for art's sake movement. In place of German works. . . particularly Ibsen. every It club. The most compelling arguments in questions of art are the works of art themselves. Such an investigation would yield very instructive results. " (Gottfried Keller. and the extent to which book clubs among the educated classes were influenced) what new circles were won over by the new literaInformation should finally ture and what old ones repelled by it be collected concerning the corresponding influence exerted upon reading groups and upon social activities connected with literature. which reality " in conversation almost always took the form of but art ought " but art must ." " art has no triumphant declaration of the new order that or That showed how must but only a will ought " " not art in all its . spoke of heroes not artists. ' the ' new ' . Zola. to the effect that for thousands artist had set out to represent not the true but the Had not the very language been affected by lovely and noble. * much . for as long as men had given expression to thought. For a long time the admired masters were foreigners. " " since it of a story or a drama ? Had this. every family resounded with passionate declarations by the representatives of the old ideas. denounced Zola as quite a common fellow"). and Tolstoy. a criticism from which it was by no means .

mainly It was possible to object that a story is no more Simplicissimus). was most easily intelligible in this field. might seem insufficient or open to objection to many who expected from art the treatment of the valuable and unusual. The impediments that stood in the way of the enjoyment of the new art in literature fell away sooner in the fine arts because there no " ethical considerations came into play. The new principle. The revolution in taste extended to the satirical journals. and while Geibel. seemed contrary to the new were revived after a few forms that programme decades. On the at first to the criticism of all that in art. Droste was discovered in the obscurity of her rural retreat.LITERATURE AND PUBLIC 29 easy for the public to judge of the valuable elements in the new Much of the German love of the doctrinaire was brought art. but witness to the nature of Nature was welcomed with gratitude and unreservedly accepted as an enrichment of the world of the senses. there now came to the of letters addressed form in the periodicals (Jugend. Schiller fulminated against. was hurled from the other tions they throne with a great clatter. the treatment all-important. comic for being true. The programme Beginnings of the predominance of the fine arts. fell victim to the naturalist Bartholomew's Night. earlier a famous lyricist. and Morike was raised up in triumph. Many hand Hebbel and Kleist were honoured (in past generahad achieved no more than a succis d'estinu). all art that betrayed a tendency. Heyse was slaughtered. Its pioneers threw bridges for thousands into a world until then unknown. regarded as comic in the past. the historical novel. Discoveries like that of the heath by the Worpsweder School represented a landmark on the path of development for masses of people. It was seen that traditional ideals of beauty had obstructed the outlook rather than not." as Brandos described Zola's art. Here it quickly achieved the most brilliant victories in Impressionism. that the matter is unimportant. \ . the ballad. that envisaged the mission of art as the representation of a coherent piece of reality was bound to meet with stronger opposition in literature than in the fine arts. In place of the polite stereotyped exaggerations that had been " true stories ". proclaimed by Flaubert. Witness to the nature of man. but with the reader's increased sense for the real this condition did at least add to the attraction of the story.

a whole. if a programme of art that was based on a deep ethical aspiration was able to hold human feelings in firmer bondage than that of naturalism at first succeeded in doing. movement The reputation of a poet or author in periodicals and newspapers was often out of all proportion to his popularity among : the public. but the great educated public remained dubious and unsympathetic to naturalism as a literary innovation. when the talk was of art in general. was the size of the editions of Schlaf The critics were unanimous in or of Holz in this period of ! acclaiming Detlev von LiKencron as the great new poet. For a long time past it had been dominated by literary ideas . In the first half of the century. but the public followed them only hesitantly and in ones and twos. for instance. there came in Germany a change not before seen on such a scale. though it had had its forerunners in the aesthetic the gulf between public and artist steadily grew. What. now the situation was reversed. while a collection made just a generation later in 1897. It really seemed as hearts of the cultured. in point of fact.000 marks to enable Ferdinand Freiligrath. to return home from England. it frequently " The man who stands highest. the poet. the spokesman of the passionate political dreams of its youth. It is significant that the relatively poor Germany of 1867 subscribed a sum of 180. for Detlev von Liliencron. Even men's language gave an impression of the much greater importance gradually acquired by the fine arts.000 marks. particularly striking. so little the latter.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 3O The impetus given to fine art in this way was. Now. " " in statements of principle. because there was too great a divergence in ideals art. Cleavage in the public and set-back for the literary element in social Such partial successes strengthened the new movement as life. the . and the leadership it thus gained among the arts was unmistakable. yielded So greatly had the former appealed to the barely 1." referred to the poet. however. The the less gulf between public and critics that thus opened had prospect of being closed again by natural means. where at the end of the poet " " artist of the century the talk was of the (most dictionaries a word that in the current still reveal nothing of the change) language of earlier generations had been confined to those who practised the fine arts. In exactly the same way Shelley spoke said Levin Schticking.

was severed by the Treaty of Versailles. that of the officers in the reserve.. Mere vestiges of it now remain. It continued among the middle class in the nineteenth century.LITERATURE AND PUBLIC more the 3! This sociological divisions in society grew. more freedom of choice 1 the individual's time. This process was not . in the narrower sense. making further advance with the great achievements in literature. and everyone in social life. Men's societies and unions " " died out. in " up the idea of " Gesellschaftsfahigkeit in the old sense . to be excluded from it almost annihilation. Among and the changes that took place at the same time as this it was a complete change in the import- in connexion with ance of the literary element in sodal life. On the hand the purely professiona associations and representabodies grew in number and in the claims they made on other tive officials. which had played so great a part tion of among began the ruling higher to claim shrank steadily. The last bond that held it together. The broadening and deepening of the influence of literary education had been the distinctive sociological mark of the period of the "Aufklarung" ("Enlightenment"). it has been difficult to keep members of the upper class. the concep" social obligations ". it has entitlement to entry into society been equally impossible for the class with university education to maintain its privileged position at a time when the excellent first president of the Ger- man Republic came from the saddler's trade and the highest posts in the State were filled by men who had not been to a university. To be able to move in that circle was almost everything. that is to say the grouping " " society formed by which the tone was set by the higher official with university training. was a conception incredibly seriously adhered to up to and beyond the end of the nineteenth century. Stammtische or cafi groups dwindled. Much of its ceremonial was almost sacramental. social bonds had been in prothis before democratizatioh gress long began. The shrinkage in the consumption of alcohol largely reversed the stimulus to But the loosening of the old sociability produced by the introduction of coffee into Europe at the end of the seventeenth century. The upper middle class especially had been closely associated with literature. Since there have been lieutenant-commanders who boldly became innkeepers or agents.

over which. the same in Germany. the banker Sir Barnes Newcome. as Dante relates. But in this later literary age it frequently occurred that a book provided the first incentive or gave material assistance in the formation of a lifelong union. He gives a witty description "of the way the Member for Newcome. feels angle for popularity by Things were much bound there existed. makes fun of the way in which the literature of that period could even invade the place due to politics. mainly young girls but very serious people. Paolo and Francesca came so close " that together in spirit that evening they read no more ". government officials. The new literary work provided the neutral soil on which acquaintance was formed . in his description of the 'thirties.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE J2 confined to Germany. For these literary associations were one of the main forms of social gathering. for the discussion of literary questions and new Their members were not literary works over tea and cakes. married women. the story of Lancelot of the Lake. gained in the course of a formal party or a reading with distributed parts. sober. dating back in certain forms to the second half of the eighteenth century at the earliest. with not the slightest feeling for literature. and litera" " ture provided the means of for setting out the dominoes conversation. soldiers. still less the common ground of social life. literature has long ceased to be the main subject of conversation. a shrewd. Thackeray. To-day this path appears almost in a romantic light. In other words. that young people no longer form a rose-coloured view of each other from surreptitious and often misleading glimpses of the partner's imagined mentality. little literary salons societies. judges. here the opportunity was gained of securing from the other's judgment of men and things an insight into his thoughts and feelings. At that time and cities. This is not the place for a consideration of the course of this . now found here. not only in the capital but in the provincial numbers of big and to giving lectures on the Poesy of Childhood. naturally. always -had a special significance since the time of the very first great prose story of European fame. young unmarried persons were also to be For them literature has. Needless to say. but secure a thorough acquaintance with each other in sport or in working together. heartless business man. an insight likely to become the first bond between kindred souls.

To-day a number of new types of school devote themselves to The education " " other interests. It is just in the politically progressive newspapers that the purely the politically conliterary element is noticeably neglected historic interest . unfortunately. The is splitting up of the public produced by all these things to show itself in its relation to art. of the whole of the German it has not a trace of art public homogeneity. artistic. for the premieres but for an ordinary performance. let us recall the composition. of interests. to-day in Germany its place has been taken by natural science. politics. " given by the old school. say. determined by only a few elements. ' . mentally the school has passed through the same development. and the reason is not at all the one some- years ago. pletely A com- existence. the reason is that where in the past literary and was dominant. is no longer the case. changed sociological structure has come into aesthetic. social reform. and the possibilities of personal intercourse that existed before the growth of the great cities. : literary. mutatis mutandis. of necessity produced a greater uniformity in But the times when the " educated person " was a type taste. This belles lettres. intellectually only the the last war. is. people who can get there easily by tram. plainly visible the It is change Forty a newspaper produced a supplement for the entertainment of its readers it was devoted as a matter of course to Its contents were literary. if times given. The same is true. and historic elements. and of conditions of life in the ruling class. Fundaservative newspapers pay much more atteption to it. historical. are over. that literary interests are looked after in special periodicals . He brought to first. was mainly historical and literary. and so on. that the audience is the light various significant things local strangest mixture of thoroughly heterogeneous elements people who have a liking for this particular theatre. visitors to Berlin who have seen the announcement of the play on the pillar-hoardings.LITERATURE AND PUBLIC development from the sufficient to realize " how " Biedermcyer period to 33 its end. the humanist Gymnasium or public school ". of the first-night audiences in Berlin before A well-known Berlin dramatic critic once gave a very subtle analysis of this audience not. To make the bound great change clear from a striking example. This did exist at a time when the uniformity of the course of education. and sport.

their conditions of existence and their economic situation similar. and thus their demands on art not worlds asunder. and especially on the formation of taste ? of necessity been. . where the general tempo of existence is much more leisurely. the level of education of the social leaders is still fairly uniform. the influence of the with layman on art is stfll taken for granted. What is the result of this social splitting up on the life of The result has art. But elements of another character also try to gain the ear of the public. the leadership of those who feel themselves to be experts. their experiences are broadly the same. in art as in other fields of human life.34 THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE much the same relation to the old conditions as to present conditions in a small town with no industries. their other ideals not entirely opposed. their political ideas not radically divergent.

in 1926. in this case the threads may be followed to the immediate circle of the artist's personal A number of persons in direct touch with him form friends. recog- So it seems to the laymen. Somewhere. and it is especially easy to see how the enthusiasm for a new work of art. But by virtue of floats before it its intrinsic nition. asking the reader to inform the firm what led him to ^acquire the book. largely right. certainly so even more than in other cases . Later. extensive statistical same result. This conception is. no fewer than 391 purchases were due to a friend's praise of the book Such isolated instances must serve so long as exact inquiries in this field are few and far between. They seem to show how of the still the influence is personal element in the formastrong In the case of a contemporary innovation that is tion of taste. Some years ago the German publishing firm of Diederichs enclosed a slip in every copy of one of its books. \ - B* 35 . We all know of such cases. true to an inner urge. an artist follows summons sent to him and. gives wings to the propaganda from person to person which first paves the way for a change in taste. with much the Against 160 cases in which a particular book had? been bought on the strength of a review. and it proved that an astonishingly large percentage had bought it on the strength of the personal recommendation of friends. the Leipziger Buchhandler-Borsenverein organized an inquiry on the same lines. In the layman's view the sociological process of the formation of taste is a sort of formation of aesthetic cliques. gains thereafter affects the general artistic taste.THE START OF NEW TRENDS OF TASTE The formation of aesthetic cliques. creates the work of art that is dictated by the ideal that the divine him. often accompanied and reinforced by a certain pride of discovery. and propaganda power it gains friends. of course. to himself and answering no call from the outer responsible only world. and accordingly it does not fit into the contemporary scheme of taste. shows divergences from existing art. at some time. The work is brought into the light of day.

social. The . He wants too much. of which the work extent the symbol. Browning discovered Shelley for himself. of course. classic The or political movement. things do not look quite so rosy. To : has pretty wgll vanished in recent times. begin with. There are two sides to every bargain. that he took the fish as his exemplar he swam with the stream The relation of the creative artist to current taste. and it who 'are attracted by their own independent then goes on to attract the great mass of the uncritical. played This does not mean. through the transmission of opinion from person to person. until an impressive community has been formed. he was so proud of it not without reason that he celebrated the event with fine similes in his poems. and on none but his own terms. that art is a commodity deliberIt has been shown ately produced to suit the public taste. And he is somewhat more likely to be the latter than the former. including the artistic. commanding attenIt has begun by tion and continually attracting new members. above how. That is a typical case. Churchyard. Arnold Bennett even imagined that he had exposed a conventional lie by openly and energetically contending that the writer had a right to make this idea concessions to public taste. with cynical frankness. conditions are no longer so primitive. a less usual happening . wrote in a dedication. a contemporary of Shakespeare. The importance a not of being comprehended. At times the fame of a literary work is carried far and wide on the waves of an ethical. unimportant part is a of 'of work art in the creation by the existing taste. bringing in those judgment. painter Benjamin Robert Haydon introduced Keats to the works of Wordsworth. is either a god or a conceited and impractical fool. He wrote : The truth is that an artist who demands appreciation from the public on his own terms. in this precise respect.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 36 It steadily widens the first narrow circle of his supporters. it is true. simple as that . But any may become close observation of art in past to some and present quickly reveals that the process of sociological taste-formation much like the automatic spread of waves when a stone is is not so thrown It is not so into the water as these examples might suggest. conditions have changed not a little in the past century. In practice. There are examples of this in the history of literature.

never these writers made lost sight concessions. This last method. within limits. because their sense of proportion. If he does that he whether a a has not the that make These will great artist. He mentions Shakespeare and Samuel Richardson as great . in some definite tradition which has helped to win favour for their work gain in this way a charter. is often used with success. of which the British public could not stomach the sort of treatment they receive on the Continent. The lack of the sense o proportion is the mark of the petit maltre. The sacrifice was . and their public remains faithful shown in the inquiry of the Leipziger Buchhandler-Borsenverein : one-third of the purchasers gave as their reason for buying the fact that they knew the author's other works. applied in a Artists who direction. for all his artists with show of independence.THE START OF NEW TRENDS OF TASTE 3^ fertile and the most powerful artists axe the readiest U recognize this. He might much better reason have adduced Byron. of course. who were guided by what the public likes. qualities simply man always involve a certain measure of independence that cannot be influenced. who. carefully calculated throw. and then to try to draw it along his own path. which is th< sense of order. most Arnold Bennett went on to quote as example the sexual problems. What happens is usually it correentirely uncalculated and more or less unconscious which of course human natural to the development. it does show how certain taboos may fetter artistic individuality. public. will respect the idiosyncrasies of the To do both simultaneously is quite possible. This was plainly to them. of his public. is strongly influenced by exemplars. is well developed. The example wai well chosen. Certainly But the essential question is sacrifices his individuality. different have begun for the pursuit of new paths. Arnold Bennett recommends the writer to catch the public eye by a happy. which they come to the full They have secured a public. though it is now largely out of date in Britain . The sagacious artist while respecting himself. It is only rarely. along development of their peculiar gift. sponds to the environment and measure in some itself usually adjusts artist as . The attempt to lead the public into fresh fields does not always succeed easily or without sacrifice. that all this is planned by the Arnold Bennett recommends.

of calculated consideration butlthe crystallization of an emotional Scperience. with the result that instead of making unconscious progress he goads himself into efforts that make him more and more dependent on the outer world. Artists are sensitive. in all creation there is a moment when the picture of the work of art is seen in the mental vision of the artist. and. the situation of a gifted artist who neither consciously nor unconsciously reveals kinship with the dominant taste is not a comfortable one. They had brought him fame. It may be objected that great talent always reveals itself even unfamiliar in forms. a current . Artistic creation is not the outcome history of literature or of art. many men the first condition of self-confidence is the confidence of others. It is also impossible to uphold the objection that creative art an inescapable necessity for the true artist himself. For tradition is strong and attracts those artists who more or less share it or can follow it. neglect and non-recognition may easily prevent high flights. like the No incense. and his best talents atrophy. is often dependent on external circumstances. Moreover.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 38 too much for a certain painter of marshland : he was endlessly painting meadows with high skies and admirable roan cattle with little anatomical faults. For the artist himself his problem is then is 1 Conversely the artist in his creative work may come under the influence of the formation of the current will be discussed later which carries him off his natural balance by destroying his confidence and making him so afraid of just repeating himself that he feels driven into continual advance. if only the public had not continued always to demand from him nothing but meadows with high skies and the admirable roan cattle with the little anatomical faults. But those who argue thus have learnt little from the failure.^ Such crystallization. or will soon be silenced. no gods. however. they live on incense. But of those who in their hearts want to go other ways. and that it is rarely unaccompanied by which refuses to be discouraged and silenced by strong will. 1 In any case. gives wings to the artist. Recognition gods. most will find no 1 opportunity of expressing themselves. Not every athlete runs the race. Thus the real tragedy of ill-success lies not in the fact that the creative artist fails to enjoy the effect of his For creation. Many such artists are fore- doomed to failure. but in the premature crippling of his hands. attacked them. and then he was for ever sighing for He would have a chance to attack other problems.

would. instance. if no incentive exists or comes. for suffer severely from lack of sympathy. And yet. If she had not found the single individual who entirely understood her. her independence seems again poetic and again to be incredible. ! written nothing down. Many artists. on what chances her creative work depended For years the source of her work seems as if it had dried up. my joys Silent all Where public ! come into question. Arnold Bennett points out how even those who affect to despise the crowd usually This was true. would have originality of talent. and yet. and there is a danger that at that moment the process ends. his whole production an is artist's existence are also only too likely to collapse. good of this is Droste. This incentive lies in the thought of the public.THE START OF NEW TRENDS OF TASTE 39 three-quarters solved. Goethe well says : What were O my All I without thee. of Shelley. . fresh life Think how the art even of a Goethe was roused into by the intercourse with someone whom he felt to be congenial. have been swept away by a single And he was a man of independent success with the public. traces means. as he pursued his solitary path . often laborious. however. in the opinion of many who were intimate with him. the gloom that has ! that The left its on many of his works. No one will deny her power and material circumstances do not A may example Seen in relation to the background of the of achievements her time. not satisfied to have just one follower. what would have become of her art ? She says in one place that without him she would " have spoken her verse in solitude " that is to say. If the external circumstances of against him. the often be represented by a single person. friend the public ? my impressions monologues. But here we have only a striking example of something that is to be found in one form or another in all poetic or artistic creation. are not so easily contented as Droste. how great lyric poet suffered under the lack of recognition deep oppression that burdened him. Certainly there was never a poet of indeso completely dominated by the urge of his mission pendent spirit as Shelley. to induce him to undertake the work. of detailed execution.

though coloured. That is pure mysticism. contains a kernel of truth. and it is imagined that it is a question. writes that he has hung up his poetry on a nail I wait till my master commust a servant of the being public. of a good or bad vintage. points out that in the seventeenth century " tion of the German intellect was such that it turned away from the fine arts to music. Finder. by bitterness. lence. for instance. recent writer on the history of art. Gray was not so far from " mute the truth in his Elegy when he philosophized about the " But resting in the country churchyard. A Formation of groups and schools. Thus. and " Wonderful interpretations of the speaks of Nature's throws ". there tunity for the emergence of talents.4O THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE Artistic creation is. the lack of great achievements in English drama in the nineteenth century is explained by Mary Suddard as due to a (mythical) " lack of cohesion in the creative " or a highly-reputed art critic of recent times. perhaps. for breath between the creation of outstanding spirits ". in the absence of interest and sympathy and understanding. inglorious Miltons mute poets do not lie only in the village churchyards. But external circumstances deny to artistic gifts in many cases the very beginnings of productive achievement. forcing its been shown. Meredith point " And in truth. of the of soul a development people play a part in other explanations. spirit " the constellaGrafe. so to speak." This. among other . What should be inquired into is the reason why there was a lack of opporFor where men are. imagines that he has discovered the principal key to the understanding of the history of " art in the idea of the homogeneity of the members of genera" " tions he even finds that Nature grants rhythmical pauses . In every field of art these things are usually entirely misunderstood. But the general appearance of similar characteristic features in individual works of art which we describe as a definite trend of taste is due. as has already something that erupts. not necessarily way out with elemental vio- Arnold Bennett quotes a significant passage on this from a letter o George Meredith's to a friend. : mands before I take seriously to singing. It is found that at a particular period or in a particular region there was a lack of talents. there is no achievement. arc talents. Meyer. In the absence of the conditions for artistic achievement.

and attracting the attention of those who take pleasure in creative work. of course.THE START OF NEW TRENDS OF TASTE 4! reasons. Thus we may follow at all times this formation of groups of It confirms so infinitely important to the creation of art. to come into existence. will accept criticism which from the most sympathetic him he layman apt to leave a sting. Solitude has been described as the artist's Muse." It is not a question here of conscious processes. whereas in the contemporary Germany men of talent lived in isolation. Where these material field only diamond can cut diamond. sort is is . a school. that. But even the most comprehending environment is not so From stimulating for the artist as his fellow-worker. especially to some particular work having success. perhaps. . In that way it is particularly easy for a common foundation. and one could climb on the shoulders of another . more strongly process influenced by the fact of outward success. Nothing succeeds like success. as in the cases which Arnold Bennett has in mind. Influence may be impersonal. Only the recognition of those who are themselves gifted really counts in his opinion. the truth of the generalization that in the spiritual as in the artists. Thus the growth of the Elizabethan drama was especially favoured by the fact that all talents congregated in London and only there. What happens is that it is in the nature of things This tendency is assisted by the fact that for art to inspire art. The then similar. artistic creation is made more difficult. It is true. especially in more modern times. and the observation of others' achievement stimulates him to emulation. Only in seeing another's full growth does he himself grow to full is proportions. personal intercourse of this not necessary. but at times it is. but with only limited justification. no class of men is so drawn as the artist type to associate with kindred souls. with no mutual influencing to awake their best powers. It calls into play the subconscious imitation that is one of the most powerful forces in this as in all other fields of social " life. groups cannot be formed.

or the German of the following century without a Gotta ? Such publishing firms gradually become a sort of authority. Such guards These persons by the consideration a good proportion of the force of destiny in their personal decisions. But while it is thus how certain influences are active at the very birth of a clear work. To the reader of our histories of literature it might well seem as if the works with which they deal automatically gained the eye and the ear of the public. in a particular direction. but publishers with anonymous pronounced views of their own still 42 exert real influence over the .VI MEANS OF SELECTION The importance of the selecting authorities. Once Gotta had succeeded in " " classic writers in assembling a number of the most eminent his publications it became for decades a sort of title to immorcentury. Its fate still depends on many external factors. nevertheless. in the eighteenth Who could conceive the English literature of that century without a Dodsley. are the theatrical directors and the publishers. the cases in which a much man as the heir ascends the throne. and the personal taste of their head. for of late the production of a literary work has been little more than coming to birth. But has awakened one morning to find himself famous are few and far between. Many modern firms are purely tality to commercial concerns. but there is. be published by him. pushing it. so to speak. such as it may be. Historically regarded. takes shelter behind the critical verdict of his " reader/' male or female. the publisher begins to play a part at the stage at which the patron disappears. as if they took the place in public opinion that was due to them as a matter of course. and poets who were striving towards the peaks were never content unless they had the classic griffins of that firm on their title-page. this is so in an altogether different degree with the selective forces to which it is exposed after birth . The mere admission for the first time past the guards at the entrance to the temple of literary fame is dependent on definite conditions. are largely influenced in their judgment of the public.

thereby assured. it enough to mention the example of Brahm to make plain how greatly an individual may help to determine the general trend of is taste how and by his choice. . What would have happened if they had One of the earliest examples of accepted refusal and given up Tradition said in this sort is Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour. their less admirable side. of course. It is also particularly instructive to observe often the fate of an original work. still greater influence . has depended on the taste of a particular publisher or theatre lessee. Thus the smaller towns lose. For such authorities as these have. of course. This tendency is reinforced by the dangerous dependence on theatrical publishers. into the confidence of the public. which in taking new works from them feels a certain guarantee of their literary merit. too how instructive is insignificant played by the playwright theatre manager is The result is a natural this subject would be make experiments and a tendency of the theatres smaller towns to make no effort at discoveries of their a monograph on ! reluctance to in the own and to rely on works that appear to have succeeded at one of the few great theatres. much too busy to be able to cope with the And as a rule the part flood of manuscripts submitted to him. ! the eighteenth century that it had been actually rejected when the manuscript came into Shakespeare's hands. they offer no adequate guarantee that a work As a rule the will ever reach the stage of actual consideration. Theatre managers have. of course. and that Shakespeare accepted it for performance in his own theatre. Even apart from the arbitrariness and chanciness of their method.MEANS OF SELECTION 43 Past successes have brought these latter firms taste of the day. so that it is sure to arouse favourable expectation.. The success of these works is not. as a rule. but the appearance of a work in the lists of one of these publishers at least carries the suggestion that an aesthetic authority has pronounced in its favour. Authors who subsequently became famous have knocked in vain on door after door. Its influence as great as that of almost any work of the period. all influence in this field. The number of such stories from later centuries is legion. They alLshow how was much has depended on the persistence of the author and what an important part external circumstances have played in his life. which has found imitators created a school.

this form died out. The reason for this was that the great lending libraries declared that they would no longer accept it. Suddenly. This method has its imperfections. in which consumer and producer have long been separated by many intermediate elements which exercise extraordinary influence on both sides. There is an English example of this that. one fact has been observable the fortunate situation of since at least the eighteenth century touch with is in who writers who are well anyone personal known and have publishers. in 1897 only four. at the beginning of the 'nineties.' In many respects. there is a parallel here with the development in commercial life. mainly because it was produced in a single volume. be expected if within the sociological apparatus one single element is in process of changing its form. In that year 184 three-volume novels were published . . Thus tfoeir Their recommendation away almost a rule that the beginner's work does not pass direct from him to the appropriate authority. The layman's conception of the course which the work of art follows. was at first rejected everywhere. the method of scientific achievement seems almost ideal. In comparison with it. of its own accord. The change may have been long in preparation owing to intellectual causes. Nothing but a complete change of the system can produce any change at reform. to anyone who regards creative intellectual work as dependent on more or less entirely must seem almost insultingly The three-volume novel of Thackeray's and Dickens's profane. indeed. Prizes with the aid of which in the output. The recognition of the defects of the method has led to many attempts have been instituted and committees formed it has been hoped to discover hitherto unrevealed treasure as a rule with next to no success. No success can. though certainly not in all. The Professor. was so the universally accepted form that Charlotte Bronte's day first novel. This happened in 1894. to smooth public and a 'certain prestige with the may carry sufficient weight the main difficulties for the newcomer. Use of means of propaganda. also takes no account of the fact that the course has long been determined by all sorts of material considerations. but takes the indirect and often difficult course past the desk of an artist of it is repute. so to speak.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 44 As regards getting published.

The birth of the publishing trade. but this is an overestimate of the idealism of past generations. The close professional relationship between author and an actual personal union. facilitates the by roundabout methods. One of the first of the famous men of modern literature to recognize the necessity of advertisement in this world that is so slow of perception was the great Cervantes. but this was but a rather innocent example of the mutual admiration societies of which there have been many more striking instances journalist. chapters in a history of literary taste. in the 'forties. but the quick death of the old form was Here is an instance. But those who look around them with their eyes open will not fail to perceive that the spread of taste in regard to works of art may be determined not only by the conflict of ideas but by a competition of very concrete elements of power. due of the influencing of creative work. and of the trade in works of art. that the first part of Don Qyixote would not meet with the recognition it deserved. The history of the development of publishing methods would be one of the most interesting. and he sent a strong letter to his friend Schiicking in which he declared that apparently a joint stock company had been formed . introduced a struggle for the public. Levin Schtlcking published an article on Franz Dingelstedt. At one time. Another active collaborator with his publisher was the author of Tristram he actually dictated to his Shandy and the Sentimental Journey mistress letters in which she drew the attention of her acquaintances in London to the amazing new book by the hitherto : unknown clergyman Laurence Sterne. Fearing. book a veritable avalanche of criticisms and polemics. perhaps not without reason. In such matters both great and lesser artists have everywhere and at all times been none too scrupulous. This aroused the wrath of the meticulously honest Freiligrath. he had a small pamphlet published which affected to criticize the book and hinted that it contained all sorts of dangerous satires of highly-placed perThis well-thrown snowball brought down upon the sonages. at times process of influencing . therefore. and shortly afterwards Dingelstedt published one on Schiicking.MEANS OF SELECTION 45 various circumstances. Advertising in matters of art is generally regarded as a modern acquisition. . entirely to material causes. though not the most edifying.It is nothing new for an author to do his best to pave the \yay for his works.

Memoirs. when his long-withheld poems. were at last published Rossetti's circle had taken care to get into their hands the reviewing of the poems for the principal newspapers. effectual. for instance. as a rule. tion of the way drummed into applause. to members of the audience fled in terror. very naturally called forth by the circumstances of pro- thefti : duction. 367-8. some of rescued from his wife's grave. were adroitly distributed among the audience. The art of working upon the patent. most of them Scots. was entirely ordinary feature. and the leader of this laugh was so stentorian that he could overbear alone the shouts of a full house. In the English theatre of the eighteenth century the claque. which was the first of the attacks that destroyed for ever the mental balance of the sensitive Rossetti. a sitting in man whose . and at the first performance of She Stoops " " Conquer (March 15. the father of the Pre- Raphaelite Movement. Dr. Johnson was an admirer of sayings of the utmost gravity. seldom have they had every page such tragic results. Yet. Johnson so Richard Cumberland was one of the boxes. Even the foremost writers of that day clearly saw nothing reprehensible in such The claque was elaborately organized for the sucactivities. Vol. ization of the public A to body of sturdy fellows. the friends of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Many new and more but their effectiveness * . I. This seems to have been the thing that most contributed to rousing George Buchanan to launch against Rossetti the wild and bitter assault of his Fleshly School pampKlet. pp. Of almost venerable antiquity are the efforts in theatrical life.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 46 A familiar one is the work done by in the history of literature. 1773) the organwas so perfect that success was assured. . and Fielding gives a vivid descrip- an if the public refused to be an uproar amid which timid lady the system could lead. to encourage the public to overcome its shyness in expressing sympathy with the play put before it. The propaganda of later times was less barefaced but not less relates 1 claque. was instructed to keep his eye on Dr. chosen by the size of their hands and of their voices. is refined devices were discovered. Johnson at the doctor's nod he was to give out his irresistible horse-laugh. Friendly services of that sort are recorded on of the history of literature . Dr. cessful production of Voltaire's Orestes (1750).

But all sorts of dubious There practices and dodges make their appearance at times. indeed. There is something in this. and especially newspapers within the sphere of their mostly very material interests and And it is no longer unusual for an cleverly make use of them. It is not always easy to ascertain after the event how far certain stages on the path to Parnassus have been paid for. are art dealers who openly boast of having made a particular famous. There is. attempted Many is significant. and there are publishers with a similar ambition. a mistake to do without it. to draw writers. writers try to find publishers for their books . disturbing insinuations to a novel that had just appeared. of course. influential newspaper to open its columns only to praise of a artist who scheme writer who enjoys its favour. of course. be made to serve such ends. at reaching as many ears as possible . as it is. they i but a For publicity cannot make a Goethe out of a nobody it can nevertheless do a great fact the public rarely realizes deal to smooth the way for particular trends in taste. and to suppress everything that is said against him. and publicity by The public and is to hold that no means always brings success. who will " do something " know what they are about. after all.MEANS OF SELECTION 47 mind has been made the subject of careful study. g . nothing to object to in advertisement that public results aims. and that publicity does not make bad work good. inclined to regard these things as trivial human it is the muse and not the publisher that failings makes the poet. and so blocking the path for others. The circumstance that Wedekind had for in been years occupied publicity work. great firm. in his element important contributory Many and varied expedients can. before he turned to literature." A small fortune was sunk in with the reaching many thousands of cultured people one morning with an anonymous letter directing their attention by means of But. critics. it is entitled to. apart from the worthlessness of the novel. A few years before 1914 an experiment on an almost Napoleonic scale was made in Germany " Ganter Letters. and. and the have proved their value in all sorts of ways. ing their importance in the eyes of the uncritical. heighten. as representative of a was undoubtedly an success. the campaign was But the mere fact that it was fatuous and a complete failure. of course.

The inquiry made by the Leipziger Buchhandler-Borsenverein revealed 391 cases in which a book had been bought on the recommendation of a friend. were men who had themselves engaged The judgment. There are many cases. Addison. perhaps. but the literary or sociological observer who holds unreservedly to it is lacking in the critical faculty. it is true. Facile phrases about the good making its way in the end may comfort many an unrecognized man of talent. with false coin. has not usually fully balanced. Samuel Rogers. creative artist. He is usually regarded as the main driving force in the history of In the course of the history of literary criticism. critics with discrimination have not seldom exercised a certain influence over development . 1 a however of famous. . but of very doubtful logical validity in spite of all the touching Such faith will help the instances recorded in lesson-books. in which a consensus of praise of a novel or poem was of no decisive effect if it had not the support of the other forces already mentioned. They recall the saying that where the need is greatest God's help is nearest a useful source. able factors working in the same direction. on the other hand. regularly write for a particular newspaper or periodical and wl\o 1 For instance. but they fall wide of the truth. popular and. fessor Saintsbury first pointed out.48 THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE Sometimes there are irreproachso to speak. these conditions were not without importance in determining his literary standing during his life. and only 160 purchases due entirely The most influential critics are still those who to a review. as Protaste. To the belief that the good wins through. or Leasing. the author of the Pleasures of Memory (1792). indeed. feared for his sharp tongue . But this is poor consolation for those whom he threw into the shade while he lived. His works have not earned lasting fame. been of great moment. Diderot. however carein some sort of creative activity. In this field of public life things happen much in the same way as in other fields. most of these. single critic. of encouragement in desperate situations. travellers to Parnassus is in the hands of the literary critic. was a rich man with great influence in social and literary life. The control of visas for the Importance of literary criticism. the critic can only offer the sceptical reply that that which wins through will thereafter be regarded as good.

Thus in this relationship. These cases are particularly interesting. whose members are more or less in agreement with one another hot only in their but in their political. The reader ascertains the critic's taste and tendency. Turmer ". that is to say. too. The publishers of such periodicals have a good deal of influence over the development of taste. there have past. Work on the history of such groups of readers or communities. might lead to important conclusions concerning the history of taste. and religious views. as under more primitive circumstances. In these cases. The causes underlying these changes are discernible also in The history of past centhe changed standpoint of the critic. the Kunstwart ". This guidance becomes fine art periodicals which so that the critic is to still more important in the case of offer not only criticism but examples. for instance. and who were accordingly entirely without . and thereafter trusts more or less to his guidance. and so on. been important changes. In this way light would simultaneously be thrown on the peculiar tacit constitutional relationship between publisher and public. This connexion was a good deal closer in the but the general development indicated above had considerably relaxed it. some extent publisher as well. turies shows us many generations of critics whose criteria were no more than rules which they had drawn from classic art or the art of the past. Gartenlaube ". Sometimes in these cases the result is the formation of regular communities. which to some extent binds the former to the will of the latter. because they show how easily aesthetic judgments are shared by particular social groups.MEANS OF SELECTION 49 have succeeded in gaining the confidence and respect of their In this regard the organs which have a special associareaders. concerning the establishment of the contemporary existence of various strata of taste and their influence on each other conclusions by means of which the ultimate differences in culture in general would finally be grasped. It would be worth while to throw closer and more pene- taste trating light on the interesting sociological conditions existing in these cases. as gathered in Germany in the " " Rundschau ". a personal relationship is then set up between critic and reader. social. " Hoch- Jand ". and later the past round the " " " the Neue Rundschau ". tion with their subscribers have an advantage.

however. he claimed that status. whose right to exist he never tired of contesting in private talk by means of every paradox'of which an artist's thinking is capable. for . theatrical criticism in the small towns has not been a profession but has been in the hands of writers or educated laymen. particularly. however. Much excellent work has been done in this way.so to speak. A. when the rising artist regarded the critic as his sworn enemy. Not until the death of Brahm was the point made in Berlin obituaries. E. In the period of classicism literature has the appearance of a garden in which countless gardeners are busy trimming the seedlings of art. he's a critic has long lost its popuThe critic takes much more trouble than in the past to larity. at all events. to say to the world The nineteenth century in Germany. almost by way of praise. T. Their successors are. to enter into his ideas. The battle-cry Kill him. placing themselves now unconditionally in the service of the artist. experienced a complete change in these things in its last decades. do justice to the artist's individuality. assess the as a art life. There was no more of the state of things that had been almost universal. the sterile brains that made life bitter for many an artist who had something of importance artists of the calibre of a Keats or a Hebbel. and one that has existed in similar form in the past. The critic felt himself to be at most primus inter pares in the auditorium. He was the representative of the educated public. is not yet of very long standing in Germany. that he was the father of a generation of critics who were not afraid to write That has had no little influence over against the public.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 50 comprehension of anything that was new. the theatrical critics of the great cities. Hoffmann. so far as literature is concerned. This the past. some critics. paralleled in past centuries in periods during which art thrust a barrier between itself and public taste. to ! value of his aims. He no longer pronounces verdicts judge according to the rigid formulas of an obsolete code. and often to this day. smoothing away difficulties in the way of comprehension where necessary.. Almost unnoticed. the mouthpiece of its claims . have completely changed their attitude. This development. is a group-formation of the most important sort. but serves as an expert interpreter. but an astonIn Germany in ishing one in face of all that hats gone before.

There are dramatic critics in the great cities in Germany who openly and above the dramatist. the position is not very different in the other arts. why should not highly cultured laymen be credited with judgment in questions of art ? Still. Yet. play sions that speak volumes. as The .MEANS OF SELECTION 5! instance. it were. gave this reply to an invitation to act as music critic for a Bamberg review t " In so far as I express a personal opinion in that article. The reception There are theatres in which this situation has. He floats high above the rommon crowd of the laity. applause and done away with. some years before 1914. In 1929 the University of Erlangen decided on the erection of a war memorial of its own The Miinchener Neueste Naehrichten. become law. aesthetic of pronouncement is regarded as withdrawn right from the public and placed in the hands of the all-powerful theatre thus deals. that the true connoisseurs culated newspaper in Bavaria. and so shall myself be only the organ of public opinion. Sometimes one has the impression that God is there only for the priest . Such a view in principle set themselves as the famous one of Laube sit in the gallery to-day seems entirely In dramatic criticism expressions have been incomprehensible. " as such the succeeded with the public." That part is no longer played by the critic. In the life of art a process has taken place resembling that which took place in religion when the priest thrust himself between God and the believers. in any case. Here the expert's sense of omniscience has no bounds at all. in a letter from Bamberg only recently published." exprescoined. The expressions of disapproval being alike criticisms in Berlin since accorded to a play scarcely matters. the most widely circhoice. I shall hold loyally and conscientiously to the judgment of : the public. The public is more or less declared incapable of managing its affairs. Nothing shows this more clearly than the fact that many newspapers have almost ceased to report the attitude of "the public " This has been noticeable in the leading at first performances. so to speak. This type of judgment is to be found even more crudely expressed in the realm of the fine arts. with Messieurs the Critics direct. denounced on July 29 this decision " of a body without authority in questions of art ".

but it would be a serious distortion of the facts of the past to say that all really It would great artists have at first met with incomprehension. for instance. pronouncing guilty " and natural sense common sound to according feeling. Even Grillparzer. the theory of the incomprehension of the crowd is carried to the length of that " They are clapping paradox of which Nietzsche was so fond** Iii other words. held that the public. the popularity of Shakespeare in his own day. Was this not the experience of Wagner in music. had a complete defeat of the public. an entirely novel development in easily at first . to fail to please is no proof of importance. that the public is simply not in a position to comprehend the true artist when he appears. with an extraordinary exaggeration. It had been completely forgotten how differently things had been regarded but a few generations earlier. a t^ple root the change in the position of art and aHist in life discussed in Chapter III . it is art : art degenerated always certainly true that taste does not make its way through the artists (Strich). Similarly the jrpung Schiller had contended that it was not the public that pulled down Now. and the idolization of Byron from the very outset. The fault was bound to lie with the play. the divisions and resulting impotence of the public. of Hebbel in These examples were for literature.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 52 critic. if not a judge learned in the " " " or not law. This development has. was at all events a jury. and finally the historic reasons that go back to the literary The hard struggle that naturalism to carry on against the backwardness of a public that had been far from being backward only in the field of art ended with revolution of naturalism. Yet. A play that failed with the public could not be a good play. was bound But any belated recognition to furnish fresh food for the dogma that to-day appears to be beyond aU'questioning. On the other hand. It is possible to be understood from the first and yet to be a great artist. also sketched above. guilty For the dramatist the public was therefore the best authority. of Bocklin in painting? many years in the mouths of everybody the moment the question of the relationship between art and public cropped up. the what nonsense have I been talking ? : . The critic becomes a sort of aesthetic inspecting authority in relation to the public. be overlooking the furore created by Goethe's Werther.

certainly mistaken. using the term in its widest sense. whom current historians of literature continue to take so seriously ^s an outstanding contemporary ! " " Their number is infinitesimal in comparison with the literary What it all comes to is a ceaseless hunt reputation of his works. The orientation and public in so far as it has not lost all aesthetic by Hans Andersen out to enjoy a work fallen into the state described in the story of the king's new clothes is of art. But the public can retort that t^e It may also critic is always chasing the day after to-morrow. in fact. but the art critic. who find such brothel dramas. This. did Wedekind. How many chances of the bfrth of a tempt as a dramatic art of permanent value to the German nation were thus thrown away And. for instance. a new art-will ". is where the public and the art critics part company. into existence here come not does Be asked whether a specialism touch with loses that. for instance. The play thus succeeded of the capital cities. spiritual represented. Consider. regarded as of the very essence of dramatic form.MEANS OF SELECTION main 53 criterion for art seems to be its entire departure from earlier For a long time the impression. how contemptuously the metropolitan critics used to write of Brieux's Red Robe. existed that a work found favour with the critics only if it ran full tilt against those postulates which earlier generations had taste. on how few of those on whose work and will the social progress of their people ! really depended. is out " His to discover. complaint of the public is that it is too ready to rest sleepily content with old forms. virtues in so " many critics thriller ". in its unceasing introspection. have any intellectual who influence Wedekind. as a Berlin critic once put it. with its magnificent qualities as pure drama. . treated it with lofty con- it struggles But the everywhere. in the course of which the spiritual values which the layman demands from art are lost sight of altogether. on the other hand. Millions of Germans were in a position to enter with the deepest sympathy into the Glaube und Heimat. conflicts. inevitably sound common sense. the dramatist at about the same time was being praised to the skies by " the high priests of pure literature ". in packs for new means of expression in art. Or the attitude of the critics to Schonherr's This was a play with really agonizing inner a drama of deep human content.

On the other hand. who is entitled and expected to plead particular taste. has been taken up also in the history of literature. But in the magistrate. p. for instance. no one is more inclined than Now. pereat mundus " may be " translated in the field of art by Uart pour Vart" * the arts. is not dealt with.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 54 will deny that the authorities here under discussion a high degree of expertise. merely in having adopted the syntax of a suckling and converted " their expression into a babble. a historian of literature should have the qualities of a good critic. and this can only be attained if he strives to apply to modern times the theory of selection that is followed for the past that is to say. Now. it proceeds as a matter of course from the sociological effect. and from which the effect achieved is entirely ignored. Oskar Walzel's Deutsche Dichtung sett Goethes Tod will fail to find in it many writers who were among the favourites of the most highly-cultured of our parents and grandparents. The first thing demanded of the historian of literature is objectivity. and from modern times he will miss writers who have produced real gems. 482. possess there have been periods in the history of literature in which the production of artistid achievements has been made possible by the sounding-board of a small and relatively limited circle of connoisseurs. There is scarcely one of them who has not at times to fight in the press against furious opposition from those who find either themselves or their favourites ignored and thrust into eternal oblivion.) a have the most who carried their method instructive. as it were. and to concentrate as far as possible on those who have acquired a reputation in quarters capable of judgment and on the reason for this success. too. because their means of expres" sion are not considered new " enough. that is to say. The world has long realized that the parallel to this in law. of the Dadaists. Consequently there has arisen a mistrust that accounts for the institution of the lay Most jurists "have no love for him. Often." (Cf. from which the only thing conof expression that have been attempted. judgment of questions of art a professional connoisseurship has come into existence that has departed still further from sound common sense. is outside life. This naturally offers certain difficulties in the modern period. (The case. in publicity as in everything else. who were esteemed and read by the best heads . but his task is not for his own identical with that of the critic. to proceed sociologically in the modern field also. as in that of the " explosionists ". sociologically merely group to extremes. however. professional jurist easily falls into a formalistic ossification in the conception of legal circumstances. Anyone who consults. He knows how often in the course of centuries the representatives 1 of an established taste have condemned as mere noveltyhow this standpoint. fine Influences from Nobody the historian to caution in questions of the development of taste.) It is interesting to see is the artistic forms sidered new . as shown above. The literary history of past times concerns itself with those artists who played a part in literature in the days of our forefathers. The law's "fiat justitia. But never in such cases has art been regarded There is a sort of as something that. so that the task of the historians of literature who carry their work down to the present day is not altogether easy. he will find an " " treated with meticulous conscientiousness and admirunending series of poets able expertise though their achievement consists in some cases.

of course. the drawings whose primitiveness the form-language of childhood and of primitive races. a phenomenon that extends far beyond the literary sphere. the romanticists. This is but one example of many similar phenomena showing the changing influence of the arts on one another in the course of In the eighteenth century the older landscape paintcenturies. a matter of fundamental importance to the question of the formation of taste. no one knows better than the historian that there have in fact been periods that have wallowed in unnaturalness and artificiality. the methodical exaggeration. for a time a controlling influence over natureexercised ing Many sceneries have been pictured not from nature writing. but from Salvator Rosa. thus declaring themselves conquered by the method of observation of Claude Lorrain. Later. Men approached Nature herself with " Claude glasses ". literature visibly gained the advantage. have a as a means of expression of counterpart in shriek-like" babbling " absolute painting is reflected in such feeling. We have spoken already of the way the relationship between literature and the fine arts has gradually been so completely inverted that speech itself " bears the traces of the change. Often. so closely related to caricature. to the relation of Moritz von Schwind to Morike. or recall the work of the Pre-Raphaelites. The turning away of expressionist painters from truth deliberate to nature. In more recent times we see just the opposite. This is. in the romantic period. it has actually drawn its inspiration from the neighbouring sphere of the fine arts. and the so-called in which the "creation experiments as the play by Kokoschka. which so largely present painted poems. the action of which no longer claim to psychological truth in the old sense. and that it must accordingly be useful to discover the sociological reasons for this. have produced parallels in certain dramas.MEANS OF SELECTION 55 mongering and an ephemeral fashion the first appearance of a change that subsequently won general recognition. On the other hand. . of particular features with the purpose of expressing what seems to the artist to be the essential idea of the object. in the word artist ". and now we have to do with a thorough-going impregnation of the fine arts with We need only point to the paintings of the spirit of literature. and makes any the characters of which reveal deliberate simplifications and is a return to heightenings .

unconscious or deliberately unseen. while most of the critics welcomed the performance with esoteric understanding.56 THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE " of the illusion of reality is so largely abandoned that the work the formation of new organs for its understanding. and has had its triumphs in the Stil" It would be showing lack of apprebtikne. : A production of a Shakespeare play in Upper Bavarian costumes is suggestive of the more or less jvitty self-parodies one used to witness in intimate artists' gatherings at which the conscientious service of the public was replaced by a more light-hearted attiBut naturally nobody dreamed of parodying in earnest. Tartuffe was played in Berlin by cigarette-smokers Much Ado about Nothing in Munich with Hero in soft collars and Beatrice in the peasant costume of the mountain country of Upper Bavaria but with a red and green peruque and we imagined that we had seen this doctrine carried to its culminaSomewhere else The Merchant of Venice was given with tion.* Here expressionism has found a footing in the art of production. . . unless external circumstances compel a repetition of the old ones. ciation to pass over the wonderful work done in Germany in the The mass of art of the stage between about 1910 and 1930. which the audience was required to take as the churchyard. tude. requires ""* The power /of the fine arts shows itself most plainly in their relation to the sta&e. " ideal local the natural Venetian background replaced by an " " in which the of fundamentals the Venetian art style colour. and across which the characters moved in unlovely caricatures of clothing in monotonwe were told that this represented not reality ous bright colour but the picture of reality formed in Hamlet's distraught mind (H. ideas here developed. the law was observed that when the given problems are solved others are attacked. a large section of the public shook were discreetly suggested their heads. if they are not deterred by consideration of the public. not to say with veneration. the stylized stage ". Those who think they have come to the end of all technical possibilities in the setting of the Venetian scene. continually compel the observer's admiration. on a red floor. will hit upon the idea. But what is the price of this ? Years ago Hamlet was played Vienna between black walls. In this field as in others." in . the spirited application of new technical expedients. Richter). Continual experimenting with new means of expression leads in the end to caricature.

or a moral pervert may work as tiful. to the very respect for artistic The development individuality which he demands for himself. And performances of ! this sort are usually given before However. only one of necessity in his own mind. Ceraffords an opportunity of solving artistic problems. an imbecile. the artist serving him makes a forcible entry into his master's realm. this method is applied to plays in which the author had in view a definite local colour or a particular style of costume. the conditions has been fulfilled for the production of the beauA botcher. and in the conception of art has long returned to the standpoint of the time when. it has taken. in this trend. Yet the very persons who in their histories of literature charge Pope with translating Homer into rococo. The thing he should have said is : : should only create that which corresponds to an inner But when that is done. out of lack of respect for the individuality of the creative artist. emotionally shaken 1 The and the shape . But what a super-refinement It assumes a public of producers. Hamlet's mother in an Eton crop smoking a cigarette. If." well the confusion of ideas. or at least a public uniting familiarity with the scenery of Venice with some knowledge of Venetian art. as not seldom happens. for instance. considerations of the public (for which the old problems can in no wise be regarded as put out of date) no longer count. has thus in a certain sense turned full circle. in regard to the person for whom he is working. and the an artist result will not be beautiful. which working people ! has long since led to a complete dissolution of all tradition. his works were botched to fit the prevailing fashion in taste. The fundamental attitude of this trend in art toward the public has been best summarized by one of its advocates (Kan" That is beautiful which corresponds dinsky) in the phrase This pronouncement shows particularly to an inner necessity. see no serious inconsistency in such violation of their classics as. is clearly shown in the reason given in the award of the Klcist Prize for 1921 by an art judge who in other directions has done good work " the prize-winning work was that of an entirely naive artist. 1 extent to which this point of view has won through in modern art criticism.MEANS OF SELECTION 57 in order at all events to ing a sort tainly this do something independent. or who laugh at a Lady Macbeth in eighteenth-century costume. hard as he Will under compulsion from within him. and does violence. of composof scenic symphony on the subject of Venice.

is bound continually to produce figures according to the Is artistic work. At that time Edward Young. were stuck on Most of the public regarded paintings to heighten the effect. tion are the result of a relentless introversion which alienates the artist from the Real. and the like. however. kings live on." one is ready to disspeaking about the the antagonistic social forces which have been at work entangle Phenomena such as the Berlin Exhibiin the last generation. The creative artist demands recognition of his taste under all A circumstances." a sort of bodily function ? . out of life. " " rules taught in his Conjectures on Original Composition that the that until then had been held sacred were no more than " " for the lame. bits not merely academic which used tram- art exhibitions in of the soles of shoes. without asking whither or whence. spoken to he must silently Thus the proud claims of go away. The assumptions contained in the word " genius " have fallen away. and that genius bore its rules within crutches The whole history of the following period is in a certain itself. It is well.development of that idea. The fact that such pronouncements were was shown by the Berlin tickets. following the American device. to realize that the correct explanation of what happened can only be found if here again. then. this as contempt of the public. and wait till he is spoken to. that who The complete dictatorship of taste prescribes we shall accept the expression of the instincts of anyone sets out to be an artist. and of the fact that he lives at the in a society of countless competitors where one can same time become a " success only if. advanced by the artists. In the sense a single process of . instead of " spirit of the age. in any form he deigns to choose. present-day conception of art it has found its reductio ad absurdum. rhythm of a poet who his blood.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 58 Regarded from the point of view of the we arrive with this doctrine at the extreme history of thought. end of the line of development that began with the revolt against the classic in the middle of the eighteenth century. one gets talked about ". who attained such extraordinary fame with his Night Thoughts. advocates of this view have carried it to the paradoxical claim that the layman must listen in silence in the presence of If he is not the majesty of art.

it must at least be assumed that it has root. and the simple fact of existence establishes no claims in this respect. too unspiritual.VII PUBLIC RECOGNITION The grounds for public recognition : The propaganda value of the It will be contended against the conception here put for- new. these are far from playing a decisive part." For nobody wants to be decried as behind the times. has is : c 59 . sometimes make excellent progress simply by the appeal to a mystical " " which they are only association with the spirit of the age themselves helping to create. taste had no other support. as simply to identify any particular sociological group with the " soul people as a whole and to regard its feeling as that of the in of the people. that general attitude. who new and found his counterpart in doing a service when he accepts as a matter of principle every new claim to recognition. it is impossible real intrinsic values. it corresponds to a new and changed a newspaper reporter said. that. ward that it is. Its advocates. gressiveness. It does not differ greatly from the shopkeeper's magic formula "This is the latest thing. " it forces its way unconsciously from the depth of the soul of the people. at bottom. thinkan attitude in its rights ing he is thus helping youth to secure date of which the fear of seeming out disguises itself as prosee how such an attito It is difficult. The true " values the old because it is old and refuses conservative ". it would scarcely 'succeed in striking If this happens. there do exist all sorts of external in- If the new fluences. did not Shakespeare culture historic tude is compatible with the into fall at the end of his activity background in face of to consider the the person who thinks he better. however. however." There is also no inheritance art. It will be said that while. as has been made clear by what has already been here said." In reply to this it must first be pointed out that. in the establishment of a new taste. The fact that a small group adopts a new ideal in art in no way obliges others to follow suit. and that developments are being judged from outward appearances rather than from their intrinsic nature.

THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE

6O

newer trends which nobody in the world has since valued ; did
not Rembrandt end by becoming out of date ? Was it fine in
these cases to side with the

new

against the older generation?

must not be overlooked that in the trend toward the
new there is an element of youth, for the fact that pretty well
all things change is a law that becomes clear to everybody ;
and inability to keep pace with change is a sign of old age.
Yet

it

"

move with the times ". The productive
Everybody likes to
hates
to stay for long in mere negation.
in
man,
particular,
But if we describe a change as one corresponding to the spirit
of the age, in other words as virtually in accordance with law,

we stamp those who cannot follow it as grown old.
But why is each change in accordance with law ? The proof
of it must first be produced. For the time being we see on
occasion a thousand forces, which after all ate chance forces,
at work to produce it.
Many of them work by methods that

have been taken over from commercial life. But it is not a law
of commercial life that the best establishes itself. We all know
cases in which excellent trade products are left high and dry
by others that have been launched by successful business methods
The taste for the new goods has simply been
as more modern.
forced on the public, and the older ones must either disappear,
accept a secondary place, or copy the business method. Conditions in art life are not as different from this as might seem
at a first glance.
Here, too, much more can be attained by
external means than the reader or listener or spectator dreams.
How cleverly things are arranged and introduced which, at
a later date, innocent historians of art and literature gravely
"
"
the inevitability of spiritual dynamics
and after
describe as
profound inquiry into their philosophical foundations explain
"
as the outcome of the
spirit of the age," when in reality they
are the outcome, perhaps, only of the mentality of a particular
group that is by no means always obviously identifiable with
the people as a whole.
Another consideration is that external means need only
accomplish a certain preliminary work, and have, so to speak,
only to carry out the launching ; once out in the stream of
public life, the work proves that it can float if only it has the
one indispensable quality of originality. For the simple fact that
it has a group of supporters attracts widespread support at cer-

PUBLIC RECOGNITION

61

tain times from some spirits. The thing that
grips them is less
the work in itself than the circumstance that here is
something
new, which has proved to the taste of other people. Indepen-

dent judgment presupposes a sense of quality, a relatively rare
;
consequently people accept the new as the thing

possession
that is.

Moreover, we are all more open to influence than we may
ourselves be ready to admit.
Nobody can resist indefinitely the
effect of the thing that is
constantly seen or heard. The pacifist
Swift makes Gulliver, in the land of the Houyhnhnms, tell of
the wars customary in Europe, " when my Master commanded
me Silence
My discourse
gave him a Disturbance
in his Mind ...
He thought his Ears being used to such
abominable Words, might by Degrees admit them with less
Detestation." l That has reference to moral feelings, but the
same is true of aesthetic ones. The aesthetic sense is remark.

.

.

.

.

.

ably open to influence. Max Liebermann is said to have ex"
claimed
Take the picture away, or I shall begin to like it,"
and the witticism is not without a deeper meaning. A language
of form that at first may seem ugly or affected or unnatural
:

loses its repulsiveness in the long run.

Friedrich Gundolf was

not quite mistaken when he replied to the charge that his translation of Shakespeare was unreadable and impossible to speak,
"
For a youth growing up with this translation, such difficulties
of reading or speaking will no longer exist." Those who grow
up with the Bantu language will prefer it to the language of
Dante or Goethe. Similarly the use of objects that at first seem
the mind is brought to
off.
Unconscious
wears
The repulsion
it again and again.
that
which is
and
ideals
earlier
between
are
made
compromises
taste in
of
human
The
heard.
or
seen
changeability
constantly
repulsive loses

its

objectionability

when

is shown to the point of ridiculousness by the attitude
old fashions in clothes. The entirely new often seems
Then it
tasteless, until it has become the universal fashion.
seems natural. Soon after it has gone out of fashion, it is felt

this respect

to

new and

once more to be ugly.
to be seen in

As time

passes,

new charms

often begin

it.

These things must be
Varied receptivity of sociological groups.
risk
of
at
the
setting art on the same level
kept in view, even
1

c*

Voyage

to the

Hmphnhnms, Gh. V.

THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE

62

As a rule the establishment of a new taste is least
For the more culof
all on the fact of its novelty.
dependent
tured an individual taste (the sense of the aesthetic values
associated with particular considerations), the less is it capable
of modification. This does not mean, of course, that the individual taste has not its own development. It is even obvious
that it passes through definite phases with a sort of obedience
to law.
The child's intelligence as it first begins to develop is
most easily attracted by the description of familiar day-to-day
as fashion.

its own life ; when its imagination
without corresponding development of the critical
faculty, it gets a taste for fairy stories ; with the awakening
youthful urge to activity it finds fascination in tales of adventure
puberty brings interest in the dreamy and sentimental ;
maturity brings a more realistic make-up ; greater experience
of life and the growing sense of reality bring a dislike of highlycoloured representation of things and a preference for keen and
satirical observation over the merely fanciful.
Most adults feel
the awakening of interest in biography and a diminution at the
same time of the fondness for fiction.

incidents, usually regarding

awakes,

;

But the more fundamentally this process takes place in the
formation of individual taste, that is to say, the more the whole
man is taken up with literary interests, the greater is the probability that his attitude to the relation between art and reality
and to artistic means of expression becomes definitely based on
principle,

The
new

less

bound
ready

to particular directives, and emotionally fixed.
he be for concessions. Consequently every

will

would have

difficulty in making its way if it were only
able to turn to the old public. For in this public, as has just
been shown, while there are all sorts of elements that are attracted
to the new, those elements are powerful which are dragged only

art

with extraordinary difficulty out of the old rut.
Often this is not realized. A typical example may make
clear the differences in view.
Wetz, the historian of literature,
gives somewhere this picture of the great revulsion in taste of
the eighteenth century shown in the turning away from the
intellectual culture of classicism to the free play of the emotions :

The marquis

longs to get

away from

the excessively artificial

magnificence of his salon ; the French reading public, which for
so long has languished in the angular regularity and coldness of

an enjoyment which is refined by the inherited feeling for form . implies a permanent temptation to the enjoyment of life. in revolt against many things hitherto held sacred. to find joy in solitude with nature. It finds expression inevitably in the art he supports. It is dominated by the aristocratic ideals of living. form acquires further an extraordinary importance from the fact that it is the precise means of social differentiation. and a tragedy to the man who feels. which in his view is bound to be powerful because whole existence is dependent on inheritance. to the man who thinks. filled with deep longing for a change that has been frozen 63 . like all that is ruthless in expression. This has its influence on art. by a highly cultivated enjoyment of life. indirectly. the for art an to creed instance. which To pass is the condition of his social eminence. is not so much passing over to a new taste as betraying the important whole existing social ideal and. class interests. from that. an art that is. which a further condition of his existence. His life is dominated by tradition. even aband6ning the idol of the aristocratic all this world." says " Horace Walpole.PUBLIC RECOGNITION is classicism. Property." The aristocrat prefers the more pleasing con- ception . further make him anti-individualistic and promote the The complete exposure of the life of the creation of types. It is always revealing things that must upon at all costs be suppressed. and the external claims based his is it. regards representation of passions that break down all bounds as one of its this tasks. " Life is a comedy. Thus the it only possible attitude to art is that the decoration and beautifying of life . and above all heroic achievearistocrat's exemplary ment. the heart and dried up in the refined and powdered with their precious and unreal world of pastoral romances. social life. thaws and expands under the breath of the glowing emotion that trickles towards it from such creative works as the Nouvcllc Htloisc and Werther. the should serve must find expression. by form. In isolated cases this has been done by eminent persons who will deny it ? But they do not establish the rule. his ideal of life is intellectualized. emotions. That The is very prettily said. is thus bound to be unattractive to him. emotionalism. His characteristic style of living. but does it correspond to the facts ? literature of classicism is a part of the life of that period. Wetz's .

was full of picturesque adventure. and he had often changed his the immortal views. author of Manon Lescaut. Provost's life. of course. Only constancy of the social structure guarantees a certain constancy of taste. especially. There are. with his cultured artistic taste. which found if . not among the masses was closely connected. in great revulsions of taste. porated neo-classicism of mencing Shakespeare's day against the people's drama a struggle through which Shakespeare's reputation cerchivalry went under. with a growing aristocratization of society. thus the Abbe Pr6vost. and must not interfere with our realization that it is a great mistake to sup* pose that all that happens is that a taste gives place to a new What happens is not as a rule that a taste is modified. but that other persons become the advocates of a new taste. There are among them . we find this resistance to the new and energetic clinging to the old. This is impressively shown by historical evidence. for them to remain dependent upon it. in all its relativity. Among these others. too. on the other hand. How entirely a man like Lord Chesterfield. came from the heroic and gallant type of romance to the homely and' sentimental romance of English origin. another social stratum is directly involved. one. is certainly Marquise du Deffand. railed against the Nouvdlt Hiloise ! In other times. were men who had experienced many changes in their lives . longs to get salon. what disgust Horace Walpole and Lady Montagu showed for Fielding's best work . The history of literature teaches that almost on every page. others. Both. it is true. its it social ideals tainly suffered severely in the eyes of people of literary culture.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 64 who away from the magnificence of his an uncommonly rare case among his peers. rejected the new trend in art. for instance. and scientists men whose sceptical element is so pronounced that it sees too clearly through the emotional element in their judgment of taste. But these are essentially exceptions. always striking exceptions. how the marquis. found favour with old Wieland where he had not found it in Goethe's eyes . such as the old Fontane. Thus Heinrich von Kleist. As mediaeval was followed by the poems that incorthe struggle carried on by the com. Walpole's clever friend. and where the new taste in art does not imply so marked a break with social ideals.

according to the express statement of its author. with lips so beautifully adapted to aloud of romances ". novel of heroic gallantry of the type of Mme Scud^ry's Artamine. or for women. of their narration. particular taste. Even in the Middle Ages it was often women who made up most of the reading public for romances simply because as a rule they were tolerably educated and able to read. saw the entry into the literary public in England of the middle class. for to become the special representatives of a In the Anglo-Saxon countries the novelists frequently complain more frequently than in Germany that their public consists mainly of women. Thus Byron's in its . the romance actually served to kill time for the aristocratic and therefore unoccupied woman. Later. Not always do they show themselves so plainly as in the instances here given. voice. For conceivable that endless sociological groups should this traces in reality it is be segregated.PUBLIC RECOGNITION its superficial social ideals better represented in the art of mont and Fletcher. but again. already mentioned. There are also writers whose varied works have found entirely which are connected different reading publics for these reasons and sentimental romantic with sex psychology. however. It is possible. primarily to women. which conquered the world from the Thames. But only a few of the most striking changes. which until then had been kept away from the fine arts by Puritan prejudice. there are periods and categories for which On the other hand. which was a rarer thing among the men of In the description of a beautiful woman in a Middle their class. Samuel Richardson. English poem mention is made from time to time of the charm " the reading of her mouth. the women's influence is absent. and they attribute to this fact the predominance of love stories and the unrealistic manner. ou le grand Cyrus ? But the new sentimental family novel that first followed it also appealed. for instance. 65 Beau- The eighteenth century. For who but such readers could have the leisure to plough through the dozen or more volumes of the men. This. a Wherever. satirical features deciding thing characterize a literary trend. again. in the baroque period. and this class became the main support of the new art of middle-class romance. the man's taste is decisive. To these the Elizabethan theatre public the women had anybelongs beyond question . is an immemorial condition.

and for that reason the most genuine of his works. types It must also be observed that the average age of readers has varied greatly at different periods. In many respects the circumstances of the present day differ greatly from those of past centuries . not so long ago. In that way violence is done to the facts. Thus a clear conception of conditions is only obtained through setting out types of upholders of taste. and thus coming to conclusions that earn the reproach of being unscientific mystifications. Clearly . again. The conception of the taste-upholding type. public. in past decades lyric poetry grad- became the interest mainly of young girls. his- Anyone who does not be in danger of associating that have no real connexion with elements contemporaneous each other. This has involved some difference of standpoint. in which the public meant the family circle and attenWe must note tion had to be paid to the growing generation. the completely new trend in art demanded new realize this historical position will men and women. This. and. also the boundaries set up by differences of faith and denominational currents. moreover. is the essence of the process that is continually repeated in changing forms.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 66 verse narratives were devoured by a female were whereas definitely written for it. quietly attributing to the general public the taste in him or his school. however. Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Sentimental In Germany. but in the rise of naturalism it has been seen how there. Only when these circumstances have been made plain is it possible to arrive at any understanding of the torical position of particular works. been have of literature mainly for women. There were periods. and thus stamping him as its intellectual representative. indeed. We saw that it is a baseless fiction to talk of a particular period as that of one or another changed very materially poet. his thoroughly cynical his personality best finds expression. which sometimes largely cut across the differences of social class. The sociological centre of gravity shifted noticeably. too. a thing that could no longer be said of the art of Detlev von Liliencron or Richard Dehmel. in which which is been a men's book. certain Journey show a similar contrast. To take a revealing example. has always Don Juan. The readers of lyrics grew in number and ually in character. the most confirmed supporters of the new trend being found entirely outside the supporters of the old one.

too. The social ideals influence. without was Traherne represented that controlled the practice of art were different. not muth more than a of a clergygeneration ago in England. the child in this sense the type that upholds the taste for fairy-tales. But these postulates are determined by the special character of their whole outlook on life fulfils To take the simplest example.PUBLIC RECOGNITION 67 particular groups form as leading factors. It completely their postulates for art. but not the soil. only rough disFiner ones divide the groups into the varieties of their tinctions. and of similar types. with due reservations. all that can fundamentally distinguish people. the taste-upholding types incorporate a and experience of life. so that we may generalize for past centuries by talking of the taste- upholding type of . the manuscript poems He had written discovered. however. the relation between feeling and intelli- gence. Their nucleus is formed by the taste-upholding types. Thus. here. These are the persons who are bound to be whole-heartedly in favour of the new school because they are in tune with this trend in art.the courtier or the aristocrat or the priest of a particular sort. In innumerable cases. the sensitiveness to emotional values or sensuous charms. talking. were man named Thomas Traherne and had expressed ideas in regard to which nature childhood and reappear only with Rousseau and the sociological group which time own his In the Romantics. for instance. Thus. to know the taste-upholding types is The seed was in a sense the best . there would be none if the taste-upholders did not possess the practical means of success and command the technical media for establishing their view publishing firm. Those who observe more keenly theatre. at least. of the in the seventeenth century group That alone decided the fate of Traherne's ideas. will find that often there were beginnings of changes that got no further for lack of these things. of course. of the type of the journalist of the great cities. it is manifest that they will mainly belong to the same class. But later. is good part of the environment from which the new trend has proceeded. and so forth. in brief. As already pointed out. For sociologically uncomplicated periods. with a particular professional class. too. Without these taste-types there would be no trend. review. intellectual make-up. it will sometimes be possible to identify the type. Generally. these are.

Thus they retain through their lives the impressions formed at a certain when they were still sensitive to and receptive of things Their enjoyment of art in later life is only too frequently in large part a chewing of the cud of their own youth. to play the present against the past. the more the points of conflict between old and new The relatypes tend to become a conflict between generations. fundamentally at In the overwhelming majority of people youth followed by a process of rationalization of thought that reduces the element of fancy. school. tion to art changes. so powerful everywhere and at all times as an influence over men's relation to art. young man finds himself only by shedding such elements of transmitted authority as he person- tion. is fact. it is characteristic of youthful emancipa- period. ments that determine taste the school probably plays the prin- schools cipal is part. perhaps. it is unquescertainly is that to argue about the human value of those who tionably possible way a taste. A cannot endure. of this sort. counts for a good deal more than it should. Of all the eleTaste-conserving forces : school and university. This is most effectively done by deliberate opposition to the traditional. too. ally Besides. . On the other hand. the most important have been mentioned above follow the new Naturally these adherents make the characteristics of the taste-upholding types less clear. true though it " there is no arguing about taste ". Its instruction in literature must culminate in . These taste-upholding types gain the adherence of the immense possess body of those persons who for reasons of which. and. and render fluid the boundaries between the sociological groups. Hence the support is enlisted of all that promotes and proclaims this opposition. For this reason. has not that which has been born with us a natural claim upon our interest? For this very reason the attitude of of particular importance in the formation of taste. This will be the more likely to happen. as already pointed out. the simple fact that the older generation sets itself against a new trend is reason enough for youth to sympathize with it. reduces their capacity for enthusiasm and even their capacity for assimilating the artistic conception of the world.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 68 of gaining acquaintance with art itself. for. the associative element. In other words. which is going on incessantly all over the world. by rendering them more matter-of- different ages.

The fundamental principles of aesthetics were no longer a subject of examination. The spirit of exact research that dwells in our For universities sought and found its results in other fields. that is to say the works that have won a certain measure of universal acceptance. This is done by means of examples. and by refusing to have anything to do with more modern material that was regarded as valuable by wide and important sociological groups. and it was by one of fate's ironies that at that time no one was so furiously attacked as the poet whose works shone with the most indestructible youthful temperament Schiller. with a few rarity. Some sides of this movement accordingly have almost the appearance of a sort of youth movement.PUBLIC RECOGNITION 69 the aim of awakening the pupil's appreciation of artistic values. By regarding nothing as suitable material that has not the patina of antiquity. the school has often made its true The result in Germany has been growing task impossible. Hundreds of head teachers came every year from the universities who had never had to concern themselves with . and must hold aloof from the controversies not only of political but of aesthetic parties. opposition to youth. mainly because the uncritical method of treatment of his work at school. failed entirely to give its assistance. teach the to be able to claimed centuries the university had general. For the school must endeavour to give instruction concerning the common spiritual possessions. but to a much greater extent it was due to insufficient preparation of the teachers. must recognized valuations. that the school should make use to this end primarily of the so-called classics. of poetry had become honourable exceptions. This does not mean that it must pursue an uncritical cult instil of the inherited past. as of literature in draw attention to the true artistic values in it. at the time of the rise of naturalism. but in the that a systematic teaching extent an doned this claim to such a almost Philosophy. perhaps. But it has not seldom pursued that path. reason for this lay partly in the unavoidable circumstance that teaching in this field was not always in the hands of teachers with the sort of gift required for their task . Matters were at their worst in this respect. He was felt to be a phrase-maker. and a principle that has been followed from of old. failed to The nineteenth century it abantheory of the fine arts. and it is only natural.

to give courses of their own as additions But the spirit of hostility to the to the purely historical work. In some of the conditions pictured at the outset there has of been an unmistakable improvement." it was no longer connected in any way with the University. exactly as if not the method but the object determined the scientific character. ments. about 1900. seminars passed without leaving a trace on the Nobody has seen the past pupils of any University who on influence versity critics. understanding in which the pendulum has swung right across. who may be expected to have a useful influence late over young students. Their sense of this. and its have become professional critics show any particular backbone in face of the wildest caprices of fashion that have made their " has any sign of an academic " school of opinion shown itself in connexion with the academic training. still less most German poets gained impressions and stimulation from the Leipzig of Professors Gottsched and Gellert that affected their whole lives and work. beauty was entirely untrained. foreign Universities. Progressive types of school attach much more importance than heretofore to the formation of critical judgment in and the effort grows to pave the way for an of There are even cases the art of our own day. There are signs of new developthings of the day has gone. In the century that followed all this was changed. The effects of this state of things made themselves felt not only in the robbing of school work of all interest. they never dream of inviting critics of recognized standing. but in robbing the colleges of all The time spent at the Uniliterary criticism. When. In the eighteenth century many of the fore- appearance . . It would be nearer the truth to speak of an entire breach between science and art. or as if there were no discoverable methods for treat- Apart from scientific ing the art of recent times. the group of ballad writers " (Miinchhausen and others) formed round the Gottingen Musenalmanach. The German Univerunlike many sities as a whole still maintain strict seclusion . for some time a sort of odium of the unhung over any sort of dealings with modern art.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 7O questions of the tragic or the comic or the like. in the direction the aesthetic field. the entire lack of reasonable methods of treatment frequently resulting in filling the pupil with lifelong hatred of " the classics he had to get up ".

More important for the spread of literary taste are the literary societies. which for some generations have been departed from. may be seen to contain a very fruitful seed. on the only to add to the popularity of those who have already become . tion or so they have regarded it as one of their main tasks to acquaint the public with the poet in person . after all. the press. Or schoolbooks appear which aim at entirely changing the centre of interest and at acquainting their young readers with the latest It is obvious literary fashion. the Pegnitzschafer. the like. for a definite fee. they have induced him to give. and there are cases in which the lasting has prevailed impression thus created by a poet's personality over many hostile or lukewarm criticisms. and other associations. " ". it cannot in general be said that the school exerts any serious influence over the Changing development of literary taste. and Organizations exerting influence : literary societies. and as the principal witness to such whole the literary society serves is. ture In spite. In the were eighteenth century these readings. in Leipzig. who reorganized an older form. it is conceivable that the study of litera- would be usefully aided by the encouragement and promotion of individual creative work among students. that this is completely to misread the task of the school as described above. called Reading Concerts In this way a talent may achieve on occasion a stronger and more direct appeal. then more of a rarity. but which. As. These literary societies are associations of not very varied character. In regard to literature the school is the guardian of tradition. regarded from the right angle. lending libraries. however.PUBLIC RECOGNITION 71 of an almost entire condemnation of occupation with the literary ideals of past generations. and are scattered all over the country. mostly led by persons of academic trainFor the past generaing. of occasional initiative in this direction. for most people the criterion in art consists in a measure of success success already achieved. This would be a return to immemorial school traditions. which may in a certain sense be regarded " " of the as the heirs of such German Sprachgesellschaften seventeenth century as the Palmenorden. On the other hand. readings from his 'works. which gave place in the eighteenth cen- tury to such literary societies as those formed by Bodmer and Breitinger in Zurich and by Gottsched. however.

Since the middle of the eighteenth century the father or mother reading to the assembled family has been the typical scene. Occaencouragement of local elements can do little to alter this known. Much the same effect as that of poets' readings is produced by professional lecturers. The family as a cosy intellectual unit depends on suitable relations of the the parents to each other. taking retain library attempts something no merely mechanical view of its duties . it does not hold aloof over by the community. in hardly exists any longer. Idyllic pictures by such painters as Chodowiecki or Ludwig Richter have stereotyped this scene for succeeding generations. It tural associations. Thus the family as a medium of literary propaganda in the middle-class old sense no longer exists to any serious purpose. has become the privilege only of a few families in the small towns or the countryside . and a common pursuit of culture before the eighteenth century were attained only in . sional It carries impression of it. And the very interests of the members of the family are now divergent.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 72 on propaganda for the taste of others. Such a scene is a rarity now.exceptional The intellectual atmosphere which then developed in cases. a symbol of easy circumstances. More and more the influence of the family has dwindled in the influence of the smallest and at recent times in this field same time the most valuable of the sociological cells of which the whole organism of the people is made up. the comfortable leisure hour has become almost legendary. mostly of young writers who are out to bring themselves into public notice. and recently by the authors* evenings arranged by booksellers in the great cities. homes grew out of the reading of good books. Among these may be counted certain associations in the great cities. The environment that made it possible " summer house ". to of the family spirit. Here as in other fields the former function of the family has been taken has been taken over by the culand the lending libraries from the In Germany the public dating eighteenth century. suitable relations between parents and conditions which children. the public libraries. . usually read aloud in the circle of parents and grown children. The typical which the pencil of the nineteenth-century artist drew a family sitting comfortably together with their books or listening.

It would be of more importance from the point of view of literary taste if it had not at its side as a rule the purely commercial lending library. Of still more importance are the associations that sought to build up from within a public of like-minded people. New developments of quite recent times contain the seeds of incomparably greater possibilities in the guidance of taste than all the organizations just mentioned. Its friends are often interested in directly and indirectly assisting the public library to become a sort of scientific auxiliary library. and felt that he himself had a share in the responsibility. on the use made by these In this new rights. negotiated with the cerning the selection of plays. Everything depends. " house ". the Berlin Volksbiihne (people's theatre). a more perfect form in technical young organizations of fail to their make . of course. and. but the in effected was inconsiderable change sociological position of art. as very frequently of their own independent judguse happens.PUBLIC RECOGNITION 73 from borrowers but assists and advises them in the choice of literature. Among these are the " " book clubs which attained enormous dimensions in the interwar years. appointed persons who were responsible for what was offered. which is more recommended authoritative quarters and is also less expensive. This still further reduces its importance in every respect. not only was a new public formed. the movement transferred the principles and methods of the Volksbtthne to the smaller towns. counting their members by the hundred thousand. The public gathered together on a great scale. through provided the theatres with a guaranteed theatre management conrepresentatives. which spoils any attempt at educativencss by indiscriminately meeting almost every expressed desire. and do not take themselves seriously. The most important of these was perhaps the one that tried to organize On the strength of the immense growth of the theatre public. they are no " more than art co-operatives ". less con- by cerned with satisfying literary needs. If. and also does its best to educate their literary taste. they ment on art. In Roman Catholic regions both types of library are outdistanced by the Borromaus Library. a not way. He learned to refuse to be unknown put off with whatever he might be offered from some its source. In this way the layman once more gained a certain influence.

The theatre managers in order to assure themselves a parallel denominational organizations have at least a programme.THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE 74 respects of those associations of subscribers without influence that have been called into existence in various places by shrewd " house ". though as yet a rather negative one. regarded askance by those elements which. as self-appointed guardians of the temple. This objection soon falls away tf art remembers once more that without the representation of that which is of human value it knowledge of the history of literature. valuable new developments in taste might be expected. ences. naturally. not be drawn up from a wholly backward-looking point of view a danger that exists in certain literary reform associations. the possession of a theatre of their own with their own artistic resources and consequent independence of box-office way It would eliminate the most dangerous capitalistic influwhich so injure the theatre of to-day. prepared by The essential thing is that the programme shall to fall upon it. if it set itself some sort of programme and made use of the practical means of carrying it out which it had in its hands. The sociological process that brings back the duty of selection into the hands of those who are really authorized to make it can. is true that these associations. But in doing so they would not escape from being a merely subsidiary organization. bring no joy to those who are thereby expropriated. neo-classicism in Shakespeare's ! It is . Yet it is conceivable that this new type of association. consider that they have a claim to the dictatorial control of the public in matters of art. and that the cry is heard that the profane threaten to break into the holy places of art. leaving the stage still in the hands of the other elements already mentioned. but one which may ir\ its attain importance. It is not to be wondered at that this development should be receipts. The objection often' raised that an association can create a programme but not art will not impress any who have some Think of the birth of not by any means day for a to be drawn programme up and the soil unprecedented a new art then for the of its seed and demands. might become exceptionally fruitful . by attaining their essential aim. and since a not inconsiderable part would be played in it by the representatives of those classes which are newcomers to cultural life.

in Germany at least. If. perhaps. reasonable more is then to represent the spirit of the age. the one and only criterion for the value of that art which has ultimately lies in the permanence of its appeal. which is the ultimate judge. the public.PUBLIC RECOGNITION is doomed. has this warning been more necessary than to-day. in matters over which it ponders for long. . but that art which has maintained its reputation through many centuries must have passed from one triumphed taste-upholding type to another. nothing than to look closely at this group before bowing to its demands. Johnson said. Since art does not exist in a world of absolutes and its acceptance is dependent on the character of the accepter. at work tain clarification of conceptions until now confused. At no time. and that there can be no true 75 artistry without true humanity. the narrow world of art cliques and art critics. the question whether they will it possesses values that range of universal human prophesy for it as long a life as for certain great things of the For the taste-vpholding types of the future and their past. as shown above. the recognition that all art rests fundamentally on the shoulders of a particular taste-upholding type should strengthen the critical attitude of the individual and his confidence in himself. as Dr. a new taste appearing " anywhere is the expression not by any means of the spirit of the " which may fail age but only of the spirit of a particular group. The reason is not that. it has shown that beyond a definite period and are that reason wise observers of For appeal. even the educated itself of its immaturity in matters public has so largely convinced of art and so widely accepted the idea of the freedom of art of its own divinely ordained dependence upon that is to say. By its ability thus to give something to groups of such varied intellectual structure as usually succeed one another through the centuries in the leadership in the life of taste. which are not always of a purely intellectual nature. demands are beyond any man's guessing. when. From our consideration of the elements in the determination of taste there now proceeds a cer- Final considerations. to the right conclusion. and since the establishment of a taste is thus not independent of sociological forces. art usually decline to answer in regard to current art. however highly they may appreciate it. On the other hand. comes usually.

just as the art of Titian or Richardson or Goethe had at its appearance. and it would not be so difficult to define it precisely . has naturally its taste-upholding type. that is to say. this can only be explained by the fact that the natural resistance formerly existing has been broken by the processes above described. or the dramatic school that showed such peculiar preference for the problems of the basest eroticism. Only thorough self-examination and.76 THE SOCIOLOGY OF LITERARY TASTE Even the school of painting that pasted bits of shoe-leather and tram-tickets on its oil paintings. . but if people feel that they must associate themselves with it though they play their full part in the struggle for culture. clear-sighted organization of the laity can help to restore it. where required. for the ennobling of human instincts. and that people no longer have the courage of their aesthetic convictions.

1821-82. Eugene. Friedrich. 12 1786- 1846. 36-7. 1600-82. 1830-1916. 1703-64. 10 Chesterfield. Hans Christian. 52. 1785-1859.. . Richard. 17 Gotta. 26. Oliver. Charles. 16. J. Franz. Otto. 1802-70.45 Brieux. Francis. 1701-44. 1806-71. 17 Gundolf. 3. Lord. Robert. Robert. Emmanuel. and John 29. 14. 1798-1840. 29. 6 Hettner.. 25 30. 1726-1801. B. 1811-72. Friedrich. 1534-90. 39 Dumas. 25 George. 55 Congreve. 1764-1832. 1830-1914.C. 66 Demosthenes. 1816-55. 72 Churchyard. Joseph. 50. Theodor. Robert. Chodowiecki. Miguel. 17. 76 Goldsmith. 1520-1604. B. Dickens. 36 Hebbel. 5 Heyse. Franz. 1863-1920. Stefan. 1672-1719. Arnold. 29 Fontane. 1547-1616. 61 Buchanan. 1749-1832. Arnold. 45 Dodsley. iSL&i. 64 Freiligrath. Annette von. 44 Browning. 45 Chaucer. 24 Geibel. 1584-1616. 1698-1783. 3 3^ Beaumont. J. 70 Gray. 1661-1715. 40 Grillparzer. 1812-89. Robert. Wilhclm. 39> 4<>> 4* Blechen. 18. 18-19. Georg. 1 7 1 6-6 1 . 29 Dante. 46 Byron. 70 . 1810-76. 37. 14 Gautier. Alexandre Fletcher. 53 Aristotle. 1797-1848. 1670-1729. Hermann. 29 Breitinger. Gustave. Johann 1700-66. Thomas. 36 Claude Lorrain. 1827-1901. Diderot. 1788-1824. 1715-69. Karl. Dingelstedt. 3. 15 Arnim. 43. 39. 46. 1707-54. Ferdinand. 42 Cumberland. 1868Goethe. 21 Bennett.C. 1815-84. 26 Marie von. 1340-1400. 32 Darwin. 48 Andersen. Benjamin Robert. 71 Bradshaugh. c. Paul Johann Ludwig von. 1806-76. Lord. 1849-1906. 1821-80. 1862Haydon. 1809-82. 50 Brandes. 46 Halifax. Lady. 52 Gottfried von. Gottsched.INDEX Addison. 1856. Henry. Fielding. J. Richard. 4. 19. i DefTand. 19 77 . 1694-1773. 2. 1 728-74. Brie. 384-322. Friedrich. 1579-1625. 1 7. Anastasius. Lord. 64 Flaubert. 1841-1901. Charlotte. 64 Dehmel. 16. Marquise du. Ferdinand. 46 Christoph. 1791-1872. 64 Daniel Nikolaus. Christian. Johann Friedrich. 42 Droste. 65-6 Cervantes. Johann 1744-1803. Geoffrey. 22 Halm. Friedrich. (pere). 1-2 Gamier. 1619-98. c. 52.. 1697-1780. 1858-1932. Diederichs. 20. Herder.. 1813-63. Bettina von. 53 Bronte. 52 Bodmer. William. 3 Bocklin. 384-322. 1842-1927. 29 Gellert. 65 1867-1931. 17 Hauptmann. 36 Brunetiere. 71 Ebner-Eschenbach. 52 Grim. Thomas. Gerhart. 19. J. 1732-181 1. Thtophile. 1805-75. 17 Brahm. 2. 1265-1321. Dilthey.

1689-1762. 46. 14. 18. 29 . Holz. 23 57 frtvort. 8 Richardson. Henrik. 1558-94. 40 Mcrimee. 16. Frank. H. 1847-1935. 17331813. 29. Gottfried. 55 Scott. 28 Traherne. George. 63-4 von Walther der Vogelweide. P. Friedrich Wilhelm. 1688-1744. 13. 52 2324 Steele. 1776-1822. 10-11. Nikolaus. . 1564-1616. 1817-88. 26 Thackeray. 1777-1811. Leo. 17 Leasing. 22. 1720-97. c. Jean Jacques. 1803-84. Schiller. 59~6o> 64 Shelley. George. Ernest. 65 Shaftesbury. Salvator. F. 26. 64 Wilde. 24. Zola. . 23. 39 Spenser. 1573-1637. 1840-1902. 1373-^. 1886. Abb*. Wassily. 36 Young. Gotthold Ephraim. 8. 48 1759-1805. Thomas. 62-3 Wieland. 47. 54 i Rembrandt. 40 Wagner. 1770-1850. 28 14. Petrarch. 1 8. 1806-84. 1709-84. Theodor. c. 56 Paul Richter. 2. Victor. 26 Strich. Thomas. Ghristoph Martin. Mme. n. 25 Wordsworth. Richard. 24. 22. 1552-1609. J.30 Schdnhcrr. 1671-1713. 30. 61 Sterne. 5 1 Lenau. 1712-78. 58 2. 24 Meredith. 1667-1745. 20. 57 Keats. Horace. 9 Wedelrind. 1683-1765. . 65. 36. 22 Marlowe. 1792-1822. 1694-1778. 1771-1832. John. 26. 66 Storm. 3. 30. 1828. 56. c. 40 Milton. 1784-1859. Edmund. Detlev von. Lord. 52. 53 Schiicking. John. Ben. 1564-93. Henry. 52 Suddard. c. Oskar. 76 Tolstoy. 17. 1809-92. 76 Richter. 37. 72 Wetz. 22. 55 Kyd. 1803-70. Oskar. 21. Jean see Richter. 30 Hugo. Prosper. Emite. 46 Rousseau.66 Lyddite. 29. 1819-90. 64 M6rike. 64 fl. 50 Keller. 16. 1844-1909. 52 Walpole. 15 Richter. Lord. Kandinsky. 48 Rosa. 45 Schwind. 1795-1821. 43 1845-1933. A. 1198-1228. 1802-50. 1804-71.. 1450. 23. 1672-1729. 24 Rogers. Walter. 21 Shakespeare. 53 Welzcl. 24 Montagu. 48 Liebermann. 1804-75. 1867.64 Kokoschka. Hcinrich von. 26. 28.1615-73. 46 Vossler. Moritz von. Ibsen.67 James. Dr. 55 Rossetti. 1763-1855. 2 9> 55 Munchhausen. Heinrich. 20.1906. 45. 32 Titian. Samuel. 1813-83. Karl. 69 Schlaf. 1713-68. 1802-85. 17. Levin. 1607-1701. 1843-1916. Eduard. 1828-1910. 1856-1900. Lady. 61 Liliencron.. 1689-1761. 19 Laurence. 1864-1918. 13-14 Laube. Johannes. Edward. 36. Tennyson. 1811-63. 24-5. Alexander. Richard. 3> 60 Renan. 1763-1825. 21 Hunt. Mary. Oscar.. 21 Meyer-Grafe. 1814-83. 75 Jonson. 26 Johnson. Baron. 1717-97. 1477-1576. 19. Jean Friedrich. 1729-81. 40 Swift. 1637-74.INDEX T. Christopher. 1304-74. *3> 37 43* 52. 67 Voltaire. 70 Nietzsche. Dean. 30. Samuel. 15 Paul. 1606-69. 50-1 Hoffmann. 21. 1826-82. 1863-1929. 1608-74. 10 Finder. 1697-^763. 1823-92. Ludwig. Arno. Pope. 28 * Kleist. Leigh. 1862. 1844-1900. Saintsbury. 1828-1909. Max. Dante Gabriel.' 7. 17 Scudcry.

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INLAND TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION IN MEDIAEVAL INDIA .