Spring 1939 • Vol. I No. 2 Nonfiction |


The terms "classical” and "romantic” belong to the degenerate tribe of literary historians and there is little wish to deprive them of their possessions. Irving Babbitt and T. E. Hulme tried to give them contemporary meaning; they succeeded in provoking controversy and initiating a fashion, but they failed in their larger effort. Babbitt’s investigation was too narrowly ethical and at times his ethical criteria were mechanical and simply not serious. Hulme, unless one has a violent and charitable sympathy with his remarks about religion, seems merely to have opposed one kind of taste to another; his categories may have significance for us, but they bring no compulsion. These two terms have almost certainly a basis of ethical meaning; so have two others which are currently more useful, both in that they appear to have relation with common presentday psychological and social problems and in that they are not besmirched by dead controversy and trivial connotation: order and di

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