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CopyRIGHT, 1924, BY McNAUGHT'S MONTHLY
CopyRIGHT, 1923, BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY

CoPYRIGHT, 1922, BY GEORGE H. DORAN CO.

CoPYRIGHT, 1923, BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
COPYRIGHT, 1924, BY HARCOURT, BRACE & CO.

CopyRIGHT, 1923, BY THE NEW YORK EVENING POST
COPYRIGHT, 1924, BY THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE
CopyRIGHT, 1921, BY BONI & LIVERIGHT

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PREFACE

Our reason, according to certain of the cynical philosophers, is given to us less to direct our conduct than to enable us to justify it when it appears to be lacking in direction. When I ask myself how I can justify the variety of moods in this book and the mixture of pieces as elaborate as I cared to make them with skits and notes of obviously challengeable value, my reason points promptly to the conditions under which most writing of this sort is at present produced.

Our literary criticism is like the dove which emerged from the ark and, presently, with the olive leaf in her beak, returned to the ark, having found outside it no place to abide. The ark may here be taken as a symbol for a professorial chair or a desk in a publishing house or in an advertising agency or in some organization for the production of “valuable commodities.” Criticism is tolerated in many quarters, encouraged in a few, but paid a “living wage” in none. Many professors, journalists, and the like practise it as an avocation or as a recreation. Nobody, almost nobody, follows it as a profession.

Having, like others of the fraternity of amateurs, taken it upon myself to think aloud, here and there, as opportunity offered, about men and books and

ideas, I seem to discover a certain general tendency V

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