Full text: The little review (9 (1923), 4)

36 
The Barnes Foundation and its first book: “An Approach To 
Art,” an educational book for the public. This is not so bad as 
a subject, but Mr. Barnes’ approach to art is well, internation 
ally known among the artists. “Mr. Barnes of Philadelphia” is 
too good to waste in a short magazine article. Some one will go 
into the matter thoroughly and show him up through his own 
pathological letters, which he has lavished upon a rather danger 
ous audience. 
It is amusing for a few moments to play with the idea of chal 
lenging Mr. Mencken to explain some of his recent statements 
and to produce his superior, secret artists. 
“Today, it seems to me, the American imagin 
ative writer, whether he be novelist, poet or dra 
matist, is quite as free as he deserves to be. He is 
free to depict the life about him precisely as he sees 
it, and to interpret it in any manner he pleases. 
Our stage is perhaps the freest in the world—not 
only to sensations, but also to ideas.” 
I doubt whether Mencken has ever been in a position to know 
whether the above is true or not, yet he makes the statement quite 
easily in his sentimental, halo-adjusting farewell to the Smart 
Set. He has never known the creative artist as a fellow artist, but 
as a critic and as the hired editor of a commercial magazine: that 
gulf could never be explained to any critic, editor or layman 
. . . of all the first-raters that I know, I don’t know one who 
would just naturally send his best or strongest work to the Smart 
Set . . . that is a part of the thing that makes them first-raters. 
Somewhere in “Prefaces” Mencken tells just how cagey he has 
always been about accepting Mss. . . . “before ever I give any 
thought to its artistic merit and suitability is the question 
whether its publication will be permitted” . . . does he think 
that the artists have been less cagey in sending him their work? 
“I have a long list of such things by American authors, well- 
devised, well-imagined, well-executed, respectable as human 
documents and as works of art, but never to be printed in mine or 
any other American magazine.” I should like to see those docu 
ments of wronged American art ... I am willing to wager that
	        

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