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A Moving-Picture of Democracy

written by "Lee, Gerald Stanley, 1862-1944"
...and now the novel, jostled into oblivion by the next novel, is becoming the short story. Kipling's short stories sum the situation up. So far as skeleton or plot is concerned, they are built up out of a bit of nothing put with an infinity of Kipling; so far as meat is concerned, they are the Liebig Beef Extract of fiction. A single jar of Kipling contains a whole herd of old-time novels lowing on a hundred hills. The classic of any given world is a work of art that has passed through the same process in being a work of art that that world has passed through in being a world. Mr. Kipling represents a crowd age, because he is crowded with it; because, above all others, he is the man who produces art in the way the age he lives in is producing everything else. This is no mere circumstance of democracy. It is its manifest destiny that it shall produce art for crowded conditions, that it shall have crowd art. The kind of beauty that can be indefinitely multiplied is the kind of beauty in which, in the nature of things, we have made our most characteristic and most important progress. Our most considerable success in pictures could not be otherwise than in black and white. Black-and-white art is printing-press art; and art that can be produced in endless copies, that can be subscribed for by crowds, finds an extraordinary demand, and artists have applied themselves to supplying it. All the improvements, moving on through the use of wood and steel and copper, and the process of etching, to the photogravure, the lithograph, the moving picture, and the latest photograph in colour, whatever else may be said of them from the point of view of Titian or Michael Angelo, constitute a most amazing and triumphant advance from the point of view of making art a democracy, of making the rare and the beautiful minister day and night to crowds. The fact that the mechanical arts are so prominent in their relation to the fine arts may not seem to argue a hi...

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