#Fiction #Fantasy
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Excerpt PREFACE oes anybody remember the opera of The Inca, and that heartbreaking episode where the Court Undertaker, in a morbid desire to increase his professional skill, deliberately accomplishes the destruction of his middle-aged relatives in order to inter them for the sake of practise? If I recollect, his dismal confession runs something like this: “It was in a bleak November When I slew them, I remember, As I caught them unawares Drinking tea in rocking-chairs.” And so he talked them to death, the subject being “What Really is Art?” Afterward he was sorry— “The squeak of a door, The creak of the floor, My horrors and fears enhance; And I wake with a scream As I hear in my dream The shrieks of my maiden aunts!” Now it is a very dreadful thing to suggest that those highly respectable pseudo-spinsters, the Sister Arts, supposedly cozily immune in their polygamous chastity (for every suitor for favor is popularly expected to be wedded to his particular art)—I repeat, it is very dreadful to suggest that these impeccable old ladies are in danger of being talked to death. But the talkers are talking and Art Nouveau rockers are rocking, and the trousers of the prophet are patched with stained glass, and it is a day of dinkiness and of thumbs. Let us find comfort in the ancient proverb: “Art talked to death shall rise again.” Let us also recollect that “Dinky is as dinky does”; that “All is not Shaw that Bernards”; that “Better Yeates than Clever”; that words are so inexpensive that there is no moral crime in robbing Henry to pay James. Firmly believing all this, abjuring all atom-pickers, slab furniture, and woodchuck literature—save only the immortal verse: “And there the wooden-chuck doth tread; While from the oak trees’ tops The red, red squirrel on thy head The frequent acorn drops.” Abjuring, as I say, dinkiness in all its forms, we may still hope that those cleanly and respectable spinsters, the Sister Arts, will continue throughout the ages, rocking and drinking tea unterrified by the million-tongued clamor in the back yard and below stairs, where thumb and forefinger continue the question demanded by intellectual exhaustion: “L’arr! Kesker say l’arr?”             CONTENTS PAGE         1       12       21       32       41     48     52   62     73       85     92     100   104   111     119   133 138           FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS FACINGPAGE “The little things,” he continued, delicately perforating the atmosphere as though selecting a diatom.   From a drawing by J. C. Leyendecker. “Simplicity,” breathed Guilford—“a single blossom against a background of nothing at all” From a drawing by J. C. Leyendecker. He paused; his six tall and blooming daughters, two and two behind him From a drawing by Karl Anderson. Aphrodite’s slender fingers, barely resting on the harp-strings, suddenly contracted in a nervous tremor From a drawing by Karl Anderson....
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