University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Literature Collection

Page View

Adler, Philip A. (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XVII, Number 4 (January 1918)

Olin, Harry A.; et al.
Correspondence,   pp. 108-iii ff.

Page 108

.JaniU(ri, !is
hand reflections of that shadowy individual, Mr. Average
Man, yet the pretense is convincing in only this one respect:
that Mr. Average Man will recognize in the sketches many of
the moods and musings, the fancies and impressions that have
crept into his average life.  But the charm with which these
musings have been put into words betray the craft of an artist
above the petty distractions of our everyday life, yet constantly
in sympathetic touch with it.
It is a question whether Trivia as a form of prose writing is
strictly new.  The volume consists of some ninety selections
ranging from fifty to two hundred words in length, and dealing
with subjects as remote as Beauty and as familiar as Microbes.
As a prose type, it reminds one somewhat of the notebooks
of Samuel Butler, or even of Hawthorne. Yet there are in the
selections elements which the pieces of the older masters lack.
and charms which are more than the effect of clearness and
simplicity: rhythm and color and a high degree of imaginative
conception.  Here, for instance:
The Spider
What shall I compare it to, this fantastic thing I call
my Mind? To a waste-paper basket, to a sieve choked
with sediment, or to a barrel full of floating froth and
No, what it is really most like is a spider's web, inse-
curely hung on leaves and twigs, quivering in every wind,
and sprinkled with dewdrops and dead flies. And at
its center, pondering forever the Problem of Existence,
sits motionless the spider-like and uncanny Soul.
A Fancq
More than once, though, I have pleased myself with
the notion that somewhere there is good Company which
wil like this little Book-these Thoughts (if I may call
them so) dipped up from that phantasmagoria or phos-
phorescence which, by some unexplained process of com-
bustion, flickers over the large lump of soft gray matter
in the bowl of my skull.
It is fragmentary essays like the foregoing that prove Mr.
Smith has accomplished the aim he had in view; to make of
Trivia a collection of many-colored ideas and fancies that go
to make up the mosaic of our common thought.
-E. L. M.
To the Editors:
The December copy of your magazine fell into my hands
quite accidentally. One of your Wisconsin boys happened to
be transferred to this port and I saw him reading it.
I was extremely surprised and delighted with the contents
of the "Lt." While a student at Swarthmore College, Penn-
sylvania, I was connected with the college publication there
and was afforded an opportunity of studying many contempor-
ary college journals. Your magazine, modelled as it evidently
is, after one of the leading thought papers of the country, is
a step in college and university undergraduate literature that I
have always looked forward to.
It presents life with a directness and freedom from ambigu-
ity and display that is positively refreshing.  I like your cour-
age and the way you go after real values.
Although my present work keeps me pretty busy, I'm
mighty glad to spend a little of my time reading a magazine
like yours.  I wish you unbounded success in your undertak-
ing.                       HARRY A. OLIN,
Second Lieut. Ordnance Depot,
Camp Stuart, Newport News, Va.
To the Editors:
Let me congratulate you upon the admirable leading edi-
torial in your last issue, and the great ability that distinguishes
it.                 Yours very truly,
President, Neu, York Evening Post Co.
Chicago, Dec. 15, 1917.
Think as you please about imagists et al., but please don't
spell my name Munro!  A good way, doubtless, but not that
of the president or of
Yours very sincerely,
Madison, Dec. 17, 1917
For thus omitting the last letter of your name, my contrite
apologies and a desperate peccavi.  Two possible explana-
tions occur to me. Kindly choose-and forgive!    (1)   In
the very perpetration of my pranks I may have been so over-
taken with a sense of guilt that I lost all my self-possession,-
in short all my E's.  Or (2)   I may have been attempting
a perverse application of the law "the letter killeth, but the
spirit giveth life." But to indicate that no personal affront
was intended, let me wish you (and all Imagists too, God
bless them!) a Merry Xmas, and let me sign my own name,
for self-castigation, without the fatal letter.

Go up to Top of Page