restricted access A Commentary (Jan 1930)
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[ 3 A Commentary The Criterion: A Literary Review, 9 (Jan 1930) 181-84 The Five Reviews’ Award In our July number we announced a new form of literary award to be conferred by five reviews: The Criterion, the Europäische Revue of Berlin, the Nouvelle Revue Française of Paris, the Revista de Occidente of Madrid and the Nuova Antologia of Milan. Our project, it will be remembered, was to make the award in five successive years: first for the best short story submittedinGerman ,thenforshortstoriesinEnglish,French,ItalianandSpanish in that order; the winning piece of fiction to be printed as nearly simultaneously as possible in the five reviews. As the scheme originated with the Europäische Revue, it is right that the German story should be chosen first. In this number we print The Centurion (Der Hauptmann von Kapernaum) byMr.ErnstWiechert.1 ThisstorywasselectedunanimouslybytheGerman committee,whichconsistedofDr.MaxClauss,theEditoroftheEuropäische Revue, Professor E. R. Curtius, who is very well known to readers of The Criterion, and Thomas Mann the novelist, who replaces the late Hugo von Hofmannsthal on the committee; it was then approved by the editors of the other four reviews.2 We hope to be able to announce early next year the conditions for submitting manuscripts of English fiction: the manuscripts to be read first by a similar committee of three English critics, and subsequently referred to the editors of the four European reviews.3 We take particular pleasure in the inception of this form of international activity (though we cannot take any credit for the idea itself). It is not merely a means of bringing to notice new prose writers in five languages, or a means of comparing the methods and views of the writers of five peoples. We remark upon it still more as visible evidence of a community of interest, and a desire for co-operation, between literary and general reviews of different nations, which has been growing steadily since 1918, and which is now so much more pronounced than at any time before the war as to be almost a new phenomenon. All of these periodicals, and others, have endeavoured to keep the intellectual blood of Europe circulating throughout the whole of Europe; and perhaps at no time during the nineteenth century was this circulation so healthy as it is now. It is of vital importance Essays, Reviews, and Commentaries: 1930 4 ] thatthebestthoughtandfeelingofeachcountryofhighcivilizationshould be contributed to the others while it is still fresh. Only so can there be any direction towards that higher community which existed in some ways throughout the middle ages, which persisted into the eighteenth century, and which was only dissolved finally after the Napoleonic wars. And without such intellectual community and co-operation of different organs in one body all peace pacts, world congresses, disarmament discussions, and reform leagues appear merely to be concerned with the body and not with the soul. Nationalism, Disarmament, and Peace We hope, next year, to publish in The Criterion, some discussions from various points of view and by critics of several nationalities, on the subjects of Nationalism and International Relations. Half a dozen serious books, and many more less serious ones, have lately been written; Mr. Macdonald, we all know, has lately been to America; every successful politician has sound views on international amity.4 On the other hand, a push – not so far under very good omens – has been made for “Empire Free Trade”; and we have heard something of a new “war” between Europe and America in which the munitions are to be cheaper and cheaper motor cars.5 We are given to believe that the Conservative Party is defunct, which indeed it looks to be, but also that it can only be revived (or “gingered”) by elements which do not appear to be either Conservative, Liberal, or Radical, but merely Irresponsible. The only merit of the Labour Party, from the same point of view, appears to be that it is at the moment quite inert: one party being approved for that for which the other is condemned. These are unpleasant symptoms. But we can hardly believe that there are not, scattered over the continents of Europe and America, a few men of thought and observation, who are concerned with the Theory of Politics. And we are very badly in need of that; and half a dozen Aristotles working together would be only enough to supply the need. All that we have is confusion of voices in popular discussion, exaggerating the importance of various details...


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