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George Slythe Street: Avant-Garde Anachronism Wendell V Haeris Santa Fe, New Mexico MANY A WEITER well known and valued by the educated readers of a time has rather quickly dropped below the capricious canon of familiar names, but few more quickly—and to his contemporaries less expectedly—than George Slythe Street (1867-1936). Street's second book, The Autobiography of a Boy ( 1894), a satire on the Aesthetic Movement with a particular but not exclusive focus on Oscar Wilde, was a major success. The collection of stories entitled Episodes, published by Heinemann in 1895, and his novel The Wise and the Wayward (1896) fit well with the rise of realism in fiction while presenting a view of the world less grim than those of a Hubert Crackanthorpe or Arthur Morrison and less challenging of sexual mores than those of George Egerton. His two-volume edition of Congreve's plays was published in 1895. By October 1896 he was well enough known to warrant the inclusion of his portrait (by Francis Howard) in the Yellow Book of that date. (See the front cover of this issue of ELT). His collection of essays, Quales Ego, published the same year, included essays that had originally appeared in the New Review and Pall Mall Gazette and pieces in his 1902 A Book of Essays were drawn from journals as prestigious as Blackwood's, Cornhill, the Fortnightly Review, and the Monthly Review. Max Beerbohm had executed the first of the twenty-four caricatures (!) of Street listed by Hart-Davis by 1901 and published his parody of Street (later included in A Christmas Garland) in the Saturday Review in 1906.x Ezra Pound published an article entitled "The Glamour of G. S. Street" in the Egoist in 1914 which included the comment, "Mr. Street is never in haste, his style is, I think, as near perfect, at least it is as near the most fitting as mortal stylist may attain ,"2 and a short appreciative notice by Pound appeared in the Little Review in 1918.3 A "Bookman's Gallery" notice of 1914 described him as 285 ELT 48 : 3 2005 "one of our most distinguished essayists, who is not only a lineal descendant of 'Elia,' in his gentler and more intimate moods, but a modern 'Elia,' with a dash of 'Max' and the tradition of Oxford and Piccadilly."4 By 1920 Street had published six books of fiction and nine collections of essays (as well as an edition of Congreve, a seven-volume edition of the works of G. W Steevens, and a curious little history of the London Assurance Company). Even though his star had ceased to brighten after the turn of the century, he remained an author of reputation; three essays of his appeared in the First Series of Sir Humphrey Milford's Selected Modern English Essays (1925) and one in the Second Series (1932).5 As late as 1923 S. D. P. Mais wrote of him in Some Modern Authors, "Everything he says sheds a fresh light on the subject under discussion, nearly always humorously expressed."6 After that he disappears from the literary scene almost completely until the appearance of his obituary in the Times in 1936.7 Street is not to be found in the DNB, The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature , or The Oxford Companion to Literature. One is indeed somewhat surprised to find him included in Volume 135 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography, the volume entitled British Short-Fiction Writers, 1880-1934: The Realist Tradition. His inclusion there is curious since, of his two volumes of short stories, only Episodes (1895) exemplifies the turn-of-the-century realist short story. Nevertheless, it is well that Street figures somewhere in these readily available volumes, and the author of the essay on Street, Linda Anne Julian, provides a useful and rather comprehensive treatment.8 If Street was so soon forgotten, why is he of interest to the literary historian? I wish to suggest four reasons. First, his The Autobiography of a Boy achieves an unusual blend of attitudes for a satire; second, his particular type of realism is intriguingly different from the emerging realism of the 1890s; third...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 285-304
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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