In the past few years a change full of meaning has come over the great national magazines, like Harper's, Scribner's, and the Atlantic. They have almost entirely lost their earlier character as media for art. The best poets and the best novelists (unless lured to the Cosmopolitan by Mr. Hearst dollars) simply wait for book publication as the only means of reaching an audience; or, if they are lucky enough to break into the magic circle, the poets may find a way into a liberal weekly, like the New Republic; or, if they are more experimental, they may try the more chilly and charmed circle of the Dial, or one of the fly-by-night magazines that sporadically appear and vanish.
But the loss of distinguished creative art to the sober ministers of our culture is made up for in a new direction. These tremendous monthlies, with their hundreds of thousands of devoted readers--the cream of American civilization, we have no doubt--have made themselves over into organs of opinion and controversy. Here, and not as of old, in the newspapers, do the burning questions of the day get their frankest and most thorough discussion. The giants of politics, science, business history, and even that but lately hushed and obscure sister, philosophy, stalk forth in full armor into the public arena and let fly their weapons. One fine and ambitious magazine, The Forum, makes a specialty of mortal combats, its successive issues being mainly a series of bloody duels between notables on every imaginable problem, from the religion of Al Smith to the structure of the atom. The artists, too, are in these pages, but, except in rare instances which one suspects are a sop to tradition, not in the role of artists. They, too, are ready with argument