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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XV (search)
n Chicago makes up her mind to take hold of culture, said one of the local humorists, she will just make culture hum. Of course it might seem that every word of this vigorous sentence must serve to put culture a little farther off. But, as a matter of fact, culture is already there, in Chicago. There is probably no city in the Union which publishes books of a higher grade, in proportion to their numbers. Looking on the fly-leaf of a new London edition of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, the other day, I was not at all surprised to find that, of the thousand copies printed, one-quarter were for the American market, and that these were to be issued from Chicago. And yet so fixed is this habit of joking in the mind of our people that it will probably last an indefinite period into the future, and keep all the intellectual impulses of that particular city in the kind of uncomfortable self-consciousness which comes from being always on the defensive. In time such an attitude