Art - Flemish, German, Dutch And Spanish Schools
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE kind of lens used may be of some interest. Or the make of your telescope, Or whether you are looking through the wide or narrow end of your opera glasses. Yet these considerations at most are limited in importance. What really matters is—what do you see?
Looking at pictures too long is apt to be tiring. Sit down and rest a bit. And while you gather up your energies reflect on the historic background of the art we shall next consider, that of Flanders. After the fall of Rome there was something of cultural disunion between the people of the north and those of the south. The southerners stayed true to Roman ideals of art. Northern leanings were somewhat on the side of Teutonic "barbarism." With them the Church did not have quite the same force to dictate or to inspire. No classic models were there to reawaken the art consciousness of a people.
In Renaissance Flanders the artistic instinct finds out-let largely in love of landscape and color. Flowers are very popular with all northern painters. Furthermore, Flemish art is more objective than Italian. Through their objects Italian painters expressed their own moods and personalities. But the Flemings sought the faithful portrayal of all the beauty in the object itself. 'While the Italian deals with the universe the Flemish artist must needs reproduce every stitch in a piece of embroidery and every effect of color and light and shade in the smallest bead in a necklace. But do not therefore get the impression that there was no great art in the north. Without for a moment detracting from the value of ideal. beauty there is always a place in art for the presentation of the joy and color charm in the everyday life and objects around us. Beside which, the north had its fair share of ideals.
Step up now to this immense altar-piece from the Cathedral Church of St. Bavon in Ghent. "The Mystic Lamb" was begun by Hubert Van Eyck, completed by his brother Jan, and first exhibited in 1432. It is dedicated to the redeeming power of the Lamb. We have it in its original state, which is fortunate considering all it has been through in five hundred years. As you see, it is made up of two horizontal compartments, the upper of seven panels and the lower of five.
That great enthroned figure in the central upper panel is God the Father, a triple crown on his head; one band holds the sceptre and the other is raised in blessing. On either side of him are the Virgin and St. John the Baptist. Next to these are groups of angels. At the extreme ends you see Adam and Eve. Under the three central figures is "The Adoration of the Lamb." To its right are the "Holy Hermits" and the "Holy Pilgrims." These two panels at the left represent the "Just Judges" and the "Warriors of Christ." About the redeeming Lamb on the altar we see some fine painting. Splendidly portrayed are these kneeling angels. And look at those four great groups approaching from the four corners of the picture, white-robed virgin martyrs and "Fathers of the Church." The vast crowds of worshippers to right and left represent "every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Your imagination is led on to multitudes of followers of the Lamb outside the picture.
In the background you see lofty spires of many churches rising from behind woods and green-clad hills, with other hills and lakes melting away to an horizon illuminated by the rays of the setting sun. Notice how carefully details are handled. How finely depicted are the costumes of church dignitaries. Faces are not mere blurs of human features in a mob, but an endless number and variety of carefully drawn portraits. All detail shows characteristic Flemish minuteness and care. The landscape is particularly noteworthy, with its unusual effect of distance.
Because of this work Jan Van Eyck has been called the "father of landscape painting." Its color has aroused the wonder and admiration of all critics. Some cannot reconcile its richness with the somber skies of the city of Bruges. Yet the nearby sea might have had something to do with that. Sea mists and clouds draw a wealth of color from the setting sun. Hence Flanders, Holland and even England have been conceded color possibility as noble as that of Venice itself. If you have spent any length of time along the New England sea coast you will probably agree with that.
Here we have a family portrait by Rubens, from the National Gallery, London. It is of Thomas, Earl of Arundel, his wife, the Lady Alathea, their grandson, Philip Howard, who afterwards became Cardinal Howard, with their grayhound and a dwarf. It was painted in 1620. The group is posed under a portico with elaborate twisted columns. A distant landscape forms the background. Seated on her chair of state, one delicate hand on the dog's head and the other resting gracefully on the arm of the chair, the countess looks very much as if she were posing for her portrait. Her black satin gown, lace ruff, gold bracelets, pearl necklace, the plumes and pearls in her light hair, all contribute to her air of importance. Behind her, one hand on the back of the chair and the other resting on his hip, you see the earl with his Vandyke beard and grayish hair. His starched white ruff bespeaks imposing dignity. Not so the twinkle in his eye. A crimson-lined brown mantle across his shoulders contrasts with his vest of olive. On one side the boy in crimson velvet touched with gold and on the other the dwarf and the dog balance a splendid composition. That rich curtain swaying in the breeze and on it the family coat of arms were painted with more than usual care.
There is fine drawing here and an abundance of living color. All details are handled with characteristic Flemish exactness, in spite of Rubens' tendency to roughness of manner. You see it in the design on the columns, in the embroidery on the curtain, in the fine drawing of the lady's hands, laces and jewels—even in the dog's collar.
Yet some critics consider Rubens work entirely too rough. Ruskin attributes it to the hardships and hardening influences of Flanders life. In his inimitable manner he dilates on the coarsening effect of the battle against wild sea and frosty clay and the resulting "rough affections, sluggish imaginations and fleshy, substantial, iron-shod humanities." Heaven preserve us against writers with so fine a style as Ruskin's who attempt to teach us anything but the English language. Our beloved essayist overlooks Rubens' affluence—and he was one of the very few great artists in history so favored. Nor does he take into consideration his travels, his studies in Italy and his unlimited sources of refinement and inspiration.
I must not leave Rubens without a word about his "art factory," to which are attributed nearly four thou-sand paintings and sketches. His studio was overrun by anxious pupils. He states that in 1611 he was obliged to turn away more than a hundred applicants for ad-mission. He was also swamped with commissions. He set his pupils to work filling orders on designs which he originated. He revised, retouched, corrected, improved—and made quantity production possible.
Pause a moment before this triple portrait of Charles 1st of England by another Fleming, Van Dyck. It was painted in 1632 and comes to us from Windsor Castle. In one canvas the artist has put a front and two side views of the king. A strange fascination is in this sensitive, intelligent head, with pointed beard and flowing hair. A bit effeminate perhaps, but that may be due to the wide lace collar, silk coat and that beautifully modeled, super-sensitive hand. Examine this hand carefully. See the character it conveys. How it vibrates with life. Take note of the masterly drawing in the face. To sensitive features and eyes that haunt, Van Dyck adds the melancholy foreboding of a tragic fate. In this work you have the full story of Van Dyck as a portrait painter—a field in which he ranks with the world's best.
Before we go on with the walls of our gallery I want you to consider the fact that during the Renaissance many other things were happening besides the painting of pictures. Among other innovations, the fifteenth century saw the invention of the printing press. Parchment was now of secondary importance compared to the newly-discovered rag product, paper. Serviceable ink was being made. The engraver's art had arrived. There came prints on paper of designs cut on wooden blocks, or block-pictures; then block-books, and finally movable type.
Of a sudden the eyes of the world were opened. The mind of man had found new food. No longer was knowledge to be cloistered. No more were facts to be the possession of a privileged few. The printed page made for endless spread of thought. It brought printed reproductions of art. No longer was the enjoyment of fine delineation to be limited.
This bloodless revolution was the greatest in history. It was the revolution of ink. Its full consummation was to be a matter of centuries yet to come. Indeed, we are still in it. Much of what we have and are is due to printers' ink. It is responsible for most of our knowledge of art. To many art is still shrouded in mystery. It needs time, more museums, more printers' ink.
Here, now, is something altogether different in the way of art, by Albert Durer, who was born in 1471 and died in 1528. "The Great Fortune" is its name. Exactly twelve inches high, it is a print from an en-graving on metal. This angel figure with outspread wings is different from those to which you are accustomed. Yet why hasn't an artist the right to represent a fleshy, middle-aged German woman—nude—of such rare good nature, in angel form? It was named the Great Fortune—the last because "her foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone, which rolls, and rolls, and rolls." Great because it is the larger of two engravings on the same subject. The covered wine cup she is holding is supposed to represent Temperance. So is the bridle in her left hand.
Here, then, you have this strange but likeable winged figure above the clouds. Beneath is this quaint little town of perhaps twenty-five homes; a little church; a rambling stream among wooded hills; picturesque bridges, minor fortresses and many clumps of trees. All is perfectly natural: delightfully real, though probably a far stretch from reality. The landscape is like a setting in a dream. And our winged angel, whose outlines recall the Greek legend of God having been angry when making the female form and distorting it with lumps and depressions—with hair braided a-top her head and a smile of gentle humor playing about her mouth, shows a mastery of drawing which few could have excelled.
Albert Durer was also one of the world's great painters. His "Crucifixion" is thus described by Lionel Cust: "It may be doubted if any painting can rival this little panel, seven and one-half inches high by six inches broad, in intensity and nobility of expression, in truth and precision of drawing and in charm and richness of color. Executed like a miniature painting, it is as large in conception as an altar-piece of Bellini or Raphael. The body of the Saviour hangs relieved against a dark and sullen sky, which breaks behind the foot of the cross into a low sunset horizon reflected in a deep blue lake bounded by the purple hills in the shadows of evening. A few thin trees help to accentuate the solitude and pathos of the situation."
This portrait is by another German master, Hans Holbein the younger. George Gisze's likeness, painted about 1540, comes here from the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin. The strong, quiet face holds your attention in spite of the many objects on the table and along the wall. Young Gisze has been reading a letter from his brother. As he looks up he seems to be carefully weighing its contents. In color and design the cloth on the table is quite daring. These articles scattered on it, apparently used in his work, are there for verisimilitude. The Venetian vase holds carnations, symbolic of happy love.
For a portrait this is full of color, yet it is tasteful and quiet. Soothing hues are just where they should be to neutralize more lively ones. That black cap and coat subdue the brown and red of hair and doublet. The bright table-cloth and scattered what-nots are toned down by the cool green wall. Small articles standing or hanging about make you feel you are seeing the sitter amid the everyday surroundings of his sanctum. But they do not in the least distract your attention. That is achieved by color-balance—placing a variety of objects so they will neutralize one another and together produce harmony. It is pretty much like striking a chord on the piano.
You will observe that every last bit of detail here is painted with the finest delicacy. That book on the shelf, the gold scales hanging on the hook, the man's seal and gold chain, the flowers, keys, papers—all are portrayed with utmost fidelity. Yet none of them take away from the fine, frank face. Your eye runs down to the exquisitely drawn hands—you are back at the face. There is a charming simplicity about it. No tricks, no protrusion of an artist's skill. Just an honest portrait of an honest face.
But he did have tricks, did Holbein. He was full of them. His sketches show marvelous cleverness. Only, he was clever enough to hide it in his finished work. That is artistic wisdom. Except in his preliminary sketches, an artist should cover up his technical cleverness. Holbein was noted for his ability to grasp the essentials in a face. A skilled physiognomist, he brought out the full character of his sitter with a few well-placed lines.
Toward the end of this wall we are coming to the work of the three greatest Hollanders, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. But first let me give you a bit of generality on the art of seventeenth century Holland. Flemish love of detail had by now reached its zenith. The inherent beauty of inanimate things became a passion. Italian art had been ruled by religious fervor. Contact with Hellenic culture developed in Italy the ideal of abstract beauty as both a symbol and an expression of the highest good in life. This beauty was expressed in the human form, in its harmony of proportion, its rhythm of movement. Dutch painters went a step farther. Their art was inspired by the kaleidoscope of beauty in every-day material objects.
Thus came the painting of every conceivable kind and description of still-life. Here was the origin of the school of Dutch "genre." Seeking beauty in new places led to a scramble for representing little things. Objects were crowded into canvas without rhyme or reason. Beautiful in themselves, perhaps, the ensemble is not infrequently quite tiresome. Yet Dutch genre was a distinct contribution to art.
Come here, now, and smile with this "Joly Toper," by Frans Hals. The drinker's eyes beam at you. Under that wide black hat a contagious smile lights up the red face, bringing sympathetic movements to pointed beard and mustache. His left hand extends the wine-glass, while the wide open fingers of the right are ready for the handshake of true comradeship with whomsoever it may please. Quite in keeping are dishevelled, bushy locks sweeping the white ruff. That delightful play of light and shade on beaming face adds to the jollity of this work of one of the liveliest of artists.
You will observe the broad sweep, the freedom of this painting. For Frans Hals was one of the first Impressionists in the real sense. Possessed of a wealth of imagination, he carries our imagination along with him. "He has a great gift of rendering any passing moment of psychical agitation." His outlook is genial and ample. His style is facile, vigorous, stimulating—full of conviction and gusto.
Here, now, is a Rembrandt, the "Syndics of the Cloth Guild," from the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, painted about the year 1665. So simple a work, you may won-der at its fame. Merely six men about a table: yet it is one of the masterpieces of all time. All the men wear the extended white collar, and five of them the wide-brimmed and high peaked Dutch hat. They look up at us from their business in hand. Nothing more. But look a bit closely. Study this painting. It is much more than a view of six gentlemen conducting the business of their Guild. (By the way, you ought to read up on the artists' Guilds of the Middle Ages, with their strict rules as to quality of workmanship.)
That shaft of light from the left has illuminated all the faces. More. It has opened their various characters to our scrutiny. It is as if their very souls had been X-rayed. Study these faces one by one. Take that man at the extreme left, the side of his face and collar emerging from the shadow. He has risen in life through hard work. He stands by his principles. He is very difficult to move. His plodding mind is slow to grasp and even slower to let go. Quite different is the tall man bending over the table with tiny brush of a beard. Notice the covert way he looks up at you from the corner of his eye. A bit more cunning here. Less plodding a type and more calculating. Next to him study the man seated, with his hand over the book. In this face the bright light reveals principle and determination. A man made to rule by the force of character combined with clear thinking. Standing, hatless, the younger man of some-what Hebraic cast is quite a study in physiognomy. Smiling, a bit whimsical, philosophical in his outlook on life—you might enjoy knowing him. Seated next, with curly hair falling down to his collar and one hand holding the book of accounts, is a man of sterling qualities. His eyes are the eyes of gentle kindness. His mouth bespeaks patience and sympathy. Here is a beautiful and noble face. A face you can trust. The last of our portraits is a man of method; successful, systematic, above-board; the kind of man in demand for directorates.
These characterizations are of necessity too brief to do justice to the men or to the artist who portrays them. There is a wealth of character here of which you cannot get the full meaning without careful analysis. But take note of some of the other points of the work before us. The use of light in contrast with darkness not only illuminates the essentials but seems to infuse poetry into the canvas. Here is true imaginative real-ism. See the marvelous transparency of the shadows. How here and there an eye bright and keen peers out from darkness almost black. Note the refinement of chiaroscuro—of which, by the way, Rembrandt is the master of all time.
Fromentin says of Rembrandt's work: "He emulates the true colors of the daylight, draws with a fidelity and thoroughness that, while it makes you forget that it is drawing, itself forgets nothing. It expresses and characterizes in their individual traits glances, attitudes and gestures, that is to say normal habits of behavior and the furtive accidents of life." To this he adds the meaning of chiaroscuro of Rembrandt quality:
"It is more than any other medium the form of intimate sensations of ideas. It is light, vaporous, veiled, discreet; it lends its charm to things which are concealed, invites curiosity, adds an attraction to moral beauties and gives a grace to the speculation of conscience. In fine it is concerned with sentiment, emotion, the uncertain, the undefined and infinite, with dreams and the ideal. And that is why it is appropriately the poetic and natural atmosphere which the genius of Rembrandt did not cease to inhabit."
Rembrandt is the master of the art of "enveloping everything, of immersing everything in a bath of shadow, of plunging into it even the light itself in order to draw out the light therefrom so that it shall appear more distinct, more radiant; to cause waves of shadow to revolve round lighted centers and to modulate these shadows, to hollow them, make them dense and yet render the obscurity transparent, and the less obscure parts easy to penetrate."
The way this imaginative genius, who composed in light, uses light for spiritual effect is shown in this other painting, "The Nativity," which comes here from Munich. Compare it with Correggio's "The Night" in which too, light plays so strong a part. No miraculous illumination here. No angels hover round. There are no halos. It is a plain story of two homeless wanderers who have laid down their new-born babe in a manger. Some homely shepherds are peering in. A group of subjects uninspiring and rather uninteresting—except for one thing. Joseph takes a lantern from a hook. The scene is transformed by magic light. Faces become luminous. Not a miracle, but an everyday phenomenon lifts the entire scene from earth to heaven.
Let me read you these lines on Rembrandt from "The Story of Dutch Painting" by Caffin: "He may reveal clearly but a portion of a figure, veiling or obscuring the rest; but what is revealed is sufficient for the physical appreciation of the whole figure, and enforces the physical significance, while the spiritual significance is profoundly increased by the demand that has been made upon our imagination. . . . No other artist has ever treated form with such a mingling of power and subtlety, with so fine and sure a reliance upon its physical qualities, and yet with so marvelous a capacity to interpret its spiritual significance." Although he loves color, its use is subservient and a symbol of expression. He makes it merge "in the impression that he has formed of the whole subject. . . . He uses it as he does form; extracting from it this or that, here forcing or there veiling its emphasis, plunging much of it in shadow. . . . What he sought to express was the impression that the form and color had aroused in his imagination."
I would add just this: Rembrandt fulfils all essential requirements of rhythmic vitality. He makes us feel that we are in touch not only with the life in his subject, but with the life of the entire world. "It is as if we moved to a music which set the stars in motion."
From the Metropolitan Museum of New York comes this "Girl at the Window" by Vermeer. (1632-1675.) Here, too, is exquisite light and shade, but it is different in treatment than Rembrandt's. This flood of light on the girl's face and costume and kerchief over her head is of rare fineness. It lends charm to the smile playing about her mouth and eyes as she holds the pitcher in one hand and with the other opens the window. There is rare delicacy and refinement in this simple figure. See the fine draftsmanship in incidental objects, the splendid effect of values properly balanced. Natural light is here made to produce most pleasing harmony.
In simplicity and adjustment of detail, in composition, in consummate delicacy, this painting is little short of perfection. In its beauty of color, in its exquisite taste it has few equals in Dutch art. Here we see a great artist's sincerity, his reserve, his superb skill—a skill, by the way, by some considered the highest in all art. Vermeer passed through his years of early training, then achieved a mastery which never after saw a decline. He held fast to his ideals. To the last he adhered to the artistic demands of an exacting conscience.
We have here another world renowned masterpiece, from the Prado Museum at Madrid—"Las Hilanderas," "The Spinners," by Velasquez (1599-1660). Perhaps you fail to see why this work has achieved its fame, or why its creator ranks so high. Then look this picture over carefully, consider all its merits. For it is by the painters' painter par excellence. All artists burn incense at his shrine. For this there must be a reason. And reason there is.
We have here a simple interior of a tapestry weaving-room. In the foreground observe that shawled woman behind the spinning wheel on one side and on the other the barefooted young spinner with back to us, that one whose beautiful arm and hand are outstretched as she winds her yarn. See how gracefully this other young woman on the right leans over the bench. On the opposite side of the canvas, the young worker carrying a load of cloth on her shoulder helps to balance the composition. Finely done, too, is this young lady facing us, playing with the cat.
In the raised alcove in the background a lady is examining a large tapestry. Two sales women wait on her. For the rest we have this large curtain on the left, the ladder near the alcove steps, yarn scattered on the floor or hung on the wall. All the properties, incidentals and disarray which you might expect in a combination factory and salesroom are here. Nothing out of the ordinary. Yet the painter Mengs said of this picture, "It seemed as if the hand had no part in it, and it had been the work of pure thought." There must be a reason.
One of the chief virtues of this picture is its simple story. There is no visible effort at display of tricks. No artificial means are employed to heighten effects. There is no dazzle. No fireworks. It is an interior in the manner of Dutch genre—so simple, so seemingly artless, one is tempted to kneel down beside that bent figure and stroke the cat on the floor: or to walk up those steps and feel the texture of the tapestry on the wall. This realist does not stop at showing us a page out of the life of an interesting group of women. He lifts us up and sets us among them. And oh, what a wealth of art is in this artless work!
You might search the canvas a good while before you find any flaws in it. To begin with, the really complicated composition is in perfect unity. There is absolute balance in distribution of figures both in the foreground and background. Such naturalness of pose in these women engaged in varying occupations only a great draftsman is capable of producing. That girl with arm oustretched arranging her yarn is one of the most exquisite figures in all art. Look carefully, study this wealth of lovely outlines, balance and harmony of pro-portion. In this canvas is a subtle beauty fully as enjoyable as the rich coloring of a Venetian masterpiece.
And how is all this achieved? Is it really "willed" onto the canvas? Does pure thought attain what human hands are incapable of producing? Does some supernatural faculty, not brushes and paint, transfer all this from the mind of the master to the canvas? A less mystical explanation is in R. A. M. Stevenson's The Art of Velasquez:
"Velasquez relies on tone, on the magic of true light, on delicate adjustments of proportion between masses to unite the many figures of `The Spinners.' He does not trust to mere lines to produce his forms for the harmony of composition. No lines are drawn around eyes, lips or other features to cut up the picture." There are no sharp edges. He creates a sense of intimacy by gradations of tone rather than by fixed contours. Hence, "while a painted Holbein differs very little in method and aim from a Holbein drawing on white paper, a picture by Velasquez belongs altogether to another branch of art."
Outlines ever so fine are produced by the mere use of delicate tone—not full color, mind you—as in this bit of slightly colored brown and gray. Workmanship in oil is this painter's chief delight. Never mind correct delineation. He has that down to perfection. But see how he treats his pigment. Its careful laying is his sole object. "He caresses it. He loves to give it that slow and gentle gradation which the draftsman in monochrome finds to be his only delight." It is like the orator's love of rolling alliterations about his tongue. But only a finished artist may get an insight into the feelings of Velasquez as he contrasts and plays about with most gentle gradations and thunderous outbursts of color.
I trust by now you have some idea of this superb Spaniard's genius. A proper appreciation of the work of this greatest technician of all time is of itself a gift worth possessing. To feel his breadth and freedom, to know the full meaning of his uncompromising realism is to have one's life enriched by a great deal. And partly that your mind may dwell a bit more on Velasquez we shall not consider the work of any other Spanish masters. Although you will do well to form an acquaintance with El Greco—a painter never excelled for simplicity and power.
From here on we shall leave our exhibition hall. Before we do, however, let me stress another point or two of generalities.
To begin with, in the works we have been studying I tried to point out the qualities that make masterpieces. My descriptions comprise a workable basis for under-standing art. Yet why go to such trouble learning how to appreciate a subject? First, there is much in it to enjoy. Second, an interest in art of itself adds zest to this business of living. Third, the bigger lessons of balance, harmony and the proper relation of things should serve to make your home or mine—be it ever so fine or humble—a little better place in which to live.
But let not the greatness of these works of centuries gone by blind you to the things of today. There was poor work done in olden times just as good work is produced now. You are not judging time, but art.
During the remaining pages on painting I shall try to deal more with its spirit than mechanics. It is well to know something of the skill of the craftsman; but beyond a certain point it should be taken for granted. Thus, we who are not musicians take for granted the virtuoso's technique and listen for his message. We do not scan the writer's grammar or syntax—though sometimes a particularly apt turn of phrase may please —but seek to learn what he has to say. True, in painting it is very difficult to separate message from technique. Yet having dwelt on the one, it may be excusable if for a while we stress the other.
I may as well point out, incidentally, that disagreements on matters of art are endless. In China, says Laurence Binyon, art is a matter of philosophy: in 'Western countries it is a matter of controversy. How, then, shall you learn truly to appreciate art? First, be sure you want to learn, and not to pick up a smattering of colloquialisms for parlor conversation. Then study works of art everywhere. Travel, if you can. Visit museums; let beauty sink in. Read standard authorities. Weigh opposite points of view. Then form your own conclusions.
My own interest in art is that of a collector—not the kind who is constantly reselling at handsome profits to improve his collection, though there is nothing particularly wrong with that. Art is my hobby, my love; and it is a single-track interest.
My viewpoint, therefore, must needs be that of the lover, not the critic or fault-finder. Appreciation of art to me means being able to see the good in good art. I am passing along what years of study and contact have taught me in the hope that it may sow true appreciation in a field overrun with weeds of disagreement and misunderstanding. Yet under no circumstances will I be-come part of this controversy. I am deeply interested in the essentials of art, and not at all in the elements that comprise the difference between twiddle-dum and twiddle-dee.
Inasmuch as succeeding pages are to stress the spirit or message of art, I may as well tell you that one reason for this book is a desire to counteract an angle on the subject emanating from continental Europe since the World War. While I fully sympathize with those who have suffered most from the debacle of 1914, those whose wounds are still open, there is far too much pessimist interpretation of art. Too much despair and death is in otherwise masterly works on a great subject.
Art is beauty. It is the mirror of all that is good in life. And if as an after-effect of the World War it has in European minds become shrouded in suicidal philosophy, it is high time for a series of translations from American English into French, German and Italian. Time for a return of rational thought. The war is over.