England

Mapping Araby

Instead of just looking at Dublin, I tried to map the foreign references in Araby. I ended up with 3 places- Arabia from the reference to The Arab's Farewell to His Steed, France because of the french name of the Cafe Chantant, and England because of the English accents of the stall merchants. I noticed that in regards of the order they are presented in the story, the references go from the furthest away and get progresssively closer to Dublin. I think this parallels the boy's collapse of his naivete. When we're young, it seems like the world is so close and reachable, but I think that as the boy became more aware of 'reality' at least in the 'seeing through the mirages that make things seem magical' sense, the more he sees how small his world actually is. He said, "the syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me." (2) The boy saw Araby as this magical place, but when it turned out to be quite the opposite, it changed how he saw the world and himself. 

Even if that wasn't Joyce's purpose with the foreign references, they do give the sense of how far away from home the boy is. When the poem is mentioned, we're reminded that it's not his father he's waiting for, it's his uncle, which seems out of place and furthermore, he's drunk and forgot about him, which isn't very 'home-y' at all. And then at Araby, it's definitely not what he's used to, which is the little square that he's used to calling home, but it's also a let down because although they are different places, they aren't magical places at all. 

Potential anachronism in The Little Review

The first installment of The Little Review was published in March 1914 and is filled with essays, poetry, and literary criticism from some of early 20th Century thinkers. Most of the content is quite lofty, and it’s clear that this was a magazine meant for an intelligent, well-educated audience. It is not only the essays and poems that demonstrate the magazine’s intention to be read by the intellectual elite, though. Even the advertisements are geared toward an educated audience. In fact, every single ad is for a book or a different magazine.

One ad that especially interested me is for The Egoist, another modernist magazine with close ties to The Little Review. The ad for The Egoist does not advertise its intellectual content, though. Instead, the main selling point is that The Egoist does not publish any content about “the war.” At first I assumed that this meant World War I, but then I looked at the date of publication. This issue of The Little Review was published in March 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the event that led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, did not occur until July. Britain did not enter the war until August 4. In early 1914 in England, the only thing remotely resembling a war was some sporadic conflict between Irish nationalists and British loyalists over the issue of Irish independence. Beyond that (unless I’m missing something major), there was no war.         

One possible explanation for this seemingly anachronistic advertisement could be that war was still a major topic of discussion in Britain and England, even in times of peace. Perhaps people were tiring of the conversation, and The Egoist felt the need to advertise their difference from the mainstream discourse. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated!

 

 

RHYTHM AND THE FRENCH AESTHETIC IN BRITAIN

In the April 1934 issue of The Criterion, T.S. Eliot said of English poetry, “The predominance of Paris is incontestable.”1 This was 23 years after the little—and short lived—magazine, Rhythm. From its start in 1911, Rhythm recognized the literary significance of France, and situated itself squarely inside its literary tradition. In a way, the magazine was born in France; it was the brainchild of a very young John Middleton Murry, an Englishman gone to Paris to learn the language.2 With its young, optimistic editor, Rhythm functioned more as a magazine of appreciation than one of criticism, one of enthrallment with French ideas; it was interested in bringing “ Parisian literary, artistic, and philosophical excitement to England.”3 In this way, it was different in kind than many of its contemporary periodicals.

Rhythm was different during the “dead years”4 of English poetry because its engagement of French artistic ideals was entirely singular. Other publications were looking at French culture— The New Age5 , The Poetry Review6 —but Rhythm was taking an inside-out, rather than outside-in view, in more than a few ways. Its content was coming straight from the horse’s mouth as its philosophical leanings and many of its regular contributors were not critics of or commenters on the French, but French themselves.

Murry’s early appreciation for aesthetic philosophy of Henri-Louis Bergson guided the magazine; Bergsonian thought was the foundation for the theoretical and editorial manifestos of Rhythm’s first issue. Murry—interpreting Bergson—saw humanity and individual intuition, not “convention and tradition,” at the base of all “true art”. In practice, he saw that art (particularly poetry) should be “concentrated and intense;” its formal manifestation essential, refined, and beyond historical creed. In short, Murry envisioned in these first of Rhythm’s pages, an artistic/critical atmosphere in England where “past is judged by the present, not the present by the past.”7 Murry recognized these attributes in the French literary scene. While other critics in the know, like T.E. Hulme8 , were also looking to Bergson’s ideas, Murry was the earliest to point to Bergsonian aesthetics as a call to action for English artists. And no doubt, these very ideas—of intense, refined, unreceived artistic form (read vers libre)—point to the imagiste poetry that would come to dominate avant-garde work in England during the teens and ripple through all of modern art.

Beyond Murry’s support of such French ideals, he employed French correspondents Francis Carco and Tristan Dereme to assure his audience an authentic, untranslated Parisian perspective. Both members of a coterie of French poets known as fantasistes, they wasted no time in introducing Rhythm’s readers to a decidedly French, bohemian, and imagiste aesthetic. In the June 1912 issue of Rhythm, Dereme’s first contribution to the magazine “Lettre de France, I: Les Poemes,” expounded on these leanings. “Dereme was emphatic in insisting upon the importance of the new or ‘original’ and the highly personal…such an emphasis upon originality is one pole of the period’s intense conflict between theoretical allegiance to tradition and emergence of highly innovative techniques, and it has its significant echo in Pound’s Make it New.”9

In a follow up column in the August 1912 issue, Dereme pressed on, “Mais si un poète a trois disciples, il faut crier au miracle et les théoriciens même sont les premiers a ne suivre pas leurs propres théories...d'abord l'attention aussi bien par leur valeur que par le bruit qu'ils mènent.”10 Here he begins to list the three Bergsonian/modernist qualities in French poetry and criticism that “were to become touchstones in England: the use of images, creation of a poetry of personal vision, and intense critical concentration on the poetic text itself.”11 These principles clearly point to those of the imagiste movement and are again echoed by Pound in his 1913 Poetry essay “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste.”12

In paper, Rhythm was short lived. It ran only fourteen issues between 1911 and 1913 and only three more under its later manifestation, The Blue Review. This might seem to evidence that it was not a legitimate or important voice in the cacophony of little British literary magazines. The truth is to the contrary. Rhythm was quite literally a fresh voice--dedicating many of its pages to untranslated French literature and thought. While the goal of many of these magazines was to bring innovative work to a British audience, Murry’s Rhythm did so by looking almost exclusively overseas. In this way, he moved beyond the magazine’s print run and prefigured the sentiment behind Pound’s 1913 “Approach to Paris” when he wrote “The History of English poetic glory is a history of successful steals from the French.”13

1 T.S. Eliot,  “A Commentary,” The Criterion, XIII, 52 April 1934, 451-2.
2 Cyrena N. Pondrom,  The Road from Paris, (London, Cambridge University Press, 1974) 14
3 Pondrom, 14.
4 T.S. Eliot, “Books of the Quarter: Baudelaire and the Symbolist,” The Criterion, IX, 35, January 1930, 577.
5Ezra Pound “The Approach to Paris,” The New Age, XIII, 20, 11 September 1913, 577.
6 The Poetry Review, I, 8 August 1912 355-414
7 John Middleton Murry “Art and Philosophy,” Rhythm, Summer 1911, 9-12
“Bax and Bergson”, The New Age, IX, 3 August 1911, 328-31.

9 Pondrom, 146.
10 Tristan Dereme, “Lettre de France,” Rhythm, August 1912, 115.
11 Pondrom, 147.
12Ezra Pound, “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste,” Poetry, March 1913, 200-206.
13Ezra Pound, “The Approach to Paris” The New Age, XIII, 20, September 1913, 577.

 

 

The Rejection of the "Baudelarian Spirit" in English Literature

In Rhythm (No. XIV), John Middleton Murry sets out with what seems an impossible task—to refute Baudelaire’s influence on a large band of late 19th/early 20th century English writers. Specifically, he is addressing the claims made by French writer, G. Turquet-Milnes, in her book “The Influence of Baudelaire in France and England.” In Murry’s essay, simply “The Influence of Baudelaire,” he acknowledges the “Baudelarian Spirit” of the times, but only as it is manifested in France. He patently rejects its existence in England, and more specifically, that it left its mark upon such English writers as Algernon Charles Swinburne and Oscar Wilde. “It shows a really mistaken estimate of the individual importance of the English poet to treat him as the English Baudelairian par excellence,” (66) Murry writes, failing to note the documented adoration both Swinburne and Wilde, among other British writers, had for Baudelaire. 

Instead of working to connect Baudelaire and English literature, Murry suggests that Turquet-Milnes keep her analysis closer to home, and recognize poetic lines and affiliations only within her own nation.  “The “Poems en Prose” (of Baudelaire) possess a line of lineal descendants in virtue of their form alone, and their influence is at work to-day through Arthur Rimbaud…Turquet-Milnes should have set herself this task before all others, to follow out stylistic clues to their modern conclusions." (65) Murry, of course, is arguing that Turquet-Milnes recognize the British sense of literary continuity and leave English poets like Swinburne for the English. “The truth is that English aestheticism, and the so-called Renaissance of the “nineties” derive from sources very different from Baudelaire. The true line of descent is English and insular, from Ruskin through Walter Pater.” (67)

While contesting that the “Baudelarian Spirit” was alive and well in English authors, Murry does acknowledge a Baudelarian readership among such worthy Brits. He consents to this only to further highlight his intense nationalism: “It is the triumph of English literature that only in England could style and matter be so discordant as in Swinburne, or Oscar Wilde, the leader of the aesthetic movement, be guilty of such execrable literary taste in the manufacture of his poetry.” (67)

 

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