The Little Review through Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools made it easier to “read” The Little Review in the sense that you can know the overarching theme of the magazine or an issue in specific without having to actually read every piece of writing in it. The word cloud was really helpful in finding out the general theme(s). The graphs of search words, though, was more helpful if you wanted to know how prevalent a certain word was, and since you could relate it to a certain issue where it was either remarkably low or high, it helped put it into historical perspective too. That was more interesting to me because then you could see the social effects of big events, like how we talked about the rise of censorship during the war and how they didn’t even use the word war. That’s not something that would be immediately recognizable, unless perhaps you were specifically looking for it, just by reading every page of the journal.

One thing I found when going back to read the journal after looking at the graph of words that I’d searched is that it wasn’t always truly representative of the issue. Like in class, when Brooke searched Democrat and Republican and it showed one issue that had a lot of mentions of Democrat, but it turned out to just be a piece entitled The Democrat, which made liberal use of the word. If you were to just look at the graph without going back to the actual journal, you could come away with a skewed vision of what the journal represented. Other times, it was completely accurate, and it turned out to be something related to the current events of the time, which you wouldn’t have been able to see without comparing it to the issues published in later years. 


Le Petit Journal des Refusees

Le Petit Journal des Refusées only published one issue in 1896. Published in an age of anxiety and discontent, Le Petit Journal presents a prototype of the modernist visual and literary art of the World War I era, which would start less than twenty years after the magazine's publicaton. The description of Le Petit Journal in the Modernist Journals archive describes the magazine as giving "hints of Dada and Surrealism before these modes of modernism actually developed" -- a similar sentiment ties Le Petit Journal and post-WWI movements, such as Dadaism, together. The publication, it seems, would appeal to a very niche group - as evidenced by the fact the magazine never published more than one issue.

Page sixteen of Le Petit Journal des Refusées displays an advertisement advertising the engraving services of Union Photo Eng. Co. in San Francisco. It is on a leftside page, across from The Ghost of A Flea. This doesn't seem to hold any significance in and of itself, however these are the last two pages of this particular copy of the magazine. Nowhere else in the magazine is there an advertisement, and the address of the company advertised is the same as the publication's. While this is clearly a modern publication, the existence and placement of this advertisement displays an obvious self-awareness which matches up with a post-modern ethos. The entire magazine seems to be self-aware, and clearly pokes at contemporary publications by including the name of the magazine by which each piece was refused. The ad, in that case, seems to poke fun at advertisements of the time.

Duration and Blast

In the chapter "Rethinking Modernist Magazines: From Genre to Database" I thought their point on duration was really important but not discussed fully so I thought I would take up that duty right now. I will stray slightly from the topic of magazines but it will all be related. The authors mention how Blast only ran for two issues, and how those two issues made more of an impact than magazines that ran for many more issues: “Blast ran for only two irregular issues in 1914 and 1915, but its importance and influence were great” (51). While they don’t explicitly state this, it sounds like the authors are suggesting that in spite of its short publication the magazine is influential. I think that part of Blast’s influence is because of its length. All of their great ideas are in those first two issues, and at that, I find the first issue much stronger than the second. Considering first the covers: the difference between the bright pink-melon color and the war art. The second cover makes much less of an impression. The second issue loses the firepower that the first one has – the momentum that the blasts and blesses promote, along with the detail of the first. It is less exciting to look at the second issue, as the magazine develops from an exciting fresh new take on modernism to a more uniform magazine with regular typeface and traditional poems and writings.

For a contemporary example, this is something I think of a lot with certain television series. I normally think about the television series The Office, comparing its original version from England and the US spinoff that happened a few years later. The original British version is short, succinct, and beautiful. They ended exactly when they should have: once the plot points were tied up and when there was still more to be desired. The US version, in comparison, was a once smart, funny and touching show that, seven seasons later, has transformed into a gasping, sputtering corpse. After the third season when the show’s main story arc is completed, the writers have some good ideas but it turns kind of bad, and then it gets a lot worse after the fifth season. They should have taken a cue from their successors. And then of course there are shows like South Park that continue to develop and make cultural commentary and grow with the culture rather than becoming outrageous and stray far from the original vision.

This is why I don’t get upset when shows get cancelled because even though more episodes would be great, because those first ideas are preserved without any of the vision being lost. Like with Blast, I think that after their first issue with its explosion of ideas they had run out of steam and things to say. And though the war ended their efforts, I think it was probably an okay thing, and maybe why its influence is so strong. There are no future issues to cloud the vision of the first issues and question its motivations. Of course, maybe the magazine would have grown and developed but then it would not be this clear example of a work as it is. As the authors say: “The same journal may change drastically over the course of its life. There is a basic pattern of growth and decline, but imposed on this there are often radical shifts that are the result of changes in governance or editorial decisions” (51). I think because the magazine had no opportunity to grow and change, Blast’s two issues both create and enforce its strong vision without sacrificing beating it into the ground with multiple, repetitive issues.

Tarr and Time

I found the topic of time to be a confusing point in Tarr. First of all, I find it interesting that "tar" can easily be associated with the titular character. Of course, this substance has a time dimension to it. But, also, there are more complex time issues that run throughout. I find it interesting the Kreisler is running away from time, but his hopes will forever be dashed in the form in which he is forever entombed. I think it is particularly impossible for Kreisler to escape because he's part of a serialized novel. The serialization of the work is the ultimate time dimension. Not only is he associated with the zeitgeist of the time because he is trapped in the bibliographic coding of the time, but he was originally read by people who may have only read the part of the novel that appears in the one magazine they had. There is no guarantee that the reader has read all of the novel before his entrance in the novel.  This is a kind of pull toward the value of the alinear.

Of course, time is an important question to modernists, but Lewis makes Tarr extremely specific to its time. I mean, the characters are particularly interesting in the confines of language, European post-war/war politics, and mechanization. Also, Tarr revists incidents from different perspectives in time (i.e. when Kreisler describes Bertha's exit in Chapter 2 of Part V and Chapter 3 starts back with Bertha's hand lunging forth to say goodbye).  Also, Lewis inserts stage directions early in the novel [i.e. "(He buried his face in it!)" (18)], and Lewis incorporates Tarr's diary into the novel (22). These additions destroy that fourth wall. There's not linearity in the novel, but it's published in a linear medium in the magazine. Of course, these inclusions are not specific to Tarr only, but it makes me think that maybe time is escapable but not completely. Maybe Kreisler can escape linearity not time. Of course, the alternative would be a spatial reality (like painting). But he's also a failed artist. Also, can he escape linearity being in a magazine? Maybe because he only exists in part? Maybe he's existing spatially in that sense...perhaps existing in parts in the magazine he exists as a snapshot of a character in action like a photograph or film frame. That would be a spatial reality?