The New Age

Women in Magazines: Fashion, Domesticity, and Advertising


Item 1: 


a. "Fashion and Eurhythmics"
b. Valerie Cooper
c. The New Age (Volume 27, Number 8)
d. 117-118
f. fashion, women, men

"Fashion and Eurhythmics" discusses the differences between men's and women's fashions of the period, arguing that while men attempt to look middle-aged regardless of the actual number of years they have been alive, women seek to remain in a state of being perpetually twenty years old. Moreover, however, she asserts that clothing for both men and women is all very displeasing to the eye, as fashion is far too engaged in attempting to be "smart." Instead, she suggests that fashion be reinvented, and focus on allowing the body to participate most comfortably and ably in whatever variety of pursuits it pleases. This article is intriguing because at times she seems to advocate womem wearing clothes that are more traditionally feminine and designed to please men. She states, "For [women], consciously or unconsciously, the important business of life is the attracting of man's admiration," then goes on to assert that men do not want to have to work or think too hard for their enjoyment, and the popular channels for this sort of passive enjoyment are "sensuality and sentimentality. Under one or both of these names the bulk of our favorite music, novels, pictures and plays may be cast, and in the former division much of what is most competent and thoughtful in women's dress may be included" (117).  Yet she then calls for the reevaluation of dressing norms, and while suggesting that women are dressing too much like men, "rivalling men's devotion to smartness," she does not call for a return to femininity so much as a reevalutation of existing fashions, saying fashion should be based on "an intimate knowledge of the human form" (117, 118). This piece fits well into my research interests, as I am interested in examining gender, femininity, and feminism within periodicals. 
Item 2
a. "When you 'Feel like Flying'"
b. Sapolio
c. The American Magazine (Volume 70, Number 6)
d. 15
f. advertising, housework

This image is an advertisement for a cleaning product called Sapolio. It features a rather startled-looking woman flying  glider while wearing a plain dress and apron, with the text "When you 'Feel like Flying' from the load of housework[,] Be Calm~ and use SAPOLIO" (15). This image is intriguing in several respects. First, the copy at the bottom of the page, "When writing to advertisers please mention The American Magazine," illustrates the integral part that advertising played in the survival of magazines, as the editors seem to want to make sure that advertisers are aware that their magazine is an effective advertising tool. Secondly, the image suggests that many women are overwhelmed by housework and would like to get away from it all, and Sapolio promises to make such efforts easier, so that women do not have to "fly away" in order to escape their troubles. The advertisement suggests a conflicted nature of conceptions of domesticity-- perhaps women may be overwhelmed by their duties at times, but they are necessary and can be accomplished easily with the usage of technological innovations. As I wish to examine women and the construction of domesticity versus discourses of freedom and equality within periodicals and other texts, this image is related to my research interests. 

Lenin and the Political Theology of 'Mammon'

Work in Progress:

This paper will consider the pronounced political ambivalence demonstrated in several literary journals with respect to the consolidation of Soviet power following the Russian revolution and the weirdly consistent theological elements that accompany many attempts to express this ambivalence.

The September 12, 1912 issue of The Freewoman presents a comparison of Socialism and Syndicalism that seems to focus the difficulty many journal’s had articulating their position with respect to Socialist movements in Europe. This brief article “On Machines,” addresses questions raised by an article that appeared the week before concerning the magazine’s position on different Marxist political movements. The September 12th article in question is found in one of the few unattributed sections that often appear in the magazine’s opening section, in this issue titled “Topics of the Week.” Here The Freewoman clarifies the central conflict between Individualism and Communism that is presented by Socialism and Syndicalism. The editorial body argues that “it is clear-cut; Morality or the Machine. It is as definite an opposite as that between God and Mammon, Christ or Caesar” (324). The editors argue that Marx has firmly settled this question “in favour of the machine,” (324) and it is for this reason that the position of The Freewoman can not fall squarely in line with a Marxist position.

For The Freewoman, failure to acknowledge this antinomy directly and to attempt to resolve it without acknowledging its central contradiction, is already causing confusion in syndicalist theory. The editors remark that “Syndicalism is, in its nature, anarchist, insurrectionist, individualist; yet it is floundering about with theories of Communism. It is beginning to talk about the nationalisation of the means of production because it is being driven in that direction by its fallacies on Machines” (324). The Freewoman is not clear in what sense the concept of machines produces this contradiction, nor the strict sense in which machines is evoked. However, the comment should be recognized as politically prescient insofar is it very accurately forecasts the eventual development of national socialism as an attempt to resolve this antimony by both centralizing, nationalizing and simultaneously privatizing parts of its economy without feeling obliged to rationalize the necessarily contradictory aspects of this movement.

We see something similar in The New Age and its inability to fully form its position with respect to the new consolidation of powers in what would become the Soviet Union. The journal, having maintained a certain optimism leading up the the 1917 revolution, became more critical in the years that followed. An interesting example, that concentrates all of these themes is found in J.A.M. Alcock’s review of Aurel Kolnai’s book Psycho-analysis and Sociology. Here Alcock seems to be using his review of Kolnai’s book to suggest connections he himself is unwilling to make explicitly. For example, Alcock like many of the writers examined below is interested in the connection between religion and Marxism. Paraphrasing Kolnai, Alcock repeats the formulation that the “earliest religions were mother-religions, the next Judaism and early Christianity, were religions of the father, and now on the horizon is the religion of the son” (162). Alcock does not explain what he means by “religion of the son,” but he clearly identifies that the contemporary problem with Soviet power concerns, and here he borrows a conceptualization developed in Kolnai’s book, but not specifically related to the Soviet Union, “present expressions of father-revolt” (162). Alcock, while not specifically making a statement on behalf of The New Age, wants to make it clear that his position is in alignment with the goals of the journal. Using the book review to develop his critique of Soviet power, Alcock pauses to point out, “as was said in The New Age long ago, Bolshevism is Capitalism reversed . . . What then remains? As Kolnai indicates not only the death but the regeneration of the father. God is made of the values extracted from Mammon” (163). Here again, the word Mammon conjures simultaneously both a religious discourse and a pre-Marxian critique of the money-form. Of course this critique of Soviet power, while not specifically addressing its historical situation, appears just a year after Lenin’s implementation of the New Economic Policy, and refers both to Lenin’s centralized authority and the need to reinstall free market and capitalist elements in the Soviet economy through this policy.

Discuss The New Age "Notes of the Week: World Affairs" (2-10-1921) - Interesting contrast with Alcock: Here M. M. Cosmoi presents an extremely racist an antisemitic evaluation of the Russian revolution from the context of the larger spiritual development of “Aryandom.” Cosmoi’s article presents an extremely convoluted article that can neither reject nor embrace any aspect of a secular liberalism or Christianity. He ends by saying that the body of Albion (a term that both refers to Great Britain, and in its original Greek also refers to whiteness) will over come both Man and Christ.

Political Theology - God and Mammon
Look at the use of "Mammon" in other contexts and using Carl Schmidt’s concept of Political Theology as elaborated in contemporary considerations by Kenneth Reinhard and Slavoj Zizek speculate on the unassimilable religious concepts present in essays that express the ambiguity of political positions with respect to the Russian Revolution. Reformulate thesis on the basis of discoveries.


Modern Art in the New Age

 I want my final project to focus on modernist art. (Much) more specifically, my thesis will deal with the ways in which the art seen through the lens of the images in the New Age at times contradict each other and subsequently reflect one of the central paradoxes of the modernist movement. Looking specifically at the New Age under the editorship of A.R. Orage, I want to look at issues stretching from 1910-1914. This will give me a larger, yet definable scope of time to reflect on how art images changed and were displayed in The New Age. As I said before, my thesis will explore how the art in the New Age reflected the larger paradox of modernism--that is, the paradox of a rejection of old tradition that formed both into a neo/new continuation of the old as well as a new abstraction that had not been seen previously. 

Here are some of the topics I'm thinking about exploring within my paper:

-First and foremost, a working definition of the 'paradox' reflected in modernism: I'm planning on using Scholes's "Paradoxy of Modernism." Here I'm planning to define in concrete terms how modernism was a reaction against old traditions, but did in many ways have more conservative proponents who simply advocated for a continuation of old standards.

-A large bulk of my paper will talk about the actual art that was seen in the New Age. On page 87 of our Scholes and Wolfman book, the authors mention how between 1911-1914, there were 4 "sets" of images. I'll be fleshing out and giving examples of these pieces, how they differed and what they sought to convey. Inevitably I'll have to go into some detail about the artists, editors, and contributors to the New Age. I think it's important to get context into the views of some of the artists, which will impact the way in which we understand how they contributed to the magazine.

-Background. Likely in conjuction with the topic above, I want to recognize how the New Age was a British magazine. Even though there was connections with French art, England has always sort of done its own thing. I'll be using Martin's "The New Age Under Orage: Chapters in English Cultural History."

Besides the MJP, I'm also planning on using Bernard Shaw's "the Sanity of Art"


Art Usage in Anglophone Magazines

 The use of art in the Anglophone magazine, The New Age, came after the little magazine had been in print for many years. The New Age began in 1894 but it was not until 1909 that visual art appeared in the magazine. Scholes and Wulfman, authors of Modernism in the Magazines write, “The interest of The New Age in visual art came from a range of sources: commercial, social, and political before aesthetic. The First images to appear in the magazine were in advertisements for books and prints” (85). The first time that The New Age had a regular art column began with their November issue of 1909. The reader is able to see an alteration from the previous issue to the first of Volume 6 immediately, for the cover of the magazine is a drawing entitled, “Unmasked”. While The New Age slowly began to have art embedded in its pages another Anglophone magazine, Rhythm, had its page full of artistic works.

This Anglophone magazine, Rhythm, even went as far as to have the artists design advertisements for their magazine. Scholes and Wulfman write, “Having been attacked for including advertising and not being a ‘pure’ little magazine, the editor of Rhythm replies by saying that the advertising was making the art and criticism presented in the magazine possible and enabling it to survive. But Rhythm went beyond that. Its artists actually helped design the ads, so that they had their own Rhythmist quality” (115). Many of their advertisements have unique drawings that as Scholes and Wulfman say are “Rhythmist” in quality. For example, in the October issue of 1912 there is an advertisement for Heal & Son that comes with a drawing of a canopy bed.It seems that Rhythm has much more art within its pages, and places more importance on art than other British magazines. The significant difference between The New Age and Rhythm, as Scholes and Wulfman explain, “There was are throughout the pages of the magazine, full-page drawings and woodcuts like Rice’s Scheherazade and little fillers and decorations like those at the beginning of Sadlier’s article on the Fauves” (106). It is easy for a reader to see the difference between the two magazines. Just perusing through both of them it becomes quite clear that Rhythm used art to a higher frequency than The New Age did during this time. 

"For Valor:" Advertising in America, England, and France in WWI

By Samantha Friend, Ellen Guirl, and Michelle Parker

The early 1900s were a period of great cultural turmoil: between the variety of artistic, poetic, and literary movements, let alone the presence of WWI, the time between the turn of the century and the end of the war mark an era of rapid change. There is no better place to study these movements than through the literary magazines, especially the “little magazines” that became immensely popular at the time. One of the best ways to understand how these magazines related to the world surrounding them is through their advertisements – what better way to understand a culture than by analyzing its goods and services? In looking at those in modernist publication from America, England, and France, we came away with a wide range of results regarding how each country treated the war, a distinct turning point in European and history, in their advertisements. Essentially, by looking at different countries' approaches to advertising during wartime, we can gain a better understanding of how each country coped with The Great War, and on a deeper level, how it affected the national psyche as a whole.

Looking at Scribner’s Magazine between 1914 and 1916, it comes off that America really did not care that there was a war going on in Europe. The advertisement content that does mention the war seems to be just various book ads.  Then after a few travel ads stating that Hungary was a great place to visit and a trip to Munich was just what the doctor ordered for 1914, there came three advertisements that blatantly used war language and imagery.  Yet these advertisements were not your usual war bond ads, but three cereal ads.    

The first of these was for Shredded Wheat (Vol. 56, No. 5 1914).  This advertisement, instead of blatantly supporting the war, commented on food shortages and the rising price of certain food items.  The advertisement begins with in large bolded font the title “In Peace and in War” and then goes on to state:

-in Sickness and in Health- in Good Times and Bad Times- in all climes and in all seasons – for children and grown-ups -  the food that builds strong and sturdy bodies, fit for the day’s work or the day’s play, is…

This seems to be a play on the average marriage vows, yet considering that certain words are capitalized and others are left lower case it becomes obvious that there is a meaning to be taken from the ad itself.  After the exclamation above, the ad goes back to the title stating:

The one staple, universal breakfast cereal that sells at the same price throughout the civilized world.  War always furnishes an excuse for increasing the cost of living, but no dealer can raise the price of Shredded Wheat.  It is always the same in price and quality – contains more real nutriment, pound for pound, than meat or eggs and costs much less – is ready-cooked and ready-to-serve.

The advertisement itself instead of commenting on the war effort just comments on the food shortage, showing that, as stated above, America really did not feel the need to raise awareness in their advertisements but instead felt the need to almost complain about the food shortage, but at the same time use it to their advantage. 

This was not the only advertisement from Shredded Wheat that had a war tone to it.  Another advertisement found in Scribner’s Magazine (Vol. 57, No. 1 1915) a year later has as a title “On the Firing Line” which seems to parallel both a “front line” imagry and then also a firing squad.  The advertisement itself just depicts a group of people working and states:

The man or woman who accomplishes anything in business or in the home must be on the firing line.  Keeping at the front in any department of human activity calls for a good brain and muscular energy, and these must come from the foods you eat.

The only thing that seems out of the ordinary are the uses of “firing line” and “front” in this description.  The rest of the advertisement just focuses on the ability of Shredded Wheat to help build strong bodies, which could be used as a method of creating soldiers, but more explains just health advantages.  The rest of the advertisement also just explains what Shredded Wheat is:

Contains all the body-building material in the whole wheat grain prepared in a digestible form – a natural, elemental food that builds healthy tissue, sound bone and good brain.

Neither of these advertisements come close to the Grape Nuts ad found in Scribner’s Magazine (Vol. 57, No. 4 1915).  The title of this advertisement states “For Valor” and then straight underneath sits three war badges.  The first is titled the “Victoria Cross of England,” the next is the “Legion of Honor of France” and the third is the “Iron Cross of Germany”.  This imagery comes across as a bit extreme, considering Grape Nuts is a cereal and not some form of ammunition or medical supply or vehicle.  The text underneath the various badges then goes back to the title idea and states:

Deeds of Valor come from men of sturdy strength and active brain… builds stout bodies and keen minds…. “There’s a Reason”

This advertisement seems a bit different than most due to the fact that instead of paragraphs of text, there is just this one, simple, straight to the point sentence that seems to invoke a sense of strength yet false honor.  Considering the United States had still not joined the war, this advertisement seems to think that they would care about the “valor” of the countries involved.  But, the addition of “There’s a Reason” and then the small “Made in the U.S.A” seems to contrast or make the above medals seem not as important.  It could be said that this advertisement instead of embracing the war effort is actually making fun of it.  But that also seems to be just a waste of advertisement space for something that was changing Europe forever.   It’s not possible today to go back and find out why Grape Nuts decided to run this advertisement, at the time they could have truly thought that this was the best possible way of embracing the war, or showing that the war was as meaningless as cereal itself.  

All three of these advertisements seem to be a bit extreme, but that must be since today it would be impossible to really find this obvious of war references.  Just think of grabbing a box of Lucky Charms and on the front Lucky is dressed in the uniform of a soldier stating “There’s a reason you can never catch me lucky charms.”  Scribner’s Magazine is a magazine that was published and printed for the masses.  It is filled with advertisements of varying degree.  Many are for books, some are for schools or cars, but out of all of them it is the breakfast cereal advertisements that try to make a comment on the war.  

Its not surprising that the attitude towards war on display in the American magazines is very different from that of their European counterparts. Even the little magazines, known for expressing views outside the mainstream, displayed the American attitude of isolationism. In the May 1917 issue of The Crisis there is an ad on the first page of  the magazine advertising for memberships in the NAACP and subscriptions to The Crisis.  While this ad is a consistent presence in the magazine, this ad has a noticeable new element to it. In a large, mostly empty space in the center of the ad, it says “The fight for 1917 is to be against DISFRANCHISEMENT and JIM CROW CARS. If this is your fight, join and support us.”

Its clear that the war has finally become a concern for everyday Americans. Instead of embracing and encouraging this attitude, this ad attempts to quell it so that the readership can focus on issues that the magazine believes to be more relevant to their lives. This attitude is one that stays consistent in the magazine. The same ad is presented in the next issue, with the central text changed to say, “A time of National Crisis must be a time of redoubled effort and vigilance if the Negro is to advance his status during the war as the women of England and the oppressed masses of Russia have advanced theirs. The N.A.A.C.P. never needed your support more than now.” Here the war is more directly addressed than in the previous issue, demonstrating again that entering the war has become more of a concern for Americans than it was when the war first started. This represents an interesting twist on the isolationist theme. It draws on an implied knowledge of international political movements in order to reemphasize the importance of a local focus. In terms of the isolationist policy, The Crisis is fairly typical. By this time, however, the mass market magazines have largely embraced the war as a marketing concept. The Crisis, being specifically dedicated to an ideal, only invokes war imagery when it becomes inescapable.

For obvious reasons, the British magazines were much more involved with the war during this period. The New Age has no advertising, war related or not. It seems unlikely that a magazine with such incendiary rhetoric would be able to attract the kind of advertising seen in Scribner’s, even if they wanted to. In the April 6th, 1916 issue the Notes of the Week column on the first page demonstrates this attitude.


“Things are as they are, and no mere opinion about them alters them one way or the other. That we were persuaded at the outset of the war that the Germans would not or could not fight may be recalled by a glance at the Press of those days; but our then pessimism has had no effect upon the facts themselves; for here we are, after eighteen months of war, still engaged in the struggle which everybody thought would long ago have been over.” This is the antithesis of mass marketing, encouraging critical analysis of the war instead of blind patriotism. The fact that it is coming from those who are closely connected with the effects of the war serves to further highlight the ludicrous nature of the American advertising technique of glorifying the war in order to sell breakfast cereal.

France's modernist movement, as we have seen, has a different approach to its subject matter in text, a difference which carries over into magazines' structures as well. Two of the most prominent (or more specifically, two of the only) French Dada magazines still publishing during WWI were L'Élan and Dada. The International Dada Archive has 10 editions of L'Élan between April 1915 and December 1916/January 1917, and three of Dada between July 1915 and December 1918. In perusing them, I came to a number of interesting conclusions regarding advertisement in French wartime magazines. Firstly, I noticed a distinct lack of traditional advertisement, such as products, books, and the like that appeared in their English counterparts. Secondly, the type of advertisement that was there was either to promote the magazine itself or its direct associates, or was more closely associated with general cultural manifestos, especially those involving anti-German sentiment.

What I noticed immediately is that L'Élan is very much void of advertisements such as those of Scribner's. Instead of full pages displaying specific products or services, L'Élan concerns itself with much larger cultural issues. For example, in No. 2 (1 May 1915) there is a plea made to Camille Saint-Saëns, a beloved contemporary composer, regarding the music performed at his Sunday concerts. Titled “Le Cornet à Bouquin,” or “The Cornetto,” (though this could be interpreted in a number of different ways), this 2-paragraph, full-page article translates to:

It is announced to us that Mr. Saint-Saëns has just discovered an American Beethoven and that the Sunday concerts would be devoted mainly to him from now on, which would have the double and priceless advantage to attract the sympathies of a neutral nation and to replace the old Beethoven, with deplorable ancestry.

We dare however to acknowledge our fear that this new passion (or infatuation, depending on how you read it) does not leave sufficient place in the programs for the music of our venerated master Saint-Saëns. We could not in any case rent (or praise?) too much patriotic disinterest of this one that would be however indicated to keep the first place in these sorrowful moments.

Again, this is not exactly an advertisement. However, by comparing it with, for example, The Little Review's advertisement for a violin recital by David Hochstein from the November 1915 publication of The Little Review (, one can definitely see the “little magazines'” interest and investment in the arts outside of literature, poetry, and art. This is important to note, as national identity here is closely tied in with the arts, hence the importance of replacing a German composer. What these varied interests showcase is the magazine's relationship to the war raging around it by displaying the same patriotic attitude which exists inside the public, as well as artistic, communities; the editors of L'Élan obviously felt the need to remind both France and Saint-Saëns himself that the music that should be most heard by the French should itself be French. The author does add, however, that currying the political favor of a then-potential ally in the United States by playing an American's music is indeed in France's best interest, even in an alliance beginning with musical tutelage. This reinforces the message that Wyndham Lewis was attempting to convey in his “Editorial” from BLAST's “War Number”: that the arts play a significant role in national dialogue during wartime. L'Élan No. 3 (15 May 1915), like No. 2, is almost entirely lacking in ads as well. One of the only actual advertisements made in this release is for the magazine itself, but unlike its cohorts, it is not for a yearly subscription to give as a gift. Instead, it is an advertisement for a special edition of the magazine printed on Japanese paper – it is more of a collector's item than anything else.

Dada unfortunately has a significantly smaller catalog to work from in the IDA, but what it lacks in number it makes up in substance. Actually, it is also almost entirely void of traditional advertisements, so perhaps it is what the magazine does not say that is of interest. The way Dada chose to place its advertisements is true to the absurd and random nature of the movement itself. The advertisements themselves are very subtle; the first actual example I came across was on page 4:

On the page containing Pierre Reverdy's poetry, there is a small, diagonal section in the blank space that states the names of some of his poetry collections and their prices; the text running down the right side gives another poem and its price as well. A number of the other pages featuring different poets follow the same formula, though in a number of typographical variations. Instead of featuring these ads in large text and with images, they are tucked away in small text, going in different directions from the text itself. I had to hunt through the pages to find these ads, and it is interesting to see the difference in how prevalent ads are in French magazines, as opposed to its British and American counterparts.

However, what I found most interesting about Dada is that certain numbers, such as No. 3 (December 1918), have dual publications; one contains submissions from German authors, whereas the other replaces these submissions with those of French authors. The reasoning behind this was so that the magazine was able to pass through French censors, and so the separate edition become known as the “International Edition.” This title is particularly notable, as it implies a certain unity of nations under the banner of the Dada movement, including Germany. Though this publication originates from Zurich, Switzerland and is entirely in French, it also gives France the appearance of a certain inward-looking perspective, given their (understandable) complete rejection of all things German. The edition on the IDA is entirely in French, and I was unfortunately unable to find any with the German content to make a comparison. However, that Dada was able to transcend the hatred of the war in propagating a literary movement involving a coalition of different countries, let alone their success in doing so, is truly impressive.

Maybe it was due to the trenches marring the French landscape, and war invading every day of the French conscience, that they distanced themselves from references to this reality in their advertisements. Since it was part of the fabric of every day life, it seems as if the French did not feel the need to call further attention to its existence. The U.S., on the other hand, did not engage in this conflict until 1917 and did not have three years of death preceding. This may lend to the more casual use of war imagery, such as the strangely close association in Scribner's of war imagery and cereal advertisements. Ultimately, what we came away with after this endeavor was a sense of the immense impact WWI had on every facet of life. Its effects are innumerable, but for the purposes of this class, these all seem to relate to the obscure and often inconsistent use of advertisements within the early 1900s.

Britain, France, and their Colonies: How The New Age and La Nouvelle Revue Française Depict Imperlialism

England has always been recognized as an Imperial country, with various portions of landlocated throughout the world; it has been easily called an Empire. France as well has been considered an empire, with their colonies in Africa and later Lebanon. By looking at the literary magazines from the time, particularly The New Age and the Nouvelle Revue Française, we are able to compare and contrast how editors and writers viewed their countries own domain.

England, for instance had control over Australia, South Africa, and of course India. Their

relationship with these places, or lack of relationship, was of course commented on within the writing

of the time. For in 1909 the popular papers debated one topic; Imperialism. In the New Age there does

not seem to be a clear position, either pro Imperialism, or against it. Instead the term is thrown around

in many of the issues. One moment it states “this anti-foreign, anti-barbarian, cry has been, of course,

the easiest prejudice to arouse from the dawn of history down to our times in every land from China to

Britain” (No. 752 p293) but then right after they only ask for minimum wage and “standard conditions

of work and home life.” The New Age was considered a very international magazine, with comments on Austria’s Imperial hopes, and many other countries writings. Yet at a few times in different issues it was India that got the most talk.


As a colony of England many of India’s laws were passed by the British Parliament, without any

say from India. In Volume 4, Number 21 of The New Age , C. H. Norman writes an essay titled “Civil

Liberty in India” about how these laws needed to be reformed. Norman writes “the matter for

discussion in this article is the salvation created in India by the reckless manner in which the liberties

of British subjects in India have been suspended by means of an executive “Act of Parliament”…

which has never been discussed in Parliament, because its operation is confined to the Indian Empire”

(417). He goes on later to examine this closer by describing a few of the different laws that needed

to be changed. For instance, “The Act of 1908 provides for the arrest of a person and empowers the

magistrate to ‘record on oath the evidence of all such persons as may be produced in support of

the prosecution, and may record any statement of the accused if voluntarily tendered by him’ …the

evidence for the prosecution shall be recorded; but the prisoner’s statement maybe recorded. In the

one case it is mandatory; in the other case it is permissive” (417). As one continues to read this essay

it becomes more obvious that Norman, and The New Age believe that India should have control over

its own government, or at least have a say in the laws that rule them. The article continues on in its

critique of the English rule and concludes with the statement “what madmen really govern England and

India” (417) emphasizing one last time that something had to be done.


The complicated relationship between the English and their Indian citizens extends beyond

what is demonstrated by the essays. In the October 14th, 1909 issue of The New Age there is an ad for

a number of books soon available. The first one takes up the most space, with the title staggered to

draw the most attention of the four titles. The Prince of Destiny is advertised as “A romance”, “Being a

Presentment of India by an Indian”. This attention to the title and the author demonstrates how novel

the idea of an Indian author writing for a British audience was. By prefacing the author’s identity with

the idea that the novel is a romance, the hierarchy of literature is maintained. This work is not one of

high art, but a popular introduction to the culture of India. The language of the copy further supports

this. The novel, “draws a picture of Indian life from the inside, with its social customs and moral ideas,

its eternal patience, its religious fervour, its passionate love.” This gives the impression that not only is

the culture of India distinct, but the people themselves are inherently more emotional than people in

Britain, to the point that a British writer, this ad claims, is unable to capture this element of Indian life.

This novel also claims to address the conflict over British rule from the Indian perspective. The reader is told that “it would need the extraordinary love of an extraordinary man like the hero to save Britain’s

cause.” This summarizes well the complicated relationship between the British and their subjects.

The expectation of the audience is exposed to be that there is a class of Indian subjects who are loyal

to the British Empire, and that this is an emotional devotion instead of a rational decision. While this

demonstrates the extent to which the British want the Indians to feel like a part of the empire, there is

still a resistance to representing them as rational people on the same level as the English.


The New Age was open to multiple ideas on the subject. In an article published in the August

19th, 1909 issue a writer named “Flavus” wrote about his belief in England’s authority to rule absolutely over India. Flavus made few contributions to the magazine, and the fact that his name means “yellow” in Latin indicates that this is a pen name for another writer. In “Imperialism and Indian Patriotism” he writes that to rule India “is not a right acquired once and for always by any title-deeds or length of possession or such ‘right divine of kings to govern ill,’ but one which must be justified and renewed from day to day by evident faculty and power and use.” This represents the attitude that the British have the right to rule purely because they are stronger than the Indians. While this indicates that this author doesn’t see them as inherently better people than the Indians, it is still their duty as a stronger country to take advantage of this discrepancy between the two nations. He goes on to say, “Let us have done then with canting that we are in India only for the benefit of the natives.” He sees any professed caring for the rights and education of the Indian people as a justification, not the primary goal of colonization. He wants to lay bare the true intentions of the Empire instead of sugar coating it. This harsh view on colonization is contradicted by a reader letter in the next issue, demonstrating that the national narrative of colonization as a service to those colonized is one that is hard to expose and change.


Like Britain, France was also a colonial powerhouse through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, possessing those in Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and China), North America (Canada and the southeast Gulf area), the West Indies, and Africa (Ivory Coast, Senegal, Tunisia, and many more). Also like Britain, France had a very specific set of regulations as to what precisely is “French” and what is not. Considering the extent of their empire, it could be surprising that there was so little inclusion of their colonies in this canon – but, like the British, they were willing to share their empire, not their nation.  Having an empire that ha

I looked through the first few issues of Nouvelle Revue Française to see what came up in respect to their empire, and was surprised to find very little. Perhaps my search was not through enough; on the other hand, with an empire that massive, one would expect a more abundant amount of information. The first article I came across in the first issue that mentioned anything concerning a French colony was Jacques Rivière's review of Bouclier du Zodiaque by André Suarès. Set in Damascus, Syria – a country that would become a French colony in 1916 in the midst of WWI – Rivière lavishes Suarès, a French-born writer from Marseilles, with praise on the use of his setting in Syria (which was later to become Lebanon).  Though the article spends more time praising Suarès' writing ability than its setting, I found this mentioning to be especially pertinent given that a.) France would soon add Syria to its empire, and b.) that Jacques Rivière was to become the NRF's editor after the First World War.  This instance is neither positive nor negative towards this country, which left me curious as to what Gide himself thought of imperialism.



Another article from the same issue of Nouvelle Revue Française is André Gide's essay “Nationalisme et Littérature (à propos d'une enquête de La Phalange),” an essay that attempts to explain just what qualifies as French national literature. This essay is particularly important, as Gide was the founder and editor of NRF; his opinion here sets the tone for the rest of the magazine, as well as implies just what kind of literature NRF will publish. One quotation that I pulled discussed the nature of national literature; Gide claims, “Les oeuvres les plus humaines, le plus général, sont aussi bien les plus particulières, celles où se manifeste le plus spécialement le génie d'une race à travers le génie d'un individu.” In English, this translates to, “The most humane, the most general works are also the most particular, those where it manifests most especially the genius of a race through the genius of the individual.” By taking this statement and applying it to France's literary canon, one comes away with a pretty one-sided portrait of France's literary history. Who comes to mind when thinking of famous French authors – perhaps Perrault, Maupassant, Flaubert, or Balzac? (Of course, Gide is there as well from a modern perspective; interesting, given this statement) These individual authors define the French as a race; to be French is to know these authors, and vice-versa. To further Gide's view of the French, he later states that, “...par opposition à ceux de sang uniquement celte, ou normand, ou latin, gens d'un seul élément, incapables par conséquent de s'associer pleinement et classiquement à la multiple vie intellectuelle de la France” (432). This translates to, “as opposed to blood that is only Celt, Normand, or Latin (Roman), people from a single element, are therefore incapable to join fully and classically in the multiple intellectual lives of France.” This is a bold claim to lay – the only people who are capable of participating in French intellectual discourse are those who are descendants of the original founders of France. Essentially, there are three races that make up the French nationality: the Celts (or Gauls), the Normands, and the Romans. No Senegalese, no Tunisians, no Syrians – just “French.” As the NRF was one of the premier literary journals in France, this slight sets a particular tone for the rest of the publication - one that has continued to be an issue on a national level.



By studying the premier literary journals from before WWI, one can glean a fantastic and unparalleled amount of insight into the ways imperialistic nations such as England and France viewed their colonies. In the case of England, there was a certain interest in including India in their national dialogue; allowing these people to become actual members of English society, however, was an entirely separate issue.  France's views, however, were a bit more severe; though they found the exotic nature of their colonies interesting, they were not in any way French, and were therefore unworthy to participate in the national literary dialogue - they were, in fact, too intellectually deficient.  This being the attitude of the magazine's editor, one can draw a pretty solid conclusion that Tunisia's literary arts would not be represented here.

Imperial Federalism in the 19th and 20th Century

By: Emily Langhenry, Michelle Hwang, Paige Krzysko

Vol. I, No. 3 of the New Age from 1907 included correspondence mocking British desire to create for itself a multi-country union over which it would be King. Within this letter was displayed a significant issue of the times for England, that of the imperial federation. The proposed imperial federation grew on the basis of uniting Britain with her colonies under one rule, and was debated heavily. In many ways, the imperial federation was a symbol for England’s nationalist sense of its own place in the world. The desire to assert itself as a world power trans-continentally and the plausibility of such an undertaking would fill and perpetuate the debate surrounding an imperial federation from the late 19th century until the Second World War.

The push for an imperial federation in the late 19th to early 20th century stemmed largely from British nationalism, though it had its supporters in the colonies as well. An imperial federation would theoretically have been a British union of sorts—a federation of colonies, known as dominions, that would be ruled together under one parliament. These dominions included Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and more. The dominions would rule locally with their own government, but would be centrally controlled by a unified parliament in England. The idea was revived by Lionel Curtis, who also founded the Round Table Movement that promoted close ties between England and her colonies. These proposals came at a unique time when favor for British imperialism was beginning to clash with feelings of self-nationalism within the dominions. An imperial federation was a popular plan with the British Conservative Party as well as with New Imperialists. The need to create such a union targeted, in particular, the country of Canada. The Imperial Federation League was created to promote the imperial federation, and held branches in Canada as well as other colonies. British imperialists both in the United Kingdom as well as in Canada sought to strengthen English presence in the North American continent as a counterbalance to the rising power of the United States. British nationalist sentiment, championed by many of the proponents of an imperial federation, hung to the imperialist movement in hopes of reaffirming, through the future federation, the strength of England as a ruling world power.

            In The New Age, there are examples of arguments for imperial federalism through the author's attitude towards the spread of socialism. The notion of England as a leading world power is mentioned in The New Age before Vol. 1 No. 3 as the letter written there is a reaction to a section on the first page of Vol. 1 No. 2 titled “Outlook.” First the author writes, “What the socialist has to do is to apply the Socialist test to every event in international politics. When he has made up his mind on which side in a dispute the interest of socialists lie, it is his duty to see that the influence, the resources, and, if need be, the sword of his own country are thrown into that scale,” (The New Age, pg. 1). In this passage, the author essentially says that a socialist must think about where his ideals lie in every case of international politics and then he must recognize what his opinion is of the situation. Then he must fight for that side of the issue to win and he must take every step necessary in order to make sure the socialist way of life is accomplished for that conflict. For example, he must make sure to utilize all resources available to him, which includes those of his country, in order to achieve his goal for the socialist aims. This applies to the notion of imperial federation because the aim of the movement was to create dominions under the English rule, which would have involved the British socialists using all of their resources to unite the subjects of this matter of international politics. Therefore, imperial federation would be a positive thing because it would enable English socialists to spread their cause to other countries and have an influence.
            The author then writes about socialism again in England and says, “In a word, the English Socialist must try to put England at the head of the Labour interest throughout the world, and to see that wherever reaction is dominant the oppressed shall be able to look to England as their protector and liberator,” (The New Age, 1). In essence, the author here is writing about imperial federation as a positive idea because it paints a picture of the rest of the world as lesser powers in the labor movement and states that oppressed countries can look towards England to protect and save them. So in that sense, the writer is implying that imperial federation is a positive idea because it would allow England to help other countries like Canada because they are stuck in oppression and England can protect them if they have control over them. The quote really gets at the notion of imperial federation as the dominate country being a savior for the country it has control over. It implies that countries like Canada cannot take care of their citizens and that England can swoop in, take control, and then run the country better because the Canadians are helpless. It connects back to the previous quote of using all resources expendable by a source to spread socialism. The English having full control over dominions would allow them to exert their power and resources to help other countries or colonies. It is a rather self-righteous attitude that is taken here because the English think that it is up to them to be leaders and to save others. The notion of imperial federalism would allow for the spread of socialism, which the British author in Vol. 1 No. 2 of The New Age thought of as a positive thing.

Just as there were proponents for Imperial Federalism, there were also those that were opposed to the idea of the federation.  The New Age printed many examples of views of those that were not in support of this British union.  As previously mentioned, Vol. 1 No. 3 of The New Age mockingly expressed an opposition to imperial federalism.  In the “Correspondence” section of the May 16, 1907 issue, a submission by M.D. Eder discussed the topic.  The author used a negative tone in a reaction to the idea that was a central debate during this time period.  The writer starts off the argument by appealing to supporters of an imperial federation by stating, “‘If we cannot have a Parliament of the Empire, how can we hope for a Parliament of Man?’ you ask” (Eder, 47).  The author expresses a majority view of those in support of the idea by saying that without the empire that imperial federalism is geared towards, how can any other beneficial forms of Parliament be accomplished.  Although he says that this argument sounds plausible, there is no validity to the statement.  There is no assurance that it is the only necessary solution to accomplish a “Parliament of Man.”  It is asked whether this will not just create another barrier for the British, thus causing more difficulties for them.  He continues by explaining, “Why seek to gather the Canadians to ourselves sooner than the French, the Australian before the German?” (Eder, 47).  This statement acts as a stab at the plan to execute the idea and what actions it includes; taking over Canada.  Canada was included in the union of imperial federalism, and the correspondence excerpt is asking why try to take control before other countries.  After looking at cultural differences, the author continues his wariness of the theory by blatantly explaining that the relationship between the English and colonists is a shaky one.  The result of the federation would include an equivalent to colonists in the dominions that would be under the British.  Eder describes that the English fear the colonists just as much as they despise the English.  The author attempts to ask why the British would purposely foster a relationship of this sort when there is a predetermined existence of fear and hatred.

Aside from M.D. Eder’s submission, The New Age printed another piece that questions the immediate need of an imperial federation. In the Vol. VIII No. 7 issue of The New Age, there is a paragraph in the “Notes of the Week” section of the magazine that once again discusses the idea of imperial federalism, three years later. The view expressed in the excerpt touts the way the British want to go about achieving the union.  It does not necessarily criticize the result, but how the federalists want to execute it.  The argument in the paragraph relies on the existence of the difference among the areas that are to be included in the federation.  It describes that there would be problems that would have to be dealt with due to the inconsistency of the type of federation that would apply to different countries.  The excerpt states, “A Federation that might apply to Canada would not apply to Australia; a federation that applies to Australia does not apply to Ireland; schemes of federation for Ireland, Scotland and Wales are not on speaking terms” (The New Age, 147).  As it explains, what may work as a federation for one country, may not work for another.  It asks what can be done to deal with this problem, and concludes that there is an overall desire for an Imperial Commonwealth.  Although it is known that one is wanted, there is no need to force it.  Instead of trying to make it, the author suggests that the British take the back seat on the matter and wait for it to grow.  The note concludes with the metaphor, “These callow imperialists with forced fingers rude would scatter its leaves before the ripening year” (The New Age, 147).  This criticizes the imperialists for attempting to construct a federation before it is time and is using the comparison to scattering leaves when it is not the right year to show the inappropriate urgency.

            Though the arguments over the formation of an imperial federation were heated and opinions varied, the popularity of the idea dwindled with the advent of World War I. Concerns of national security grew and the importance of transatlantic connections paled. British concentration shifted, in a sense, away from developing closer connections with Canada and other colonies. Some historians claim that “the First World War ended a transitional period in which national and imperial identities were temporarily compatible in the Dominions: “supposedly, the disintegration of the imperial link was henceforth inevitable” (Potter, 2007). England and the dominions continued to meet between the years of the first and second world wars in Imperial Conferences. These conferences eventually gave way to the current Commonwealth of Nations with the end of WWII and the dismantling of the British Empire.

            Overall, The New Age presented ideas of socialism tied to imperial federalism in Vol. 1 No. 2 and then printed a reaction letter arguing against the notion of Britain starting an empire of sorts, with other country under the rule of its own parliament and king. The idea of imperial federalism is connected to the notion of a British nationalist attitude at the time and the desire for Britain to make itself known in the world even as the United States continued to gain more and more power in the world. It is important to note that in Vol. 1 No. 3, The New Age allowed a response to be printed, critiquing the ideas of imperial federalism and allowing the reader to make up his/her own mind about how to consider the notion of a British empire including dominions.



The New Age, 1907, "Correspondence"

The New Age, 1907, "The Outlook"

The New Age, 1910

“The Tradition of Free Spirits”: Remy de Gourmont and the English Perception of French Culture

Valerie O'Brien, Clarice Butacan

“The Tradition of Free Spirits”: Remy de Gourmont and the English Perception of French Culture

     The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth were a period of immense social transition in Europe. Changes in political systems coupled with the development of new, much faster technologies resulted in significant shifts in culture. As concerns developed about cultural decline as a result of new mass production, articulated most famously by Matthew Arnold in Culture and Anarchy, modern British literary pioneers like Ezra Pound and Ford Madox Ford looked to France for publishing models they could imitate in Britain. Both Pound and Ford saw French publications like the Mercure de France as an ideal model for the rejuvenation of an enlightened English culture (Morrisson 32; Scholes and Wulfman 12).  One of the most prominent French writers, with significant influence on literary developments pre-war on both sides of the Channel, was Remy de Gourmont. In addition to being a co-founder of the modern Mercure de France and a fortnightly contributor to its “Revue de la Quinzaine,” de Gourmont was a Symbolist poet, a novelist, a frequent contributor to The Egoist, and a prolific literary and cultural critic. De Gourmont’s literary work, both in translation and in original French, as well as discussions about it appear in a number of publications including The New Age, The New Freewoman, Poetry, and The Little Review in the years before World War I and his death in 1915. He is consistently referenced as a figure of cultural authority by British and American publications. In the May 1915 issue of The Little Review, Richard Aldington acknowledges de Gourmont’s broad influence: “One can--or rather one could in the days before the war--hardly pick up any French review without finding some reference to his ideas or some criticism of his work” (Aldington 10). Interpreted as a prominent voice in French culture, de Gourmont represented to British readers an essentialized idea of contemporary France. In the decades before the First World War, Remy de Gourmont embodied simultaneously two primary strands which guided the perceptions of contemporary French literature articulated in modern British magazines: rationalist thought and Symbolist poetics.

         Many English reviewers identified in de Gourmont’s prose a rationality which they considered to be an inherently French quality. The recurring identification of the clear-mindedness in de Gourmont’s writing (and French writing in general) recalls Ford’s associations of the Enlightenment with the Mercure de France, a model for his publication, the English Review (Morrisson 21). The same qualities of Enlightenment thought which Morrisson identifies in Ford’s vision of contemporary France--“of rationality, of broad-ranging inquiry, of responsibility to the all-important exactitudes of language”--appear broadly in British and American articles about de Gourmont and French literature (Morrisson 33). De Gourmont was recognized for his comprehensive writing career, which in many ways parallels the expansive range of content in the Mercure de France, suggested by its list of features (Literature, Poetry, History, Sociology, Science, Critique) in advertisements like that in the January 1909 issue of the English Review. In an essay published in The New Age in 1909, F.S. Flint, a frequent contributor to the periodical’s literary reviews, describes de Gourmont’s work as that of “an artist and poet, looking through the cool eyes of a scientist” and quotes de Gourmont on his belief in the integration of science and art, which recalls the principles of the Enlightenment: “one must never hesitate to introduce science into literature or literature into science; . . . one should collect in one’s mind all the notions it can contain, and remember that the intellectual domain is an unbounded landscape” (Flint 219). Flint repeats another French critic’s identification of de Gourmont as “a liberator,” because of the diversity of his thought, and remarks that de Gourmont is both “analytical and synthetic: creative scepticism”--in other words, the epitome of Enlightenment tradition (219). Importantly, many critics attributed depth as well as breadth to de Gourmont’s work--in various reviews, Aldington, Harriet Monroe, and F.S. Flint, independently acknowledged the moral substance of de Gourmont’s work.

     De Gourmont’s prose became associated with Enlightenment rationalism for its technique as well as for its content. In his analysis of the Mercure de France and its influence on British magazines, Morrisson emphasizes the significance of language in French publication. According to Morrisson, French rationality was “reflected in common language,” and thus language became a site for the “cultural cohesion” the English sought to emulate (Morrisson 34-35). One review published in the June 27, 1912 issue of The New Age praises “the simplicity of the dialogue” in de Gourmont’s novel Night in the Luxembourg, attributing it to “that clarity of mind that seems to be the peculiar quality of French writers” (“Reviews: A Night in the Luxembourg” 209). The tone of this commentary, ostensibly laudatory in parts, is muddied by suggestions of satire in the review’s intermittent jabs at the novel: the reviewer notes that the novel has “few surprises . . . for the intellectuals” and that de Gourmont “interests by the suppleness of his mind rather than the subtlety of his reasoning” (“Reviews” 209). Tongue-in-cheek, the review suggests an additional essentially French characteristic in the novel: “the author being French, naturally there are voluptuous interludes with a goddess” (“Reviews” 209, emphasis mine). This review seems to play on popular English conceptions of French culture--claims which are consistently articulated more sincerely in contemporary publications. Richard Aldington, for example, credits de Gourmont with possessing “that incisiveness and clarity of style and thought which mark French prose as the finest in the modern world” (Aldington 12). Linking a conception of Enlightenment principles to de Gourmont’s language, Aldington describes an “individualist” spirit in de Gourmont’s authorial voice--“true to his type of culture” (11). In a memorial essay published shortly after de Gourmont’s death, Pound, who admired de Gourmont and translated much of his work, remarked on the directness and rationality in his writing, suggesting again that Paris itself had produced the effect: “Remy de Gourmont had found--it might not be incorrect to say that Paris had given him--a place where all things could be said quietly and openly” (Pound “Remy de Gourmont” 200, emphasis mine).

     These conceptions of French literature extended to its poetic movements as well.  A movement which initially began with Charles Baudelaire and his collection of poems Les Fleurs de Mal, Symbolism was the reigning poetic movement in France in the nineteenth century and largely shaped the Anglo-American perception of French literature as a whole. In dialogue with the English myth of the Enlightenment’s survival in contemporary France, “M. Tancrede de Visan . . . pointed out that the Symbolist movement did not touch poetry alone, but that it gave impulse to science and philosophy; it was really a new way of looking at life” (Flint “Verse: A Century of French Poets” 412). The British magazines perceived Symbolism as connecting with all reaches of French culture.  In its content, Symbolism strives to use concrete images, often fantastic or gothic in nature, to represent abstract notions of life, death, good, or evil and explore questions of morality. American and English critics maintained that the French Symbolist movement borrowed heavily from prominent American nineteenth century authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman (A.C.H. 87).  For instance, the tropes and motifs commonly used in early Symbolist poetry, particularly by Baudelaire, were derived from Poe, whom Baudelaire admired (A.C.H. 87).  Similarly, Anglo-American critics viewed its form, termed “vers libre” (Lowell 213) as a reflection of Walt Whitman’s style (A.C.H. 91). For instance, in his poem “Les Aveugles” (“The Blind”) from Les Fleurs De Mal, as translated by Jack C. Squire, Charles Baudelaire uses dark images throughout. In the first stanza, Baudelaire describes the eyes of blind men in grotesque terms, using language that combines the hideous with the strange. Notably, however, Baudelaire does not write in vers libre in this poem.  In contrast, Remy de Gourmont exercises free verse in his poem “Litanies de La Rose” in a way described as “a remarkable example of unrhymed vers libre” (Lowell 219).

     De Gourmont, who wrote at the end of the Symbolist movement, was viewed as the culmination of a movement that was criticized as often as it was praised by the British.  Dating back from Charles Baudelaire to the period immediately before the First World War, Symbolism was regarded as the primary literary movement of France. Particularly when examining the movement in the early twentieth century, English critics viewed the movement as outdated and grounded in a tradition that seemed stale in their eyes; many found de Gourmont’s work to be the most thoughtful and inventive of that style.  An editorial in the Blue Review expresses this stasis: “The Mercure de France, in its origin and conception certainly the greatest of all French reviews, has after twenty-three years exhausted the creative impulse which used to animate it. It has not evolved with the evolution of other methods and men; and its excellences to-day are the same as they were ten years ago” (Murry 73). The Blue Review’s critique of the Mercure de France becomes an assessment of French culture as a whole, implicating the Symbolist movement in its conception of French literature as stagnant. In the same review, the author suggests that de Gourmont is one of the magazine’s only consistently original writers, describing his “fortnightly  ‘Lettres a l'Amazone’” as a “mine of delicate and contemplative wit” (Murry 73). Given that he was both poet and critic, de Gourmont’s roundedness as a French author contributed to his construction as a holistic embodiment of French literature, particularly one in dialogue with Enlightenment principles. In his editorial description of de Gourmont as “analytical  and  synthetic,” Flint adds, “it is not the least of M. de Gourmont’s peculiarities that he is a master in both these contradictory manifestations” (Flint 219).  Consequently, then, he was not only considered the best example of contemporary French literature, but arguably the best overall in terms of quality. The fact that British magazines regularly translated his work, spanning his fiction and poetry to his philosophy and criticism, is evidence in itself of his prominence as a representative of French literature through the English perspective. 

     Some English poets, far from considering the Symbolist movement to be an isolated entity from English literature, embraced its adherence to morality and tradition.  The imagist movement, led by prominent poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, were viewed as being influenced by the Symbolist aesthetic in their preference for clear, sharp, and concrete images (Carter 31).  Both Pound and Eliot acknowledged the Symbolist movement as being quintessentially French, yet allowed its traditions to influence their own work.   On the other end, Futurism, a literary movement which began in Italy, exemplified the opposite phenomenon, departing dramatically from Symbolist ideals.  The Futurist Manifesto, written by Marinetti, reveals the movement to be reactionary. The first paragraph states, “We have already hastily  dismissed the grotesque funeral of passéiste beauty (romantic, symbolist  and  decadent) whose essential elements were wild picturesqueness, yearning for solitude, multicoloured disorder, crepuscular darkness, corrosion, wear and tear and grime of time, the deep track of the years, the crackling of ruins, musty smells, taste of putrefaction, pessimism, consumption, suicide, the coquetteries of agony and the adoration of death” (Marinetti 16). The manifesto dismisses the fundamentals of Symbolism, preferring simplicity over the alleged ugliness and muddiness of  metaphoric language. Futurism does not seek to conceal hidden messages beneath layers of representations, and arguably in abandoning this pursuit, avoids the exploration of morality and other philosophies altogether.  This could possibly account for the French literary movements that followed the war, which caused an abrupt shift in the English perception of French literature.

     In an “In Memoriam” note acknowledging de Gourmont’s death, Harriet Monroe quotes the deceased poet and critic’s own motto: “Ne laissons pas mourir la tradition des libres esprits”--“Do not let the tradition of free spirits die” (Monroe 98). The onset of World War I and de Gourmont’s death shortly after, in 1915, marked the end of the French Symbolist movement. During the First World War and in the years after, English modernists like Ezra Pound translated and continued to praise both de Gourmont’s work and the Symbolist movement as a whole (Read 128).  In an essay published in The Tyro, T.S. Eliot, known for his admiration and emulation of Baudelaire’s work, identified a loss of morality in French writing after the war. Eliot describes Dadaism, a French literary movement derivative of Futurism, as “a diagnosis of a disease of the French Mind,” questioning whether or not it is morally grounded as French literature always had been (Eliot 4). The nonsensical content of Dadaism, evocative of the post-war decline of civilization, reflects a world dominated by irrationality. The belief in a continuous dialogue between contemporary French culture, Enlightenment principles, and traditional French literature was no longer possible. These radical changes undermined the formerly cohesive conception of French literature popularly held in England before the war.


Works Cited

A. C. H. "A Perfect Return." Ed. Harriet Monroe. Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 1.3 (Dec. 1912): 87-91. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

Aldington, Richard. "Remy De Gourmont." Ed. Margaret C. Anderson. The Little Revie. 2.3 (May 1915): 10-13. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

Eliot, T. S. "The Lesson of Baudelaire." Ed. Wyndham Lewis. The Tyro 1.1 (1921): 4. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

Flint, F. S. "Book of the Week: Remy De Gourmont." The New Age 5.11 (8 Jul. 1909): 219-20. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

Lowell, Amy. "Vers Libre and Metrical Prose." Ed. Harriet Monroe. Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 3.6 (Mar. 1914): 213-20. Modernist Journals Project. Web.


Marinetti, F. T. "Geometric and Mechanical Splendour in Words at Liberty." Trans. Arundel Del Re. The New Age 15.1 (7 May 1914): 16-17. Modernist Journals Project. Web.


Mercure de France. Advertisement. The English Review. Jan. 1909. vii. Modernist Journals     Project. Web.

Morrisson, Mark. “The Myth of the Whole and Ford’s English Review: Edwardian Monthlies, the Mercure de France, and Early British Modernism.” The Public Face of Modernism: Little Magazines, Audiences, and Reception 1905-1920. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000. 17-53. Print.


Murry, John M. "Review of Reviews." The Blue Review 1.1 (May 1913): 71-76. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

Pound, Ezra. "Remy de Gourmont." Ed. Harriet Monroe. Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 7.4 (Jan. 1916): 197-202. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

"Reviews: A Night in the Luxembourg." The New Age 11.9 (27 Jun. 1912): 208-09. Modernist Journals Project. Web.

Scholes, Robert, and Clifford Wulfman. Modernism in the Magazines: an Introduction. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. Print



Mind the Gap: Analysing British and French Literature pre-WWI

In perusing both The New Age and La Nouvelle Revue Française, it became apparent to me that there was quite the literary gulf (or channel, more precisely) between England and France. As a British publication, The New Age was a fascinating window into the psyche of the intellectual elite of England’s population, and I gained a great deal of insight in regards to the British perspective on French literature. I found an article from Volume II, Number 25 that specifically addresses the lack of familiarity with the work of an exalted French author: Marie-Henri Beyle, or Stendhal, titled "Stendhal, the Prophet" ( To the average British public, French authors such as Stendhal are completely untouchable intellectually – at least according to Dr. Oscar Levy, who authored an article titled “Stendhal, the Prophet” in The New Age, from the publication dating April 18, 1908.  In the beginning of the essay, Levy claims:

 This description particularly captures Levy's view of the English in regards to their French literary counterparts: they simply will not get it.  Stendhal himself also has a distinct view about the English literary capacity, and says:


Obviously, neither author has a very positive view on the English and their ability to read Stendhal's work.  However, this is particularly interesting on Levy's part, as he spent a good deal of his life in Britain, even up to WWI.  He also spent a few years of his life translating Nietzsche from German to English, so his dislike of England cannot be that profound.  One wonders, given the harshness of these opinions, if the French perspective on British writing is equally as mean.


Oddly enough, this was not the case as I searched through La Nouvelle Revue Française.  I stumbled upon a 1910 introduction to G.K. Chesterton's "Les Paradoxes du Christianisme," which shed a good deal of light on the subject.  The author, the amiguously-named V.L. (despite my best Google/Wikipedia/internet searching, I was unable to find who exactly this is), writes an introduction for British author Chesterton for his article "Orthodoxy."  What struck me in particular was the author's emphasis on previous famed English authors, including George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and William Makepeace Thackeray.  Instead of attempting to distance himself from these authors as a way of developing a new modernity, the author of this introduction instead praises Chesterton for following in a great British literary tradition.


(The first page of V.L.'s introduction - apologies for the poor image quality!)


In particular, what I found most interetsing about this article was that Chesterton embraced Catholic doctrines as a means of "un système complet du Monde," especially because they contradict themselves.  As the author states near the conclusion of his introduction, "Donc, ils étaient vrais."

(The concluding page of the introduction)

The contradiction between Stendhal and Chesterton is immense; one rejects his country entirely, while the other fully embraces its literary traditions.  What I found most striking, though, was the articles' authors' responses to their respective writers.  Levy, a German-born Jew who lived in England, speaks glowingly of Stendhal, who rejected his French nationality and thought the English to be unable to comprehend his work.  V.L., who is presumably French, praises Chesterton for falling into a dogmatic British literary tradition like other famed 19th century authors.  These conflicting perspectives truly highlight the gap between these two countries, without having to even touch on modernism.

One final thought: what I found most ominous given this pre-WWI timeframe was the way in which Levy opens his essay.  His German national pride is extremely evident:

Ominous, indeed.

Criticism of L'Action Francaise in The New Age

    After reading the William Marx article attributing (in part) Eliot’s eventual rift with La Nouvelle Revue Française to his affiliations with French reactionaries like Charles Maurras, I was interested to find an article in the December 26, 1912 issue of The New Age which lambasts Maurras and the Action Française movement. The article was written by Ernest A. Boyd, a relatively frequent contributor to The New Age from 1911 to 1917. In the piece, Boyd briefly traces the movement back to conservative propaganda surrounding the Dreyfus affair and to the resulting League of La Patrie Française. He addresses the growing influence of the Action Française movement through the development of its publications (like the 1912 issue of “L’Action Française” pictured below).

    Boyd adopts a mocking tone throughout the article, explicitly deriding the movement as illegitimate: “Their daily paper is simply literary hooliganism” (178). Boyd restates the movement’s own the conservative political ideology to highlight its  absurdity. In satirizing the assertion that monarchal rule will return prosperity to France, Boyd expresses a republican sentiment in The New Age that is more aligned with liberal French politics.

    Along with taking particular issue with the anti-semitism of Action Française (“The Jews are said to be responsible for every political and social evil that exists in France.” [178]), Boyd critiques its extreme nationalism, or “nationalisme intégral,” which is at the center of the movement. Parodying the assertions of the Action Française movement, Boyd writes, “Whatever crimes the Jews have left undone have been perpetrated by the Germans instead!” (178). Boyd mocks the preference for blind nationalism over enlightened internationalism in his ironic contrition: “Let us bow our heads in shame, we traitors to England who prefer Chopin and Wagner to Balfe or Wallace!” (178). Boyd’s contempt for this brand of isolating, extremist nationalism allies him with the movement toward an atmosphere of internationalism that Marx briefly alludes to in his essay.