Rhythm

Music, Dismay, and the Blue Review

I explored the Blue Review, the short-lived successor to Rhythm. Each of its three issues followed a standard layout: contents, an imprint, an illustration, three or four short poems, several articles or essays, a visual art section in the middle, more essays, and, finally, advertisements on the back cover. The Blue Review seemed to appeal to a bibliophile audience and many of its ads relate to monographs, though one issue included a dressmaker’s ad and the same French ad was published in all three issues. This use of French, as well as appearances of other languages such as an article titled “Daibutsu” and sections regarding German and Italian books, also indicates an appeal to international audiences.

I picked an article in the middle issue - June 1913 - of the Blue Review called “A Fresh Start in Music,” which aims to balance two groups of composers: the academics and the modernists, in the article’s terms (volume 1, issue 2, page 97). The author toys with the mechanization and modernization of orchestras as well as the worth of preserving past theory and foundations for music. The page layout seems fairly simple: the pages are left-justified and one column; there is no visual art; the essay is situated toward the middle of the issue between an article called “Anger and Dismay” and another called “Epilogue: II.”  I find the juxtaposition with the “Fresh Start in Music” following the “Anger and Dismay” article, as music is often considered to be an antidote to anger and dismay, as well as a general soothing influence. The first issue of the Blue Review doesn’t have a dedicated music section, but the third and last issue concludes its articles with a survey of Beethoven, Elgar, and Debussy. This also indicates internationality on the part of the journal through its grouping of German, English, and French (respectively) musicians.

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. 

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.

 

 

Mainstream and Niche marketing

In looking at advertisements, I decided to look at one of the more mainstream magazines. In the October 1910 issue of The American Magazine, there was an  interesting feature in the first few pages. The top of the page featured an “essay” written about how buying ad space in this magazine was equivalent to buying customer loyalty. It is written under the guise of a loyal reader of the magazine who is willing to go out of her way to purchase those things that were advertised within because their ads support her reading. There then follows an index of advertisements so that a reader might be able to locate an ad in the same way it would be expected for a reader to want to find actual content. While this might not be a reflection of an actual desire of the average reader of The American Magazine, the fact that the advertisements are a proud addition to the magazine is an interesting one.

Obviously this is not an attitude reflected at all in the modernist magazines. In the Winter 1911 Rhythm, John Middleton Murry writes an essay entitled "What We Have Tried to Do" about the place of advertisements within the magazine. He says that, “There may be some who say that the admission of advertisements is a degradation of an artistic magazine. There are the people who are in love with the print and the paper. We have no use for them. We believe we have something important to say that no other magazine has ever said or had the courage to say. It is a thousand times more important that we should live to say such things, than that we should  bow before the cries of artistic snobbery.” With the inclusion of ads, Rhythm moved from a quarterly to a monthly magazine, and featured the same ads for almost a full year straight. The first being for canopy beds, and the second for the more clearly relevent gallery that sells prints of modern art. In spite of one of these ads being more closely targeted to Rhythm's audience, the inclusion of these ads seems to have been beneficial and satisfactory to both parties as evidenced by their consistency over the remaining issues of the magazine. 
 

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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Rythm and the art of Advertisment

         With the realization of advertisement in middle class periodicals created a demand for their new products and expanded the market place manufacturers launch advertisement campaigns across the board. In many of the magazines with in the Modernist Journalist Project the advertisements were for other form of literature and upcoming books filled with subjects which the magazine its self focused on . With in the magazine Rhythm the reader was exposed to not only advertisements for new works of literature coming to the stand near you, but the opportunity to read excerpts from new books, notice of new art exhibitions, and local products.

        As discussed by Morrisson in his article the Marketing British Modernism with the increase in advertisement, the exposer to the magazines and the products advertised increase. As Rhythm developed there was a significant increase in the amount of advertisements within each issue. With in Rhythm’s first issue the advertisement consisted of only 3 pages consisting of art and literature in summer of 1911. Sticking with a consistent topography Rhythm increased the amount of advertising pages to almost double. The layout however did not change. Each advertisement was either on its own pager or separated with the use of lines and bullets. Bold writing brought the readers eye towards the subject and a description of the product followed under it.

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Feminism, Art and French Influence in Rhythm

Within the magazine Rythm many modernist artist and writers combined thier works together to expose to the world their thoughts and ideas. Throught out the issues of Rythm the concepts of femisim and humaism was depicted through the sketched and portriats with in the magazine. The use of a womans body as art was a reaccuring event as each issue developed over the course of its publication. The reader is first exposed to a woman siting by a tree holding a piece of fruit on the front cover http://dl.lib.brown.edu/jpegs/115989738112.jpg. This could be consider a relation to the moderinst belives that human posses an essence which nature and animals do not posses. The exposed woman is depicted as happy and content while her surroundings grow around her. Women are liberated with use of thier bodies. The depiction of an exposed woman is seen several time through out each issues. Each image either coinsides with the work before, in the mist of, or on the same page it is on. Sometime the images stand alone expressing the betuity and power of the woman at hand. In Vol 2 No. 10 the image Nude Study by S.J Peple  http://dl.lib.brown.edu/jpegs/1159897669406261.jpg  is a drawing of a woman who seems to be sitting and reading.  She is not cloth nor can you see her face. The artist leaves the viewer wondering what she is consitrated on.

Woman were admired for their beauty and grace. Within Rythm vol IV page 3 the drawing by Anne Estelle Rice http://dl.lib.brown.edu/jpegs/1159894618781261.jpgdepict several women working together. The woman seem to be gathering fruit while dancing through an orcher. The woman are also exposed to the world which reveals their cofidence and power. The woman stand tall along side eachother and bring new light on the concept of care giver. The womans purpose in life was thought to care for the house hold and her family. With the smile and embrace on the womans faces Rice depict several woman who took pride within them selves and their so called duty. They carry the fruit of their labor and open up to the world with in the single frame.

There is a major evident influence of French culture and art throughout Rhythm. It is apparent in various issues, whether in discussing French works, or artists themselves, that French artistry was held in high regard by the authors of this Modernist magazine. As the magazine came out with more issues between 1911 and 1913, more and more of the content of the magazine not only discussed French culture and art, but began to publish full pieces in the language itself. It is quite common to find French epigraphs or titles of pieces throughout Rhythm, as well as French essays and poems.

Many of these poems and works are accompanied by illustrations and drawings. There is a common trend with these poems that host artwork on their pages: that is that the drawing or painting is never done by the same author, and are often seemingly irrelevant. Petit Poeme by Tristan Dereme, in the Winter 1911 issue, depicts the trite scene of a relationship, lacking in the romantic ardor it once possessed. The scenario is blatantly set, and the scene is painted as if the romance should still be there, but discusses how smiles are forced, gardens are abandoned, and silence ensues between the two. Atop the poem is an abstract drawing by Jessie Dismorr. It depicts a nude woman, with dark hair, blank eyes, extended arm, and an unidentifiable figure in the background. A similar pairing of works is seen in Le Petit Comptable by Jean Pellerin. This poem, found in the 1912 Spring issue tells of an accountant taking inventory of a produce shop in his book. The poem uses sensory imaging in discussing the colorful touch and feel of the fruits and vegetables, almost as if one is caressing them romantically, reminiscently. Then the author nostagically takes in the sky on the rainy, dreary day. It is also accompanied by a drawing by Dismorr. The drawings possess similar features: both appear to be of nude women, with bold outlines, blank stares and awkwardly sketched background images. The poems, both posessing similar themes of the end of love in sad scenarios, are accompanied by these unusual drawings, which could merely be the editor's way of filling space, or an objective influence on how the reader should perceive these poems, particularly the reader who does not speak French. The Dismorr drawings could be acting as a link between the two poems for those who cannot comprehend the text. By placing these drawings near these poems, the editor offers a unique insight to the similarity in the themes of these French poets. He does not offer a translation; however, these drawings aid the reader in making the connection between the two.

Throughout its one-year, eight month run Rhythm used a certain piece of art on four different occasions. The drawing is of a figure in a prostrate position and seemingly studying either something on the ground or something floating in the air just above its outstretched hand. When I first discovered the picture, I thought it added something to the poem it was printed under. What I saw after seeing it attached to three other works is how the picture changed depending on what it was printed next to. The figure first appears in the very first issue of Rhythm after the first article. The opening article to Rhythm (Vol. 1, No.1) is an article on the philosophical belief of Thelema. A quick Wikipedia search will tell you that Thelema is the belief in living your life according to your own conscience. “The New Thelema” by Frederick Goodyear is a highly stylized look at this philosophy. Goodyear sees Thelema as more than just a religious philosophy, but as an imminent future. He writes, “Thelema lies in the future, not the never-never land of the theologian, but the ordinary human future that is perpetually transmuting itself into the past” (1). After two more pages of writing that consistently looks towards the future world the figure closes the page. Here, the figure seems to be the author, Goodyear, looking into the globe that is floating above his hand, looking into the future.

The next two times the figure appears is after poems of loss. The first poem is “The See Child” by Katherine Mansfield, featured in Vol. 2, No. 5 of Rhythm. The overwhelming feeling in this poem is despair. In the first stanza a mother is depicted forming her child with her own hands, yet in the second stanza the mother abandons the child. In the fourth stanza the mother is seen selling the very things she used to make her child and returning home heartbroken. In the fifth and final stanza the speaker takes on the persona of the mother, telling the daughter not to follow her. The poem ends, “There is nothing here but sad sea water, / And a handful of sifting sand” (1). The second poem is “Geraniums” by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, featured in Vol. 2, No. 7 of Rhythm. The poem is the story of a man who bought flowers from a poor woman so that she would have a place to sleep for the night. In the end, the speaker cannot help but think that not only will the flowers be dead tomorrow, but the old woman may be dead too. The speaker sees the woman’s death as an end to her “heavy sorrow” because they’ll be no “need to barter blossoms – for a bed” (73). The figure at the bottom of these two pages is a decidedly despondent one. The drawing loses its hopeful, philosophical bent and becomes a figure of bent over sadness and the orb seems to be merely a spot ink and not part of the picture.

The third and final time we see this figure the picture regains some of its hopefulness; not because of the work’s subject matter, but because of the tone it is delivered in. In Rhythm (Vol 2., No. 10) Gilbert Cannan writes a piece on marriage entitled “Observations and Opinions.” The piece is decidedly against marriage the institution as it stands in Cannan’s day. Cannan writes, “Every marriage is in itself a sacrament or a piece of blasphemy and neither the sanction of the State nor the blessing of the Church can alter its character” (265). Cannan even takes a surprisingly feminist stance in his views on marriage stating, “The majority of marriages are ruined by the absurd masculine theories concerning women, theories to which women, being ill-educated and economically dependent, subscribe.” Cannan is arguing for the right for people to divorce without becoming social outcasts, yet in his argument he makes points that could be used in the feminist movements of the time as well as the gay rights movement of our time. Cannan ends his piece, “Without simplicity, without courage, without generosity there can be no good marriage, and without good marriage, without ideal of marriage which can conquer fear of public opinion and its purblind, hypocritical, official morality there can be no health in us” (267). The figure once again looks hopeful, looks towards a better future and a better world.

Illustrations Around "A Superman"

"A Superman" is a short story by Hall Ruffy found in the Winter, 1911 issue of Rhythm. It tells of a seemingly ordinary cafe, most likely in France, considering that whatever dialogue is written in interaction with the waiting staff of the cafe is in French. Two people are seated separately at the cafe; once they were lovers, now they watch each other from afar. "A Superman" offers a tense glimpse into the furtive thoughts of these two, going about a seemingly ordinary activity, disturbed inwardly by the sight of one another. The interruption propmts him to get drunk, whereupon he reveals that she has left him for a wealthy fat man, the one whom she is with. She, despite her having left her lover for another, is unhappy. She is young and attractive, and imagines leaving at that moment in the cafe, for her old beloved. The story is interrupted by a picture. It is a copy of a painting by Auguste Chaubaud. It looks dreary and dark, dotted with globs of paint. It seems to portray a desolate street scene, under a patched umbrella, potentially seats in a cafe, with a dark silhouettes in the distance. The cafe is described as lively in the story, as though busy and bright in the daytime; moreover, the painting has no particularly distinct connection to the story, despite its location amid the pages of the narrative. The artist is different, as is even listed separately in the table of contents at the beginning of the magazine issue. Why then place the picture in between in story's content? It reminds me of a line in the text: "Just in that moment he was in the passive condition when one seems to be outside of life. All was like a picture which he looked at critically; the pale green chairs and tables; the laurel trees in white boxes looking unreal in the brilliant light with men and women dotted about." The description with its "white boxes" and "dotted" imagery is reminiscent of a similar scene, maybe and a different time of day, or a different season, one cannot be entirely sure, but it influences the imagery within one's own imagination.

The end of the story also hosts a small "Study" in the blank half of the page below the text. The picture, by J. D. Fergusson portrays an open champagne bottle, upon a cluttered table, potentially and illustration of the scenario described in the story, when the man gets drunk. Also a thought provoking piece of art.

In addition, the story itself begins with a French epigraph, although the story itself is not in French; however, there are many French articles in this particular issue of Rhythm, mostly proceeding this particular story. The influence of the French language and culture within the sequence of what goes into the issue itself is an interesting way to view what material surround this story, and why the issue was assembled in its particular fashion.

Rythm and coding

The magazine Rhythm, which was produced from 1911 until early 1913, had a consistent lay out which was followed through its issues. The magazine’s cover and table of contents as well as the back cover and advertisements page was printed on its signature blue paper while the inside of the magazine was printed on the traditional white. The context of the magazine follows the same similar pattern through out every issue. Rhythm starts off with a few stories moving into portraits going in to play and poems and end off with one or several books reviews and a few advertisements for the magazine its self and other press releases.     

Sexual Drawings in Rhythm

    There are lots of drawings in Rhythm magazine's Volume 2, Number 5, from June of 1912. The cover is a naked woman picking fruit off of a tree surrounded by vaginal looking flowers. The first real page of contents features a nude figure bend over on the ground. Then there are some innocent looking drawings of a village, a big face, The Arc de Triomphe, basic fruit still lifes. But if the cover tells us anything, we should not be surprised to see some breasts. And certainly there is a nude woman, fruit, and tree motif going on in this issue. So should we be surprised by Breast Fruit? Probably not, but I still am. Why, amid plenty of other, tamer still life drawings of fruit are these two pairs of breasts shoved in our faces? It's hard to assume that the likeness is unintentional. I can't think of a single fruit that has such pronounced, uniform nipples. Some citrus fruits could debatably have nipples, but these grow on trees and are never this close together until they are picked. Strangely, for a magazine that seems almost obsessed with trees, this vine comes out of nowhere. These are clearly breasts, and perhaps it is an idealistic dream of the art editor for them to grow on trees.

    Maybe it is one of those presumptions we tend to have that we live in a more progressive, sexually explicit time, but I think it's pretty true. I know people had sex just as much around this time, I read The Sun Also Rises, and I know it was seen in art, as it has been for hundreds and hundreds of years, but apparently it was also in magazines. Obviously these modernist magazines weren't exactly mainstream, but I was still a little surprised to see this in the same issue of Rhythm. The woman is strong, tall, and prominent. Her hair is up, and she is looking down at the man. We do not even see the man's face. He may as well be a big skin blanket. He does not matter, except to add to the suggestiveness of the piece. Despite, or perhaps because of, the strength of the woman this is a tender moment. As far as I can tell this couple has just had sex. Or, is even debatably still engaging in some form of it. Was this drawing surprising to viewers? Was it considered obscene? Was it stared it, or mostly ignored? 

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