Elite Advertising in Rhythm

 In the first two issues of "little magazine" Rhythm, the absence of any advertisements suggests that the publication began with the support and patronage of a coterie of intellectual elite. John Middleton Murray, in his introductory article "Art and Philosophy," attempts to bring Bergsonian aesthetic theory into British culture by first pointing out, " in France it is a living artistic force." Throughout the magazine, French culture and artistic philosophies are glorified as a modernist standard toward which Britain's own artists, authors, and poets should strive. The magazine itself would go on to publish pieces entirely in French without translation (e.g. Francis Carco's "Aix en Provence" and "Les Huit Danseuses" in the second issue), indicating that the magazine's readers were most likely highly educated and fluent in multiple languages. 

Advertisements in Rhythm do not appear until the third issue (Winter 1911), the same issue containing the critical piece "A Plea for Revolt in Attitude,"in which Holbrook Jackson notes, that in order for "the modernist art movement...to fulfill its destiny, [it] requires to be accepted, not by a few but by a nation or a race," thus denying the magazine's seeming appeal to only a select few. Of course, in order to promote a revolution in art, one must therefore have the means to do so, and Jackson's "Plea" may have been included to provide justification for the advertisements (titled "select announcements") which suddenly appear in the back of the magazine's third installment, and would continue until the final issue in March of 1913. 

These ads, however, seem to contradict Jackson's message in that they appeal to the interests and accessibility of moneyed British intellectuals. The first ad to appear in the 3rd issue begins with the French heading, “Photographies d’Oeuvres d’Art,” advertising the photographic reproductions of modern French masters (such as Renoir and Monet, as well as “The so-called Post-Impressionists”), located at 16 Pall Mall in London. The next add is for another radical journal, T.P. O’Connor’s Weekly. The final page contains a dense block of text, with language reminiscent of a critical review, advertising a volume printed by St. Catherine’s Press (same as Rhythm) that would reproduce drawings by Henry Ospovat. The advertisement—in keeping with the magazine’s theme—discusses the modernist art movement as an artistic revolution on par with the Renaissance.


I falsely assumed that the magazine failed because of its inability to reach a public outside the sphere of the British intellectual elite whose avant-garde aesthetics echoed French sensibilities. In fact, the magazine was able to generate a sizeable following, but John Middleton Murray and Katherine Mansfield’s publication failed because they were swindled: their publisher, Stephen Swift, disappeared in Fall 1912, leaving the editors with a debt of 400 pounds, from which their subsequent magazine, The Blue Review, could not recover[1] (Demoor 133).

[1] Demoor, Marysa. "John Middleton Murry's Editorial Apprenticeships: Getting Modernist "Rhythm" into the Athenaeum, 1919-1921." English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 52.2 (2009): 123-43. Project Muse. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.