Modernism began in the magazines

 Robert Scholes and Cliff Wulfman's chapter "Modernity and the Rise of Modernism: A Review" in Modernism and the Magazines says that modernism was in many ways not as much a sythesis of sybolism and realism but a struggle between the two with certain magazines and individuals taking certain positions within the debate.  For this week's assignment I looked at The Little Review v5 n5 and several of the pieces in there.  Here is what I paid particular attention to: 


"The Western School" by Edgar Jepson pages 4-9

T.S. Eliot "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," "Whispers of Immortality," "Dans le Restaurant," "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Service." Pages 10-14

James Joyces, Ulysses episode VI pages 17-37

Ezra Pound "Notes from an Ivory Tower" Pages 50-53 

Marsden Hartley, "The Reader Critic: Divagations" Page 59-


In looking at these selections I notice that this issue of TLR includes several highest of the high modernists like Joyce, Eliot, and Pound (as well as prose fiction from Sherwood Anderson and Ford Madox Ford and poetry from W.B. Yeats) alongside articles like the ones by Jepson and Hartley on the aesthetics, functions, and sources of poetry and art.  So in many ways the texts present a situation much like what Bornstein outlines in "How to read a page: modernistm and material textuality."


Bornstein describes how the sites where poems and other works appear originally is significantly different from how they are received in other publications later on (e.g. Norton Anthologies).  His example is how a Keats' poem is originally published in a highly political periodical The Examiner.  Bornstein's point is that the appearance of Keats' poem in a politically left periodical would perhaps associate not only Keats himself as a public figure with these left-leaning politics, but also contribute to how a reader would interpret the poem.  I would argue that a similar situation is taking place in TLR.  Jepson for instance is (mawkishly) praising T.S. Eliot's poetry at the expense of other American poets such as Frost, Lee Masters, and Lindsay.  The fact that not only is Eliot's poetry praised in a publication in which other of his poems also appear, but Jepson and Hartley make larger claims the elements of good poetry and art.  Hartley, like Jepson, praises (he's a little less effusive) Joyce's Episode IV of Ulysses against the realism of Flaubert.  So we have come back around to the struggle that Scholes and Wulfman describe as a struggle between symbolism and realism that takes place in the magazines.


I would say though that some ambiguity arises because it's difficult to determine how writers like Joyce, Pound, and Eliot understood how their work was being "used" in these magazines.  Of course, Pound was likely very aware considering he was on the editorial board, but I do know that he was an ardent supporter of Frost's poetry early on.  However, Jepson's description of the situation opposes Pound and Eliot's work with the likes of Frost.  This suggests to me that whether or not the poetry that appears alongside aesthetic manifestos like Jepson's express similar values, the poems and poets are implicated in the larger debates taking place.   Having read "Signature/Event/Context" and Limited Inc. over break, I'm prepared to discuss the idea of contextual implication a bit further in class if we have some time.  I think it would interact in interesting ways with Bornstein's use of Speech Act Theory and Benjamin's concept of aura.  



Just to add something else in here as well, further to the point made about Keats and the establishment of individual auras that occur when you change the bibliographic code, it was interesting when looking for running themes in the journals this week to see how texts can become involved in something of a dialogue when placed in particular settings, when the issue of theme becomes a part of the actual production of the text.

Specifically, I read an issue of Scribner's with a cover story on the building of Grand Central Station. But, rather than it just being the cover and the article, there was an additional article on the same theme, illustrations, and advertisements directly related to the topics discussed. So, for instance, one advertisement began, "The following terminals, described in the current number of this magazine, were erected by the George A. Fuller Company..."

This may be something of a tangential point, since I'm referring to articles rather than literary works, but a similar thing could apply with literature. For instance, in themed issues of literary journals, depending on whether they put out a call for works of a theme or just apply a theme based on the works they want to accept, and other such variants.

Any thoughts?

I'll just add that when describing visual material, it's always a good idea to embed it immediately in your post (and to make it link to the original). You can do that by clicking on the picture button (yellow square/mountain) and copy-pasting the web address for the image at the MJP into the URL field. I'll show you guys how to do that in class.

No further thoughts other than to say I'd "like" this if it were Facebook. Keep going...

This is something I noticed with the magazine I looked at for this week, Le Petit Journal des Refusees. This particular magazine's theme is to allow publishing space to short literature rejected by other literary journals, which are always listed after the work's title. The editor's letter at the beginning describes its reasons for this, and his explanation for the journal's title and contents seems (or I hope) to be ironic or satirical. The contributors to the magazine are fictional women, and I beliveve it is their portraits that grace the front cover, the Refused standing with the journal title. The poems and stories are kind of bad but the surreal drawings make this magazine more interesting to look at and the poems more understandable. 

I found this magazine's bibliographic code so specific and interrelated that I can't imagine anything from the journal being reproduced without its entirety. As Bornstein explains in "How to read a page," copies of the original are consctructions, and this seemed especially true for des Refusees, as the introduction explained its entirety was believed to be written and created by one man with only two copies of known existence. The trapezoidal pages of the magazine feature borders, illustrations, and small drawings surrounding and complementing each poem or story.

Emma, consider also that Refusées was not mass produced, and that each surviving number is unique.

One thing you seem to be hitting upon here is the extent to which aesthetic debates in little magazines are not clear cut. There are many opposing voices juxtaposed with creative pieces that, if we read the issue as editorially unified à la Bornstein, can serve either/both as examples or counterexaples.

I also sense some trepidation about authorial intent, where you doubt that Joyce, Pound, and Eliot would have understood how their work would be used by other contributors in the magazine. What we're doing here, at least in terms of methods in periodical studies, is to shift away from new-critical models of aesthetic unity and authorial technique and toward a historicist model that looks at the nexus of those with in-house reception, dissimenation networks, and reading publics. The aura of the original might still be there (it's worth debating, at least), but its colors seem to change as it moves through different contexts.

One small comment: it's a good idea to list the date (i.e. September 1918) along with the volume and issue number of any magazine you're discussing, so that your readers can have the historical information for their own assessment.

 My trepidation about authorial intent is based on my reading of Signature/Event/Context and Limited Inc.  The discussion of intent is what Searle and Austin before him insist is lost in repetition and changes in context.  Bornstein references the section from Shillingsburg on the difference between sentence and utterance to demonstrate how Speech Act Theory works.  I think SAT is similar to the New Critical insistence on intent and the effort to reconstitute it.  They set up a hierarchy whereby authorial intent and its preservation or expression is more "real" or, as Derrida criticizes them for, "serious."  This would make the different contexts in which an author's work appears, such as magazines, anthologies, etc. less authentic than the ur-text.  My understanding is that breaking down this hierarchy is Derrida's aim in Limited Inc.  (As well as responding to Searle's aggression in his critique of Signature/Event/Context.)  In an afterword addressed to Gerald Graff, Derrida clarifies what is meant by "there is nothing outside the text" to mean, "there is nothing outside the context."  This would suggest that no matter what iteration of the text one comes into contact with, it is not a text unless,

For a writing to be a writing it must continue to "act" and to be readable even when what is called the author of the writing no longer answers for what he has written, for what he seems to have signed, be it because of a temporary absence, because he is dead, or, more generally, because he has not employed his absolutely actual and present intention or attention (S/E/C 8)

I take this to mean, first of all, that texts wouldn't be what they were unless they could be severed from intent, and more importantly, that reading texts severed from their originary context is not a lesser event than the original textual event (there is another nice quotation from S/E/C on page 10 that discusses this).  That there is nothing outside the context means that texts are always already received outside of their originary context (or that there never was one), and that's the condition that makes them texts.  I think this has larger consequences for historicizing them as well, but in a fairly extreme poststructuralist view of meaning I'm not sure is all that practical.

All this is simply to say that reading Joyce, Eliot, and Pound next to these manifestos is a reading in itself, not more or less correct than reading first editions.  

 It would seem to me that we should be considering not only authorial intent but also editorial intent. Kent stated that Pound would have been familiar with standard procedures of publication, but I'm curious how many other authors were aware of the power that the editors had over the reception of their work. This editorial authority would have extended so far as to dictate what letters to the editors would have been included, what advertisements would have been featured, and which articles, poem, etc. would have been placed in any specific issue. I know that this seems like a statement of the obvious, but I see it as valuable to remember the presence of the editor in the magazine. Could we say that Editors created Modernism just as much as Authors?

 Here is a link to a very pertinent article in the Telegraph entitled "The mystery of poetry editing: from TS Eliot to John Burnside."  This JUST popped up on my Facebook feed courtesy of the EGS.