Anarchy and Irony in TLR

I've been working on a project in which I'm hoping to show how Margaret Anderson used irony as an aesthetic register of her anarchism.  I am trying to show that she contributed significantly to the type of difficult irony in modernism, the kind that cannot be resolved without sacrificing another equally plausible perspective.  One example of this difficult irony is the conclusion of The Waste Land​, where nobody is really sure if it rains or not.  I used Voyant tools to show me what it could find when I searched the terms "anarchism, anarchy, anarchist, irony, and ironic."  


This "Word Trends" graph shows that anarchism faded from the magazine's interests just as irony began to spike.  The spike in "irony" wasn't sustained, though.  There are a few possibilities for this, I think.  Irony doesn't explicitly call itself out, which means it would evade Voyant tools's word search.  So, it's possible that irony had a constant presence throughout TLR's run.  The spike, however, suggests that some writers were talking about it explicitly perhaps as a form.  I think the drop in anarchy-terms and the two spikes in irony-terms shows the magazine shifting its interest from explicit politics to form, an implicitly anarchic form.  


This visual collator graph shows that "ironic" only connects to "anarchist" through "tale."  This isn't necessarily a strong bond, but it does show at least some connection between anarchy, irony, and (fictional) writing.  Also, some of the clusters reveal more connections.  Irony connects to style, ironic connects to experiment, anarchists connects to rhetoric, and anarchism connects to art. Anarchy links with laughter, which might relate to Wyndham Lewis's concept of "corrosive laughter."  I think this quick analysis of TLR begins to develop some of the links between anarchy and irony.


This is a very interesting trial. Some questions:

  • Using the Word Trends graph, which issues of The Little Review seem like interesting points at which to look at this conversion from anarchism to irony? Have you gone in to examine them?
  • Also, how would you know the manner of usage for these terms, and what attitudes they represent? Both the collocate and n-gram tools you've used here point to some interesting patterns that you might tease out in your paper.