Potential anachronism in The Little Review

The first installment of The Little Review was published in March 1914 and is filled with essays, poetry, and literary criticism from some of early 20th Century thinkers. Most of the content is quite lofty, and it’s clear that this was a magazine meant for an intelligent, well-educated audience. It is not only the essays and poems that demonstrate the magazine’s intention to be read by the intellectual elite, though. Even the advertisements are geared toward an educated audience. In fact, every single ad is for a book or a different magazine.

One ad that especially interested me is for The Egoist, another modernist magazine with close ties to The Little Review. The ad for The Egoist does not advertise its intellectual content, though. Instead, the main selling point is that The Egoist does not publish any content about “the war.” At first I assumed that this meant World War I, but then I looked at the date of publication. This issue of The Little Review was published in March 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the event that led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, did not occur until July. Britain did not enter the war until August 4. In early 1914 in England, the only thing remotely resembling a war was some sporadic conflict between Irish nationalists and British loyalists over the issue of Irish independence. Beyond that (unless I’m missing something major), there was no war.         

One possible explanation for this seemingly anachronistic advertisement could be that war was still a major topic of discussion in Britain and England, even in times of peace. Perhaps people were tiring of the conversation, and The Egoist felt the need to advertise their difference from the mainstream discourse. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated!

 

 

Comments

When I read the line "The ad for The Egoist does not advertise its intellectual content, though. Instead, the main selling point is that The Egoist does not publish any content about “the war.” in your post, what I immediately thought you would go on to say is that  different kind of war was meant. I was thinking it referred to an academic or intellectual war or movement. Like, "we're not going to talk about post-modernism here". You might be more on point with your idea on an actual war, however.

I think people kind of had a feeling about a coming war. I'm definitely not an expert or authority on the issue, but there was definitely a feeling of stress during that age, especially in the months leading up to Franz Ferdinand's assassination.

But I kind of agree with Kelsey that they could mean an intellectual war. Class war...? The Irish and the British, the lower classes and the aristocracy; there were a lot of negetive sentiments surrounding class and empire.

These are all good conjectures. The best way to go about it is to read around this topic by looking for more information about this "war" in both magazines. My guess is that it refers to fighting among writers for a certain kind of aesthetic (like Imagism in poetry), but it could be referring to some other historical event. If anyone is interested in sussing this out, I'd look for other references to this war in the same issue of The Little Review, the contemporary issue of The Egoist, and in all earlier issues of both magazines.