William Butler Yeats

Now That The War's Over: Peace in Post WWI Magazines

In browsing several postwar magazines, I noticed a recurring theme of embracing the coming of peace. For example, The Crisis of January 1919 features the following cover:

Not only is it good that the war was won, this cover also suggests that war, in itself, is undesirable, and thus it is good that the war is over. This is somewhat of a contrast to the magazine's embrace of the war and celebration of its African-American soldiers during wartime, but also to be a predictable shift back to its peaceful leanings of antiwar sentiment, as seen in the previously discussed piece "To the Children of Peace" of the October 1914 issue:

Intriguingly, not only is the end of war good, the advent of peace is positively Christlike. "Ring in the Christ, that is to be!" urges Tennyson. This makes for an intriguing contrast with the also previously-discussed piece, "WAR," in the October 1914 issue, which places The Lord in a somewhat conflicted role with regards to the war, with the power to end or sustain it. 

Lastly, war in the January 1919 cover of The Crisis is connected with the old as well as the undesirable. Being rung out is "old shapes of foul disease" along with "the thousand wars of old." It seems to suggest that peace is the wave of the future, the true and desirable state of modernity.

Sadly, although The Crisis previously painted involvement in the war as the ticket to equal rights for African-Americans, the first editorial in the January 1919 issue suggests that this did not prove to be the case. 

The author here contrasts the good things peace is bringing to European nations with the plight of the black soldiers who fought in the war and those who supported the effort at home, who still return home to a country in which "POLITICAL EQUAL­ITY, ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, CIVIL RIGHTS, JUSTICE before the law, all these, our "old desires," are as far away as ever" (111). Thus, though the end of war is certainly to be celebrated, there are still som who do not benefit from peace. The author does conclude, however, that the war did result in "the awakening of the social conscience," and thus if (and only if) the readers of The Crisis keep up their spirited efforts, change can still result.

 

The postwar content of The Little Review is somewhat less clear-cut. Yeats' play "The Dreaming of The Bones" is a complex exploration of Irish history and death. 

Most notable for my purposes here, however, is the way in which the Young Man speaks of war on page 4 when he notes, "I think there was no man of us but hated/ To fire at soldiers who but did their duty/ And were not of our race."

Coming on the heels of World War I, it is difficult to not put this statement into the context of that conflict, and the Man's regret at these conflicts suggests a dubiousness toward the validity of international conflict. He does go on to say, however, "but when a man/ Is born in Ireland and of Irish stock/ When he takes part against us--" which suggests that although international conflict is hard to justify on an individual level, or is at least a regrettable circumstance, traitorousness is a different matter. 

Gephi & The Little Review (09/1918)

 

With the Yifan Hu algorithm, I further narrowed the graph by utilizing the Ego filter of “mediocrity.”  This graphing of the data provides some fairly straight forward connections, such as the connection of mediocrity to Yeats’s “In Memory of Robert Gregory” and the “Hades” episode of Ulysses.  However, there is also a less overt connection between mediocrity and World War I in the graph.  Given the general sentiment – I’m basing this both on our discussion of WWI in class and prior encounters with in other courses – of the epic scale of World War I and its wide felt reverberations throughout much of the world, a connection to mediocrity seems an interesting avenue for further investigation.  Because these two concepts – mediocrity and WWI – are connected by their shared relation to Yeats and Joyce, the graph created through the Yifan Hu algorithm gives an interesting means through which to (re)examine the discourse on death in the aftermath of WWI in the September 1918 issue of The Little Review.

Using the Fruchterman Reigold algorithm and again narrowing the graph’s spectrum to the Ego filter for “mediocrity,” the primary effect on my interpretation of the graph is less of a focus on the more prevalent topics, such as death or poetry.  With the centralization of the mediocrity node and the equivalent node and network web sizes, there is an opportunity to approach and interpret these various foci on a level playing field.  Because the graph that I created is more focused, this doesn’t seem to necessarily be the most productive algorithm to use, but I could see it being more significant for a graph of either a single issue or a few issues.

The network visualizations created by Gephi do seem to be a fairly useful tool in periodical studies, as they allow for interesting connections both within a single issue and (conceivably) among a series of issues.  The collaborative nature of this enterprise seems to be both the greatest advantage and disadvantage of this sort of analysis.  In joining the input of a multitude of scholars, network visualization graphs provide an exciting avenue for future scholarship, not only in sheer breadth of material that can be covered but also in the creation of new connections through the polyvocality of such a collaboration.  However, there do seem to be some drawbacks in the logistics of such a project.  The clear example from the graph constructed in this lab is the non-uniform tags, which create redundancies in the graph – the best example is “Poem” and “Poetry.”  While this is a seemingly minor issue with such a small sample size, one issue, it would seem to exponentially compound itself as the scope of such a project grew.  Erin further discusses issues with tagging in her blog post this week.