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little magazine,term used to designate certain magazines that have as their purpose the publication of art, literature, or social theory by comparatively little-known writers.
Distinguishing Features and Pioneering Publications
Little magazines differ from the large commercial periodicals and major scholarly reviews by their emphasis on experimentation in writing, their perilous nonprofit operation, and their comparatively small audience of intellectuals. Prototypes of the 20th-century little magazine were The Dial (Boston, 1840–44), a transcendentalist review edited by Ralph Waldo EmersonEmerson, Ralph Waldo
, 1803–82, American poet and essayist, b. Boston. Through his essays, poems, and lectures, the "Sage of Concord" established himself as a leading spokesman of transcendentalism and as a major figure in American literature.
..... Click the link for more information. and Margaret FullerFuller, Margaret,
1810–50, American writer, lecturer, and public intellectual, b. Cambridgeport (now part of Cambridge), Mass. She was one of the most influential personalities in the American literary circles of her day.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the English Savoy (1896), a manifesto in revolt against Victorian materialism.
The Twentieth Century
The little-magazine movement in this century began in 1912 with Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (Chicago, 1912–), edited by Harriet MonroeMonroe, Harriet,
1860–1936, American editor, critic, and poet, b. Chicago. In 1912 she founded Poetry: a Magazine of Verse, which paid and encouraged both established and new poets. Monroe's literary reputation is based on her editorship of this important magazine.
..... Click the link for more information. with Ezra PoundPound, Ezra Loomis,
1885–1972, American poet, critic, and translator, b. Hailey, Idaho, grad. Hamilton College, 1905, M.A. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1906. An extremely important influence in the shaping of 20th-century poetry, he was one of the most famous and controversial
..... Click the link for more information. as the foreign editor. Poetry enjoyed a long period of success. During World War I a large number of other magazines appeared, the most notable of which were Others (1915–19), edited by Alfred KreymborgKreymborg, Alfred
, 1883–1966, American poet and anthologist, b. New York City. Originally one of the imagists, he wrote poems collected in Mushrooms (1916), Manhattan Men (1929), Selected Poems (1945), and Man and Shadow (1946).
..... Click the link for more information. ; the Little Review (Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Paris, 1914–29), edited by Margaret AndersonAnderson, Margaret C.,
1886–1973, American author, editor, and publisher, b. Indianapolis, Ind. As editor and publisher of The Little Review (1914–29), one of the most famous of the American little magazines, she included articles on controversial subjects and
..... Click the link for more information. ; and the Egoist (London, 1914–19), edited by Dora Mardson (1914) and Harriet Shaw Weaver (1914–19), which voiced the theories and practices of the imagists. The revived Dial, edited in New York in the 1920s by Marianne MooreMoore, Marianne,
1887–1972, American poet, b. St. Louis, grad. Bryn Mawr College, 1909. She lived mostly in New York City, working first as a librarian and then as editor of the Dial magazine (1925–29).
..... Click the link for more information. , had more than 30,000 readers by the middle of that decade.
Among the many poets whose early reputations owed much to little magazines were T. S. EliotEliot, T. S.
(Thomas Stearns Eliot), 1888–1965, American-British poet and critic, b. St. Louis, Mo. One of the most distinguished literary figures of the 20th cent., T. S. Eliot won the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature. He studied at Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Oxford.
..... Click the link for more information. , Robert FrostFrost, Robert,
1874–1963, American poet, b. San Francisco. Perhaps the most popular and beloved of 20th-century American poets, Frost wrote of the character, people, and landscape of New England in a spare, solidly American language, but his lyrical yet frequently bleak,
..... Click the link for more information. , Ezra Pound, Edgar Lee MastersMasters, Edgar Lee,
1869–1950, American poet and biographer, b. Garnett, Kans. He maintained a successful law practice in Chicago from 1892 to 1920. Masters's Spoon River Anthology
..... Click the link for more information. , Hart CraneCrane, Hart
(Harold Hart Crane), 1899–1932, American poet, b. Garrettsville, Ohio. He published only two volumes of poetry during his lifetime, but those works established Crane as one of the most original and vital American poets of the 20th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Wallace StevensStevens, Wallace,
1879–1955, American poet, b. Reading, Pa., educated at Harvard and New York Law School, admitted to the bar 1904. While in New York, he mingled in literary circles and published his first poems in the magazine Poetry.
..... Click the link for more information. . James JoyceJoyce, James,
1882–1941, Irish novelist. Perhaps the most influential and significant novelist of the 20th cent., Joyce was a master of the English language, exploiting all of its resources.
..... Click the link for more information. 's Ulysses had its first U.S. printing, in serial installments, in the Little Review. As a result the magazine was banned by court order and subsequently broken financially. Also appearing before 1920 and prefiguring much of the little-magazine movement of the 1930s were the proletarian or left-wing magazines. The first and most significant of these was The Masses (New York, 1911–17), guided principally by Max EastmanEastman, Max,
1883–1969, American author, b. Canandaigua, N.Y., grad. Williams, 1905. For many years a Communist and a leader of American liberal thought, he edited the left-wing periodicals The Masses (1913–17) and the Liberator (1918–23).
..... Click the link for more information. and Floyd Dell.
After World War I the "new" literary magazine appeared. Noted examples of this type were the Modern Review (1922–24), edited by Firwoode Tarleton; The Fugitive (Nashville, Tenn., 1922–25), whose editors included John Crowe RansomRansom, John Crowe,
1888–1974, American poet and critic, b. Pulaski, Tenn., grad. Vanderbilt Univ. and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. He is considered one of the great stylists of 20th-century American poetry.
..... Click the link for more information. , Allen TateTate, Allen
(John Orley Allen Tate), 1899–1979, American poet and critic, b. Winchester, Ky., grad. Vanderbilt Univ., 1922. He was one of the founders and editors of the Fugitive
..... Click the link for more information. , Donald DavidsonDavidson, Donald Herbert,
1917–2003, American philosopher, b. Springfield, Mass., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1939; Ph.D., 1949). A student of W. V. Quine, Davidson emerged as one of the major figures in post–World War II analytic philosophy.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Robert Penn WarrenWarren, Robert Penn,
1905–89, American novelist, poet, and critic, b. Guthrie, Ky., grad. Vanderbilt Univ. 1925; M.A., Univ. of California 1927; B.Litt., Oxford 1930.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Voices (Boston, 1921–65), edited by Harold Vinal; Secession (1922–24), published in Vienna, Berlin, Brooklyn, and elsewhere and edited by Gorham Munson; and Broom (1921–24), a rival of Secession, edited by Harold Loeb and Alfred Kreymborg.
Also important were This Quarter (Paris, Milan, 1925–32), edited by Ernest J. Walsh and The Enemy (London, 1927–29), edited by Wyndham LewisLewis, Wyndham
(Percy Wyndham Lewis) , 1886–1957, English author and painter, born on a ship on the Bay of Fundy. With Ezra Pound, he was cofounder and editor of Blast (1914–15), a magazine connected with vorticism.
..... Click the link for more information. . The first of the regional magazines also appeared at this time—The Midland (Iowa City, 1915–33), edited by John T. Frederick. Others were The Frontier (1920–39), which celebrated the Pacific Northwest; the Southwest Review (1924–), edited by J. B. Hubbell; Double-Dealer (New Orleans, 1921–26), edited by John McClure; and the Prairie Schooner (1927–).
In the 1930s important little magazines connected with the left-wing movement included New Masses (1926–48); the Modern Quarterly (1923–40); The Anvil (1933–35); Blast (1933–34); and the Partisan Review (1933–), which soon abandoned politics and turned to literary affairs. Notable among the literary magazines were transition (Paris, 1927–38), established by Eugene Jolas; New Verse (London, 1933–39); and Criterion (London, 1922–39), edited by T. S. Eliot.
In the 1940s little magazines came to be associated with groups of writers and poets in academic circles, for example, the Kenyon Review (1939–). In the late 1960s the underground press in combination with an avant-garde striving to articulate its rejection of established attitudes fostered a rebirth of little-magazine publishing. This produced hundreds of mostly short-lived reviews, including the New York Quarterly, Aphra, A Feminist Literary Magazine, the Little Magazine, and the American Review.
See F. Hoffman et al., The Little Magazine (1947); E. Anderson and M. Kinzie, The Little Magazine in America (1978).