MALCOLM BRADBURY writer and critic


  • Contemporary American Fiction
  • Dangerous Pilgrimages
  • The Modern American Novel
  • The Modern British Novel
  • Modernism
  • From Puritanism to Postmodernism
  • The Modern World



In the early 1950s, a young research student intending to write a thesis on the subject of British Modernism, I decided to explore the role played in its promotion and development by magazines and 'little reviews' – the many various avant garde journals that functioned somewhere between the offices of manifesto and discoverer of new talent.  At that time the study of Modernism, which today flourishes so extensively, was just beginning, even as Modernism itself was just ending.  It was still possible to interview some of the most interesting participants.  I talked to T.S. Eliot, in his office at Faber and Faber in Russell Square, from which The Criterion was published.  He sent me Ezra Pound, who had been active with The Egoist, during his confinement in a mental ward in St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC, where he was put to avoid a charge of treason.  I had help from Edgell Rickword, editor of The Calendar of Modern Letters, F.R. Leavis and other contributors to Scrutiny, John Lehmann, editor of New Writing, and a good number of other editors and contributors nvolved with a vast variety of literary magazines from the years before the Great War to the 1950s.

My notion was that by studying the magazines (not hard to do now, but difficult then, for many periodicals were difficult to trace, despite the archives of the British Museum) from the 1890s to 1950 it was possible to follow out the-day to-day – or the month to month, quarter to quarter, year to year – development of arguments, ideas and personalities that shaped the literary debate and formed the aesthetic issues and quarrels that shaped the onward movement of modern writing in Britain.  In the periodicals the growth of new movements and intellectual themes, lines of influence and critical judgements on past and present, could most clearly be seen unfolding.  As usual, simple presumptions I had about the development of modern British writing soon gave way to more complicated ones.  Old arguments, forgotten personalities and confused allegiances emerged afresh from the many pages I was turning.   I've always been grateful for lighting on this particular theme, for two reasons.  One is that it gave a detailed, vivid history of modern writing and its personalities which was indeed day to day, and not always consistent with the textbooks.  The other was that magazines are the real frontage of writing, the battleline of literary culture, the most topical point of encounter with writer with reader.  They argue the case for writers, ways of writing, movements.  We can usually trace their sales, how they were received, the impact they had on a given moment of cultural interaction, the difference they made.1

I aimed to show literary magazines are a significant cultural institution, deserving attention in their own right.  Like so much else in the cultural transformation of the late nineteenth century, with its growth of print, they went, as a genre, through a great change.  In the the first half of the nineteenth century, the "Great Reviews" of general educated opinion, (the Edinburgh, the Quarterly) had heavily dominated literary debate and argument, shaped the reputations of writers, poets, movements, and been a major place for publication of new work.  That situation was often looked back upon with nostalgia in the pages of their early twentieth century successors, in an period of magazine fragmentation and far less cultural consensus.2 

By mid-Victorian years magazine culture was already greatly changing.  Matthew Arnold in his essay "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" declared it was already necessary to turn to France to find the serious review at its true work, the pursuit of the best that is known and thought in the world (his great example was the Revue des deux mondes), where in Britain "our organs of criticism are organs of men and parties having practical ends to serve, and with them those practical ends are the first thing and the play of mind the second."  Many Victorian novelists found publication in the household magazines of the popular marketplace, and Dickens, Thackeray and other contemporaries became formidable editors.  By the end of the nineteenth century the growth of the commercial magazine and the growth of a mass reading public had more or less dissolved the equation whereby the review of general affairs was also the major journal of criticism, and probably also the chief outlet for significant new literary publication.

So, by the turn of the century, gloom on the periodicals question was the order of the day.  When in 1908 Ford Madox Hueffer founded The English Review – a notable enterprise in attempting to link the old review format with the new "critical attitude" consequent on Modernism, and introduce a new generation of experimental writers – he confessed the risky absurdity of his task:  "To imagine that a magazine devoted to imaginative literature and technical criticism alone would find more than a hundred readers was a delusion that I in no way had," he later reflected.3  

In most magazine ventures of the twentieth century, this gloomy note would become an familiar feature of periodicals that associated themselves with new writing and the modern movement.  They were forever hunting angels, patrons, subscribers;  they were constantly, no doubt sensibly, anticipating their own demise;  they were ephemeral, episodic, unreliable, always suffering phoenix-like deaths and rebirths.  When T.S. Eliot had to close The Criterion with the issue for January 1939 (down to 300 subscribers), he struck with finality the note that went with the task of trying to run the modern literary and intellectual periodical:  "For the immediate future, perhaps for a long way ahead, the continuity of culture may have to be maintained by a very small number of people indeed...  It will not be the large organs of opinion, or the old periodicals, it must be the small and obscure papers and reviews, those who are hardly read by anyone but their own contributors, that will keep critical thought alive, and encourage authors of original talent."4

The papers Eliot refers to are of course the "little magazines," the marginal papers that, as the nineteenth century died, started to emerge, in many forms, to campaign for new literary publication, avant garde adventure, critical and aesthetic debate.  It took a whole series of new and modern "cultural" institutions to provide their foundations:  the growth of "Bohemian" movements and groupings (on the "French" model), the emergence of cultural war between artists and philistines, a new degree of political indifference among writers committed to high aesthetic doctrines, the fading of a socially dominant educated reading public and the downward drift of "general" taste, and various other forces that led to the development of what by the end of the nineteenth century was already called an avant garde.  We can early find British origins for the "little magazines" in various ventures from the mid-Victorian period, starting roughly with the age of "movements" that developed after the revolutions of 1848.  This was at a time when "bohemia" was first systematically talked of (Henri Murger's Scenes de la vie de boheme appeared in 1851), and alliance between painterly and literary movements intensified.  A classic example was the Pre-Raphaelite monthly The Germ, which published four issues in 1850.  Uniting the verbal and the visual, founded in the spirit of a coterie or "movement," fighting a war to establish a new style, it provided a useful model for the magazinists of the Decadent 1890s.

The 1890s saw a great flourishing of small magazines.  Most emphasized the link between new writing and art (painting, design, illustration), announced an alliance with some aesthetic campaign or coterie, and showed the growing fragmentation and privatization of the publishing process.  There was the Century Guild Hobby Horse (1884-94), edited by A.H. Mackmurdo and Herbert Horne, a periodical first and foremost concerned with art nouveau and architecture.  Through the participation of Selwyn Image, it also printed poetic contributions from members of the Rhymers' Club.  In its last phase, as a coterie magazine selling around 500 copies per issue, it was taken over by two important publishers, Elkin Matthews and John Lane, who were seeking their place in the changing marketplace.  That made it an antecedent of another John Lane venture, The Yellow Book (1894-97), perhaps the best remembered magazine to come from the magaziney 1890s.  "And it's not even yellow," complained Oscar Wilde, who, despite all the folklore that associated him, did not contribute.  It was the "Yellow Dwarf" personality of the editor Henry Harland, the American bohemian who had served a requisite stint in Paris bohemia ("Ah, you're not mad about style, but I am.  Why doesn't everyone live in Paris?"), and Aubrey Beardsley who created its distinctive dandy character.  Of course it caused public offence;  some thought it should be prosecuted by Act of Parliament.  "So far as literature can be lynched, I was," Max Beerbohm said, after his article "A Defence of Cosmetics" appeared in the magazine.

Published by John Lane in Vigo Street, The Yellow Book was, naturally, yellow-bound and expensively produced.  Its volumes clearly shaped period taste, and added art, style and high amusement to the idea of the "New" or "Modern," which the paper much cultivated.  The "New Woman" and her male counterpart  the "New Dandy," the "New Hedonism" and the "New Cosmetics," as well as the new Paris movements, preoccupied its fashion-conscious pages.  Evanescence was part of the mood;  there were deliberately no bulky items, no sections of novels, essentially "glimpses" and "impressions."  As the Nineties survivor Holbrook Jackson said in his book The Eighteen Nineties (1913), The Yellow Book was in its way an upmarket equivalent of the Daily Mail.  They were contrasting forms of Nineties sensationalism:  "The one was unique, individual, a little wierd, often exotic, demanding the right to be – in its own way even to waywardness;  but this one was really an abnormal minority, and in no sense national.  The other was broad, general, popular;  it was the majority, the man-in-the-street awaiting a new medium of expression."  As he also noted, The Yellow Book was the one that passed away, while the Daily Mail sailed successfully on into the mass market future.5

The 1890s was a great magazining period, in part because conventions of publication, costs of printing, and means of distribution were changing in response to a new marketplace.  There were many adventures in ephemeral papers, most appealing to the claims of the "aesthetic."  Their character generally resembled a manifesto, their contents professed some manner of distinctive and flamboyant artistic allegiance.  When The Savoy (1895-96) started, selling at 2s 6d., expensive but half the price of The Yellow Book, it claimed to reject going movements ("decadence," "naturalism") for "good art" in general.  Yet this was yet another declaration of "aestheticism," now in effect a movement itself.  From Anglo-French and painterly origins, The Savoy printed the familiar Nineties experimentalists:  Beardsley, Arthur Symonds, George Moore, Bernard Shaw, Havelock Ellis, the French symbolists.  It was effectively succeeded by The Dome (1897-    ), "a quarterly containing examples of all the arts" (it later became a monthly, sold at the yet more modest price of one shilling).  Another "aesthetic" magazine, its eclectic policy let it publish the work of the London symbolists, the poetry of the Celtic Twilight.  All these magazine adventures were versions of the Bohemian Chap-Books that appeared round this date in many cities, not least New York (where Harland learned his trade) and Chicago where "bohemia" became the rage (it still is).

The lesson as well as the spirit of fin de siecle was that all to do with style, art and their novelties are by nature evanescent, fleeting glimpses and impressions captured for their instant, then let go on the river of time.  And, by the turn of the century, in times rendered sober by the Boer War and the advent of much technological modernity, the magazine scene changed again.  The old order of magazines – the magisterial "great reviews" – was beginning to die, giving way to more specialist journals generally concerned with new politics and world affairs.  The small coterie magazines, committed to the "new" in everything, had passed their butterfly season.  The question of the character of serious literary publication still had to be settled, in the unstable world of magazines as in that of book publishing.  In the last Victorian years, there was also a lull in movements themselves, the chief source of the newer magazines.  As the century dawned, it already seemed that the modern writer was essentially commercial, an H.G. Wells or Arnold Bennett writing not for the small journal but for a growing popular book market and new daily newspapers.  Hence there was presumably no room for the small and experimental magazines of aesthetic "modernity."  They were, like the fin de siecle itself, ephemeral.


Fortunately this aesthetic elusive dismay proved premature.  The great revival of new magazines was still to come – though not until the years shortly before the Great War, when there was a sudden and massive multiplication of movements and artistic campaigns, many as a result of the new radiation from Paris.  Those who believed, as most bien-pensants did, that Britain was eternally and incorrigibly the land of the Philistine thought the age of the Edwardian bookman the normal condition of things.  But there were those like Ford Madox Hueffer (with impeccable origins in the Pre-Raphaelites and the Germano-French heritage) who believed in the need for a periodical forum for cultural debate and the advancement of a modern-ist literature.  Hueffer also believed in all that went with this:  the need for writers and artists to associate in groups or movements, and for a new "critical attitude," the conviction of a true refuse that talent was always denied by the dominant cultural outlets, and that the daring Young were always at risk from the Establishment Old.  The venture where he hoped to act was The English Review, which he conceived in 1908.  There were signs of change in the cultural climate;  his friends Joseph Conrad and Henry James were producing some of their most experimental work.  As one observant American commentator explained in 1930:  "The advance of the little magazine in England was not hastened by any such need for national expression as existed in the United States.  But the body of dead tradition that had accumulated was even more formidable.  There were the older reviews, basking in a tyrannous senility;  Mr [Robert] Bridges had just succeeded Alfred Austin as poet laureate;  and the lending libraries... did what they could to prolong the Victorian epoch."6

The English Review – described on the title page as "a periodical devoted to the arts, to letter and ideas" – appeared in December 1908, a bulky monthly in a blue paper cover.  Hueffer was an original:  a writer's writer, a man deeply committed to the encouraging other writers.  But he was no businessman, and had borrowed half the £5,000 capital from a politician friend.  Despite its dignified frontage and grand name, the fate of The English Review was always precarious, but he did succeed in keeping it until 1910, when it passed to others.  The English Review has (rightly) been much honoured in retrospect.  As Hueffer's one-time assistant editor Douglas Goldring put it:  "In 1909 there were distinct signs of a revival [in literature] and Mr Hueffer – a critic of discernment and courage, possessed by a distinguished passion for good writing – made his choice of all the best work that was available.  Quality was the sole criterion;  and among the then 'unknown' he discovered almost everyone who was worth discovering.  There was something gallant about Mr Hueffer's editorial adventure, I believe it had rarely had its equal before or since, and that adequate thanks have never been accorded to him for it."7  Ezra Pound gave a yet more impassioned assessment:  "the EVENT of 1909-1910 was Ford Madox (Hueffer) Ford's ENGLISH REVIEW, and no greater condemnation of the utter filth of the whole social system of that time can be dug up than the fact of that review's passing out of his hands."8

Hueffer's chief aim in The English Review's stout pages was to bring together the best of the old guard – Thomas Hardy, W.B. Yeats, Henry James, Joseph Conrad (with whom Hueffer collaborated on three novels)  – with the new, or as Hueffer called them in grand maitre style, "Les Jeunes."  "Les Jeunes, as they chronologically presented themselves to us, were Mr Pound, Mr D.H. Lawrence, Mr Norman Douglas, Mr [F.S.] Flint, 'H.D.,' Richard Aldington, Mr T.S. Eliot... in our Editorial Salons they found chaises longues and sofas on which to stretch themselves while they discussed the fate of already fermenting Europe," Hueffer reported, adding "A Movement in the Arts – any movement – leavens a whole Nation with astonishing rapidity."9   He always claimed that what first roused him to action was the rejection by other literary papers of Thomas Hardy's poem "A Sunday Morning Tragedy," and he did great justice by the older literary writers.  But the aim was equally to bring in new writers:  "We aimed at founding an aube de siecle Yellow Book," he said.  And the score of achievement is remarkably high – doubtless helped by the appearance in London of the young Ezra Pound, who was quickly running his own 'movement' in Frith Street.  May Sinclair introduced the two:  "the greatest writer to the greatest editor" of the day, she said.  And the magazine is to be seen against the background of a newly alive literary life, filled with youthful and confident geniuses like Pound, Wyndham Lewis and D.H. Lawrence, a fair number of whom first found print in his pages.

Though anavant garde publication, the actual format of The English Review – one of the starting magazines of serious literary publication in Britain this century – was staid, dignified, traditional.  Political articles of consequence appeared;  the little magazine was set within the case of the great public review.  Hueffer's editorials, later republished as The Critical Attitude, discussed the writers of the day, his own Flaubertian standards, the prevailing philistinism of readers.  The first issue had Hardy's "suppressed" poem, Henry James' "The Jolly Corner," and the serialization of H.G. Wells' (best) novel, Tonobungay, as well as pieces on politics and international affairs.  When Ezra Pound's "Provencal" poem "Sestina:  Altaforte" appeared, squeezed between Eden Philpotts and an article in French on peace and war in Europe, the signs of new American influence were clear.  Lawrence gained first national publication in November 1909 (the poem "A Still Afternoon"), and Hueffer promoted him with publishers ("He introduced me to Edward Garnett, who introduced me to the world," Lawrence explained).  Money troubles grew as the paper lost £120 a month.  At the end of 1910 Sir Alfred Mond bought it and installed a new editor from the Daily Mail.  Some key contributors – Joseph Conrad, Lawrence, Hardy, Bridges, E.M. Forster – stayed with the paper, which went on through various editors and political standpoints, but with declining literary standards, until it merged in 1937 with the conservative National Review.  But its lasting importance was in providing, during the two Hueffer years, the outlets, chaises longues and sofas that allowed a complex and lively literary community to form.

The English Review restored the magazine climate;  from it came many smaller spin-offs.  A number of English Review contributors published in a new small poetry magazine called The Thrush (1909-10).  One was Hueffer, so overwhelmed by the quality and daring of "Les Jeunes" that he published here a highly premature farewell to literature (he was still writing furiously when he died in 1939).  Douglas Goldring started another little magazine, The Tramp (1910-11), hoping, he said somewhat oddly, to blend the literary distinction of the English Review with the commercial success of Country Life. While it conveyed the Georgian "nature poetry" tone of the period, it is chiefly noted (unlike Country Life) for publishing the Futurist Manifesto by Marinetti ("We will destroy museums, libraries, and fight against moralism, feminism and all utilitarian cowardice... The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, audacity and revolt").  Futurism was also the interest of Michael Sadler, who with young John Middleton Murry started another, more important venture, Rhythm, a quarterly of art, music and literature, which produced its first number in Summer 1911, ambitiously announcing itself as "a magazine with a purpose.  Its title is the ideal of a new art to which it will endeavour to give expression in England."  The magazine was advised by the Scots painter J.D. Fergusson, living in Paris, who promoted "Fauveiste" ideals.  The now familiar comparison was drawn;  this would be, said Murry, The Yellow Book of the modern movement.  This time the link is more appropriate, not least because of the close allegiance forged between writing and painting, the high quality of illustration, the close attention that was paid to new movements and tendencies, especially in Europe.  Murry, a serious and solemn critic, wrote on Bergson's and Croce's philosophy.  There were articles on Fauveism, reproductions of Picasso, Derain, Augustus John, Jessie Dismorr.  Katherine Mansfield appeared, first in Murry's personal life, then in print, often under pseudonyms.  She joined the editorial team, and the two lived together in the Rhythm flat at 57 Chancery Lane.

Following the golden rule of such things, the magazine was ever in financial trouble.  When the sponsor, Stephen Swift, went bankrupt, Mansfield and Murry found themselves carrying heavy debts.  However friends, including Edward Marsh, rallied with helpful financial or literary contributions.  Marsh's intervention gave Rhythm a link with the 'Georgian Poetry' movement;  and through the magazine Murry and Mansfield met D.H. Lawrence and Frieda ("it's a daft paper, but the folk seem rather nice"), founding a crucial association that would have many consequences later.  The magazine printed Lawrence's story "The Soiled Rose" in the May 1913 issue, and he reviewed for it.  By now the paper had just been reconstructed under a new name, The Blue Review.  Of this only three monthly issues appeared – containing striking stories by Mansfield, poetry by W.W. Gibson, James Elroy Flecker, articles by Hugh Walpole and Frank Swinnterton, and Lawrence on German books – before it died with the issue for July 1913.  Crucially, though, its period of publication covered a major period of adventure in British writing, during which a variety of new movements – Georgianism, Fauvisme, Futurism, Imagism – declared themselves.

By now the smaller magazines were growing culturally important for their campaigning support for this burst of movements – in fact the founding movements of early British Modernism.  Much of the energy moved into poetry.  Now the very seemly Poetry Society asked Harold Monro to reorganize their small publication The Poetry Gazette.  He re-started it as the quarterly The Poetry Review in January 1912, and in 1913 he opened the Poetry Bookshop (38 Great Russell Street) for readings, events and book publications, among them the five volumes of Georgian Poetry  edited by Edward Marsh, and Des Imagistes, the key anthology edited (anonymously) by Ezra Pound.  By virtue of Poetry Society funding, Poetry Review had an open and easy-going policy, but it succeeded in advancing several new and crucial avant garde campaigns.  F.S. Flint contributed articles on French poetry which started the campaign for vers libre.  Ezra Pound announced his credo in an essay "Prologomena" ("the trampling down of every convention that impedes or obscures the determination of the law, or the precise rendering of the impulse").  Rupert Brooke's "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester," appeared and won the prize for the best poem.  There were inevitable struggles with the tireless conservatism of the Poetry Society, till eventually Monro broke loose to found the quarterly Poetry and Drama.  (The title Poetry Review stayed with the Poetry Society, which ran it as a very middlebrow and anti-modernist journal for many years, with some strong episodes of revival.)  Poetry and Drama continued Monro's eclectic open door policy.  It followed out the fortunes of Imagism, flirted with Futurism (printing the new Futurist manifesto of 1913), and printed Rupert Brooke, Robert Frost (then living in London), and Ezra Pound ("Albatre").  With the December 1914 issue the magazine was suspended for a year because of the national situation (the war had not after all been over by Christmas).  It didn't return until 1919, in the very different form of the manifesto-like The Chapbook.


In the years just before the Great War, small magazines, ranging from a public review (English Review) to the small and elegant magazine of art and literature (Rhythm) to the poetry magazine (Poetry Review) became important outlets for the cultural and artistic transformation sweeping through the Western arts.  This was the period Hueffer called "the opening world," Virginia Woolf saw as the era when human character and the arts changed ("In or about December 1910 human character changed"), Wyndham Lewis saw as the time of "a new art coming to flower to celebrate or to announce a 'new age'."  The magazines displayed not just the change and excitement but the chaotic multiplicity of directions, the crossover of generations, the constant confused trading of allegiances and alliances.  Lawrence saw himself for a time as a Georgian, then as an Imagist.  Pound was for a time the foremost, most doctrinal Imagist, then a Vorticist.  Lewis identified himself with the Omega Workshops of Roger Fry before falling out with "Mr Fry's curtain and pincushion factory in Fitzroy Square" and going on to found Vorticism and the Rebel Art Centre.  The magazines chart the transformation of a cultural scene in active motion.  One thing was becoming clear:  small manifesto-like magazines with specialist and 'advanced' readerships were now one of the chief weapons of artistic transformation, providing an environment for work that could not win publication in the conventional magazines or with established publishers, encouraging radical experiment, opening up debate about the character of modern writing.  More, it was through the magazines that the important new writers of the time – the Lawrences and Lewises, Eliots and Pounds – first found their way.

Perhaps the most conspicuous example of the active role of new magazines was the way Ezra Pound manipulated the periodical and publishing scene to establish his avant garde world of "Make It New."  Pound marked an important new stage in the whole affair, systematically linking together British, European and American modernism.  Arriving in London from the Middle West via Venice in 1908, he soon became an active impresario within the movement, magazine and publishing scene, acting as European editor for various magazines starting up in parallel on the further side of the Atlantic – above all Harriet Monroe's Poetry (Chicago), founded in 1912, and Margaret Anderson's Little Review.  In 1912, in a Kensington teashop, he came up with the idea of a 'mouvemong" on the French model, called "Imagisme," and persuaded Hilda Doolittle to begin signing her poems "H.D. Imagiste."  Imagisme first laid out its manifesto in the transatlantic pages of Poetry (Chicago).  But Pound's ambition was both to bridge the Atlantic and to have a magazine of his own to steer as he wished.  He did this on the cuckoo principle, becoming involved with a feminist magazine The New Freewoman (formerly The Freewoman), "an individualist review" in newspaper format which published its first number on 15 June, 1913.  The editor was Dora Marsden, the backer Harriet Shaw Weaver, who would prove one of the great patrons of a time when Modernism depended greatly on the kindness of strangers, mostly ladies of means.  Pound offered to supply them with advanced literary contributions.  In Paris he met a fellow American, the poet John Gould Fletcher, and suggested he should finance a literary review under his, Pound's, editorship.  When Fletcher agreed, he then suggested that, if he became literary editor of The New Freewoman, Fletcher put up a monthly sum to pay his contributors.  By the end of the year, Pound had stamped the paper with a distinct Poundian character, and was already negotiating a less gender-specific title.  On 1 January 1914 the paper became The Egoist, and Pound passed on the literary editorship to his friend Richard Aldington.

From the first Pound meant the paper to have an Anglo-American dimension, writing to Harriet Monroe:  "I am sending you our left wing, The [New] Freewoman.  I've taken charge of he literature dept.  It will be convenient for things whereof one wants the Eng. copyright held.  I pay a dmd. low rate, but it might be worth while as a supplement for some of your darlings."  Since the darlings included such powerful new poets as Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell and Marianne Moore, it was an important bridge, and Pound was also placing his British friends and contributors (Aldington, Yeats, Lawrence, Hueffer, etc.) in the American magazine.  At various points he also attempted to get the rich Amy Lowell to take over the paper, and even edit it from Boston.  After Aldington became literary editor, Pound yielded direct but not indirect control.  Famously he introduced James Joyce's work to Harriet Shaw Weaver and got her to pay him a capital sum.  Thus The Egoist would publish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which appeared in 25 instalments between 2 February 1914, Joyce's 32nd birthday, and 1 September 1915.  At Pound's instigation it also brought out the British book edition in 1917.  Writing to Margaret Anderson he described The Egoist as "an official organ" in which "I and T.S. Eliot can appear once a month... and where Joyce can appear when he likes, and Wyndham Lewis can appear if he comes back from the war."  He engineered the appointment of the young expatriate Eliot, another protege, as assistant editor in June 1917, with considerable consequences for the future.  Besides ensuring fruitful contacts with the USA, he took care to have equal contact with Paris and the French movements, poets, critics and philosophers, laying particular emphasis on Remy de Gourmont and Henri Bergson.

Above all the paper was the British outlet for Imagism and broader tendencies and writers associated with it.  The 15 August, 1913, issue of The New Freewoman has Rebecca West publishing an article on "Imagisme," no doubt at Pound's instigation, followed by the influential reprinting, from Poetry (Chicago), of Flint's essay on the same subject, Pound's "A Few Don'ts By an Imagiste," and seven of Pound's Imagiste poems, the last being the famous "A Station in the Metro."  Soon the paper systematically promoted what it called "The Newer School," who included H.D., William Carlos Williams, Richard Aldington, D.H. Lawrence, Charlotte Mew, Marianne Moore, and Robert Frost.  By June 1914 the final 'e' of Imagism was dropped, the definitions changed somewhat.  May 1915 saw a special Imagist number, with an article by Flint giving its history back to the cafes of 1909;  there were various discussions of the major poets and tenets.  In 1915 the fortnightly became a monthly, and printed some of Wyndham Lewis's Vorticist novel Tarr, though he had not yet come back from the War.  In 1917, after Eliot joined, major critical articles by the most interesting critic of the day started appearing regularly.  January 1918 also saw a striking Henry James number, with excellent essays by Eliot and Pound, and the issue for September 1919 contained Eliot's influential essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent."  In 1918 perhaps the most daring venture began, when extracts from Joyce's Ulysses began appearing.  In December 1919 the Egoist ended, with, according to Pound, only 153 subscribers.  It has justly been called the first of the British "little magazines" – marked by its firm commitment to generation, movement and tendency, its critical energy and impassioned aesthetic debate, its continuing publication of the most exciting work in progress.  It was the paper where Pound carried out his well-planned "Make It New" programme, and effectively established the idea of a British avant garde that was part of a truly international movement, which reached from Paris and Trieste to New York, Chicago and Saint Louis.

The other major adventure of this time – as much a manifesto as a magazine – was Blast, "a review of the great English Vortex," whose first number is dated 20 June 1914, though it appeared somewhat later, close to the outbreak of war.  Published by John Lane, it was edited by Wyndham Lewis and addressed from the Rebel Art Centre in Great Ormond Street, as well as the flat in Church Walk, Kensington which accommodated Ezra Pound.  It was concerned with art, literature, drama, music, sculpture, and the great anti-Victorian revolution:  "there must be no echo of a former age, or of a former manner," Lewis pronounced.  Though Pound was again an active figure, disillusioned by the descent of Imagism into Amygism after Amy Lowell highjacked it, Lewis did not regard him as fully voting Vorticist, and later called him a "revolutionary simpleton."  There was nonetheless a kind of truce or transition that linked Imagism and Vorticism, so Pound, Aldington and Eliot all appeared in Blast.  The paper's crucial feature was its long manifesto list of "Blasts" and "Blesses" ("BLAST the years 1837 to 1900," etc.).  The look was as crucial as the contents.  "With a page area of 12 inches by 91/2, this publication was a bright puce colour.  In general appearance it was not unlike a telephone book.  It contained manifestoes, poems, plays, stories and outbursts of one sort of another," wrote Lewis.10  It had 160 pages, and the cover, variously called puce or magenta, had the title BLAST printed across it in heavy black type three inches high, with interior sans-serif type up to an inch high.  The manifestoes ran to forty pages, beginning with "Long Live the Vortex," and declaring: "We stand for the Reality of the Present – not for the sentimental Future, or the sacripant past... BLAST sets out to be an avenue for all those vivid and violent ideas that could reach the Public in no other way."  Though England, John Galsworthy and Cod Liver Oil were blasted, England (again), James Joyce and Castor Oil were blessed.  This issue had twelve poems by Pound, Lewis's play "The Enemy of the Stars," and a section of Hueffer's finest novel The Good Soldier, as well as plentiful illustration from Lewis, Edward Wadsworth, Gaudier-Brzeska and Epstein.  In July 1915 a second number appeared.  By now the blasts were real, and it was announced in its pages that Gaudier-Brzeska had been killed in action, after having written an article at the front on Vorticism (it was printed).  Lewis himself was in France, and Hueffer, who contributed a poem, soon would be.  This issue contained T.S. Eliot's "Preludes" and "Rhapsody on a Windy Night."  But Vorticism was over;  rather it had transformed into something else, war art.

The War was scarcely a lively time for the production of new literature;  it changed and darkened the whole character of the emerging avant garde.  Perhaps the most significant wartime magazine was The Signature, which essentially represented D.H. Lawrence's bitter, apocalyptic response to the conflict.  He wrote to Cynthia Asquith:  "we are thinking – Murry and Mrs Murry [Katherine Mansfield] and I, primarily, of issuing a little paper, fortnightly, to private subscribers....  Perhaps Bertie Russell and Gilbert Cannan will come in.... The persistent nothingness of the war makes me feel like a paralytic convulsed with rage."  He made a similar appeal to Lady Ottoline Morrell, asking for subscribers:  "I only want the people who care."  Soon he announces that he has already written six papers for the magazine, but only has 27 subscriptions (there were probably never many more).  Later on, when in virtually permanent exile abroad, Lawrence would explain this small but important paper as a "little escapade" of Murry's.  Murry would say the first suggestion had come from Lawrence, and it probably did.  Only three numbers appeared, dated 4 October, 18 October and 1 November, 1915.  It was Lawrence's bitterest time;  he felt hounded by the authorities for his pacifism, and over this period his new novel The Rainbow was prosecuted and destroyed.  In The Signature's pages he published his apocalyptic wartime essay The Crown, Murry There Was a Little Man... and Katherine Mansfield contributed several stories.  There were no other contributors.  A few other magazines started over the wartime period, some preparing the way for the mood of the Twenties.  One was The Palatine Review (1916-17), run by T.W. Earp and the young Aldous Huxley in an Oxford with virtually no undergraduates.  But Robert Graves was invalided back, and became a contributor;  and the magazine helped to clear the ground for the livelier scene after 1918, when the Brideshead Generation, then the Auden Group appeared.  But, as Wyndham Lewis later said, the excitement and experiment of the prewar years was snuffed out by the war, and "We are the first men of a future that has not materialized."


By the time civilian operations resumed after 1918, it was evident that a great deal had changed.  The era of the Edwardian bookman had quietly faded;  poets who a few years earlier had written lyric nature poetry for magazines like Lascelles Abercrombie's New Numbers now seemed a whole lost world away.  The buoyant mood of "Georgianism" which had delighted D.H. Lawrence turned into something darker and more troubled, as later war-pained anthologies of Georgian Poetry revealed.  Many writers had encountered – many had not survived – the horrors of the trenches, and the shattering of dreams of heroism and patriotism.  If the first stage of the Modern movement had been a lively war with the Philistines, now the war was more likely to be with those who had destroyed the cultural and historial idea of Europe, and brought the destruction of a generation.  In many respects, however, the "Modern movement" had triumphed, and its former outrages had become the norms of expression in a dark and fragmentary age.  Its art no longer expressed a joy in new forms nor a protest against Victorian values.  It was rather a revolt against that world of falling cities, wounded spirits and shattered lives that Eliot emblemized in "The Waste Land," the decade's exemplary poem.  By 1919 Eliot in The Egoist, Middleton Murry in The Athenaeum, were already asserting the age of Georgianism was over, and calling for a new irony, wit and vision in modern poetry, a different voice and consciousness in the novel.  The postwar generation shared the common experience of war and the feeling of cultural transition and human fragility it engendered.

The extent to which the war changed the mood of the culture, and opened it to a new generation of writers, can be seen from two other important magazines that began during wartime and carried on into the early postwar period.  One was Holbrook Jackson's Today, which appeared from March 1917 to December 1923:  a thoughtful popular monthly, it printed Yeats, Hardy, Eliot, Pound and Robert Graves, and carried serious critical articles on Joyce, Lawrence and Katherine Mansfield.  The other, more significant was Art and Letters, "an illustrated quarterly," which started in June 1917 and lapsed for a while in 1918.  Redesigned as a postwar magazine deliberately devoted to young writers and artists, continuing until the issue for Spring 1920, its editors were Frank Rutter, Herbert Read and Osbert Sitwell.  It systematically affirmed the importance of the Modern movement, about which it attempted to create a serious critical debate.  An article by Charles Ginner, "Modern Painting and Teaching" (June 1917), celebrated the importance of Cubism and Vorticism;  drawings by Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, and Wyndham Lewis appeared regularly in the magazine.  Herbert Read's article "Definitions Toward a New Theory of Poetry" (January 1918), stressed the significance for new poetry of Imagism and Clive Bell's doctrine of "significant form," "achieved by unity, vitality, exactness, concentration and decoration."  This started a key critical debate where Read was answered, in an early appearance, by I.A. Richards.  Unsurprisingly war was a central subject matter, in such poems as Read's own "Kneeshaw Goes To War" and Wyndham Lewis's story "The War Baby."  The magazine also printed posthumous war poetry by Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen, drawing attention to their importance.  T.S. Eliot gave editorial advice and contributed regularly, writing influentially and powerfully as critic on the blank verse of Marlowe, Webster and Euripedes, and as a poet with "Burbank With A Baedeker, Bleistein With a Cigar" and "Sweeney Erect."  According to Herbert Read, it was the disappearance of Art and Letters which led Eliot to found The Criterion in 1922.  He also fairly adds:  "if in the future the two decades between 1920 and 1939 seem to achieve a certain homogeneity in the history of literature, the explanation should be sought in the direction and cohesion provided, first and tentatively by Art and Letters, and then clearly and confidently by The Criterion."11

In fact a new sobriety was entering literary experiment.  If the pre-war years were the years of excitement, this was the era of analysis.  The "Modern Movement" was becoming magisterial and respectable, a matter for sober reflection, serious critical debate and analysis.  The new centrality of literary criticism (at a time when English was becoming an important university subject, and more analytical debate was thus made possible) is nowhere more evident than in the postwar pages of that well-established reviewing paper The Athenaeum.  A drab monthly in wartime, it was restructured with the issue for 4 April, 1919, and reverted to weekly reviewing format.  The new editor was John Middleton Murry;  the assistant editorship was first offered to Eliot and, when he refused, to Aldous Huxley, who served for a year.  A new generation of magazinists, among them some of the best literary writers of the day, and many now depending on the magazines for a career, had emerged from the pre-war reviews.  For the two-year period of Murry's editorship, The Athenaeum, which covered literature British and foreign, fine arts, music, drama, history and science, was a major journal for criticism and reviewing;  its files still offer a basic and powerful record of new critical opinion.  For critical essays and reviews of the burst of "modern" publication that occurred in the immediate postwar period (Virginia Woolf's fiction and criticism, Eliot's criticism and verse, Conrad's later fiction, etc.), Murry brilliantly commissioned a fresh, responsive, topical generation of critics and reviewers, and let them write at length.  They included Eliot, Woolf, Vanessa Bell, George Santayana, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, Edward Muir, D.H. Lawrence (writing under the pen-name "Grantorto"), Aldous Huxley (writing as "Auctolycus"), Katherine Mansfield, Edmund Blunden and Conrad Aiken:  a generation on display.  Out of these pages came some of the finest critical essays of the Twenties, the material of volumes like Eliot's The Sacred Wood, Murry's Aspects of Literature, and Woolf's The Common Reader.  This regime continued until the issue for 18 February, 1921, when the paper merged with The Nation, to become The Nation and Athenaeum.  Later, when this too merged with the leftwing New Statesman, the name Athenaeum went out of the title – though for several generations after the paper sustained the tradition of a strong and independent critical section Murry had established.

Other magazines captured a similar mood, uniting new experimental writing with a campaigning modern criticism.  Coterie, an advanced quarterly of art, prose and poetry, which started in May 1919 and ended in Winter 1920/21 (it was later revived as New Coterie), was edited by Chaman Lall, and had Eliot on the editorial board, as well as other growingly familiar names:  Richard Aldington, Wyndham Lewis, T.W. Earp, Conrad Aiken.  Eliot's "A Cooking Egg" appeared, Edith Sitwell made a sprightly appearance, Aldous Huxley contributed poetry and prose.  There was The Owl, probably edited by Robert Graves, which printed three expensive and splendidly illustrated issues in 1919, and introduced significant American poetry by Vachel Lindsay and John Crowe Ransom;  American and British poetry were going through a time of close alliance.  Harold Monro returned to the fray with The Chapbook (1919-1925), a series of small monthly pamphlets (forty in all) devoted to some single aspect of poetry or drama.  The first contained 23 three new poems by contemporary poets, the fourth was devoted to F.S. Flint on contemporary French poetry, another to "Three Critical Essays on Modern English Poetry," by Eliot, Flint and Aldous Huxley, and another, in May 1920, to contemporary American poetry.  Overall these publications amount to a remarkable sequence, displaying important reactions to such matters as the appearance of "The Waste Land" and the new generation of experimental American poets.

These were the avant garde magazines, but they made their way against the middlebrow literary climate represented by more popular and larger circulation literary publications, some of considerable quality.  Most notable was The London Mercury, a monthly for the general reader, founded in November 1919.  Edited by J.C. Squire, it soon reached a circulation of 20,000.  It published an eclectic range of poetry, including much that was notable (the "Crazy Jane" poems of W.B. Yeats, etc.), had a fair share of important essays, and printed many significant short stories (Sherwood Anderson, Liam O'Flaherty, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, etc.).  In 1934 R.A. Scott-James took over;  in 1935 it merged with The Bookman;  during the later 1930s it increasingly represented the "Auden Generation."  Finally in April 1939, as the troubled political climate made its economics ever more difficult, its owners (The New Statesman) sold it to Life and Letters Today, and it ceased as a separate publication.  Often seen as drearily middlebrow, the London Mercury displayed the fact that there was a vigorous general book culture in Britain, with eclectic interests.  It took its place with the generally good reviewing standards of the weekly reviews (The Nation, etc.) and the Times Literary Supplement (founded 1902), whose record in covering Modernism is displayed, in all its variety, in a recent anthology.12

By the dawn of the Twenties, an increasing number of journals were concerned to define and capture the postwar mood.  The most flamboyant was Wyndham Lewis' The Tyro, "a review of the arts of painting and design, to be produced at intervals of two or three months."  Only two issues appeared, both undated, but published in April 1921 and March 1922.  "No time has ever been more carefully demarcated from the one it succeeds than the time we have entered on has been by the Great War of 1914-18...," it announced, explaining that "we, then, are the creatures of a new state of human life," "immense novices," "tyros."  Again T.S. Eliot was involved;  he wrote essays reflecting on the Baudelaire and the Dada movement, and published a poem, "Song to the Opherian," under the odd and playful pseudonym of Gus Krutzsch.  Lewis returned polemically to the fray later, in his magazine The Enemy (1927-28), announcing:  "there is no 'movement' gathered here (thank heaven!) merely a person;  a solitary outlaw and not a gang."  It was virtually a single-headed critical campaign, though once more Eliot was involved.

In fact Eliot was now becoming a crucial figure in the magazine scene, and in 1921-22 he was in process of becoming the most important magazinist of the day.  He had been negotiating with Lady Rothermere (an American with whom he had been at school) to found a new British periodical that might serve as successor to the Egoist and Art and Letters, with a modern perspective and a strong European and international dimension:  a truly ambitious review.  The model they agreed on was the American magazine The Dial, to which Eliot already contributed.  As he was an employee of Lloyd's Bank, which would not allow him to take paid outside employment, his role as editor was necessarily part-time and amateur.  That helped dictate that it would be a quarterly, though there was a paid assistant editor, Richard Aldington (another line of continuity with The Egoist).  The review would be called The Criterion, an apparently magisterial title, though story has it that it was named by Vivien Eliot after a restaurant where she met a lover.  Various departments were set up – J.B. Trend looked after the "Music Chronicle," and so on – and weekly luncheon discussions started around aesthetic, philosophical and critical topics.  Eliot soon set up a brilliant network of international contacts and correspondents, who included George Santayana, Paul Valery, Valery Larbaud, Jacques Maritain and Luigi Pirandello.  Eliot himself reflected in the new paper, a bulky and dignified quarterly in a dull yellow cover, that the times were not so much now an age of creation as an age of criticism, and that the Modern movement had come of age.


The new review published its first issue in October 1922, a timely moment.  1922 was a key year of Modernism:  Joyce's Ulysses appeared in Paris earlier in the year, and Eliot's own "The Waste Land" appeared in the very first issue.  This had an important essay on Ulysses by Valery Larbaud, and Eliot also acknowledged the book as a major achievement, capturing the age's panorama of "futility and anarchy."  Soon there were key contributions from Ezra Pound ("The Malatesta Cantos"), Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis, Marcel Proust, D.H. Lawrence, Benedetto Croce and more.  Before the decade was over, the magazine – following a contemporary internationalist policy – had printed creative work or criticism by Paul Valery, Luigi Pirandello, Hermann Hesse, Wilhelm Worringer, C.P. Cavafy, Jean Cocteau, Charles Maurras and Ernst Robert Curtius, in many cases introducing them to Britain.  Eliot was closely involved in the modern experiment, but no less preoccupied with the idea of the "European mind" as a vital centre of humanism and culture.  That culture was acknowledgedly in crisis, political and metaphysical, and Eliot made that an abiding theme.  In 1925 he finally left the bank (something his friends had long been raising money for him to do) to join the publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer.  They took over the costs, meaning Eliot could now devote himself more thoroughly to the enterprise, which for a time began to appear monthly, as The New Criterion, then The Monthly Criterion, and also ask himself public questions about the task of such a review.

He proposed that this was to illustrate a tendency – or rather, as he put it, reveal the time and the tendencies of the time, so that the volumes had a value over and above the individual contributions.  The "tendency" represented by The Criterion was shaped by the cultural dilemmas and bitter political debates of the postwar period, but also by the personal crises, marital and philosophical, through which Eliot was passing.  About this time he committed himself to the Anglo-Catholic Church and took British nationality.  He subsequently remarked on his reasoning, saying it was only after 1926 (the year of the General Strike) that the features of the postwar world began clearly to emerge, and "from about that date one began slowly to realise that the intellectual and artistic output of the last seven years had been rather the last efforts of an old world than the first efforts of a new."  He introduced a series of editorial commentaries, signed "Crites," to discuss the intellectual, moral and metaphysical climate, arguing the case for "classicism," a commitment to reason and order, an argument part-based on the pre-war speculations of T.E. Hulme and his own doctrine of "impersonality."  There was a key debate about the "New Humanism," involving his American mentors Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More, and a wealth of discussion, involving French writers like Charles Maurras, on communism and fascism, part of an endeavour in contemporary political and social circumstances to achieve "a definition of culture."

Meantime the magazine contained some of the best writing of the time:  new poetry, prose, drama, and criticism.  Poetry included Yeats' "The Tower," Hart Crane's "The Tunnel."  Excerpts from Finnegans Wake and Pound's Cantos appeared.  Major critical essays were regularly printed:  Herbert Read on metaphysical poetry, the prolific Eliot himself on Elizabethan dramatists and, fascinatingly, on detective fiction, J.M. Robertson on English blank verse, Stephen Spender on Yeats, Montgomery Belgion on Gide and Kafka, E.M. Forster on Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf on character in fiction, and so on.  There were regular letters from America and France, as well as a "Fiction Chronicle," a "Music Chronicle," a "Verse Chronicle."  There were excellent accounts of the contents of foreign reviews world-wide, singling out exciting new talents.  From 1924 onward there was regular reviewing of the highest standard, using I.A. Richards, Bonamy Dobree, Paul Elmore More, L.C. Knights, Marianne Moore, William Empson, W.H. Auden, Edwin Muir and many more.  The Criterion represented nothing less than a 'definition of culture,' which embraced poetry, fiction and drama;  literary criticism, music, politics, philosophy and religion;  the debates of Britain and America, Paris, Berlin and Rome.  Eliot used his office magisterially, and the review created a distinctive sense of history and culture that was steered, often very explicitly, by his own preoccupations, but also of the many critics and intellectuals who gathered around the magazine.

For reasons clearly explored in the biographical records,13 his own poetry tended to lapse – though he did publish his "Fragment of a Prologue" (October 1926) and "Fragment of an Agon, From "Wanna Go Home, Baby?" (January 1927), which became Sweeney Agonistes.  But he was writing formidably as a critic, both for his own review and many others;  and the crucial fact was that he was an excellent editor, large in his aims and interests, ever generous to new writing.  As a result, the writing of the "new world" after 1926, when in fact there was a fundamental changeover of literary generations in Britain, appeared prominently in his pages.  Eliot encouraged Auden's early work, and his "Paid on Both Sides" appeared in January 1930, followed by book reviewing in later numbers.  Over the next two years verse by William Empson, Stephen Spender, Hugh McDiarmid, Louis MacNeice, Ronald Bottrall, Charles Madge, George Barker, and Dylan Thomas appeared, and the review did much to relate the Thirties movement to a larger culture.  The Criterion became the most desirable outlet for modern writing;  to appear there was to win international recognition as a serious writer.  The new writing that appeared carried forward the general critical, cultural and political argument (the succession of controversies over economics and religion, classicism and romanticism, aesthetic detachment and political engagement), giving a sense of the best minds at work on the increasingly intractible problems of the time.  These, though, finally provoked Eliot to end the magazine, in profound depression, with the issue for January 1939.

Inevitably, given the central role it played despite its small circulation (800 at its highest, around 300 at the end), The Criterion provoked resistance.  A significant example was a small, often quirky literary monthly, The Adelphi, edited by John Middleton Murry, which began in June 1923.  Mansfield died earlier in the year, so the new magazine was part-meant as a memorial to her (her photograph appeared as frontispiece, and there were many personal references).  It was equally meant as homage to D.H. Lawrence, on whose support Murry counted, and he promoted it as a vehicle of Lawrentian ideas, describing himself in the first editorial as "locum tenens for a better man."  Other supporters were A.R. Orage, who edited the formidable The New Age, and Vivian Locke-Ellis.  An essential motive for this wierdly personal project was Murry's "instinctive" resistance to "classicism."  "As far as I can remember, the decisive impulse was one of rebellion against the combination of rationalism and aestheticism which was (or seemed to me) in danger of becoming dominant in literature in 1923," he recollected in the paper in 1950, when the magazine was still going, though in revived form under different editorship.  "Frankly I have no interest in editing what the critics would call a good magazine...," Murry was already announcing to a body of obviously sympathetic readers in 1924, "I am interested now, not in 'good writing,' or in 'attractive articles,' but in truth."  So were most other contributors;  the paper retained this personal tone and impassioned concern with romanticism, atheism, deism, socialism, and communism, for most of its existence.  Still it carried many significant contributions:  posthumous stories by Katherine Mansfield, stories by Liam O'Flaherty, A.E. Coppard, poetry by Lawrence, Hardy, Graves, Yeats.  Lawrence kept his distance, even indicated his embarrassment, but did contribute essays that would appear in Fantasia of the Unconscious and Mornings in Mexico.  In 1927 it became a quarterly, The New Adelphi, and had a vigorous period, printing Capek, Edwin Muir, Santayana, Herbert Read, and Jung, as well as (at great length) Murry himself.  A particularly notable issue mourned Lawrence's death in 1930.  In 1930 Max Plowman and Sir Richard Rees became editors, the paper reverted to monthly format, and began to print many newer writers from the "Auden Generation."  By 1932 it was firmly identified with the Independent Labour Party.  Later Murry, always the major contributor, resumed the editorship.  In 1936 it largely dropped its literary dimension, but continued, uncertainly, to survive.  In 1948 Henry Williamson took over, and it went on under him, then George Godwin and B. Ifor Evans, till its death in the 1950s.

From its "romantic" and then socialist position The Adelphi consistently challenged The Criterion.  A different, more specifically critical kind of challenge came in March 1925, when The Calendar of Modern Letters appeared as a monthly literary review, with Edgell Rickword (later to be editor of the avowedly Marxist Left Review) as editor.  A year on it became a quarterly and survived until July 1927, printing some of the most important criticism of the decade.  Declaring the value of a review must lie in its attitude to the living literature of the time, it began a series of articles, "Scrutinies," designed to pursue serious critical judgement.  In 1926 it firmly rebuked both The Criterion and The Adelphi, the classic and the romantic, the intellectualist's abstraction and "the intuitionalist debauch."  The "Scrutinies" series (from which F.R. Leavis's Scrutiny would take its name and attitudes) attacked its subjects with vigour and rigour.  Edgell Rickword discussed J.M. Barrie, Douglas Garman (assistant editor) Walter de la Mare, Bertrand Higgins (also assistant editor) John Masefield and so on.  Other critical articles of distinction appeared, and for the first time a rigorous and considered New Criticism afforded the serious basis for a magazine.  John Crowe Ransom published his "Thoughts on Poetic Discontent," establishing 'irony' as a judgemental principle), Edwin Muir  wrote on "The Zeitgeist" and "Ulysses," Wyndham Lewis on "The Dithyrambic Spectator," D.H. Lawrence on "Morality and the Novel."  In an article "A Short Note on Fiction," C.H. Rickword established what was in effect a new "New Critical" approach to the novel as genre.  The reviewing of new books was equally determined and rigorous.  Rickword wrote a considered review of T.S. Eliot's Poems 1909-1925 which interestingly praised "the urgency of his personality," and D.H. Lawrence wrote on Hemingway's collection of stories In Our Time.  In The Criterion H.P. Collins praised the review, recognizing a group of critics, most unknown, "who possess a detachment and a capacity for subtle differentiation and analysis which would have been incomprehensible a dozen years ago," though he also noted that "it is not easy to recognize in them a criticism that is fruitful or, in the true sense, creative."  Yet the creative side of the paper was also distinguished;  fiction by Lawrence ("The Princess"), T.F. Powys, Kay Boyle, Pirandello, and Leonid Leonov, poery by Graves, Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Hart Crane, Allen Tate, Roy Campbell, and John Crowe Ransom.  By the time The Calendar of Modern Letters died, magazine criticism and the serious literary essay had acquired a new authority.14


By the mid-1920s, another generation – the "Brideshead Generation," as Humphrey Carpenter has it15 – had grown evident.  Oxbridge magazines were an established convention, an important training ground for neophyte literary styles and manners.  Eliot cast a strong influence everywhere:  "Cautiously received amongst dons, Eliot was read, learned, discussed and above all imitated by undergraduates with competitive eagerness," recalls James Reeve of 1920s Cambridge.  At Oxford, as Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited recalls, "The Waste Land" was read out through a megaphone, and various magazines reflect that impact.  Oxford Outlook, started in 1919, printed the work of C. Day Lewis (1924), Christopher Isherwood (1925), W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice (1926), as well as Stephen Spender, Isaiah Berlin and Enid Starkie.  Revived as The New Oxford Outlook in 1933, it would carry a good deal of the work of the "Auden Generation."  In 1923 Harold Acton started his neo-modernist Oxford Broom, to which Waugh contributed design and a story.  In Cambridge, with its growing commitment to literary criticism and Communism, two new magazines appeared in the same month in 1928:  Venture, edited by Anthony Blunt, H. R. Fedden and Michael Redgrave, and carrying young writers like William Empson, Louis MacNeice, Julian Bell and John Lehmann;  and Experiment, edited by J. Bronowski, William Empson and Hugh Sykes Davies.  As its name foretold, this was the more modernist, with stills from films, an unpublished extract from Joyce's Work in Progress, articles on Hemingway, Joyce and Eliot, and early Empson poetry in some quantity, as well as sections from his key critical book Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930).  Later issues had Boris Pasternak, Malcolm Lowry, and a discussion by Empson of Auden's Paid On Both Sides.  Round this date F.R. Leavis published an article approving of Eliot in The Cambridge Review, causing, he said, much offence and controversy.  Oxford produced Farrago in 1930, by which time the climate was already beginning to grow political.  There was Cambridge Left in 1933, which printed John Cornford and much socially concerned poetry, and other university magazines reflected the greater politicisation of the next literary generation.

The most important review to emerge from the university climate was Scrutiny, started in Cambridge in May 1932, continuing until October 1953.  It was founded by a group of young collaborators, most of them teaching fellows and research students, who remembered the ideal of the "common pursuit of true judgment" Eliot had written of in his essay "The Function of Criticism," and I.A. Richards' account of literature as the "storehouse of recorded values."  Two closer, more immediate influences were Q.D. Leavis's Fiction and the Reading Public and her husband F.R. Leavis's New Bearings in English Poetry, both published that year.  Though the masthead of the first issues bore other names (L.C. Knights, Donald Culver) it was these two who proved to be the essential editors, and their books set out most of the underlying presumptions.  The first editorial struck the firm Scrutiny note:  "The general dissolution of standards is a commonplace... Those who are aware of the situation will be concerned to cultivate awareness and will be actively concerned for standards.  A review is necessary that will combine criticism of literature with criticism of extra-literary activities.  We take it as axiomatic that concern for standards of living implies concern for standards in the arts."  Leavis was from the beginning an energetic contributor, much exercised about the task of the critical guardians.  That was the role to be performed, often formidably, by the Scrutineers themselves.  The Leavises were fortunate in having around them a group of figures – Knights, Culver, D.W. Harding, Denys Thompson, H.A. Mason, John Speirs, R.G. Cox – who were able to make the Scrutiny campaign collective and systematic.  Knights wrote on Shakespeare, Speirs on Middle English, Martin Turnell on French literature, Henri Fluchere on French literary papers, Marius Bewley on American literature.  There were important occasional contributors:  Muriel Bradbrook, I.A. Richards, Michael Oakshott, William Empson, Edmund Blunden, Edgell Rickword, W.H. Auden, George Santayana, Arthur Humphreys.  At first Scrutiny professed a strong commitment to printing creative work, but most of what it had to offer appeared in early numbers:  poetry by Ronald Bottrall and Richard Eberhart, fiction from G.H. Peacock (from his novel Coolstone Park) in December 1932.  There can be little doubt of the reason for the shortfall:  the aroma of critical scrutiny that came from the magazine was no encouragement to the submission of original writing.

Scrutiny's strength lay elsewhere.  Leavis had his heroes, who came from both sides of the classic/romantic divide:  Eliot in poetry and criticism, Lawrence in the novel.  He and most fellow contributors also shared the certainty that the culture was going through a period of fundamental decline, destructive to the creation of serious literature.  Even so, especially in earlier days, Scrutiny offered a strong and powerful analysis of contemporary work as it appeared:  Pound's essays and poetry, Eliot's criticism and drama, Empson's criticism, Virginia Woolf's fiction, Auden's verse and that of his contemporaries.  The essential achievement was the creation of a distinctive critical voice.  When Empson left Cambridge in some scandal, Richards began to withdraw, the Scrutiny group represented – at least to many in the outside world – the spirit of "New Criticism" as practised in the Cambridge English School.  Its tone was rigorous, its demands of writing testy and precise, its insistence on the centrality of literature as the test of a civilization appealing to more than one generation, its rejection of Bloomsbury and the dominant literary climate explicit.  Leavis was concerned with literature's definitive existence at the centre of a mature culture;  it was not a politics, not a mode of religion, but a moral act of the imagination.  As Eliot grew more religious in The Criterion, and youthful Marxists took charge in the new reviews, Scrutiny founded its position in a formidable defence of judgemental literary values, not on aesthetic but on moral and interpretative grounds, "designs for living."

In the final days Leavis had no doubt of the importance of what it had achieved:  "this sober claim can be made:  the volumes offer an incomparable literary history of the period, and at the same time, in such consonance as to be an organic part of the whole coherent critical achievement, what will be recognized to amount to a major revaluation of English literature," he wrote in the magazine in Spring 1953, "That is because Scrutiny was concerned to determine the significant points in the contemporary field and to make, with due analysis, the necessary judgment, and because these judgments have invariably turned out to be right."  Scrutiny was born in the critical and intellectual wars of the early Thirties, and, despite its militancy and its sense of representing a minority culture, the sole saving remnant, it owed much to them.  But it well outlasted all rivals, and its period of greatest influence was in the 1950s – when the university system expanded, English acquired a new centrality in the academic curriculum, rigorous modern revaluations were the order of the day.  By now, though, the critical energy was tiring, and the review running dry of contributions.  Scrutiny expired with the issue for October 1953.16   It was, perhaps, the last seriously critical and high-minded literary magazine.  For the 'dissolution of standards' – the collapse of an elite and select modernism into the universal mush – was soon to be under way in the years after its demise, and its prophecy was exact.


The 1930s saw a whole new body of other significant magazines, their direction greatly shaped by the appearance, in 1932, of Michael Roberts' Hogarth Press anthology New Signatures, followed a year on by New Country, stressing the political engagement of the new generation.  The best were Geoffrey Grigson's New Verse (1933-37), heavily devoted to the Auden Group, famous for publishing a mock obituary of Eliot, later very attentive to surrealism;  The Left Review (1924-38), produced by the "Writers' International," edited by T.H. Wintringham and then Edgell Rickword;  and above all New Writing, founded by John Lehmann in Spring 1936 and appearing twice yearly until Christmas 1939 – when it went through magic transition to become the wartime monthly Penguin New Writing.  There were Roger Roughton's Contemporary Poetry and Prose, started in May 1936, particularly devoted to Surrealism, and Julian Symonds' Twentieth Century Verse (January 1937-July 1939).  Like The Criterion, most of these magazines (along with their political attitude) died in or around 1939.  By the 1940s, when the two dominant magazines were the new format Penguin New Writing and Cyril Connolly's Horizon, the graceful and quirky cheap monthly started in January, 1940, the periodical had begun to have a different meaning.  It reported on wartime, captured the twilight mood and profound cultural uncertainty, sustained immediate writing in a time of chaos, gave imaginative relief to fighting soldiers or blitzed civilians.  By the Thirties the War for Modernism was in effect over;  most writers had imbibed some aspect of its influence and styles, and it was a digested tradition.  By the beginning of the 1940s many of its founding figures – Virginia Woolf, James Joyce – were dead, or had fled into American exile.  An era was complete, leaving the periodical, once peace resumed, with a different future.

Yet much of the construction of a serious twentieth century literature had been first done in the magazines and literary reviews (in many more than can be considered here).  For all their marginal existence, their minority sense of themselves, their shaky finances and small readerships, they represented the front edge of writing, the changing styles and arguments of literature, the new voices and the needed campaigns.  They were the places where most of the movements announced themselves, the grounds on which or between which aesthetic and critical battles were constantly fought.  Here new writers generally had first access, and won first acceptance, moving from this magazine to the other, this flag of convenience to that.  Starting on magazines or in literary journalism, and depending on them for modest income as well as a place in the artistic debate, they then moved on to books, which were, in turn, very often essentially the products of original periodical publication.  The magazines were the essential meeting place of new writing and criticism;  criticism itself was largely the self-examining practice of writers, though the academy became gradually more important.  But by the 1950s the pattern began to transform considerably.  The two dominant magazines of wartime, Horizon and Penguin New Writing, both closed in 1950, with the conviction that the literary culture was declining (as Cyril Connolly put it, it was "closing time in the gardens of the West"), and Scrutiny collapsed shortly after.  Printing costs were rising, the reliable audience disappearing – while the shape of the postwar literary generation was slow to form.

Today, our periodical literary culture is fundamentally different from the one that carried the Modernist campaign into the centre of culture.  We have significant literary journals, not least the reviewing papers The London Review of Books and the revived Times Literary Supplement.  But books are trade, writers a commodity.  The common pursuit of true judgment has dissolved into a reviewing traffic in factions, generation and gender wars or other agendas, while the more abstract aspects of critical scrutiny have turned into theory and deconstructive enterprise.  Criticism has become either a specialized academic discourse concerned not with standards but theories;  reviewing is essentially a self-flaunting branch of contemporary journalism, given to celebrity gossip or the pursuit of target reader-groups.  The pursuit of standards or definitions of culture has given way to culture in its postmodern sense:  the eclectic contents of a Sunday supplement, where books are part of the same spread as film, pop music, food, wine, fashion, alternative life-styles and other designer chic.   Style is no longer the form of an aesthetic knowledge, but an aspect of design and marketing.  Modernism, and the critical enterprise that developed out of it, was by definition an elitist or coterie enterprise.  Making it new depended not simply on a deconstruction but a reconstruction of the canon, on learning how to read, again.  The postmodern norm is pluricultural, pluri-generic eclecticism;  culture is all that is the case.  Writers are no longer experimental explorers, cultural movers and shakers, formers of values;  they are sub-atomic particles and individualized celebrities.  The periodical, like the book, has been enveloped in the new age of communications conglomerates.  It is not about the shaping of the "critical attitude" or the "saving remnant";  it is another signifying commodity, competing in the marketplace.  If the story of the magazines of Modernism is one of an enterprise in moving from an era of fin de siecle cultural ephemerality to a kind of permanence, the postmodern process is the reverse:  the ephemeralisation, randomization and commodification of "culture" and "art" is the impermanent triumph of the postmodern condition.



ADAM (Bucharest, London).  Ed: Miron Grindea.  Irreg.  1932-present?
ADELPHI (later NEW ADELPHI).  Ed:  J.M. Murry, others.  M, Q.  June 1923-195?.
ARENA.  Ed:  Jack Lindsay.  Bi-M.  1949-June 1951.
ART AND LETTERS.  Ed:  Frank Rutter, Herbert Read, Osbert Sitwell, others.  Q.  June 1917-Spring 1920.
BLAST.  Ed:  Wyndham Lewis.  June 1914, July 1915.
BOLERO (later KINGDOM COME) (Oxford).  Ed:  John Waller.  Irreg.  1938-9.
CALENDAR OF MODERN LETTERS.  Ed:  Edgell Rickword, others.  M, Q.  March 1925-July 1927.
CAMBRIDGE LEFT.  Ed:  H.V. Kemp, others.  Q.  Summer 1933-Autumn 1934.
CAMBRIDGE WRITING.  Ed:  William Watson.  Irreg.  Easter 1948-1951.
THE CHAPBOOK (later MONTHLY CHAPBOOK).  Ed:  Harold Monro.  M.  1919-1925.
CONTEMPORARY POETRY AND PROSE.  Ed;  Roger Roughton.  Irreg.  May 1936-Autumn 1937.
COTERIE (Oxford).  Ed:  Chaman Lall.  Q.  May 1919-Winter 1920.
CRITERION (later NEW CRITERION, MONTHLY CRITERION).  Ed:  T.S. Eliot.  Q, M.  Oct 1922-Jan 1939.
CRITIC (Mistley, Essex).  Ed:  Raymond Williams, others.  Q.  Spring 1947- ?
DAYLIGHT.  Ed;  John Lehmann, others.  1 only. 1941.
THE ENEMY.  Ed:  Wyndham Lewis.  Irreg.  Jan 1927-1929.
ENGLISH REVIEW.  Ed:  Ford Madox Hueffer, others.  M.  Dec 1908-1937.
EPILOGUE (Deya, Majorca;  London).  Ed:  Robert Graves, Laura Riding.  Annual.  1935-1938.
EUROPEAN QUARTERLY.  Ed:  Edwin Muir, Janko Lavrin.  Q.  May 1934-Feb 1935.
EXPERIMENT (later NEW EXPERIMENT) (Cambridge).  Ed:  Jacob Bronowski, others.  Irreg.  Nove 1928-Oct 1930.
FARRAGO (Oxford).  Ed:  Peter Burra, others.  Feb 1930-June 1931.
FORM.  Ed:  Austin Spare, others.  Q,M.  April 1916-1917;  Oct 1921-Jan 1922.
HORIZON.  Ed:  Cyril Connolly.  M.  Jan 1940-Dec 1949.
LEFT REVIEW.  Ed:  T.E. Wintringham, E. Rickword, others.  M.  Oct 1934-May 1938.
LIFE AND LETTERS.  Ed:  T. Earle Welby, Violet Hunt.  M.  Nov 1923-Jan 1924.
LIFE AND LETTERS (later LIFE AND LETTERS TODAY).  Ed:  Desmond MacCarthy, others.  Q, M.  June 1928-June 1950.
LONDON APHRODITE.  Ed;  Jack Lindsay, others.  Bi-M.  Aug 1928-July 1929.
LONDON BULLETIN.  Ed:  E.L.T. Messens.  M.  April 1938-1940.
LONDON MERCURY.  Ed:  J.C. Squire, others.  M.  1919-1939.
MANDRAKE (Oxford, London).  Ed:  John Wain, Arthur Boyars.  Irreg.  1945- ?
THE MINT.  Ed:  Geoffrey Grigson.  2 only.  1946, 1948.
NEW FREEWOMAN (later THE EGOIST).  Ed:  Dora Marsden, others.  Fort., M.  15 June-Dec 1919.
NEW NUMBERS (Ryton, Dymock, Glos.)  Ed:  Lascelles Abercrombie.  Q.  1914.
NEW ROAD (Billericay).  Ed:  Alex Comfort, others.  Annual.  1943-1947.
NEW STORIES (Oxford).  Ed:  H.E. Bates, others.  Bi-M.  Feb 1934-April 1936.
NEW VERSE.  Ed:  Geoffrey Grigson, others.  Bi-M.  Jan 1933-May 1939.
NEW WRITING (also FOLIOS OF NEW WRITING, NEW WRITING AND DAYLIGHT).  Ed:  John Lehmann.  Irreg.  1938-1947.
NINE.  Ed:  Peter Russell.  Q.  Autumn 1949- ?
NOW (Maidenhead).  Ed:  George Woodcock.  Irreg.  1941-1947.
OPUS (Tring, Herts).  Ed:  Denys Val Baker.  Q.  1939-Spring 1943.
ORION.  Ed:  D. Kilham Roberts, others.  Irreg.  1945.
OXFORD OUTLOOK (later NEW OXFORD OUTLOOK).  Ed:  Beverley Nichols, L.P. Hartley, others.  Irreg.  May 1919-May 1932.
OXFORD BROOM.  Ed;  Harold Acton.  Irreg.  1923.
PALATINE REVIEW (Oxford).  Ed:  T.W. Earp.  Q.  Jan 1916-May 1917.
PENGUIN NEW WRITING.  Ed:  John Lehmann.  Irreg, M.  1940-1950.
POETRY AND DRAMA.  Ed:  Harold Monro.  Q.  Spring 1914-Autumn 1915.
POETRY LONDON. Ed:  Tambimuttu.  Irreg.  Feb 1939- ?.
POETRY REVIEW.  Ed:  Harold Monro, others.  M.  Jan 1913-present.
PROGRAMME (Oxford).  Ed:  Kenneth Allott, others.  Irreg.  1935-1937.
REJECTED MSS (Oxford).  Ed:  N.F. Hidden, others.  2 only.  June, Dec 1934.
RHYTHM (later BLUE REVIEW).  Ed:  Michael Sadler, J.M. Murry, Katherine Mansfield.  Q, M.  Summer 1911-July 1913.
SCRUTINY (Cambridge).  Ed:  F.R. Leavis, Denys Thompson, others.  Q.  Jan 1932-Oct 1953.
SIGNATURE.  Ed:  D.H. Lawrence, others.  Fortnightly.  4 Oct-1 Nov, 1915.
TODAY.  Ed:  Holbrook Jackson.  M.  1917-1923.
TOWNSMAN (also THE SCYTHE).  Ed:  Ronald Duncan.  Irreg.  Jan 1938-Feb 1944.
THE TRAMP.  Ed:  Douglas Goldring.  M.  1910.
THE TYRO.  Ed:  Wyndham Lewis.  Two only.  1921-1922.
TWENTIETH CENTURY VERSE.  Ed:  Julian Symons.  8 p.a.  Jan 1937-July 1939.
THE VENTURE (Cambridge).  Ed:  H.R. Fedden, others.  Irreg.  Nov 1928-June 1930.
VOICES   Ed:  Thomas Moult.  Q.  1919.
WALES (Llangadock).  Ed:  Keidrych Rhys, others.  Irreg.  Summer 1937-1948.
WANDERER.  Ed:  J.M. Murry.  M.  Dec 1933-Nov 1934.
WELSH REVIEW (Cardiff).  Ed:  Glyn Jones.  Bi-M.  Feb 1939- ?
WHEELS:  AN ANTHOLOGY OF VERSE (Oxford).  Ed:  Edith Sitwell.  Annual.  1916-1921.
THE WIND AND THE RAIN.  Ed:  M. Allmand, N. Braybrooke.  Irreg.  1941.

1  An important and indeed pioneering study is Frederick J. Hoffman, Charles Allen and Carolyn F. Ulrich, The Little Magazine:  A History and Bibliography (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1946), to which my own work was indebted.  In that volume, which is particularly concerned with little magazines in the USA, Charles Allen comments, reasonably, that the magazines studied "have stood, from 1912 to the present, defiantly in the front ranks of the battle for a mature literature.  They have helped fight this battle by being the first to present such writers as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, T.S. Eliot -- by first publishing, in fact, about 80% of our most important, post-1912 critics, novelists, poets and storytellers.  Further, they have introduced and sponsored every noteworthy literary movement or school that has made its appearance in American during the last thirty years."

2   One of the strong achievements of Scrutiny was its studies of the institutions of literary culture, and it ran a fair number of articles on periodicals.  A notable series was by R.G. Cox, "The Great Reviews," Scrutiny, VI, 1 & 2 (June and September, 1937), which challenged the familiar view that their claim to fame was that they had excoriated the Romantic poets, and argued that "with their extraordinary influence and authority [they] played a major part in creating for the writers of their age that informed, intelligent and critical public without which no literature can survive for very long, and which is so conspicuously lacking today."  "At their best, the Great Reviews provided... criticism of the general tendencies and the particular writers of their age which is often better than anything else on the same subjects throughout the century that followed," Denys Thompson observed in another article, "A Hundred Years of the Higher Journalism," Scrutiny, IV, 1 (June 1935).

3  Ford Madox Ford (Hueffer), Return to Yesterday (London, 1931), p. 378.

4  T.S. Eliot, "Last Words," The Criterion, XVIII, 71 (January, 1939).

5  Holbrook Jackson, The Eighteen Nineties (1913;  reissued with an introduction by Malcolm Bradbury, London, Harvill, 1988), pp. 61-2.  There is an interesting article on the mixture of "new writing" and "new journalism" in the 1890s in John Stokes, In the Nineties (London, Harvester, 1989).  On the whole topic of 1890s little magazines, see Ian Fletcher, "Decadence and the Little Magazines," in Malcolm Bradbury, David Palmer and Ian Fletcher (eds.), Decadence and the 1890s (London, Edward Arnold, 1979), pp. 172-202.

6  William Troy, "The Story of the Little Magazines," The Bookman (New York), LXX, 5 (January 1930), p. 476.

7  Douglas Goldring, "Modern Critical Prose," The Chapbook, II, 8 (February 1920), p. 10.

8  Ezra Pound, "This Hulme Business," Townsman, II, 5 (January 1939).

9  Ford Madox Hueffer, Thus to Revisit (London, 1921), pp. 59-64.

10  Wyndham Lewis, Blasting and Bombardiering (London, 1937), p. 41.

11  Herbert Read, Annals of Innocence and Experience (London, 1940), p. 199.

12  John Gross (ed.), The Modern Movement:  A TLS Companion (London, Harvill, 1992).  As John Gross remarks in his introduction, it has generally been said that, as Harry Levin once put it, the TLS "took a dim view" of Modernism, but the story was rather more chequered.  Modern titles did tend to be assigned to "old reliables," but it employed the services of Pound, Eliot, Murry and Virginia Woolf, was strong in its reviews of foreign literature, and did, behind the facade of donnish anonymity, offer some very striking recognitions and interpretations.

13   See Peter Ackroyd, T.S. Eliot (London, Hamish Hamilton, 1984), for a detailed account.

14   The Calendar of Modern Letters was reprinted in 3 volumes in 1966 (London, Frank Cass), with an introduction, "A Review in Retrospect," by the present author.

15   Humphrey Carpenter, The Brideshead Generation:  Evelyn Waugh and His Generation (London, Faber, 1989).

16  Much of the background to the Scrutiny story is recorded in Ian MacKillop, F.R. Leavis:  A Life in Criticism (London, Penguin Press, 1995).