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Periodicals:

The Yellow Book, The Savoy, Little Review, Poetry, Egoist, Blast, Contact, Exile, The Fifties

review literary magazines writing

the proliferation of literary magazines and reviews from the mid-nineteenth century onward had important consequences for twentieth-century literature. The popularity of serialized fiction in many periodicals fostered the emergence of the novel as the pre-eminent modern literary form. Critical methods were advanced through the abundant production of essays and reviewing to a high general standard. During the 1890s the primacy accorded to aesthetic values in The Yellow Book (18947) and The Savoy (1896) anticipated the advent of the ‘little magazines’, which were central to the development of literary Modernism in the early decades of the century; the most frequently cited examples include the Little Review, Poetry (Chicago), the Egoist, and Blast. Their ethos of experimentalism was transmitted to a succession of later American periodicals among which are Contact (192032), edited by William Carlos Williams and Robert McAlmon, Ezra Pound's Exile (19278), Robert Bly's The Fifties (1958), and Robert Creeley's Black Mountain Review (19547).

Of the smaller British magazines begun before the First World War, Rhythm (191113), the Blue Review (1913), both edited by John Middleton Murry, and the English Review were also hospitable to innovative writing. New Numbers (1914) and Poetry Review were the main periodicals of the time to publish work by the Georgian poets (see Georgian Poetry), whose verse later appeared regularly in the London Mercury. The Dial and T. S. Eliot's Criterion in the 1920s were strongly instrumental in the legitimation of Modernism, while the Adelphi and Life and Letters also maintained an active interest in progressive writing. Critical writing of a high standard characterized the Times Literary Supplement from its formation in 1902. Between 1925 and 1927 The Calendar of Modern Letters set new standards in textual exegesis, providing an example followed by Scrutiny, the most celebrated of the century's critical periodicals. In America, criticism of similar quality appeared in John Crowe Ransom's Kenyon Review (1939) and in the Sewanee Review (1892) after Allen Tate became editor in 1944.

The combining of attention to politics and literature in the New Statesman and the New Age became an essential feature of numerous well-known periodicals of the 1930s; New Verse and New Writing were discernibly opposed to fascism and favoured writing exhibiting social concern, while the Left Review and Partisan Review were frequently preoccupied with Marxist evaluations of literature. The growing sense of internationalism in the 1920s is reflected in the establishment in Paris of the Transatlantic Review and transition; later magazines of a markedly international character include the multilingual Botteghe Oscure and the eclectic Paris Review and Antaeus.

The closure of numerous important publications in the late 1930s supports the widely held view that by 1940 the heyday of the literary periodical was over. Despite the rationing of paper and the dispersal of contributors caused by the Second World War, Horizon and Poetry London continued to publish new writing throughout the conflict. The 1950s and 1960s saw the formation of London Magazine, The Review, Stand, Agenda, and Ambit; these sustain the tradition of the little magazines in publishing what their editors consider to be the best work available by new and established authors while surviving with comparatively low circulations. The numerous regional magazines of distinction which appeared during the 1960s include the Honest Ulsterman, Lines Review, the New Edinburgh Review, and Poetry Wales. Temporary closure of the Times Literary Supplement in 19789 engendered a crop of new periodicals, of which the London Review of Books and the Literary Review have proved the most enduring.

In terms of their value to notable authors in the early stages of their careers and their continual critical assessment of literary developments, periodicals have been, and remain, of enormous importance to twentieth-century literature. The British Literary Magazines (four volumes, 19826), edited by Alvin Sullivan, and The Little Magazine (1946, reprinted 1967), edited by F. J. Hoffmann, C. Allen, and C. Ulrich, are indispensable guides to their subjects. (See also the Athenaeum, Bananas, the Bell, the Contemporary Review, the Cornhill Magazine, the Critical Quarterly, the Dublin Magazine, Encore, Encounter, Granta, Landfall, the Listener, New Departures, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Now and Then, Planet, PN Review, Quarto, the Spectator, Time and Tide.)

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