Modern Print Artefacts: Textual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890-1930s 1474413471, 9781474413473

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Modern Print Artefacts: Textual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890-1930s
 1474413471, 9781474413473

Table of contents :
MODERN PRINT ARTEFACTS
Copyright
Contents
Acknowledgements
Series Editors’ Preface
List of Abbreviations
INTRODUCTION: MODERN PRINT ARTEFACTS
1 MAPPING LITERARY VALUE:
2 ‘QUITE ORDINARY MEN AND WOMEN’: JOHN O’LONDON’S WEEKLY AND THE MEANING OF AUTHORSHIP
3 REACTIONARY MATERIALISM: BOOK COLLECTING, CONNOISSEURSHIP AND THE READING LIFE IN J. C. SQUIRE’S LONDON MERCURY
4 HAROLD MONRO, POETRY ANTHOLOGIES AND THE RHETORIC OF TEXTUAL MATERIALITY
POSTSCRIPT: AGAINST ‘MODERNIST STUDIES’
BIBLIOGRAPHY
index

Citation preview

edinburgh critical studies in modernist culture

MODERN PRINT ARTEFACTS

textual materiality and literary value in british print culture, 1890–1930s

PATRICK COLLIER

MODERN PRINT ARTEFACTS Textual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890–1930s

Patrick Collier

Edinburgh University Press is one of the leading university presses in the UK. We publish academic books and journals in our selected subject areas across the humanities and social sciences, combining cutting-edge scholarship with high editorial and production values to produce academic works of lasting importance. For more information visit our website: edinburghuniversitypress.com © Patrick Collier, 2016 Edinburgh University Press Ltd The Tun – Holyrood Road 12(2f) Jackson’s Entry Edinburgh EH8 8PJ Typeset in 10/12.5pt Sabon by by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire and printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 1 4744 1347 3 (hardback) ISBN 978 1 4744 1348 0 (webready PDF) ISBN 978 1 4744 1349 7 (epub) The right of Patrick Collier to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, and the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 (SI No. 2498). Published with the support of the Edinburgh University Scholarly Publishing Initiatives Fund.

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements iv Series Editors’ Preface vii List of Abbreviations viii Introduction: Modern Print Artefacts 1 1 Mapping Literary Value: Imperial/Modernist Forms in the Illustrated London News 42 2 ‘Quite Ordinary Men and Women’: John O’London’s Weekly and the Meaning of Authorship 94 3 Reactionary Materialism: Book Collecting, Connoisseurship and the Reading Life in J. C. Squire’s London Mercury   141 4 Harold Monro, Poetry Anthologies and the Rhetoric of Textual Materiality 185 Postscript: Against ‘Modernist Studies’ 232 Bibliography 239 Index 254

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Every effort has been made to locate rights for republished material. In the case of copyright owners that the author has not been able to trace, acknowledgement will be made in future editions if copyright holders contact the publisher. In writing this book I have had the support and inspiration of generous and intellectually challenging colleagues and students at Ball State University, as well as financial and practical assistance from the university and a host of other funding agencies, libraries and institutions. Research on this book began in 2006 at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, where I was a visiting research fellow through the generosity of the college, the hospitality of Principal Ralph Waller and the efforts of Warren Vanderhill, Lauren Onkey and others at Ball State. Further research was funded by a Mellon Fellowship for research at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, in 2012. My thanks go out as well to librarians and archivists at Harris Manchester, University of Reading Special Collections, the British Library, the Oxford University Press and the Harry Ransom Center for kind and tireless assistance during these fellowships. Closer to home, I am indebted to Jan Vance, John Straw and other staff at Ball State’s Bracken Library and to the staff at the Lilly Library, Indiana University. Work on this project was supported by two semester-long leaves sponsored by Ball State University, as well as supplemental travel funding from the Office of the Provost. The first written work on this project – about the Illustrated London News iv

acknowledgements

– emerged from an undergraduate senior seminar on literature and periodicals which I taught for the first time in 2009; subsequent sections of this class have nurtured this book along throughout its completion, and I am grateful to have had many students in that class who challenged my thinking and led me to new materials and discoveries. These students are too many to name, but I should express particular gratitude to Jeremy Carnes, who will be a major voice in the next generation researching modern periodicals. The same is true of Jason Parks, who recently earned his PhD from Ball State. Madeline Witek, Nicole Williams and others have served as research assistants on this project. Lauren Williams provided invaluable assistance on editing and formatting in the final stage. Many scholars in the fields of modernist studies and periodical studies have been indispensable to this project, whether in the intellectual frisson of conversation or by generously reading drafts of the manuscript. A short list would include Laurel Brake, Barbara Green, Sean Latham, Mark Morrisson, Chelsea Jennings and Doug Mao. My Ball State colleagues Joyce Huff, Amit Baishya, Adam Beach and Melissa Adams-Campbell gave insightful feedback on draft chapters. Two colleagues contributed to this book in ways too profound to quantify. Although they also read drafts repeatedly and spent hours in conversation with me, their presence in the book goes well beyond that. Simply put, when I sit down to write about early twentieth-century literature and culture, I feel as though I am writing to and for them. They are Deborah Mix and Ann Ardis, and I could not be more grateful to them. Permission to quote from Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology by Harold Monro, to reproduce images from that volume, and to quote from materials in the Chatto & Windus archive relating to the book is granted by permission of Random House Group Ltd. Permission to quote from letters of Harold Monro and J. C. Squire, held in the Harry Ransom Center’s collections of Hugh Walpole, H. E. Palmer, Frank Sidgwick, Ford Maddox Ford, Harold Monro, and J. C. Squire, granted by the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin. Permission to reproduce images of London Mercury issues of January and March 1931 granted by the Lilly Library, Indiana University. Permission to reproduce other London Mercury images granted by Roger Squire. Permission to quote from Padraic Colum’s ‘Reminiscence’ is granted by the estate of Padraic Colum. Extracts from letters of R. W. Chapman, Henry Frowde, Humphrey Milford, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Kenneth Sisam and H. Watt held in the Oxford University Press archives, and from promotional materials pertaining to the Oxford Book of English Verse, are reprinted by permission of the Secretary to the Delegates of Oxford University Press. Images of the v

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Oxford Book of English Verse are likewise reproduced by permission of the Delegates. Permission to quote from Ernest Raymond’s ‘The Making of a Novelist’ and Through Literature to Life granted by Margaret Raymond. Permission to quote from a letter of H. Watt granted by United Agents LLP. Permission to quote from Frank Kendon’s ‘The New Books at a Glance’ granted by Alice Thomas. Extract from ‘The Art of Virginia Woolf’ by Gerald Bullett from John O’London’s Weekly reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop (www.petersfraserdunlop.com) on behalf of the Estate of Gerald Bullett. Extracts from ‘Daphne’ and ‘The Gardener’ by Sacheverell Sitwell reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop (www.petersfraserdunlop.com) on behalf of the Estate of Sacheverell Sitwell. Extract from ‘This New Poetry’ by L. A. G. Strong, essay in John O’London’s Weekly, reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop (www.petersfraserdunlop.com) on behalf of the Estate of L. A. G. Strong. ‘Journey’s End’ and extract from ‘The Making of a Poet’ by Humbert Wolfe, essay in John O’London’s Weekly, reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop (www.petersfraserdunlop.com) on behalf of the Estate of Humbert Wolfe. ‘Invocation’ by John Masefield reprinted by permission of the Society of Authors as literary representative of the Estate of John Masefield. Extract from ‘The Tower’ by Robert Nichols reprinted by permission of Anne Charlton. Extract from ‘Mutations of the Phoenix’ by Herbert Read reprinted by permission of David Higham Associates Ltd. Extracts from George Blake’s ‘The Press and the Public’ reprinted by permission of David Higham Associates Ltd. Permission to quote from the works of J. C. Squire granted by Roger Squire. Portions of Chapter 1 appeared, in different form, in the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 2.1 (2011): 1–32 and Modernism/Modernity 19.3 (2013): 487–514, and are reprinted with permission of Penn State University Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, respectively. Portions of Chapter 2 appeared, in different form, in Patrick Collier, ‘John O’London’s Weekly and the Modern Author’ in Ann Ardis and Patrick Collier (eds.), Transatlantic Print Culture 1880–1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan: 2008), pp. 98–113; reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan.

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SERIES EDITORS’ PREFACE

This series of monographs on selected topics in modernism is designed to reflect and extend the range of new work in modernist studies. The studies in the series aim for a breadth of scope and for an expanded sense of the canon of modernism, rather than focusing on individual authors. Literary texts will be considered in terms of contexts including recent cultural histories (modernism and magic; sonic modernity; media studies) and topics of theoretical interest (the everyday; postmodernism; the Frankfurt School); but the series will also reconsider more familiar routes into modernism (modernism and gender; sexuality; politics). The works published will be attentive to the various cultural, intellectual and historical contexts of British, American and European modernisms, and to inter-disciplinary possibilities within modernism, including performance and the visual and plastic arts.

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ILN JOLW LM OBEV

Illustrated London News John O’London’s Weekly London Mercury The Oxford Book of English Verse

References from the periodicals are listed together at the end of the bibliography.

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To Gene Collier, and all those who have earned an honest living in print.

Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernist Culture Series Editors: Tim Armstrong and Rebecca Beasley Available: Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult Leigh Wilson Sonic Modernity: Representing Sound in Literature, Culture and the Arts Sam Halliday Modernism and the Frankfurt School Tyrus Miller Lesbian Modernism: Censorship, Sexuality and Genre Fiction Elizabeth English Modern Print Artefacts: Textual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890–1930s Patrick Collier Forthcoming: Modernism, Space and the City Andrew Thacker Slow Modernism Laura Salisbury Primordial Modernism: Animals, Ideas, transition (1927–1938) Cathryn Setz Modernism and the Idea of Everyday Life Leena Kore-Schroder Cheap Modernism: Expanding Markets, Publishers’ Series and the Avant-Garde Lise Jaillant Modernism Edited: Marianne Moore and The Dial Magazine Victoria Bazin Modernism and Mathematics: Modernist Interrelations in Fiction Nina Engelhardt

Plate 1  Print culture dreams. JOLW, 9 April 1927

Plate 2  Elegant simplicity. Mercury, December 1919

Plate 3 and Plate 4  The Mercury as trade journal for high-end printing. Mercury, March 1931

Plate 5  An almost Biblical solidity. The Oxford Book of English Verse, 1901

Plate 6  ‘Integrity of materials’. Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, 1922

Plate 7  ‘. . . a quiet and unpretentious excellence’. Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology, 1929

INTRODUCTION: MODERN PRINT ARTEFACTS

‘If I hinted that a work of art needed a tremendous licking into shape she thought it a pretension and a pose. She had a shrewd perception that form, in prose at least, never recommended any one to the public we were condemned to address. . . . She made no pretence of producing works of art, but had comfortable tea-drinking hours in which she freely confessed herself a common pastrycook, dealing in such tarts and puddings as would bring customers into the shop.’ Narrator, Henry James’s ‘Greville Fane’, 1892 ‘Chapbook March . . . turned out very well. I liked the illustrations much better when reduced. The cover is charming and altogether a very attractive number. . . . An idea! To make Chapbook pay and pay and pay. Why not reprint – say – 500 copies or so and 100 copies on a bit larger paper and thicker (cost practically very little more) and sell them as Edition de Luxe, special 100, signed by author, at one guinea each.’ The Chapbook editor Harold Monro to C. M. Wilkinson, manager at W. H. Smith press, 25 March 1921 Modernist Form and Material Form I begin with form, modernism’s defining obsession: for some modernist practitioners, the vehicle through which literature would save the world, or give it meaning, or at least shore up its fragments; for some of its d ­ etractors, the 1

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abstract space into which modernism retreated from the world, the sterile obsession through which it ironically secured cultural distinction and power, necessitating (for us, today) a critical-historical move towards plural modernisms – not, perhaps, formally defined. For Bourdieu, ‘the taste for formal experiment’ functions as the very essence of modern social distinction as embodied in (and advanced through) the judgement of art.1 For Jameson, modernist form registers the western intellect’s progressive inability to grasp the social (or imperial) whole: fragmented modernist form is the symptom produced by the political unconscious in an age of alienation; this formal oddity is the essence of modernism.2 For Raymond Williams, languages and sign systems become estranged in the modern metropole because of new forms of journalism and the gathering of artists from various places who don’t share a common language. The result? A literature obsessed by form, ‘an emphasis on the medium, the medium as that which, in an unprecedented way, defined art’.3 I could go on, of course. But this is not a book about modernism. Or, rather, it is about modernism only inasmuch as the aesthetic means and preoccupations that gradually became modernism would exert their pressure, formally and otherwise, on virtually everyone who was producing art in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. But I want to both adapt modernist understandings of form (provisionally, for now, as that which makes chaotic experience meaningful) and resist them. I want to show, among other things: that non-modernist (and arguably non-artistic) forms also create meaning and value, and do so in milieux that relate to but are also distinct form modernist circuits; that, pace modernism, no degree of formal, aesthetic complexity can rescue objects (or subjects, for that matter) from integration within the larger, seemingly soul-crushing systems of modernity (the commodity economy, the bureaucratic state, positivist science); and, at the same time, that this systematisation is never complete: an object’s status as a commodity doesn’t completely contain or explain its value, and artefacts accrue multiple and different meanings and forms of value in overlapping but distinct systems. ‘[H]uman interaction with the non-human world of objects,’ observes Bill Brown, ‘however mediated by the advance of consumer culture, must be recognized as irreducible to that culture.’4 If high modernism’s most durable contribution to western culture lay in its foregrounding of the relations between meaning, value and aesthetic form, its dominance has also devalued and deflected attention from the ways more modest, pragmatic, everyday, material forms – such as newspapers, cheap magazines and mass-produced books – create meaning and value. I want to pursue the cultural processes of meaning- and value-creation by examining forms that modernists and modernist scholars have paid heed to only partially and intermittently: material forms of print artefacts: textual form as embodied in spatial organisation, 2

introduction

page layout, spacing and the tactile materials of textual objects; most crucially, periodical form, in precisely these material terms.5 As a provisional starting point, I adopt these articles of faith: that human beings understand the world in large part by creating formal structures; that much (perhaps most) human creativity involves embodying meaning in the formal structures of material objects; and that these objects then become both means by which we understand the world and objects in the world. As parts of that world that change it, if ever so slightly, these objects, also, need to be understood. This book is an effort to advance such understanding.6 And thus we start with that thoroughly late-Victorian, thoroughly protomodernist Henry James, whose ‘Greville Fane’ narrator expresses the investment in aesthetic form that would, in the decades that followed, become central to the aesthetic ideology of modernism. James’s narrator, a slightly parodic version of himself (and a somewhat thin instance of a sizable class of James narrators and protagonists), elevates form as the essence of the serious writer’s craft, the core of his professional practice, his main difficulty, his central value. James’s ‘Greville Fane’ invokes a key opposition in modernist ideology, one so central that its deconstruction formed one of the major threads in late twentieth century modernist criticism: the opposition of the literary text’s aesthetic form to its commodity status. The narrator reports that popular novelist Mrs Stormer (a.k.a. Greville Fane), at once his friend and his antagonist, ‘never recognized the torment of form: the furthest she went was to introduce into one of her books (in satire her hand was heavy) a young poet who was always talking about it’.7 The two characters thus rest on opposite sides of the much-analysed, much-maligned ‘Great Divide’ between commerce and art, and if James’s narrator is betraying his vexation at having been the implied object of Greville Fane’s heavy-handed satire, Henry James is now getting his revenge for him by telling his version of the story.8 In this version the narrator is a heroic grappler with form, his antagonist an unashamed producer of commodities – ‘whatever tarts and puddings would bring people into the shop’.9 Form, in contrast to commodity value, ennobles literature through the artist’s suffering for it, lifting it above the fray, giving it a value that can be distinguished from that generated in the marketplace. I shall leave for Chapter 1 the tensions that arise when we trace this story to its first appearance in the Illustrated London News, a print commodity par excellence of the late nineteenth century, a six-penny fixture in middle-class living rooms that helped teach its readers how to function as leisured consumers, its back pages filled with hectic advertising columns hawking furniture, silverware, baby food, patent medicines, travel packages and more.10 Sufficient for now to note that, in reducing Greville Fane’s literary productions to pure commodities, James’s story asserts that they lack deliberate form and suppresses or dismisses any manner in which their form might organise readers’ experience. 3

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Yet if James’s narrator – by positing aesthetic form as the locus of nonrelative, non-debased value – anticipates many modernist protagonists and promoters in years to come, is it then surprising to find Harold Monro, selfless and tireless promoter of ‘the cause of poetry,’ publisher of Ezra Pound’s Des Imagistes anthology and editor of the ‘increasingly modernist’ Chapbook, conspiring so vigorously to sell his wares, to fully maximise his profits in a ways unrelated to purely literary production – in short, embracing his magazine’s potential as a commodity?11 And doing so very near the apex of modernism’s literary-historical arc? It should not be surprising, of course. From Marketing Modernisms and Institutions of Modernism forward we have embraced the obvious fact that the literary works that have survived have always, everywhere, been paid for, somehow.12 But Monro’s never-realised but momentarily enthusiastic plan for re-purposing The Chapbook’s back issues, juxtaposed with the slightly humanised disdain of James’s narrator for his friend’s commercialism, encapsulates this book’s central concerns: the relations between two kinds of value usually sequestered from one another – literary (or aesthetic) value and the exchange value of print artefacts as objects, and the ways in which the physical properties of texts create not only value but also meaning, in ways that can enhance, exceed, elude or even thwart the author’s intentions. James’s plea for a value that escapes commodification gets contained, in every sense of the word, within a newspaper that celebrates commerce, including literary commerce, in countless ways. Monro, meanwhile, seeks to increase revenues on Ford Madox Ford’s work (‘Chapbook March’ consisted entirely of Ford’s long verse-play ‘The House’) by repackaging it as a deluxe, limited edition – a move that would generate commodity value but also place the object in an overlapping but distinct, luxury economy usually reserved for long-dead and/or elite authors, a move that would thus have multiple and subtle effects on value and meaning. Much or all such framing takes place outside the author’s purview: James complained about editors’ insistence on illustrating his stories while acknowledging that the stories were largely at their mercy; Hueffer’s ‘content’ never merits comment in Monro’s letter.13 He is addressing, in essence, a technician from W. H. Smith & Co’s printing house, and what he is interested in marketing – interested in commoditising, precisely – is the materiality of The Chapbook.14 Of course, Monro was in the business of selling books and periodicals, even if he brought to it a sense of mission that compromised his business model, keeping him perpetually one or fewer steps ahead of his creditors. He may not have spoken in such bald commercial terms if his subject was Ford’s poem as an arrangement of words (the text’s ‘linguistic code,’ per Jerome McGann’s useful distinction) rather than the physical properties of the object that embodied it (the ‘bibliographic code’).15 But as we shall see when we revisit Monro’s career in Chapter 4, such canny involvement in marketing and material 4

introduction

production was characteristic: he was particularly attuned to the connection between meaning, value and the material form of print artefacts. In his early years on the scene he had shepherded F. S. Flint’s Imagist volume Cadences into print in dual form: a trade edition and a set of special copies on handmade paper, bound to order in vellum or linen. Eight years later, he envisioned the physical appearance of Ford’s ‘The House’ before he proposed publishing it in The Chapbook.16 Monro worked from a nuanced understanding of the variety of ways a poem could come to have a physical existence in the world and how these varied forms might work together to constitute varied kinds of value. Public readings at his Poetry Bookshop, as Mark Morrisson has shown, were an ongoing experiment in appropriating elocutionary practices as ways of generating cultural capital for poetry; his cheap broadsides and chapbooks of the pre-war period were ways of getting good poetry cheaply to a popular audience, and paying poets at the same time.17 After the war, Monro devised The Chapbook as a kind of hybrid anthology/periodical and poured much attention into its (to this day quite impressive) physical properties. His last major contribution, Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology Selected by Harold Monro, was part of a low-cost series issued by Chatto & Windus’s Phoenix Press, and it played archly and insightfully with the transforming generic and formal conventions of the anthology-as-object. In short, Monro’s métier as a sort of poetic impresario was based on the obvious, if often ignored, fact at the centre of this book: that periodicals and books, as objects, have material properties that convey meaning, properties that signify within (often multiple) codes and that, in so doing, stake out positions about value and the social status and function of writing and reading. ‘[M]aterial aspects of the printed object are all constitutive parts of its meaning,’ writes James Mussell, one of the latest in a long line of superb theorists of periodicals whose work focuses on nineteenth-century Britain. ‘As such, they become sites for the struggle of conflicting interests.’18 A fine, limited edition reprint of Tess of the D’Urbervilles makes, through its materiality and its place in the ecosystem of print artefacts, multiple claims: about Thomas Hardy and his place within the apparent hierarchy of modern authorship, about the social location and significance of reading (and of reading Thomas Hardy, specifically), about the publishing house and its prestige, values and commitments. John O’London’s Weekly’s serialisation of the thirty-three-year-old Tess in 1925, for its audience of lower-middle-class and petit-bourgeois self-improvers, made a distinct, though not entirely dissimilar, claim about Hardy but an even more vigorous claim about John O’London’s Weekly, with very different implications about the social location and function of reading. It will be the business of this book to unpack the complexities of many such claims, and to bring about a partial reconstruction of the codes, and the evolving print-culture ecosystem, in which they made sense. (As will 5

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become clear below, I prefer the term ‘ecosystem’ because it posits culture not as a system of stable, fixed institutions but as a dynamic system of continuous, Heraclitean flux, in which local acts of writing, reading and evaluation interact both with their immediate, local contexts and with the entire system.) Doing so will require that we abandon what Barbara Herrnstein-Smith has called ‘the double discourse of value’ – the discursive practice we have seen in the ‘Greville Fane’ narrator – which insistently segregates discussion of ‘literary value’ (seen to inhere in complex, lexical form) from discussion of the exchange value, or commodity value, of print artefacts.19 Literary works, whether conceived as assays in the ascension of fiction to Parnassus or as ‘tarts and puddings’ for immediate consumption, enter and travel the material world in the form of print artefacts, and their material form generates meaning and value that cannot be dissevered entirely from lexical meaning or ‘inherent’ value. The Embarrassing Materiality of Texts Reluctance to acknowledge the commodity status of literary texts, and the desire to abstract the ‘work’ from its material instantiations, may have their roots in the deep intellectual history of middle-class subjectivity, which is intertwined with the modern history of aesthetics. As Terry Eagleton argues, aesthetic theory after Kant posited the autonomous, self-defining and selfjustifying artwork at precisely the time that an emerging bourgeois economic order was calling into being a new kind of subject – a subject similar to the aesthetic artefact in its autonomy, its status as a locus and generator of its own values. ‘The construction of the modern notion of the aesthetic artefact’, Eagleton writes, ‘is thus inseparable from the construction of the dominant ideological forms of modern class-society, and indeed from a whole new form of human subjectivity appropriate to that social order.’20 That is to say that just as Enlightenment philosophers were articulating a modern subject who is independent to pursue his own economic interests, and whose conscience could ground the political values that would inform his influence in the public sphere, the same philosophers were also laying the groundwork for an aesthetic artefact that was similarly ‘self-regulating and self-determining’, thus providing ‘the middle class with just the ideological model of subjectivity it requires for its material operations’. Indeed, the aesthetic artefact as it emerged in the dialogue between Enlightenment and Romantic thought is, for Eagleton, a kind of subject in its own right: ‘a peculiar kind of subject, this newly defined artefact, but . . . a subject nonetheless’ (p. 9). If the weight of western philosophy was implicitly investing aesthetic artefacts with subjectivity, it was perhaps not surprising that their status as objects was becoming something of an embarrassment. The material instantiation of the text – its production and reproduction in formations of paper and ink – is the place where the text’s commodity status is most evident: the raw m ­ aterials 6

introduction

of print artefacts cost money; one exchanges money for print artefacts; the commodity value of any print object is legible, with varying degrees of clarity, in any number of ways (the printed price on a magazine, the quality of binding on a poetry anthology; the common knowledge that a standard novel costs 7/6). And the British fin de siècle and early twentieth century are marked by the increasing dominance of fast and cheap mechanical reproduction of texts as well as by the production of an increasingly differentiated supply. The universe of printed objects was expanding at both ends of the market: it was the heyday of ha’penny papers and specialised, six-penny weeklies as well as rare and fine book collecting, the latter sufficiently popular to have led to the formation of several book-collecting magazines by the early thirties.21 The period thus presents a landscape in which the aesthetic artefact became invested with the ideological weight and privilege of subjectivity at the same time that an explosion of cheap print destabilised the cultural value of print artefacts. The reaction of various agents – authors, critics, publishers, booksellers – to this cultural tension took two broad, opposed forms. One strain in early twentieth-century criticism attempted to objectify the literary work by (ironically) de-materialising it – positing for the literary work an ideal, disembodied existence independent of materiality. (This was the largely unspoken, grounding assumption of New Criticism – the critical construction known as the ‘Verbal Icon’ – that Herschel Parker famously dismantled.)22 On the other hand, some booksellers, critics and modernist producers placed a renewed emphasis on the materiality of the text, making a kind of fetish of the book-as-object. Texts and Authors as (Non-Material) Subjects/Objects From a number of perspectives, recent scholarship on modernism has taken note of the ways modernists sought a kind of metaphorical, objective solidity for the literary text or the author’s oeuvre as a way of differentiating them from the instantly consumable, instantly disposable products exchanged in the mass market. For Aaron Jaffe, modernists, in agon with the emerging culture of celebrity, theorised the concept of the ‘imprimatur’ – the author’s inimitable linguistic style – as a mark of the author’s individuality that could be distinguished from the commoditised image of the celebrity author. In a more recent take on the relations between modernist writing and celebrity, Jonathan Goldman gives a new turn to Eagleton’s literary-work-as-subject. Goldman argues that the age of modernism saw authors constitute their subjectivity textually, through writing that ‘conceives of the author as an idealized, incorporeal entity, a self that carries on a perplexed relation to the body and to any picture of that body’. Modernists, Goldman writes, seek to ‘identify the authorial subject with the text’ in ‘resistance to locating the subject in materiality, which is subject to the laws of nature. . . . By situating the subject within writing, modernism, we might say, fantasizes that it can insulate the subject 7

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from material culture.’23 Identifying the author’s subjectivity ‘within writing’, of course, means doing so within a text understood as composed entirely of its transferable linguistic code – seemingly independent of the material objects in which it takes form. If these responses to the culture of literary celebrity posited an ironically solid yet immaterial author who thereby escapes ‘material culture’, another strategy was to posit the literary text itself as having such metaphorical solidity – to posit the text as, in Douglas Mao’s term, a ‘solid object’. In his complex and convincing account, Mao argues that material things – solid objects, in their apparent indifference to human intervention – constituted for modernists an apparent site of resistance to the dehumanising aspects of modernity. Modernists sought the object as a ‘fragment of Being’, an ‘element of material life’ that could be reduced neither to its value as a commodity nor to its symbolic significance, a concrete particular that resisted on one hand the commodification inherent in capitalism and on the other the conceptualisation or schematisation that characterises the dominance of the sciences.24 The object, Mao argues, was for modernists an equivocal site for resistance to the rapacity of modernity, an irreducible particular that might elude the totalising systems of commodity exchange or scientific taxonomy, might maintain an innocent, absolute alterity from human consciousness gone awry (pp. 8–10). Thus for Mao modernism is animated by a tension between an attraction to this otherness of objects and a valuation of production (as the sphere where one creates one’s own objects) (pp. 19–21). This dynamic produced, among other things, modernist criticism’s multiple attempts to detach the literary text from subjectivity (via ‘objectivity’ or ‘impersonality’) and to posit the text itself as something having objective presence, as a thing with properties rather than an expression of a person. (The path from here to New Critical formalism is clear.) In this light it is curious that actual, textual objects do not signify more centrally among high modernists’ attempts to solidify, metaphorically, themselves and their works. Both Mao’s and Goldman’s arguments speak to how modernist attempts to survive a capitalist and mechanistic modernity result in a metaphorical solidity – for Mao the solidity of the literary work as ‘solid object’, for Goldman the solidity of the authorial subject as textual construct. And yet in solidifying themselves and/or their works, modernist writers and (especially) their first-generation academic supporters often, ironically, de-materialised the text, claiming for the work metaphorical solidity while, in their criticism at least, ignoring or suppressing the actual materiality of texts. Mao notes, for instance, T. S. Eliot’s objectification of both the literary classic and the tradition in ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, in which Eliot renders ‘the literary work object-like by insisting that the great works of literature, as “existing monuments[,] form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the 8

introduction

introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them”’ (p. 15). But my point is precisely that the literary work is, in Eliot’s and many other similar formulations, object-like but decidedly not an object – object-like in its figurative stability and imperviousness, its (purely metaphorical) occupation of a space alongside other classics, but utterly and silently independent of the physical, textual objects that give it material existence and, by reproducing it, keep it in circulation and give it a chance of ascension to the literally immaterial but metaphorically solid pantheon that Eliot posits. This paradox perhaps goes some way towards explaining the obsessive piling-up of metaphors of materiality in that section of Eliot’s essay, where the poet occupies ‘a space in time’, where works are ‘measured’ relative to each other, where the poet’s sense of current and past writing must exist ‘in his bones’.25 In his literary criticism, as in the New Critical work that would take him as its inspiration, Eliot treats the classic literary work as achieving a sort of objective, Platonic existence, metaphorically solid but incorporeal. The Sacralised Textual Object If the explosion of cheap print and the crisis of value it creates produced, on one hand, this will to a paradoxically dematerialised solidity, it also produced a nearly opposite response: a renewed fetishisation of the textual object, an embrace of the print object qua object as a locus of value. This response helped to fuel the vigorous secondary economy in rare and fine book collecting at the fin de siècle, laying the groundwork for the origins of modernist economic viability in special and limited editions, as pointed out by Lawrence Rainey, and the quasi-religious, ethical investment in hand-produced texts that has it origins with William Morris and its most famous modernist iteration in Yeats’s circle and the Dun Emer and Cuala presses.26 The vogue of fine printing may have, as McGann argues, had its origins in Morris’s anti-modern socialism, but by the end of the century it was well on its way to co-optation by commercial publishers and had spread widely through the larger print culture. As this book will recount repeatedly, strategies such as Monro’s – in which multiple instantiations of single literary ‘texts’ are conceived and marketed as ways of multiplying revenue and reaching new audiences or stimulating repeat buying – was a fundamental, structural practice of the selling of print artefacts of virtually all kinds in these years. In a version of modernist criticism’s most iterable error today – that of crediting modernism with an innovation it merely adapted, revised or appropriated – critics have repeatedly seen the new vogue for lush textual materiality as a uniquely modernist way of coping with the transforming literary marketplace. Thus Lawrence Rainey finds in the limited edition de luxe an example of the modernist ‘commodity of a special sort’, while McGann credits Yeats with devising a unique strategy of publishing his poems first in periodicals, then in limited deluxe editions, then in trade editions 9

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with Macmillan.27 But such strategies were local variations on established patterns writers and their collaborators learned from their Victorian predecessors and their publishers. What Monro was attempting to do for The Chapbook, Macmillan was doing simultaneously for Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy, issuing (or selling the rights for) their novels in lavishly produced, signed editions de luxe in tandem with cheaper editions with larger print runs. We find the practice also in use by Georgian poet and future laureate John Masefield in 1915, four years after the popular success of his narrative poem ‘The Everlasting Mercy’, and less than two years after the Georgian–Vorticist split that planted the seeds of his future relegation from the canon. That year Masefield privately published his Poems and Sonnets, the verse plays Good Friday and The Locked Chest, and a memoir of J. M. Synge in deluxe, signed editions, by subscription, before Macmillan issued several of them in trade editions.28 Rainey is correct to highlight the use of seemingly pre- and earlymodern ways of funding art – private subscription editions, patronage, etc. – as essential strategies for high modernism, but these were modernist co-optations of existing strategies in a variegated marketplace rather than ‘institutions of modernism’ particularly. Limited editions issued by publishers, printed on high-quality paper with cloth binding and priced at anywhere from twice to ten times the cost of trade editions, could signify personal connection to the author (in the case of Masefield’s subscription editions, or James Joyce’s autographed copies of the Shakespeare and Co. Ulysses). They also signified the author’s status as sufficiently iconic to be attractive to collectors. Indeed, as Rainey has argued, the first edition of Ulysses was an attempt to catapult Joyce into the status of ‘classic’ by creating demand for the novel among collectors, effectively positing for Joyce a status that Hardy and Conrad had accrued through the more complex web of marketplace, critics and publishers only much later in their careers. The deluxe edition was at once a means of maximising profits, a luxury product whose materiality was desirable in itself and a signifier of both author’s and buyer’s cultural prestige. Joyce and company appropriated all of these meanings and purposes in their strategic issue of the Ulysses first edition. Among the ambient desires such objects capitalised on was the wish to recapture the aura – the desire to imagine more immediate connections between authors and readers than seemed typical in an increasingly mediated mass publishing market dominated by mechanical reproduction. As I discuss below, Walter Benjamin suggests that, along with the aura of art objects, the privileged status of authorship had broken down when the copy-craving mass press made it possible for virtually anyone to get published. The deluxe edition harked back to slower, more artisanal production methods before the Victorian development of pulp paper. In a larger sense, the desire of collectors for rare and fine editions (and the 10

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desire of authors to access that market) represented a sort of by-way off the main arteries of commodity culture, a place where some sort of value not absorbed and determined by that system might still obtain.29 In the case of signed editions, the autograph increased the auratic charge of the object, which thus seemed to embody value that exceeded or eluded mere commodity value, quite effectively obscuring the fact that, having been appropriated by commercial publishers keen on diversifying their revenue streams by double- and tripledipping on individual titles, the whole class of such artefacts was now rooted in the commodity economy. An unsubtle reminder – a highly visible low-rent shadow of this high-rent practice – came in attempts by newspapers and magazines to access this same kind of auratic materiality in mass-produced form. As I discuss in Chapter 2, John O’London’s Weekly’s serial reprint of Tess of the D’Urbervilles in 1925, under a ‘signed’ facsimile letter from Thomas Hardy to John O’London’s readers, tried to turn even a mass-produced, cheap print object into a collectible and thus to access the increasingly strained, auratic connection between the admired author and his material text. Print objects like John O’London’s that typically embraced their ephemeral nature, in other words, could, by appropriating the image of certain literary celebrities, strain toward a kind of value usually embodied in gilt covers and rag paper; conversely, avowedly high-culture objects could signal their lasting, purportedly ‘intrinsic’ value and their value as commodities simultaneously through their relatively lush materiality. The exchange value of such objects seemed to be underwritten by something that exceeded or preceded modern commodity exchange. In forming and participating in this market, collectors and the booksellers and publishers who served them collaborated in what Brown has called ‘the labor of infusing manufactured objects with a metaphysical dimension’.30 As this book will show, at the turn of the twentieth century such labour fed into fine and shifting patterns of distinction, signalled in the textual materiality of the enormous range of print artefacts that comprised the British print market. These patterns were as much a part of the landscape in which authors and their works accrued literary value as the more familiar institutions of book reviewing and, later, academic authorisation. The value they garnered through these evaluations was neither identical with nor independent of the fortunes of their material texts as commodities. (Heroic) Modernist Materiality: Jerome McGann and George Bornstein Jerome McGann and George Bornstein have written extensively about the vogue for deliberate and expressive manipulation of textual materiality in the work of such modernists as Yeats, Pound and Stein. In so doing, they have restored the materiality of texts to modernist studies but also overemphasised both modernist investments in it and the degree to which it was an identifiably 11

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modernist phenomenon. McGann views creative manipulation of the physical aspects of texts as integral to modernism’s literary project. He writes in The Black Riders that ‘From Yeats and Pound to Stein and Williams and the writers of the Harlem Renaissance, fine-printing work, the small press, and the decorated book fashioned the bibliographical face of the modernist world,’ and that ‘the key works of the modernist movement in literature, especially the work produced before 1930, heavily exploit the signifying power of documentary and bibliographical materials’.31 This claim derives in part from McGann’s particular modernist canon, which is at once conservative and eccentric, emphasising Yeats and Pound, on the one hand, along with Robert Carlton Brown and Laura Riding on the other. More profoundly, it derives from McGann’s ideological commitments: he remains invested in aesthetic experimentation and favours writers whose works express anti-modern attitudes; he is thus at pains to integrate modernism into the vogue of experimentation with textual materiality that arose out of the socially radical, late Victorian ‘Renaissance of Printing’, a vogue that his work also celebrates. Closely related to these impulses is McGann’s (paradoxically formalist) insistence on the literary as a special kind of self-reflexive language, one given to ‘resistance’ and to thickening the medium, as distinct from purely ‘informational’ texts ‘constructed on a transmissional model’.32 For McGann and Bornstein, writers who expressively manipulate the material form of their textual objects intensify the estranging effect of their linguistic experiments, creating a text that helps to create a conscious and critical reader rather than a passive textual consumer. McGann suggests in The Textual Condition that ‘resistant’ modernist texts, by insisting on the recalcitrant materiality of print objects and language itself, comprise a sanctuary from capitalist overdetermination. Such texts place themselves outside the ‘happy valley of production and consumption’, refusing the ‘closed economy’ of reading in which ‘meanings . . . can be consumed (because the meanings are determinate) and reproduced’ (pp. 167–8). Bornstein echoes such positions in his focused, contextualised readings, for instance by rescuing Yeats’s complicated, sometimes embarrassing politics with reference to an alternative politics of reading he finds in the materiality of Yeats’s texts. Dismissing the apparently authoritarian stance of ‘The Gyres’, Bornstein finds in the ordering of poems in The Tower a liberatory politics that is textually embodied: the dialogic relation between poems within the volume suggest for him ‘if not anarchy, then radical textual egalitarianism’.33 In all this McGann and Bornstein effectively embrace the Utopian claims modernism and many of its critics have made for its formalism. By simultaneously validating formal experimentation, individual authorial achievement, and artistry in the creation of physical texts, these critics carry the banner for modernism’s own critical agenda, extending Yeats’s and Pound’s opposition to mass-production and the commodity economy and their embattled, partial faith in linguistic and textual 12

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experiments to throw a spanner in the capitalist works. This book will show that exercising care and creativity on the materiality of texts was not uniquely modernist (though many modernists embraced it) and could be put to aesthetically (as well as politically) conservative uses.34 McGann’s and Bornsteins’ critical work, in essence, reiterates the high modernist canon – expanding it slightly on one side (by adding writers such as Riding and Brown) but considerably narrowing it overall by claiming that expressive textual materiality is a hallmark of modernism. But this account over-identifies the vogue for expressive textual materiality with modernism: not all modernists were geeked-out on textual materiality, and a small percentage of printing and binding enthusiasts were modernists. McGann drops Joyce’s name, but it seems clear enough that – while Joyce paid his characteristically obsessive attention to all details of his publications – he did so in utterly conventional ways; McGann’s modernist work yields fresh and persuasive readings of writers like Pound and Yeats, but is considerably more strained in a case such as Gertude Stein’s, and cannot account for the essentially Platonic understanding of textuality expressed in ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’. It is more accurate, I think, to suggest that the ambient vogue for the fine points of book and page design took particular modernist turns in the hands of particular modernists at different times. If Eliot consistently spoke, in his ‘essays of generalization’, of literature as though it occupied an objective but disembodied realm, he also conceived Faber and Faber’s ‘Ariel Poems’ series in the late 1920s – small, decorated, serially issued and aesthetically pleasing single-poem issues which recall many of Monro’s experiments. Yeats vacillated on this issue as on so many others: striving through his collaborations with cover designers to turn his 1890s books into grimoires – versions of medieval, talismanic books with magical properties; then losing faith that such powers could flow from objects whose print and pages are the products of contemporary mass production; then seeking again to re-sanctify his books through the artisanal production methods of his sisters’ Cuala Press.35 All this shows that modernist writers, as individuals and as a group, worked both ends of the continuum I have spelt out here, between dematerialising the text and sacralising its materiality. The vogue itself is much wider, and is better understood as responding to the dramatic expansion and diversification of print culture, the dominance of cheap print and mechanical reproduction, and the crisis of literary and cultural evaluation that resulted from these forces. Modernism also responded to, and contributed to, these conditions, but the rage for selfexpression via typography, paper quality and other material aspects of texts constitutes a wider (overlapping) framework from modernism itself, which partially explains how the stridently anti-modernist London Mercury became the leading outlet of typographical and fine-book enthusiasm from the midtwenties through the early thirties, a trajectory I discuss in Chapter 3. In short, 13

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the vogue of fine textual materiality is better understood as modern than modernist. As to McGann’s emphasis on the special nature of poetic or literary texts: while I do not wish to flatten all texts or claim that literary writing is indistinct from advertising or journalism, for my purposes in this book the commonalities between these modes – most crucially that they are all forms that represent reality – are more important than their distinctions. Furthermore, and perhaps out of my own (relatively determined, relatively autonomous) politics, I want this book in part to highlight the efforts of all those anonymous working stiffs of fin-de-siècle and early twentieth-century print culture whose labour was relatively alienated, such as the page-designers and subeditors of the Illustrated London News and John O’London’s Weekly. Their largely anonymous contributions created contexts and meanings for literary texts – and constituted interventions in the cultural construction of literary value – just as surely as the relatively (relatively!) autonomous textual acts of the famous modernists. Thus I will lay stress not on experiments in design by famous authors but on how textual materiality – bibliographical and contextual codes, and the ways they signify in ‘broadly institutional (the publishing scene) and immediately physical (artefact design)’ ways – create unpredictable horizons of meaning that exceed the purview of individual artists, and constitute the landscape against and through which literary value is constituted in these years.36 As my title suggests, my emphasis is on the ecosystem of modern print artefacts rather than on the intentions of artists, though their plans and desires will inform my analysis in local and pragmatic ways. Further, while my account acknowledges modernist experimentation and self-promotion as an inescapable force in the publishing world – one central to the ongoing construction and negotiation of literary value and capital, despite its relatively small sales and readership – this is, I repeat, not a book about modernism. It is a book about the way a set of print artefacts used their formal properties to make sense of the particular worlds they took as their purview, and what hints these interactions might offer about the dynamic relations between textual form and world – dynamics that remain relevant in our world of constantly transforming media. In emphasising the artefacts themselves, in de-emphasising authorial intention, in relativising the importance of modernism, I depart from McGann and Bornstein, whose ways of attending to textual materiality are otherwise so formative of my objectives and methods here. Owning, Reading, Consuming; Books, Periodicals; Things, Objects In contrast to the fetishism that often attaches to the solidity of books stands the disposability of the periodical. The periodical and the book are differently oriented to space and time: particularly before the emergence of paperbacks (and despite the lousy paper on which late nineteenth-century books were 14

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printed), books suggested a relative solidity and permanence in contrast to the date-stamped, virtually instant obsolescence of the periodical. Books, particularly well-made, expensive books, it would seem, come home to stay; periodicals circulate quickly, then end up in the dustbin or are left on the table in the club’s reading room. Closer scrutiny will, of course, show that these differences are better understood along a continuum than in black and white. The popularity of circulating and subscription libraries well into the twentieth century meant that novels could move around in space almost as much as periodicals, making their circuit off the shelves and back repeatedly; the libraries’ market-driven practice of replacing old books with new, followed by the emergence of cheaper books at the turn of the century, made books more perishable than we might think. Likewise the practice of sending favoured periodicals out to be bound could transform a magazine, in a sense, into a book. J. C. Squire traced his love of literature to the discovery of a bound set of the Illustrated London News in a cousin’s parlour, and described it in the romanticised terms we see more often applied to book reading: ‘There he would lie on the floor with his chin cupped in his hands, learning of the launch of the Great Eastern and the bloody battles of the American Civil War.’37 Overall, however, periodicals, as their name suggests, are tightly bound to short periods of time (daily, weekly, monthly), lose their value quickly, and bear the marks of this relative impermanence on their covers in the form of the publication date. Fetishisation of the periodical, or recognition of value in its physicality itself are, thus, relatively rare. These factors structured what Erikson calls the ‘intellectual hierarchy of written formats’, giving book publication greater prestige than periodical publication even in cases, not uncommon, where periodical publication paid authors better.38 But the same desires that fuel the economy of rare books and fine editions – the desire to link the reading life with the ownership of objects of lasting or even metaphysical value – also structure this hierarchy. If book collecting, as I suggest in Chapter 3, seems to take place in a pre-modern marketplace overseen by a community of enlightened, amateur experts and thus to escape the exigencies of a homogenising, commodity economy, the periodical seems the embodiment of the very economy the luxury book seeks to transcend. Periodicals typically do not foreground their materiality but rather present themselves as ‘hosts’, mediators, providers of information and diversion. Their material design – selections of paper, font, layout, etc. – emphasises the reader’s ease of consumption. Combined with their relative disposability, their openness to consumption made periodicals seem like commodities through and through, homogenised counters thoroughly integrated into capitalist ‘circuits of production and distribution, consumption and exhibition’.39 In contrast, the more lush or exotic the materiality of a book, the more it could be seen as transcending the banality of the mass market. On the far reaches 15

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of this side of the continuum stand rare and antiquarian books, whose commodity value (e.g. price) is generally higher if the pages are uncut. In other words, the most valuable books are those that have not been, and probably will not be, read. This partially lifts them out of the circuit of production and consumption that devalues periodicals, although, arguably, it also makes them function more like furniture and less like books, artefacts plain-and-simple rather than print artefacts. Even newly produced fine, limited edition books could resist consumption in this way: one wished not to smudge their pristine cloth pages. Squire complained in a letter to J. B. Priestly about having to wear gloves to read a copy of Priestly’s latest book, and resolved to buy a ‘coarser copy for use’ shortly.40 The gathering cultural ethos that equated consumption with the pathologies of modernity informed both this fetish for the book-not-to-be-read and the scandalous difficulty of high modernism – the production of texts that resisted fast and easy consumption. (Carrying high modernism’s banner, McGann argues that some of Bob Brown’s texts, echoing those of Morris and William Blake, were printed in ways that made them difficult or impossible to read, thus enhancing their status as resistant objects.) To borrow Mao’s concept, illegibility pushes the print artefact towards the status of a solid object. Or, to tap into Bill Brown’s ambitious theorisation of ‘things’ in the modernist milieu, unreadable texts gestured towards the elements of the book that made it more thing than object, elements that arguably exceed commodification, that resist systematisation. Brown argues both that ‘thinginess breaks out when the item doesn’t work as we expect’ (e.g. when the book feels like it should not, or cannot, be read) and that this thinginess – this presence of something that cannot be reduced to commodity value or symbolic significance – presented itself to modernist radicals as a means to ‘arrest commodity-fetishism-as-usual’.41 But it should give us pause that this radical impulse finds itself mirrored in the larger fine and rare book market in the early twentieth century, an upper-class sub-market in which one’s collection was also a way of marking distinction, in Bourdieu’s sense. If rare and fine books could, in part by their resistance to being read, recover some of their thingy alterity, the way in which they signalled status and connoisseurship underscored the degree to which they remained, stubbornly, objects: things that took on significance in their relationship with humans. Benjamin, with his typical oblique but blazing insight, realised how ambiguous the politics of rare and fine books were. In the 1931 essay ‘Unpacking My Library’, Benjamin posits book collecting as simultaneously nostalgic, in that it is linked to a passing, aristocratic social formation, and subversive of the commodity economy. Benjamin cheekily praises the acquisition of books through inheritance, stealing and the highly contingent practice of purchasing at auction, where luck and timing have much to do with determining exchange value: in all these ways books seem to escape the purported 16

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machine-like operations of supply and demand. Indeed, Benjamin explicitly differentiates collectors’ purchases from those made in the more commoditised system of book sales which had taken hold in the late nineteenth century. He even de-emphasises reading and validates non-reading: ‘The purchasing done by a book collector has very little in common with that done in a bookshop by a student getting a textbook, a man of the world buying a present for his lady, or a businessman intending to while away his next train journey.’42 For Benjamin, buying books outside the current channels of production, marketing and use stops them from being the particular kind of commodities they are and estranges them, liberates them, emphasises their otherness, makes them a sign of nothing other than modern contingency. The collector thus forges with his book ‘a relationship to objects which does not emphasize their functional, utilitarian value – that is, their usefulness – but studies and loves them as the scene, the stage, of their fate’ (p. 60). But the practice also emanates from a disappearing social formation and thus partakes of a kind of reactionary nostalgia. The collector’s feeling towards his books recreates aristocratic models of inheritance, is ‘in the highest sense, the attitude of an heir’ (p. 66). For Benjamin book collecting is both reactionary and subversive of current economic values. ‘To renew the old world – that is the collector’s deepest desire when he is driven to acquire new things,’ he writes (p. 61). If rare and fine books thus might, by their antiquity or the heft of their materiality, have seemed to transcend or escape modernity, periodicals seemed thoroughly enmeshed in the world the books seem to have escaped. As Mussell argues, periodicals – particularly during their period of cultural dominance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – both represented and transformed modern time and space: daily newspapers appeared at morning and evening intervals, marking the outer edges of the ‘factory time’ that was concurrently reshaping everyday life; weekly periodicals were issued on Saturday mornings, signifying the arrival of weekly leisure for the ‘leisured classes’, while trashy Sunday papers did the same for the working classes. Periodicals, Mussell writes, ‘move through space, helping to transform it into circulation routes, spaces of commercial exchange, library space, educational spaces, etc.’43 They also ‘signify space and time, representing them in ways that are imagined as meaningful to readers but also to their perceived moments of reading’ (pp. 2–3). While Mussell wants to bury the largely defunct ‘reflection model’ of media studies by arguing that periodicals functioned not simply to represent but also to transform the world, he is equally insistent that we pay heed to periodical form: periodicals were not neutral conduits of information, meaning or power, but rather wielded and managed all of these precisely through their material form. Making meaning out of the irreducible world ‘outside’ meant showing that this world – or what it envisioned as the parts important to readers – could be contained within the periodical’s pages, organised by the 17

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periodical’s form. To read the press in these years was to ‘repeatedly read how the chaos of everyday life was rendered ordered and comprehensive’.44 Form was the means by which the heterogeneous contents of the periodical, metonymically reducing the still vaster phenomena of the world, came to order, via the repeated ordering of contents, section headings, etc. – all the iterable structure that constitutes the periodical’s material form – ‘from paper and ink to the multilayered structure of volume, number, department, and article’.45 Periodicals emerged as Europe’s most important representational media during a period when the world that needed to be known seemed to be transforming, growing and diversifying more rapidly than ever before. As I argue in Chapter 1, the Illustrated London News in the early 1890s took as its remit three overlapping worlds: the city of London, the British literary marketplace and the British Empire. All were in rapid, disorienting expansion and diversification in the 1890s. The Illustrated London News’s predictable, repeated management of its spatial form reduced these worlds to order on a weekly basis. And the meaning the newspaper bestowed upon these contents was inextricable from value: through the implicit, symbolic value it measured out to its own page space (with its front-page illustration at the top of the pyramid, the classified adverts in the back at the bottom), the paper likewise assigned value to the various figures and forces at play in the worlds it represented. By repeatedly reducing the transforming worlds of city, empire and marketplace to recognisable, iterable form, the ILN was mediating in the double sense identified by Raymond Williams in Keywords. Jeremy Braddock borrows from Williams in asserting that mediators of art – museums and galleries, anthologies and, though Braddock doesn’t discuss them specifically, periodicals – are themselves ‘works’. They mediate in the ‘negative’ sense of standing between artist and audience, but also in the ‘positive’ sense of being themselves representations of the social totality – in essence authored works that, through form, embody the world from which they emerge and in whose construction they take part. In periodicals and anthologies, as in art exhibitions, ‘a mediated representation of the social totality may be found in a collection as well as in an object recognized as an autonomous work’.46 This representation is integral to the cultural construction of value – not just commodity value but those other sorts of value that seem to elude or exceed the commodity, to give names and objects ‘transcendent presence, the magic that allows them to become values, fetishes, totems, etc.’ (p. 5). Before we begin our case studies of the mutual relations between meaning, value and the material form of print artefacts, a closer look at the broader cultural dynamics of value will be useful. Contingent Value As Barbara Herrnstein-Smith showed in Contingencies of Value, her unsurpassed theorisation of the complex mechanisms by which aesthetic value is 18

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constituted, acts of aesthetic judgement are thoroughly interwoven with acts of interpretation, recognition and classification. In other words, literary works are ‘variably constituted’ objects: the experience of a literary work is a complex function of multiple factors, including the author’s aesthetic intentions (built in part upon the author’s conscious and unconscious decisions about who her audience is and how it can be pleased or interested); the reader’s particular economy of needs and desires (to a considerable, and unknowable, extent a function of his or her acculturation); cultural assumptions about the nature of literature and the desirable functions of literary texts; and the cultural institutions (newsrooms, publishing houses, academic departments) that are important sites for the generation, debate, revision and dissemination of these assumptions. Thus my own decision whether to read or recommend a book is not just an evaluative act, it is also (silently) an interpretive and a descriptive one, as it embeds all of my (largely learned) assumptions about what is valuable in reading material and what textual features or reading experiences constitute ‘the literary’. Formal acts of literary evaluation – e.g. those by critics and academics – Herrnstein-Smith writes, not only imply certain ‘criteria’ of literary value, which may in fact be made explicit, but, more significantly, they produce and maintain certain definitions of ‘literature’ and, thereby, certain assumptions about the desired and expected functions of the texts so classified and about the interests of their appropriate audiences, all of which are usually not explicit and, for that reason, less likely to be questioned, challenged, or even noticed.47 While Herrnstein-Smith’s influential theory is familiar in its broad outlines, two aspects of her thought resonate with two of my central premises. First: formal and institutional acts of evaluation literally place their marks on the physical, textual objects that embody the literary ‘works’ that circulate through them. The binding of books, the type of paper on which books and periodicals are printed, the particular design of covers, the price (and how and whether that price is advertised on the object), the presence (or absence) of such ‘metatextual’ material as blurbs or footnotes, the generic codes by which all of these elements make sense: all of these signify acts of valuation, which are simultaneously acts of classification and (on the broadest level) acts of interpretation. And all of these acts precede those of an individual reader, framing and categorising in advance the reading experience. Again, Herrnstein-Smith: ‘Not only are the objects we encounter always to some extent pre-interpreted and pre-classified for us by our particular cultures and languages; they are also preevaluated, bearing the marks and signs of their prior valuings and evaluations by our fellow creatures’ (p. 43). While Herrnstein’s evocation of such ‘marks’ is mainly metaphorical – ‘Like all other objects, works of art and literature 19

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bear the marks of their own evaluational history’ – my point here is that this history shows up as well in marks that are literal, visible (p. 43). These marks on the print artefact are coded, in the broad sense of cultural coding: people within the culture can read the coding in a slim octavo format or a glossy magazine cover, usually on a level that is not fully conscious. Like all communicative acts, however, these acts of evaluation/classification/­interpretation are polysemous and variably fraught. My Chapter 2 untangles a particularly rich complex, showing how John O’London’s Weekly attempted to secure a cultural capital beyond that signified by its cover price and cheap paper by appropriating the gravitas of Thomas Hardy and other esteemed authors and vigorously asserting it through available periodical codes. A second central premise: while Herrnstein-Smith, for good reason, foregrounds the silent, unarticulated acts of valuation that reiterate assumptions about the functions of literature, the years covered by this study marked an especially unsettled period in the history of literary valuation, one in which many such assumptions came under pressure and thus burst into view. The expansion of literacy, the democratisation of writing and of print culture, and the challenging and alien modernist literature that emerged at its height all combined to bring about a crisis in literary evaluation which can also be understood as a period of paradigm shift. As Leonard Diepeveen has noted, modernism itself forced a public reconsideration of once-tacit assumptions about literary writing: assumptions of writing as communication between a writer and a reader, of the reader’s direct access to a writer’s meaning, of beauty and pleasure as the objects of literary writing, of reading as a leisure activity.48 The period was thus one in which, as David Richter has described, ‘theory breaks out’, in which agreed-upon, unspoken definitions and premises for discussion are no longer agreed upon, and must be re-aired and re-argued, in which ‘the default is pressed to reveal its logic’, as Van Laar and Diepeveen phrase it.49 For instance, critiques of mass reading as akin to a ‘drug habit’ coexisted in the early twentieth century with modernist attacks on bourgeois respectability: together, these threads worked to undermine the notion, for writers of various motivations, that providing leisure activity for readers was an honourable way to win one’s bread.50 With such fundamental questions now open, debate on them erupted (in the case of Blast, the verb is only slightly hyperbolic) onto the pages of periodicals, and the physical properties of those pages themselves signified, often vociferously, within the debate.51 The explosion of numbers and kinds of print artefacts helped to fuel the sense of evaluative crisis: there were more objects to be classified, and in the case of anthologies and periodicals, there were objectswithin-objects. Readers decidedly needed help navigating this oversaturated market, which in turn fuelled its further saturation, in the form of periodicals whose primary function was to provide that help, whether it was conceived in 20

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austere terms of articulating ‘standards of criticism’, as in the cases of Monro’s Poetry and Drama, Eliot’s Criterion or Leavis’s Scrutiny, among others, or in the more homely fashion of serving the ‘book-buying public’, as in the case of such periodicals as John O’London’s or The Bookman. ‘It appears’, Herrnstein-Smith notes, ‘ . . . that evaluations – of artworks along with anything else that is consumable, and what isn’t – are themselves commodities of considerable value.’52 Amid all of these forces, the ways in which print artefacts are physically marked with signs of literary classification, evaluation and identification became more visible, to the point at which reviewers of ordinary books routinely commented on their physical beauty (or lack thereof), and editors and publishers manipulated such signs more consciously and publicly. Such expressive material positioning might be situated roughly along a continuum placing at the left limit the Yellow Book and Blast, which overtly sought to undermine the reigning bibliographical codes of periodical culture; in the centre the Illustrated London News, whose embrace of speed and new illustration technologies expressed its embrace of modernity and commercialism, though in a way that eased readerly consumption; and on the right limit the London Mercury, whose restrained and retro-Victorian appearance went hand in hand with its reactionary aesthetics. Literary Value and the Public Sphere One of the enduring western myths of literary and aesthetic evaluation, and one that powerfully structured public discussion of the print culture of the fin de siècle and early twentieth century, is the belief in a Utopian time or space in which personal or group interests and the distortions of the market could be transcended or held at bay and, thus, aesthetic artefacts could rise or fall on their merits. As theorists and critics have amply demonstrated, this articulation and idealisation of a ‘disinterested’ realm for evaluation has its roots in crucial aspects of Enlightenment epistemology, including rationalist norms of reasoned debate and Kant’s delineation of the aesthetic as the realm of impersonal, disinterested and apolitical evaluation. For Kant, the fact that human beings have the same basic sensory apparatus means that, absent the corrupting influence of personal interest, political commitment or local peculiarity (i.e. ‘uncontaminated by any circumstantially contingent factors’), any two subjects should have precisely the same response to the same aesthetic experience; under such conditions, the statement ‘This object is beautiful’ can be taken as having the status of a truth-claim. As Eagleton explicates this problem, for Kant aesthetic experiences are ‘at once subjective and universal’; that is, they get us so far inside the very roots of subjective experience, to a pure realm ‘devoid of every possible concern that would distinguish the judge from other people’, that their pronouncements come, in effect, from an aspect of the self that is effectively universal: ‘If the subject transcends its ephemeral needs and 21

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desires, then a truly subjective judgment disregards all the accidents which divide one from another and strikes an immediate chord in them all.’53 Kant’s position went on to undergird a parallel belief that aesthetic production is likewise disinterested: the art object conducts an autonomous, self-generating and self-regulating production of what we can purportedly agree to as formal beauty, independent of any other function, meaning or effect. (Kant, whose formulation was based primarily on natural rather than aesthetic beauty, would likely not have sanctioned this extension of his thought). A familiar modernist version of the disinterestedness of the literary work appears in Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’, in her dismissal of ‘Edwardian’ novels whose effect on the reader is to make her want to ‘join a society or, more desperately, write a cheque’, whereas the truly great novel asks nothing, except perhaps to be re-read.54 If the age of post-structuralism has thoroughly deconstructed such attempts to establish an empirical basis for aesthetic values (along with all other ontological claims), belief in a sphere of disinterest – either as a nostalgic vision or as an ideal to be striven towards – has retained an afterlife in literary scholarship and in academia more generally, perhaps most obviously in the work of Jürgen Habermas and the many theorists who have responded to his account of the ‘structural transformation of the public sphere’. Even critics open to the possibilities of free, rational debate that Habermas idealises have qualified his account: they have, for instance, noted that the Habermasian concept of the eighteenth-century ‘bourgeois public sphere’ ignores the historical existence of competing ‘counterpublics’ (of women and working-class people) and probed how media ownership and management hinder the possibility of fair and disinterested debate in ‘actually existing democracy’. Others have problematised more fundamental aspects of Habermas’s model, such as its conceptualisation of and privileging of rationality.55 As I have been implying all along, my own commitments are to a post-rationalist (post-Habermasian) understanding of public communication and the negotiation of value. But two factors nonetheless make Habermas relevant to this project. First, the myth of a disinterested public sphere, though articulated with historical backing and theoretical rigour only later (by Habermas), was very much in force for the entirety of the period I cover in this study. If a disinterested bourgeois public sphere never really existed, the myth of its existence (or, as Mark Morrisson has shown, of its previous existence and current decline) was perhaps the most common framework by which anxious cultural commentators understood the explosion of print media outlets, the emergence of waves of newly-literate readers, the troubling dawn of modern advertising, the irrational excesses of the British press during the first World War, and many other developments in contemporary media. Secondly, and perhaps more surprisingly, despite the ascendance of post-structural scepticism, scholarly accounts 22

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of literary evaluation in the twentieth century continue to assert or imply a purer norm of disinterested criticism, as either a paradise lost or as an ideal to strive towards. As Pascale Casanova argues, the work of the actual institutions that today construct and negotiate the concept of ‘World Literature’ (prize committees, prestigious presses, granting agencies) – work that is characterised by ‘incessant struggle and competition over the very nature of literature itself’ – has been rendered invisible by the tenacious myth of disinterest, ‘the fable of an enchanted world, a kingdom of pure creation, the best of all possible worlds where universality reigns through liberty and equality’.56 Most notably for modernist studies, Rainey’s Institutions of Modernism avowedly embraces a Habermasian view. Rainey posits Habermas’s argument as ‘the background of this study’, and summarises the decline of the public sphere as ‘its gradual distortion and partial disintegration, [which] occurred under the impress of its continual expansion to include more and more participants and the development of large-scale social organisations that mediated individual participation’. He matter-of-factly states that modernist literature came into being ‘at the cusp of that transformation of the public sphere’.57 Rainey’s welcome intervention into modernist studies was to uncover the ways in which modernist writers and their proponents secured material support and cultural capital by partially circumventing the mainstream marketplace, establishing ‘institutions of modernism’ such as patronage and salons as means ‘whereby the work of art invites and solicits its commodification, but does so in such a way that it becomes a commodity of a special sort, one that is temporarily exempted from the exigencies of immediate consumption prevalent within the larger cultural economy’ (p. 4). Curiously enough, though, for Rainey these circumventions of the main market are tainted because in eschewing the open marketplace they also reject the possibility of disinterested evaluation in the public sphere: they’re essentially a way of putting the fix in. Thus the initial publication of Ulysses, in a limited edition with a partial run of editions de luxe, constitutes for Rainey an abandonment of the literary public sphere in favour of exchange value in a tightly controlled (i.e. ‘fixed’) economy. The sin of the Ulysses first edition, in other words, is its replacement of one kind of commercial value for another: In forfeiting demands for public sanction to the operations of the marketplace, the participants in the first edition of Ulysses encouraged a misunderstanding that has continued to reverberate in debate about the avant-garde and its public, art and its audience. For the marketplace is not, and never can be, free from systematic distortions of power, and its outcomes cannot be equated with undistorted participation in practices of justification, or with norms of equal and universal participation in discussions about cultural and aesthetic value. The operations of the market 23

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are not an adequate substitute for free agreement; indeed, they are not a substitute at all, insofar as they are operations of an entirely different order. (p. 72) As in accounts of political communication derived from Habermas, Rainey’s understanding of literary value is predicated on a nostalgic belief in the (apparently lost, perhaps recoverable) possibility of a realm of pure and disinterested aesthetic evaluation, a space in which ‘practices of justification’ can be ‘undistorted’, where aesthetic ‘agreement’ can be ‘free’. Rainey is correct to note that some modernist print artefacts managed a temporary escape from the kind of commodity status available in the mass market, and to note that their value thus got constructed along a different circuit. But in suggesting that some alternative sphere might exist, or has existed, in which value is constructed in the absence of identifiable, competing interests, he is on more dubious ground. Value as Meaning, Value as Process There are any number of problems with such formulations, but most revealing for my purposes is the degree to which all such thinking is invested in a simplified understanding of ‘interest’, in other words in a false binary of ‘disinterest/ interest’, in which pursuing one’s own interest is necessarily equated with bias, distortion, even selfishness – and we are asked to envision a contrasting, pure space where evaluation can take place free of self-interest. Anthropologists have been grappling with this problem for much of the last half-century, trying to understand how practices such as potlatch – a ritual practice in many non-modernised societies in which members, in apparent rejection of their self-interest, gather honour or prestige by giving away prized possessions – might shed light on the accumulation of wealth and power in modern societies. The key to a more supple understanding of interest, it seems to me, is a more supple understanding of value and the multiple ways it might be constructed in various socio-historical moments by various individuals. It takes little reflection to realise that ‘interest’ and ‘disinterest’ cannot always be easily distinguished in practice: my decision to give $50 to a non-profit organisation rather than saving it, or spending it on a sumptuous lunch, might appear to be ‘disinterested’. But it might also very well function in my interest, either by convincing me (and my friends) that I am a generous and socially responsible person, or simply by giving me the pleasure associated with these feelings. One strain of thought in evolutionary biology foregrounds the degree to which acts that appear disinterested to the individual advance group interests and thereby, in the longer run or when viewed from a more expansive perspective, are in fact in the actor’s self-interest.58 In all such cases, the more fruitful questions to ask, I think, are: what sort of value does the actor seek by her action, and how does this value get created (or not)? Bourdieu’s articulation of multiple types of 24

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capital is somewhat helpful here: one might accrue social capital by donating the $50, or cultural capital by producing a literary work that appeals to a small intelligensia, in exchange, to a degree, for the actual cash one might achieve by catering to a larger market. Bourdieu and, to an extent, Herrnstein-Smith urge a re-thinking of interest by, in effect, positing virtually all acts as ‘interested’ in one way or another. Still more revolutionary for an understanding of aesthetic value is the work of anthropologist David Graeber, who argues in an essence for a loosening-up of all reified categories, from the ‘commodity’ to ‘interest’ on up to ‘society’ itself. The problem with most contemporary understandings of value, from the political right or the left, Graeber writes, is that they hypostasise (or reify) categories, failing to recognise the essentially fluid, constantly-becoming nature of social interactions. Value thus appears in such models to inhere either in the object itself (in ‘intrinsic value’ understandings of aesthetics, or neo-liberal attempts to impose a uniform system of valuation on commodities globally) or in the system (in critiques of the reviewing system or the academy in aesthetics, in leftist political critiques that see cultural ‘superstructure’ as dependent on economic base, or human decision-making as entirely determined by ideology). On both ends, for Graeber, what are really open-ended and constant processes are hypostasised into solid things. Working out of what he calls a Heraclitean tradition, Graeber urges that we view what seem to us to be fixed objects as patterns of motion, and what seem to be fixed ‘social structures’ as patterns of action. Value, I’ll suggest, can best be seen in this light as the way in which actions become meaningful to the actor by being incorporated in some larger, social totality – even if in many cases the totality in question exists primarily in the actor’s imagination.59 An appropriately Heraclitean view, Graeber argues, would ‘see objects as process, as defined by their potentials, and society as constituted primarily by actions’ (p. 52). Society is, for Graeber, ‘the total process through which all this activity is coordinated’, and ‘value, in turn, the way actors see their own activity as a meaningful part of it’ (p. 76). In this model neither the system nor the valued object are static entities: the exchanges that seek (and thus create) value also create and, in a dialectical relation, are created by, the system. Graeber’s model is particularly apt when applied to the complex ecosystem of print culture, in which periodicals and book genres function not only as hosts to the arbitration of value but as valuable objects in their own right. Graeber’s insistence that we view objects not as static things but as ‘patterns of motion’ is an appropriate lens for understanding how books and periodicals function. Though they are in their way solid objects, and will seem to sit still when placed on a table, it is fairly clear that they only momentarily arrest the 25

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activities (writing, editing, reading, evaluating) that they embody. Further, books and periodicals are rarely and only intermittently experienced as stable and unmoving objects. Their value is constantly in motion; even their nature (which can’t be disentangled from their value) changes: within a relatively short time, a periodical goes from being a source of news to a bird-cage liner, a piece of garbage, or, less likely, a keepsake or an element of the archive; a new book may take on added value (as a keepsake, as a marker of distinction, as a collectible) or (more likely) lose value, and become something we purge during spring cleaning. Signification is an attempt to fix Heraclitean flux. This is avowedly so in the case of poetry anthologies, a major focus of Chapter 4. One of the major functions of anthologies is to fix value and to preserve texts from physical deterioration and disappearance within the chaos of the print marketplace, but as I show, the explosion of the market for anthologies in the early twentieth century undermined the desired fixity, multiplying competing sub-canons rather than establishing consensus, multiplying titles rather than winnowing them down. If book genres at least ostensibly reach towards fixity, periodical writing just as often embraces its ephemerality and its connection to the passing moment; thus periodical consumption often becomes both a part of the flux of daily life and a pattern that helps to structure it. Indeed, periodical reading is comforting to us precisely because it structures both the overload of possible meaning and the potentially terrifying openness, emptiness or boredom of the day itself. I want to talk about periodicals and booksas-objects not simply as mediators of value but as conductors and constructors of value, indeed, as objects whose own accrual, gathering and loss of value illustrates certain difficult-to-formulate aspects of more abstract and respectable aesthetic (or literary) value. I’m not doing a semiotic analysis of value in which objects take on value only relative to their place within a system; rather, I’m taking steps towards tracing the interaction between individual artefacts and the constantly evolving system they continuously create, and through which they create (and, often, fail to create) their own value. For notions of the public sphere, such an understanding of value creation as a dynamic, open-ended system renders impossible such fixities as a selfinterested or disinterested position, viewing all cultural exchanges as episodes in the ongoing creation and mediation of value. Thus, while it is crucial for us to recognise the dominance of a proto-Habermasian understanding of the public sphere in the period covered by this study, it’s equally crucial, as a methodology, to embrace a post-Habermasian understanding of the construction of literary value. Such an understanding, rather than positing an ideal realm where interests can be set aside (or mourning its passing), would view the construction of aesthetic value as an open-ended, extremely complex, constant negotiation of varied (and variously powerful) interests, with the term ‘interests’ invoked neutrally, as something one neither could, nor would wish 26

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to, escape. Thus, in analysing a set of modern print artefacts, in this study I will be constantly looking for the signs of the interests of periodicals, editors, writers, advertisers and publishers as those interests are rendered visible, both in words and images and by otherwise visible markers of evaluation displayed by the materiality of print artefacts. Readers as Writers No factor transformed the landscape of interests in print culture at the turn of the twentieth century as radically as the vast extension of the ability to publish. People in the working and lower middle classes were for the first time gaining access to the literary marketplace, where their works operated in new and developing circuits of value – albeit circuits that were ultimately (if tenuously) related to the more prestigious circuits involving the more austere reviews and, eventually, the academy. The seemingly insatiable demand for reading material created new classes of print artefacts, and new classes of writers developed to produce their content, with these two phenomena fuelling each other’s growth. Following shortly upon the late nineteenth century’s dramatic increase in readers came this smaller but equally powerful increase in the number of writers. Between 1881 and 1931, according to census data reviewed by Richard Altick, the number of people in Great Britain identifying themselves by occupation as ‘authors, editors, journalists, reporters’ increased from 6,111 to 20,599.60 Considering the uncounted numbers of people who earned their primary living elsewhere but augmented it by publishing or who published as a hobby, these figures surely represent only a fraction of those for whom writing and publishing were regular activities. Periodicals ran writing contests with cash prizes as ways to generate content and scout new talent. To serve ‘literary aspirants’, correspondence schools and for-profit colleges cropped up around England but especially in London, offering short and inexpensive courses in ‘Journalism/Short Story Writing/English Composition/ Advanced Literary Training/Verse Writing’.61 Virginia Woolf wrote in 1928 that ‘the average citizen is nowadays certainly a reader and quite frequently a writer’. Walter Benjamin wrote in 1935 that while ‘[F]or centuries a small number of writers were confronted by many thousands of readers . . . today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere.’62 As Christopher Hilliard has shown, most of these new writers, unlike the high modernists, were untroubled by the commercial character of the literary marketplace and incurious as to the ontology of literary value.63 Coming mainly from the working and lower middle classes, as well as segments of the middle class that were not educated in universities, these new writers typically accepted the judgements of the marketplace (or of the publishing professionals who represented it). They wrote out of a culturally sanctioned desire to 27

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express themselves – a desire with roots in nineteenth-century Romanticism as well as the Victorian culture of self-improvement – albeit one whose cultural sanction faced resistance from the educated classes precisely as it became associated with these new writers, the newly educated, and mass publishing. Thus modernist appropriations of professionalism – from Henry James’s emphasis on the craft of fiction to Ezra Pound’s intimidating programmes of practice and self-education for poets – attempted to sketch out spheres of expertise distinct from a mass publishing welter open to anyone, regardless of education or experience, provided their work pleased editors and publishers. New writers were also motivated by the economic opportunities presented by this transformed marketplace – opportunities advertised directly to them in periodicals, in the ads for contests and correspondence schools. While some surely needed the money publication provided or made careers out of it, publication just as importantly gave a sanction of approval to acts of creative indulgence that might otherwise have raised eyebrows among neighbours and relatives. Ecosystems of Value This entire sphere of popular writing, publishing and reading is best viewed as a large, local ecoystem within the entire ecosystem of print. The metaphor of the ecosystem accommodates Graeber’s emphasis on flux rather than fixity, and it attests to the coexistence of multiple, distinct but inter-related productive spaces and regimes of value in the literary marketplace in these years.64 Value happened on multiple levels and in multiple iterations even within the sub-ecosystem comprising large-circulation periodicals and popular fiction (the so-called ‘mass market’). The exchange of the writer’s work for a check from a newspaper or magazine both constructed and registered the value of that work, and its appearance in the newspaper testified to this value-transaction publicly. This was, to paraphrase Graeber’s terms, a classic instance of value as a process in which people make their activities (writing, self-expression, creativity) meaningful by integrating them into a publicly acknowledged system. Certainly this dual recognition was enough for many new, autodidactic writers. Once these first level value-transactions took place, however, certain writers’ names might become markers of value, and their work might become the subject of the second-order valuations of critics, reviewers and publishers on the hunt for talent. Gradually, as the apparatus of literary criticism evolved to accommodate the explosion of print, there were more outlets in which these higher-level acts of valuation could take place, often in locations where multiple market segments interacted: daily newspapers increasingly took up book reviewing in the twentieth century, joined by new organs of criticism. In such outlets, a weekly or monthly review column might cover a new book by Hardy, Conrad or Woolf in the same 1,000-word article with a social comedy by Wells or some volumes of adventure fiction.65 Q. D. Leavis described the aggregate 28

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readership in Fiction and the Reading Public (1932) as ‘a society of forty-three millions so decisively stratified in its taste that each stratum is catered for independently by its own novelists and journalists’.66 This formulation certainly overstated the rigidity of Leavis’s ‘strata’, but nonetheless reflected a complex, non-totalising system in which multiple mediators were emerging to organise loosely and incompletely the ‘taste’ that was also being constructed through word of mouth and the recommendations of librarians in subscription libraries. But, like a local ecosystem within a total ecosystem, these local circuits of evaluation were not cut off from the rest of the system. As John Frow writes in his analysis of cultural value, ‘the boundaries of communities are always porous, since most people belong to many valuing communities simultaneously; since communities overlap; since they’re heterogeneous’.67 Particularly because the state of reading in England was – ­intermittently from the late nineteenth century on, but increasingly in the twenties and thirties – perceived as a social problem, conflicting regimes of value became fodder for journalistic commentary. Thus even periodicals that catered to the politically and culturally powerful classes (the New Statesman, the Nation and Athenaeum, the Times Literary Supplement) wrote about popular writing and reading – not, often, as material to be reviewed or recommended, but as a social problem to be discussed – creating a ground on which these multiple circuits of value came into contact and contest. These later developments meant that a story writer catering to popular fiction audiences – someone like Sax Rohmer or Edgar Wallace – would, having achieved sufficient commercial success, become a topic of evaluative discussion at this general level: having succeeded first in getting published and second in winning the approval of a fiction-reading public, writers of this ilk could then become flashpoints in the larger battle over cultural value being waged largely in middlebrow and highbrow locations. Having achieved value, figures like Wallace, Rohmer, Ethel Dell and Charles Garvice became signifiers along this more general circuit in which cultural critics attempted to sort the claims of experimental modernists, serious writers of conventional fiction and blockbusters: they became counters in a contest over a terrain of value in which the stakes were cultural prestige, the respect of peers and critics, and canonicity: the possibility that one’s works would continue to be reproduced. Thus it is telling that both modernist-oriented periodicals and older, establishment outlets geared towards more conventional or traditional writing (Georgian poetry, the big Edwardian novelists) tended to dismiss the writers of blockbusters: even in eulogising the recently-deceased sensation novelist Ethel M. Dell, anti-modernist and London Mercury editor J. C. Squire in 1924 felt compelled to describe her novels’ periodic arrival as ‘like a prairie fire or an influenza’, a ‘swarm’ that would ‘settle like locusts on the drawing-room tables of the United Kingdom’.68 Periodicals like Squire’s Mercury and Eliot’s 29

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Criterion were essentially policing the boundaries of the field on which they would battle for cultural capital. At this level money, sales and circulation were secondary factors at best (and indeed, very large sales could hinder or even disqualify a work from consideration). In broad terms, this is a field on which the middlebrow writers held their own through much of the twenties, only to cede the field when the academy gradually emerged as the most important generator of literary value and ultimately enshrined modernism as the valued aesthetic of the period. But the results of this more familiar contest for value should not obscure the simultaneous existence of alternate circuits whose operation were just as meaningful for readers and, especially, for writers. In the contested realm of the ‘literary’, these distinct but connected circuits of valuation constitute what Braddock calls ‘the mutually constitutive processes of various levels of society’, whose existence and interaction embody and are embodied in material objects, demonstrating ‘the material and social character of media and form’.69 The Democratisation of Print? The cultural politics of these changes are complex and prone to oversimplification. On one hand it is appropriate to celebrate the fact that larger swathes of the British population had gained access to authorship – indeed, to describe this transformation with the ideologically loaded phrase ‘the democratisation of print’ – and to view modernist and other cultural jeremiads about it as signs of the hegemony of a reactionary high culture giving way.70 Hilliard reasonably asserts that ‘if anything makes the place of literature and the arts in a society “democratic”, it is a shared sense of entitlement to participate in cultural activities’.71 Hilliard’s implicit definition of ‘democratic’ is built on a notion of pluralism – of a well-functioning society as one in which multiple, varied voices can all be expressed and in which their lack of agreement is a sign of social health. Thus Hilliard astutely notes that anxieties over the viability of modernist, experimental or other high-culture texts, their chance of cultural survival or their (as F. R. Leavis would have it) lamentable status as ‘minority culture’ – all implicitly value a more unified and therefore, arguably, closed society in which there is broader agreement on the value of a smaller number of cultural texts. Such assertions, Hilliard writes, ‘imply that a democratic cultural life is to be defined by a widely shared corpus of texts and ideas. Few actual societies would satisfy this test’ (pp. 5–6). An ethos of cultural pluralism like Hilliard’s is built on the durable, seemingly unassailable premise that self-expression and multiplicity are pure goods, ends in themselves. But it begs the questions of, first, whether such a validation of individual self-expression undermines other, arguably more progressive, cultural goods – such as class consciousness, equality, justice (economic and otherwise) and the kinds of social action that might fuel political or economic 30

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reform along these lines – and, secondly, what role, if any, the arts have to play in these processes. In the realm of aesthetics, as in politics, believing that simply allowing vast numbers of people to express themselves in print is desirable assumes one of two things: either, as in the old, generally unexamined public sphere ideal, that the best ideas will survive via some quasi-magical process in the ‘free marketplace of ideas’; or that it doesn’t matter which cultural artefacts survive – or matters less than does the existence of lots of production and vigorous exchange. I am open to the latter possibility, as I am to Graeber’s modelling, whereby the importance lies in processes rather than hypostasised results: the way to foster true equality, and quality, in our world may lie more in constituting fairer and more promising processes than in concretising ideals. But where the aesthetic and political overlap, pluralism runs into more trouble, as a celebration of a plethora of individual voices is easily co-opted into pure, hypercompetitive capitalism and a cacophonous, distracted culture where – with everyone convinced of the value of his or her own unique voice and the equal authority of all opinions, aesthetic and political – organised social action aimed at true reform is rare, and easily defused. Benjamin was among the most observant viewers of this landscape, and he recognised the explosion of print as a radical democratisation of authorship with both revolutionary and reactionary potential; he also saw it as a function of changes in the material workings of print artefacts, periodicals specifically. With the press placing ‘new political, religious, scientific, professional, and local organs before readers, an increasing number of readers became writers – at first, occasional ones’, Benjamin writes in ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’. This process began with letters to the editor and ultimately reached a point where the distinction between ‘author and public is about to lose its character’ and become ‘merely functional’: ‘At any moment the reader is ready to become writer’ (p. 232). While this revolution did entail the existence of a great deal of writing of low quality – ‘writing gains in breadth what it loses in depth’, he writes in ‘The Newspaper’ – it also meant a literal shift of authority to the previously silent (p. 359). Whereas writing for publication had historically been the purview of the university-educated – and Raymond Williams’s work bears this out empirically in the British case – ­ordinary people, ‘readers’, were now free to occupy the positions of author and commentator that periodicals offered.72 In this setting it seems almost inevitable that elite-educated writers such as James, Eliot and Pound would turn to the discourses of professionalism to distinguish the ‘serious’ from the mass, ‘literature’ from ‘journalism’.73 As Van Laar and Diepeveen note in their recent study of the workings of prestige in the art world, professionalism is a way of establishing a certain class of activity as relatively rare and founded on specialised skill: ‘Professionalism is the position of rarity, and therefore of a certain kind of social power and prestige.’74 Benjamin recognised the ­anti-elitist thrust 31

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of the dissolving distinction between author and writer, which for him anticipated the larger, media-based democratisation he identified most famously with film. Just as film would later equalise the roles of viewer and critic, the periodical had rendered the ordinary citizen an expert: in the Soviet Union, where workers reported on their jobs in newspapers, ‘Literary license is now founded on polytechnic training and thus becomes common property.’75 Benjamin did not believe, however, that this transformation would lead to a just society in Western Europe so long as capital controlled publishing. Indeed, this transformation had initially started because of publishers’ desires to exploit the alienation of newspaper readers, ‘the impatience of people who are excluded and who think they have a right to see their interests expressed’, by ‘constantly inaugurating new columns to address the reader’s questions, opinions, and protests’.76 Benjamin did not claim to see where this all would tend in capitalist societies, but he did view the undermining of the author’s authority as ‘socially desirable’, envisioning a utopian future in which the dispersal of the power to publish would brush aside a number of outmoded concepts, such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery – concepts whose uncontrolled (and at present almost uncontrollable) application would lead to a processing of data in the Fascist sense. (‘Work’, p. 218) It should be clear by now that western, capitalist societies have not evolved into places in which ‘creativity, genius, eternal value, and mystery’ have disappeared; rather, they have become highly segmented societies in which such values continue to exert their force while obtaining in some places but not others, defined and conferred differently in different places. Benjamin’s insights bring to view the fact that the so-called ‘Great Divide’ in the early twentieth century is better understood not as a set of exclusive spheres trying to maintain a frontier but as a number of coexisting regimes of value that are related but do not constitute a totalising system: in one regime, ‘genius, eternal value, and mystery’ are the names that value takes and prizes, translations, reprints and deluxe editions its markers. In another, ‘vitality’ and ‘sincerity’ are its names and popularity, sales and circulation mark it. Moreover, these regimes are processes that interact but whose competing claims are never finally adjudicated – in Frow’s terms, ‘incommensurate evaluative regimes’ that nonetheless clash in actual societies, though with limited possibility of ‘productive exchange’.77 Grounded in historical materialism and dialectics, Benjamin saw these competing spheres of value as historical competitors whose struggle would produce future alignments of reading, writing and value. But the fact that comparable, multiple regimes of value continue to exist today – such as those embodied in the middlebrow institutions (the Book-of-the-Month club, etc.) studied by Janice Radway and the ‘world Republic of letters’ articulated by Casanova 32

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– suggests that while such variant regimes of value come into contact and contest, theirs is not a struggle to the death but a series of ongoing episodes in a variegated process by which human activity is continuously made meaningful in public ways. The Case Studies This book’s exploration of such interactions begins at the fin de siècle, examining the relations between developments in newspaper form and the concurrent expansions of the empire, London, and the British literary marketplace. Chapter 1 focuses on the Illustrated London News, a vastly popular and influential weekly newspaper whose history – dating back to the 1840s – had been one of constant formal and technical innovation. I show that this newspaper, in the early 1890s, evolved a material form uniquely suited to making legible the empire, the city and the literary marketplace – all areas that the paper explicitly took as central topics and treated as news, and all widely perceived as undergoing rapid, disorienting expansion. The chapter proceeds from the fundamental observation that periodicals endeavour to make sense of the world by constructing and manipulating a nexus of space and value: periodicals, in other words, organise and distribute their own space in valueladen ways: where an item appears in the paper speaks to its significance and its relative value, via a code that is partially generic (drawn from and in dialogue with other publications) and partially unique, and which becomes available to readers via its regular reiteration. Operating within this framework, newspapers present themselves as representations of the world outside, and through their processes of inclusion and exclusion, and their arrayal of their information through the physical space of their pages, reduce that world to a manageable order. In a time of imperial expansion, urbanisation, and growth and diversification of the print marketplace, British citizens faced the potentially disorienting task of locating themselves and navigating, whether physically (the city) or imaginatively (the empire), a stunningly vast and complex imaginary space. Newspapers like the Illustrated London News and its imitators issued weekly the reassuring fiction that this world could be comprehended, and they did so by mapping not only the empire but also the literary marketplace and the city itself according to an imperial, spatial logic – one based on (valued) centres and (devalued) peripheries. All of this was represented analogically via the newspaper’s own, hierarchised spatial schema. Most presciently, the particular forms that the newspaper evolved at this time bear a distinctly modernist (or proto-modernist) stamp: the paper in these years reiterated a new form of illustrative montage that allowed for the viewing of multiple, non-contiguous spaces (related by topic or narrative) at once: it seemed that this moment of modernisation and imperial expansion, in which one needed to conceive one’s 33

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r­elationship to multiple and non-contiguous spaces and peoples, required forms that prefigure modernist fragmentation of the visual frame, poetic parataxis and cinematic montage. The chapter tracks the complexities of these relationships through a series of textual complexes in 1892 – the appearance of James’s ‘Greville Fane’, with its critique of the diversifying literary marketplace; stories about literary celebrities ranging from Zola and Longfellow to Robert Louis Stevenson; and a series of imperial moments – a serial of Stevenson’s own ambivalently anti-Imperial ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, coverage of a failed diplomatic mission to Morocco, and a famous Lipton’s Tea advert. Chapter 2 looks at John O’London’s Weekly, which similarly envisioned itself as an aid to navigation – specifically, the navigation by the newly literate, lower middle and working classes of the crowded print marketplace. John O’London’s saw its mission as bringing literature to the demos as part of everyday life, but its treatment of questions of literary value and canonicity evinces conflict about the nature of authorship and its own status as a popular, but not prestigious, print artefact. Addressing, in part, an audience of aspiring writers, the newspaper simultaneously posits writing as a craft that is learned and accessible through hard work and as a talent that one is born with; it depicts writing both as a means of making a living and as a sacred, inspired condition. This conflict plays out in a polyvocal exchange in which some advertisements trumpet the easy money to be made in writing fiction, sketches and paragraphs while others solicit identification between upstart writers and well-known celebrities; meanwhile columnists seek to appeal to ordinary writers and readers while also reaching towards more respectable and prestigeworthy figurations of the writer’s work. John O’London’s posited itself as a force for cultural uplift, and it sought both to align itself with readers and to popularise what it imagined as a respectable version of culture: it was thus committed to a self-help ethic that pulled it towards approval of the grandiose claims of correspondence schools. At the same time, it tried to contain this drift, as contributors argued for a more authentic culture marked by a more elevated professionalism and a romantic ideal of inspired self-expression. This conflict cannot be resolved in the pages of John O’London’s Weekly, whose advertising-heavy pages and multiple contributors make it a relatively open, heteroglossic periodical. Instead it offers a field for contest among conflicting views of authorship, undergirded by anxiety about the nature of literary value and the newspaper’s own uncertain status. The newspaper’s handling of modernism bears the marks of this conflict, as its writers hedge their arguments carefully to sustain their alignment with common readers without opening themselves to charges of philistinism or the risk of having come out strongly on the wrong side of literary history. This newspaper’s lack of prestige as well as its populist accessibility was 34

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encoded in its cheap cover price (2d weekly at its launch in 1919), its free intermingling of advertisements and letterpress copy, and its thin, friable, high-acid newsprint. These markers make it all the more striking when the newspaper makes dramatic gestures towards cultural respectability, such as its serialisation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles in 1925. As the chapter argues, Thomas Hardy was, in these years, the paper’s avatar of writing as a spiritual calling and literature as a cultural treasure with lasting value, whereas the famously prolific H. G. Wells was its representative of the upwardly-striving, self-taught workaday writer-made-good. Advertisements for Corona Typewriters explicitly courted reader identification with Wells, while columns typically praised him as a second-tier talent whose works were important to contemporary times but ephemeral. Hardy, on the other hand, having occupied an avant-garde position at a comfortable distance of three decades past, could stand in as the struggling artist who stands by and sacrifices for his individual vision. While both Hardy and Wells were treated as celebrities in John O’London’s, Hardy appeared not as an aspirational figure but as a locus of stable aesthetic value and prestige that the newspaper could access by attaching itself to him. From this nexus came the newspaper’s bizarre feature in which a reproduced ‘autograph’ of Hardy, with a note from the author to JOLW readers, headlined the launch of the Tess serial. This feature attempted to trade on the aura of the Great Author from within the cheap, newsprint pages of a paper that was simultaneously a leading force in democratising writing and thus breaking down the distinction between writers and readers – in other words, in breaking down that very aura. The newspaper worked itself into similar conflicts over literary modernism, evincing anxiety not to be found behind the cultural curve in its alternate denunciations and equivocations about the new, experimental writing. Considerably less equivocal about literary partisanships was the London Mercury, the subject of Chapter 3. Launched in 1919, like John O’London’s (whose existence it rarely noted), the Mercury started out by presenting new poems, essays, stories and reviews as part of an ongoing conversation about value in contemporary literature, about competing styles and schools. This inquiry rapidly ossified into a ‘radical’ vs ‘traditional’ binary, with the Mercury attaining popularity and notoriety as the leading anti-modernist voice of the early 1920s. Its material form communicated seriousness of mission, tasteful restraint, and allusion to the great Victorian quarterlies that adjudicated value in a purportedly less chaotic age. The Mercury presented itself as a voice of reason in an age of critical anarchy, a condition editor J. C. Squire blamed primarily on modernism, which had established authority among well-placed cliques and coteries and whose upheaval of the values of ‘experimental, yet sane’ literary practice, he argued, had cowed and confused the many critics and reviewers whose voices contended for attention in the oversaturated periodicals market. 35

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In its early years, the Mercury’s anti-modernist aesthetic clearly struck a nerve, as it achieved monthly circulation exceeding 10,000 copies. Printed on thick paper, with wide margins and few illustrations (and those typically in the retro formats of cartoons, line drawings and woodcuts), and containing an approximately twenty-page wrap-around advertising section heavily skewed towards publishers and printers, the Mercury addressed readers and writers of a more establishment bent than John O’London’s. This success proved hard to sustain economically (advertising sections sunk to as few as eight pages in the mid-twenties), and one strategy of diversification the Mercury adopted was to address itself to rare and fine book enthusiasts and the businesses that catered to them. Monthly columns on book collecting and book production became standing features, and advertisements from rare and fine book dealers and specialty printers became major props of the advertising section. Combined with its literary partisanship, which began to appear increasingly reactionary as modernism shored up its gains in the mid-twenties, this emphasis on highend textual materiality, and the magazine’s own relatively posh physicality, implicitly but powerfully posited reading as an activity of the leisured and educated, book-buying as a hobby for those with an ample disposable income. The magazine’s aesthetic and its marketing strategy together constitute an emphasis on material objects as loci of value, as points of relative stability in an anarchic and relativistic contemporary world. This ethos reaches its reductio ad absurdum in the early 1930s, shortly before the end of Squire’s editorship and the corresponding demise of the Mercury as an anti-modernist outpost, in two special issues on book production and typography, in which the magazine effectively becomes an advertiser-cum-trade-journal for London’s high-end printing concerns. Chapter 4 looks at the poetry anthology – a genre that avowedly presents itself as a repository of cultural value – and its permutations and cultural status at a time when the commercial fortunes of poetry rose and fell drastically and when partisan battles about experimental verse had unleashed an outbreak of theoretical debate about aesthetic principles. In such an unsettled moment, the anthology could purport to stabilise values or could (like the Georgian Poetry series or Ezra Pound’s Catholic and Des Imagiste anthologies) posit itself as a salvo in the cultural contest over value. The anthology’s authority, however, was undercut because, like virtually all print genres, it was an overproduced commodity in these years, and thus could seem to add to an already overcrowded field rather than plot a course through it. The anthology as a genre, and as a material artefact, was similarly unsettled and changeable in this period: normal conventions of presentation and organisation that we now take for granted – such as the table of contents or the practice of grouping poems in clusters by author – had not emerged as norms, and thus the formal arrangement of anthologies varied surprisingly in these years. Anthologists used these 36

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multiple, emerging textual protocols to situate their books within the contest for value, often in surprising ways. The chapter examines the emergence of The Oxford Book of English Verse (1900), a much-loved, much-maligned object of prestige in the period, contrasting with it later variations on the anthology form, particularly those to come out of Monro’s Poetry Bookshop. As a highly successful commercial commodity, the Oxford Book attempted, through its design, to tread a fine line between accessibility (the book was marketed as portable and convenient, and eschewed most signs of scholarly apparatus) and prestige (gilt covers, India paper, the title phrase ‘Book of’). (The latter two constituted risky allusions to the Bible, which was typically printed on India paper in these years.) The Oxford Book presented new poetry, of which it contained a short section, as taking its place in a line of classics belonging to a single linguistic community and stretching back to Chaucer and beyond; it laid these out in chronological order on uncluttered pages in small, sharp roman print, with wide outside and bottom margins, bound them between cloth boards with gilt covers, and offered deluxe editions at higher prices for use as gifts and graduation prizes. Dedicated to the ‘president/fellows and scholars/of Trinity College, Oxford’, editor Arthur Quiller-Couch’s alma mater, and opening with a brief preface that ends with two lines of untranslated Greek, the Oxford Book of English Verse could not, despite marketing gestures to the contrary, avoid positing poetry as both an accoutrement of comfortable, middle-class life and a patrimony handed down from one generation of the educated classes to the next. Its heft and, even in the less expensive editions, suggestions of tasteful luxury belie its publishers’ stated intention that people would carry it in their pockets and read it on trains, and it seems likely that it spent much of its time decorating bookshelves. Harold Monro’s products, from the playful ‘monthly miscellany’ of The Chapbook to attractive 1920s anthologies edited by W. H. Davies and Monro himself, knowingly manipulated the palette of emerging conventions of the anthology, with arch reference to Quiller-Couch, the Oxford Book, and its air of the private, bourgeois study.78 Twentieth Century Poetry quite literally fits, with ease, into a coat pocket, offers heavily printed pages with narrow margins, and takes its place in the popular Phoenix Library reprints series, which entailed being wrapped in an advertising-covered dust jacket and containing back advertising pages. The volume embraces the energy, speed, and commodity nature of modern print culture and through these material markers – as well as its catholic selection of modern poetry – makes an insurgent argument about the vitality of poetry as part of everyday life. Notes  1. Bourdieu, Distinction, pp. 4–5.   2. Jameson, ‘Modernism and Imperialism’, pp. 152–69.

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 3. Williams, The Politics of Modernism, p. 46.  4. Brown, A Sense of Things, p. 13.   5. The two critics who have paid the most sustained attention to textual materiality in Anglo-American modernism are George Bornstein (Material Modernisms) and Jerome McGann (The Textual Condition, Black Riders and other works); Bornstein’s work builds substantially on McGann’s principles. I address their ideas below.   6. Every statement of faith represents a narrowing of the world, a declining of alternate worldviews, a polite expression of disinterest in other objects. In declaring that aesthetic artefacts seek to represent the world, I close out objects that go to the most extreme limits of non-representationality and pure abstraction. Relatively few printed texts do this, of course, with some of Gertrude Stein’s work and Finnegans Wake perhaps being the most apposite literary texts. For an engaging take on the relations between non-representational art and the construction of value, see Van Laar and Diepeveen’s Artworld Prestige.   7. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 115.   8. Andreas Huyssen’s theorisation of the ‘great divide’, and the commentary responding to it, is familiar enough to require no further elucidation here. See Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988) and ‘High Low in an Expanded Field’, Modernism/ Modernity, 9.3 (September 2002), 363–74. Also Robert Scholes, ‘Exploring the Great Divide: High, Low, Left and Right’, Narrative, 11.2 (October 2003), 245–69, and Lois Cucullu, ‘Down-sizing the Great Divide: A Reflexive Approach to Modernism, Disciplinarity, and Class’, in Pamela Caughie (ed.), Disciplining Modernism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 167–81. In a sense the entire critical tradition of replacing modernism in its economic and particularly its commercial contexts – heralded by Dettmar and Watt’s Marketing Modernisms and including dozens of studies in the last two decades – can be seen in part as a response to Huyssen.   9. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 116. 10. See Beegan, The Mass Image, pp. 99–104. 11. On the aesthetic arc of The Chapbook, Monro’s sense of mission and the magazine’s tenuous viability, see Morrisson, ‘The Cause of Poetry’. 12. Dettmar and Watt, Marketing Modernisms; Rainey, Institutions of Modernism. See also Wexler, Who Paid for Modernism? 13. On James’s attitudes towards illustration, see Amy Tucker, The Illustration of the Master: Henry James and the Magazine Revolution (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010). 14. Monro, letter to Wilkinson. 15. McGann, The Textual Condition, p. 14. 16. Monro, letter to Ford. For details on the special copies of Cadences, see Woolmer, The Poetry Bookshop, pp. 35–7. 17. Morrisson, The Public Face of Modernism, pp. 54–82. 18. Mussell, Science, Time and Space, p. 13. 19. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 115, pp. 125–34. 20. Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, p. 3, subsequent citations in text. 21. The LM announced the launch of The First Edition in 1924, a magazine for collectors that would include ‘short stories and original articles on collecting’ (‘Literary Notes’, 10.57 [June 1924], p. 230); in 1931 carried advertisements for Philobiblon (‘A Magazine for Book Collectors’, 23.135 [January 1931], i) and The Book Collectors’ Quarterly (23.137 [March 1931], ix). 22. Herschel Parker, Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons: Authority in American Fiction

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(Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1984); Jaffe, Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity. See also Thomas August, who notes that ‘Throughout most of the twentieth century, literary critics indebted to the methods of New Criticism concerned themselves with interpreting the aesthetic value of a small canon of texts, remaining relatively indifferent to the physical formats, social conditions, and institutional networks in which actual reading takes place’ (‘Introduction’, in Thomas August and Kenneth Carpenter (eds), Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), pp. 1–21, here p. 3). 23. Goldman, Modernism is the Literature of Celebrity, p. 9. 24. Mao, Solid Objects, p. 4, subsequent citations in text. 25. Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, pp. 38–9. 26. McGann has called this vogue for fine texts ‘a massive act of bibliographical resistance to the way poetry was being materially produced’ (Black Riders, p. 6). 27. Rainey, Institutions of Modernism, p. 3; McGann, Black Riders, p. 17. 28. See Masefield, letter to Bell. Masefield’s recourse to a sequence of private editions followed by trade editions just four years after the stunning success of his The Everlasting Mercy, which sold more than 10,000 copies, attests to the unpredictability of the poetry market even in this relatively lush period and the resultant adoption of a range of strategies for disseminating their work adopted by all but the most commercial poets (an exclusive club whose leading representative was Rudyard Kipling). 29. Thus Rainey argues that the modernist text ‘invites its commodification, but does so in such a way that it becomes a commodity of a special sort, one that is temporarily exempted from the exigencies of immediate consumption prevalent within the larger economy, and instead is integrated into a different economic circuit of patronage, collecting, speculation, and investment’ (Institutions of Modernism, 3). Leaving aside the question of whether the purchase of an edition de luxe can accurately be said to resist the ‘exigencies of immediate consumption’ any more than a piece of furniture or clothing, my point is that not only modernist producers and consumers were attracted to the idea of operating in a seemingly less commoditised circuit of value. The sale of editions de luxe in effect piggy-backed on the larger market for rare (generally old) books. 30. Brown, A Sense of Things, p. 4. 31. McGann, Black Riders, pp. 7, 79. 32. McGann, The Textual Condition, pp. 10–11, subsequent citations in text. 33. Bornstein, Material Modernisms, p. 40. 34. McGann acknowledges in passing that experiments in fine printing and book design are not uniquely modernist in The Textual Condition, noting that such innovations did not ‘extend only to experimental writing’ (81). 35. I am indebted to David Holdeman for sharing his manuscript chapter on ‘Yeats, Magic, and Textual Production’ on this topic. See also Steven D. Putzel, Reconstructing Yeats: ‘The Secret Rose’ and ‘The Wind Among the Reeds’ (Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1986); Ian Fletcher, ‘Poet and Designer: W. B. Yeats and Althea Gyles’, Yeats Studies Annual (1971), pp. 60–8; Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954). 36. McGann, Black Riders, p. 20. 37. Howarth, Squire, p. 17. 38. Erikson, The Economy of Literary Form, p. 13. 39. Brown, ‘Thing Theory’, p. 4. 40. Squire, letter to Priestly. 41. Brown, ‘Thing Theory’, p. 4; A Sense of Things, p. 7.

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42. Benjamin, ‘Unpacking My Library’, pp. 62–3, subsequent citations in text. 43. Mussell, Science, Time and Space, p. 2, subsequent citations in text. For more on theorising periodicals, see Beetham, ‘Towards a Theory of the Periodical’, and Scholes and Latham, ‘The Rise of Periodical Studies’. 44. Mussell, ‘Cohering Knowledge’, p. 100. 45. Mussell, Science, Time and Space, p. 5. 46. Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, p. 5, subsequent citations in text. 47. Herrnstein-Smith, Contingencies of Value, p. 47, subsequent citations in text. 48. Diepeveen, Difficulties of Modernism, pp. 35–9. 49. Richter, Falling Into Theory, p. 3; Van Laar and Diepeveen, Artworld Prestige, p. 174. 50. Q. D. Leavis deduces from the facts that many people visited circulating libraries to change books daily, and that their reading overwhelmingly consisted of adventure fiction, that ‘the reading habit is now often a form of the drug habit’ (Leavis, Fiction and the Reading Public, p. 7). Sidney Dark, ironically a regular contributor to the pulpy John O’London’s Weekly, wrote in 1922 that ‘Reading is regarded by a large number of persons as a mere narcotic, something to make one forget.’ Quoted in Hilliard, To Exercise Our Talents, p. 72. 51. In a manner analogous to Richter, Herrnstein-Smith notes that conflicts over the ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ circuits of value heat up (are ‘exacerbated’, in her terms) when clear lines are drawn between ‘the more or less conservative (normative, standardizing, controlling, classifying, supervising, maintaining, regulating) practices of the relevant community and, on the other hand, its destabilizing and transformative practices, mercantile or otherwise, including the more or less innovative, entrepreneurial, and diversionary activities of those who stand to gain from a reclassification, circulation, and redistribution of commodities and cultural goods and, thereby, of social power – including the profit and power to be had just by mediating their circulation’ (Contingencies of Value, p. 131). 52. Ibid. p. 102. 53. Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, p. 93. 54. Woolf, ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’, p. 12. 55. Habermas’s account is worked out in Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. In simplified form it runs thus: norms of free speech and rational debate emerged in eighteenth-century literary salons and gradually extended to coffeehouses and newspapers, the founding institutions of the ‘bourgeois’ or ‘classical’ public sphere; these norms dissolved in the nineteenth century as the press grew and diversified and the lower-middle and working classes began organising and pursuing their shared interests. Friendly or in-house critiques include Nancy Fraser, ‘Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy’, Social Text, 25/26 (1990), 56–80; Oscar Negt and Alexander Kluge, Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere, trans. by Peter Labyani, Jaime Daniel and Assenka Oksiloff (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993); and the contributors to Craig Calhoun (ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere (Boston: MIT Press, 1993). Post-rationalist critiques include Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (Boston: Zone Books, 2002) and Lauren Berlant, The Female Complaint (Raleigh, NC: Duke University Press, 2008). For a summary of critiques of Habermas as well as an analysis of how the term ‘public sphere’ is frequently used and misused in media studies, see Mark Hampton, ‘The New Journalism and Its Critics’ in Ann L. Ardis and Patrick C. Collier, Transatlantic Print Culture 1880–1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

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56. Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, p. 12. 57. Rainey, Institutions of Modernism, p. 5, subsequent citations in text. 58. See for instance Stephanie R. Brown, R. Michael Brown and Louis A. Penner, Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 59. Graeber, Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value, xii, subsequent citations in text. 60. Altick, The English Common Reader, p. 404, n. 7. 61. JOLW, ‘Journalism/Short Story Writing/English Composition/Advanced Literary Training/Verse Writing’, London Correspondence College (advertisement). 62. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, p. 232. Subsequent citations in text. 63. Hilliard, To Exercise Our Talents, pp. 66–70. 64. For a thorough theorisation of ‘regimes of value’, see Frow, Cultural Studies and Cultural Value, especially Chapter 2. Frow differs from Graeber slightly in positing value as ‘an effect of social organization’ (4), whereas Graeber would see value as both generative and reflective of social organisation. Otherwise Frow’s model of cultural value is admirably supple and informs the way I treat value here. Frow, for instance, insists that there is no ‘general economy of value’ but that different, more local regimes of value, though not reducible (or ‘commensurable’) to a ‘single scale’, nonetheless are sites of overlap and exchange between individuals and their acts of valuation, ‘constant passage and complex and conflictual transactions’ (131–4, 141). A related concept is Tony Bennett’s ‘reading formation’. See ‘Texts in History: The Determinations of Readings and their Texts’, Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, 18.1 (1985), 7. 65. On reviewing in the daily newspapers, see Bingham, ‘Cultural Hierarchies and the Interwar British Press’. 66. Leavis, Fiction and the Reading Public, p. 35. 67. Frow, Cultural Studies and Cultural Value, p. 143. 68. Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, May 1924, p. 3. 69. Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, p. 5. 70. The most compelling and thorough account of the emergence of mass culture in Britain, and of new forms of cultural elitism to counter it, remains LeMahieu’s A Culture for Democracy. 71. Hilliard, To Exercise Our Talents, p. 6, subsequent citations in text. 72. Williams, The Long Revolution, pp. 254–71. 73. See LeMahieu, A Culture for Democracy, Chapter 3. 74. Van Laar and Diepeveen, Artworld Prestige, p. 44. 75. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, p. 232. 76. Benjamin, ‘The Newspaper’, p. 359. Subsequent citations in text. 77. Frow, Cultural Studies and Cultural Value, pp. 133, 151. 78. See Davies, Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century; Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry.

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1

MAPPING LITERARY VALUE: IMPERIAL/MODERNIST FORMS IN THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS

Within a three-mile radius of Charing Cross is the literary atmosphere, I suspect. Edmund Gosse to G. A. Armour, 31 January 18911 Edmund Gosse’s witticism about the ‘literary atmosphere’ existing exclusively within a tight circle focused on Charing Cross might seem the quintessence of metropolitan complacency: an outrageously confident assertion that where one stands is the centre of the artistic world. In context, Gosse’s gesture is one of imperial – and not simply literary – mapping: Gosse writes to ask Armour his impressions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s journalistic ‘letters’ from the South Seas, which Gosse himself finds disappointing. ‘The fact seems to be that it is very nice to live in Samoa, but not healthy to write there’ (p. 223). Gosse’s remark thus renders in shorthand, in its crudest form, the geographical imagination of imperialism, which sees the imperial metropole as the centre of power, progress and value and envisions the rest of the world as existing in expanding, concentric circles around it. Gosse was not alone in worrying that Stevenson’s sojourn on the global margin was affecting his value. Within the next few years Stevenson’s residency in Samoa, and his insistence on writing about it, would become one of literary London’s leading celebrity scandals, prompting friends and critics to assert that Stevenson needed to return to more wonted subjects and locales or risk losing his marketability as a writer. ‘There is a danger that the finest-flavoured writer among our younger men may lose 42

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touch with English thought and English feeling,’ Grant Allen wrote on 17 September 1892 in the Illustrated London News. ‘Even a Stevenson can hardly afford to run that risk.’2 In Gosse’s letter and in articles like Allen’s, we can see the articulation of a geography of value that simultaneously maps the world of English letters and the actual world in terms of valued centres and de-valued peripheries. At this time, the Illustrated London News was performing on a weekly basis the function of mapping the world in value-marked ways for its readers. At a point when imperialism was fundamental to the episteme of English readers, this newspaper’s representation of the world drew upon and iterated imperial rhetoric and conceptions of value, including a centre/periphery model of geographic space and its associated economic and racial assumptions. What is more, its coverage of urban London life and of the literary marketplace – major topics for the paper, along with news of the empire – was shot through with the same imperial logic. This chapter offers a set of close readings of text-and-image packages from the summer and fall of 1892, focusing on the literary marketplace (Henry James’s short story ‘Greville Fane’), the global periphery (news accounts of imperial activity in Burma and Morocco), or both (Stevenson’s serial fiction ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ and Grant Allen’s review of Stevenson’s writing about Samoa). These readings reveal how the Illustrated London News made sense of a world transformed by empire and how the paper’s physical features, especially its management of space and arrayal of text and image, were implicated in this effort. The ILN, I shall argue here, constructed an emergent, modern regime of legibility, using fin-de-siècle newspaper aesthetics, particularly their combination of image, text and narrative within a value-laden symbolic management of page space that represents and embodies a larger geopolitics of space. This modern regime, I will suggest, responds to the difficulty of positing an increasingly diverse London, a growing and diversifying print marketplace, and an ever-expanding empire as unities by crafting a grammar of representation that is at once more comprehensive and more fragmentary, anticipating later modernist regimes of visual collage and poetic parataxis as well as the cinematic imperative of montage. Finally, I analyse these text-and-image packages as textual (and, in many cases, imperial) commodities in their own right, both embodying and representing how value is transacted in an imperial economy. In nineteenth-century Britain, periodicals were without question the most widely consumed print artefacts and thus the leading print mediators of reality: they were central to how most people in late Victorian England made sense of the world.3 As Margaret Beetham notes, what distinguishes periodicals from most commodities is that their primary function is to signify, to enter into the construction of meaning.4 While a Victorian commodity such as Pear’s Soap did, as critics have amply demonstrated, have a signifying ­ function 43

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– ­embodying notions of progress and modernity and racial distinctions between hygienic and non-hygienic bodies – the soap also had the material function of washing literal bodies.5 The main or ‘material’ function of periodicals, on the other hand, is symbolic signification, the making of meaning.6 ‘Each article,’ Beetham writes, ‘each periodical number, was and is part of a complex process in which writers, editors, publishers, and readers engaged in trying to understand themselves and their society; that is, they struggled to make their world meaningful’ (p. 20). To Beetham’s emphasis on the meaning-making role of periodicals, James Mussell adds the element of geographic space, arguing that periodicals ‘signify space and time in ways meaningful to their readers at their perceived moments of reading’; the newspaper is ‘a commodity distributed across time and space, which also represents them’.7 At the fin de siècle, the complexity of the world was threatening to overwhelm this process of meaning-making, and this chapter examines how the vastly popular, weekly Illustrated London News represented, packaged and thereby managed this reality for its middle-class readers. The British late nineteenth century is paradoxically marked both by a sense that an increasingly complex world is becoming more difficult to reduce to meaning, and by the development of newspapers and periodicals that make larger and larger claims of comprehensiveness. (The apotheosis of the latter may be glimpsed in the title of the weekly News of the World, which in the 1890s became the first paper to reach a circulation of one million). Imperialism contributes to this sense of an increasingly complex world and informs such gestures of journalistic comprehensiveness. On one hand, the expansion of the empire made the world less comprehensible by complicating the meaning of one’s status as a British subject: the individual now stood in complex, incompletely defined relations to an unfamiliar and growing array of peoples around the world. On the other hand, imperial expansion seeks to comprehend the unfamiliar, to extend a single order to the globe’s furthest and most exotic reaches. As Benedict Anderson has observed, modern newspapers likewise aspire to outsized comprehensiveness: they ‘take ‘this world of mankind’ as their domain no matter how partially they reveal it’.8 With the city’s name in its title and its weekly front-page flag representing the skyline, dominated by St Paul’s, the Illustrated London News located itself in London and symbolically oriented the rest of the world around it. The paper’s advertising of imperial commodities, its travel writing and news coverage of global encounters, and its use of imperial fiction all helped readers imagine relationships between the colonial margins and the metropole, between themselves and Britain’s most far-flung subjects. With the empire at its anxious height of power and reach, the ILN’s stance of comprehension towards ‘this world of mankind’ placed its reader in a position of vicarious power, with visual and legible command of nothing short of the world itself. 44

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The Illustrated London News represented this world for a newly leisured middle class audience through a miscellany of more or less sensationalised international and imperial news, gossipy coverage of Parliament and domestic issues, and travel writing along with serial fiction, reviews and criticism, literary celebrity, gossip and insider discussions of the literary marketplace.9 The ILN’s combined emphasis on the city of London, its literary marketplace, and the empire makes it a particularly fertile site for exploring the dynamics of meaning-making in periodicals of this period. Like journalism, imaginative literature is a technology of knowing, and the ILN not only published fiction (including imperial romances by the likes of Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard) but also covered the literary marketplace as ‘news’. The city, the world of books and the empire were overlapping fields that the ILN attempted to make meaningful, fields in disorienting expansion and transition in the 1890s. A study of the newspaper at this historical moment therefore reveals homologies between imperial rhetoric, the discourses of literary journalism and the print market, and the aesthetics of the newspaper, all of which require the reduction of extremely complex and heterogeneous phenomena to order. It may seem to risk overgeneralisation to yoke the processes of mapping the quite different fields of London itself, the literary marketplace, and the empire, and I do not wish to hypostasise them. Indeed, along the way we shall note the differing challenges they pose to the journalistic effort I am tracking here. My emphasis, though, is less on the overlapping fields themselves than on the way the Illustrated London News typifies an array of strikingly homologous strategies for making them legible: these strategies constituted key elements of an imperial episteme that, to contemporary observers, made the fields function similarly. The city, the empire, and the literary market were all growing, both in size and complexity, to a degree that made them difficult to comprehend and, indeed, raised anxiety about their unity and comprehensibility, threatening at an extreme meaninglessness, chaos, lawlessness, epistemological and political disorder.10 The journalistic compensation for these threats was the construction of a legible system of values that reproduced the spatial logic of imperialism: the identification of a set of valued centres and a de-valued set of peripheries, the latter redeemable only through contact with energies and expertise originating in the former. Thus, as we shall see, the gauche suburbs of London’s periphery become, in Henry James’s fiction in the ILN, the haunts and homes of hack writers; the tribal hills of Burma are presented as redeemable only via submission to British modernisation; Stevenson’s embroilment in Samoan politics appears a quixotic lark destined to undermine his literary and commercial value. The assignment of value, however, is open to contest within the pages of the periodical: James’s identification of the new reading public with de trop sections of London conflicts with a more prominent strain in the newspaper that validates the mass market; and paratextual elements, ­including 45

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illustrations, complicate meaning in both James’s and Stevenson’s case. Lowerclass sections of London and the imperial periphery get mapped successively as dangerous, exotic or devalued spaces; even the emerging mass literary market and the newly literate reading public can take on these characteristics. Nicholas Daly has recognised this mapping of imperial categories onto conflicting literary values: writers such as Stevenson and Haggard, Daly argues, expressed their desires and anxieties about the mass market in ways that recall the rhetoric of colonialism: to venture aggressively into the mass market was to ‘exploit a hitherto untapped’ resource, but to write for semi-schooled new readers was also to flirt with going native. These writers’ representations of the empire, Daly writes, are ‘refracted’ through their attempts to understand their place in another emerging order, the mass market. In this respect they were not so very different from the contemporary social reformers who presented their perception of social problems ‘at home’ in the language of colonial space, in such titles as William Booth’s In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890) . . .11 If social commentators and novelists both analogised worrisome aspects of English society to ‘colonial space’, this constitutes a mapping of values (and conflicts of value) onto geographic space. As I shall be arguing in detail here, the representational agenda visible in the Illustrated London News does its work precisely at the intersection of space and value, cultural work with literary, journalistic and imperial ramifications. That is to say, newspapers produce themselves as representations of their self-defined territory, at the most basic level, by affording value-marked page space to items that they deem valuable (and thus, implicitly, by assigning few column inches, or no page space at all, to other items). Their logic is in this sense metonymic and microcosmic: they shrink the world, on a daily or weekly basis, into a manageable package that can be consumed within the leisure time of the reader. In practice, this process becomes quite complex: newspapers assign relative value to their contents (articles, images, etc.) based on bibliographic, spatial codes that are sometimes conventional (the most important content goes on the front page), sometimes individual (book reviews are in reduced typeface in some publications, regularly sized in others). But these contents also take on value relative to codes expressed in the larger ecosystem of print, to generic systems of which the individual newspaper’s values and codes are only a part. The Illustrated London News as Print Artefact In this larger setting, the key practice by which the Illustrated London News asserted its own value was illustration itself. As Richard Altick noted, the ILN was ‘the first to make a policy of subordinating text to pictures’, creating a revolution wherein ‘a generous supply of pictures became an almost indispensable 46

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adjunct to text among journals that sought a large readership’.12 The paper was the first ‘respectable’ illustrated weekly in England, gaining entry to middle-class parlours by eschewing the garish crime coverage of the mid-­Victorian Sunday papers. It began in 1842 by capitalising on recent advances in image reproduction and presided over a series of further innovations over the next seven decades.13 Built on founder Herbert Ingram’s prescient observation that the Weekly Chronicle flew off his newsstand when it contained illustrations or news from London, the newspaper combined these elements so as to represent the city and the empire in pictures and text, dispatching artists (and later photographers) throughout the city and across Europe and the world to produce images of armed conflict and natural disaster. In the 1890s, by which point its circulation exceeded 300,000 (holiday issues were said to reach half a million), each issue opened with a full-page illustration, and pictures regularly occupied full pages inside the paper. News images bore only one-line captions beneath but were expanded upon on the weekly ‘Our Illustrations’ page, which contained several paragraphs of text on the week’s main illustrations, these appearing in scattered fashion throughout the first half of the paper. Nontopical, stand-alone illustrations on sentimental themes complemented more timely images of Parliamentary proceedings, police activity, foreign disasters, imperial encounters, and other instances of ‘news’. From the 1840s, the ILN created its own niche within the universe of Victorian periodicals. Other papers had followed, but by the 1890s it was still the top seller and leading innovator, with the Graphic as its main competitor. Their genre, and its functions within the wider marketplace, are well-framed by the terms ‘news’ and ‘illustrated’. In keeping with the innovations of the New Journalism, the weeklies treated domestic and international developments (as well as literature) as ‘news’, emphasising personalities and discrete events; unlike New Journalism (at least at its outset), they downplayed political struggle. This combination rendered ‘news’ entertaining and non-controversial. Clement Shorter, the ILN editor in the 1890s, wrote in his memoir that ‘[t]he struggle of the modern editor of an illustrated newspaper is to keep all “opinions” of a controversial character out of his journal’.14 ‘News’ in the ILN’s sense thus meant non-controversial information that is timely, event-driven (in the case of literature, the event could be a new novel, or an author’s construction of a new house), and conveyed in short articles, ranging from a single paragraph to a thousand words, rarely more. This differentiated the illustrated weeklies from the monthly and quarterly reviews (the Edinburgh Review, Quarterly Review, and the Nineteenth Century) whose metier was opinion and analysis. The purpose of the reviews’ much longer articles (5,000–7,000 words) was to ‘sit as judge in appeal on the more hasty opinions of the daily and weekly press’.15 The weeklies added to their comparatively timely and brisk content their copious illustrations, making them much more varied and 47

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visually engaging than either the respectable reviews (entirely devoid of illustration and with minimum typographical variety) or the daily papers (printed on cheaper newsprint and with fewer illustrations, less well-produced). With their careful visual designs, lavish illustrations and relatively high-quality paper, the illustrated weeklies advertised themselves as fit for binding, thus seeking relative permanence and emphasising their attractiveness as artefacts. Shorter’s editorship of the ILN was marked by the vigorous embrace of new image technology; under his watch the paper published more photographs, and half-tone reproduction almost entirely replaced wood engraving.16 Because of this emphasis on visual appeal, the Illustrated London News and its ilk bear a largely unconsidered relation to the more famous Yellow Book, which likewise sought its place in late Victorian print culture by emphasising its status as an artefact. Indeed, with its textured, illustrated cloth covers making it at once a periodical and a book, the Yellow Book can be seen as carrying the weeklies’ lush materiality to an extreme. In content the ILN and the Yellow Book could scarcely have differed more – the latter with its scandalously sexual and Decadent lyrics, stories and illustrations, the former so reluctant to offend middle-class sensibilities that it never mentioned the Oscar Wilde trials. (This tameness, in turn, distinguished the ‘respectable’ illustrated weeklies from the trashy Sunday newspapers.) Nonetheless, the illustrated weeklies and the Yellow Book both used distinctive physical qualities and leading-edge print technology to seek relative permanence and prestige in a marketplace of disposable print. An oft-overlooked feature of the Yellow Book’s first number is its repeated crediting of its art illustrations as ‘Reproduced by the Swan Electric Engraving Company’, an expression of pride in up-to-date technology that would not be out of place in the ILN’s self-promotion. Visibility and Legibility in the Illustrated London News Through this attractive, highly visual package the ILN made its appeal to the spectatorial gaze of middle-class readers, reiterating the sense of London as metropole and, as Gerry Beegan has argued, making the increasingly large and potentially menacing city legible.17 The paper sold for sixpence in the 1890s and sought an audience, in Peter Sinnema’s words, ‘decidedly middle-class and middle-brow’.18 This orientation is most obvious in the paper’s advertising columns, which take up most of the last eight to ten pages (of thirty-six) in the 1890s, offering a collage-like mix of text-heavy ‘classified’-style ads and display ads with carefully designed typefaces and sizes, ample white space, and (often) illustrations, promoting such products as patent medicines, baby food, furnishings, jewellery, tea, lamps, silverware, travel packages and books. In The Mass Image, Beegan examines the way the mixture of image and text in such late Victorian picture papers helped readers to craft confident, middle-class identities and to imagine London as legible and navigable. In the late nineteenth 48

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century, as middle-class life became increasingly identified with leisure, Beegan argues, papers like the ILN ‘validated consumption and self-gratification and helped their readers to become expert leisure seekers’, easing anxieties about consumption by interpellating readers into an imagined community of consumers.19 It also helped readers envisage and thus navigate the heterogeneity of London society: through the use of caricature, for instance, the newspaper constructed social stereotypes that readers could use as guideposts in an increasingly complex social world. Its illustrators, Beegan writes, engaged with the ‘disruption inherent in the muddle of contemporary city life’, providing stereotypes that provided ‘comforting and partial knowledge’, ‘identifying threats and problems and, simultaneously, making them less threatening’ and thereby ‘suggesting that the urban masses were recognizable and categorizable’ (p. 19). This regime of visibility, I would add, helped readers situate themselves satisfyingly not only within the city of London, but also within the city’s contested culture of reading and writing and, ultimately, within the British Empire. It did so, as I will show, by placing that reader imaginatively at the centre of a set of overlapping spatial arrayals of power and providing the reader with imaginary mobility through these spaces.20 The Illustrated London News sets up a complex regime of visibility/­legibility/ mobility from which readers may, as they move both among and between single, serial issues, observe a vast array of locations and social orders, from the private spaces of famous authors to socially and geographically diverse neighbourhoods of London to the outposts of the empire. The paper contains this heterogeneity via its form – the conventions by which it manages its page space, including the reliable reappearance of standing features and advertisement copy, the weekly front-page illustration, etc.21 This abstract ordering system provides a grid upon which readers move among shifting but loosely parallel positions of power and privilege, including the narrative power and mobility of fictional narrators with their varying degrees of omniscience, the similar access to private spaces and off-limits parts of the city and the world afforded to mobile journalists and, through illustration, the ocular power associated with the gaze.22 This process allows the reader to move imaginatively from one position of epistemological command to the next, from page to page or even within individual pages. David Spurr notes the ubiquity in colonial writing of ‘the commanding view’, the space of literal and metaphorical high ground from which the colonialist can take in the sweep of the landscape and thus reduce a potentially overwhelming prospect to order. Spurr writes that ‘the gaze is also the active instrument of control, order, and arrangement’;23 he traces the colonial trope by which ‘the superior and invulnerable position of the observer coincides with the role of affirming the order that makes that position possible’, relying ‘for authority on the analytic arrangement of space from a position of visual advantage’ (p. 16). Spurr’s insights are applicable 49

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here, even in cases where the ILN is not overtly concerned with colonial issues. The paper’s spatial organisation is value-laden and is, in that sense, also ‘analytic’ in Spurr’s terms: like the commanding view, it subjects an essentially disordered field to order, and it does so precisely by assigning value through the arrangement and assignment of space, marking an imprecise but comprehensible measure of value on individual components (stories, images, advertisements) based on their location in the newspaper, which thus becomes a value-marked field that the reader traverses. The reader may thus use the value-marked grid of the paper’s layout to evaluate the multiple, often conflicting voices and images within its pages. As David Henkin has suggested, urban newspapers in the nineteenth century helped train readers in a new kind of subjectivity marked by competency in ‘the ability to peruse, select, discard, and reassemble a range of messages and options’.24 The ILN is among the more rigidly organised papers of the day: while there is some variation based on the number of the week’s advertisements, readers can generally expect organising rubrics to appear in the same place from week to week (‘Home and Foreign News’ roughly on the seventh page, the weekly fictional serial on the eighth through tenth pages) and can always count on the front-page full illustration, James Payn’s weekly ‘Our Notes’ column on the second page, and the ‘Our Illustrations’ text on the third. Through its form, the ILN thus constitutes a predictable space for the reader to navigate from week to week, this orderly presentation a compensation for and a framing of a disorderly world. (As James Mussell pithily notes: ‘[F]orm was the way nineteenth-century serials imagined what they did not know.’25) The value-inflected nature of the ILN’s form becomes crucial given the fact that multiple voices contend for attention and for the high ground in controversies within individual numbers of the paper. Periodicals tend by nature to be dialogic, multi-voiced texts. While they may range from relatively ‘open’ (accommodating and even soliciting widely varying opinions) to relatively ‘closed’ (attempting to promote a single party line), generally periodicals in this period are collaborative and heteroglossic.26 The increasing importance of display advertising as a source of newspaper revenue, to cite just one instance, meant that between one third and half of each newspaper’s content was generated externally. A newspaper’s iterable spatial organisation, then, becomes a way of containing the often contending, cacophonous voices within. As we shall see, values contend within the pages of the ILN, and while this relatively open periodical rarely asserts a stridently unified voice on any issue, repetition and the assignment of space suggest a general scale of values by which contending positions may be judged. Both meaning and value, in other words, get mapped in the page space of the ILN. We shall see the particular functioning of this process with regards to the empire, but I begin closer to home, in the hyperactive and controversy-ridden literary market of London. 50

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‘Literary genius is the Eminence of Nobodies’: Henry James and Literary Value in the ILN Although the English literary market was relatively undifferentiated in the late nineteenth century, the foundation of the ‘Great Divide’ between high and low culture was laid in these years in the emerging distinctions between ‘serious’ writers and ‘hacks’, most famously dramatised in George Gissing’s New Grub Street.27 And, though virtually every successful fiction writer published extensively, even primarily, in periodicals and wrote non-fiction as well as fiction, a distinction between journalism and literature was also emerging in these years, and was part of the wider contestation about authorship, literature and the cultural meanings of writing and literary ‘work’.28 These conflicts lie at the heart of Henry James’s fiction, animating his well-known, intermittent series of ‘artist tales’ as well as such important novels as The Ambassadors and The Portrait of a Lady. Such concerns were also part of the stock-in-trade of the Illustrated London News in the 1890s, whose letterpress content began each week with the ‘Our Notebook’ column by successful sensation novelist James Payn, who mined anecdotes from literary society and the print market as grist for his whimsical observations. To read Payn alongside the fiction, literary criticism, gossip and book advertisements in the ILN is to witness the circulation of competing models of authorship and the nature of literary work, conflicts rooted in conflicting understandings of literary value. In the summer of 1892, James’s artist tale ‘Greville Fane’ entered this fray, seeming to protest the ambient understanding of fiction-writing as a ‘trade’ – a position that Payn espoused – and the vogue of the author-as-celebrity on which the ILN traded. ‘Greville Fane’ approaches these issues through the lens of James’s unnamed narrator, a journalist and a fiction writer with pretensions to art and a disappointed scepticism towards the literary marketplace.29 As we shall see, the narrator’s positions on authorship, craft and literary commerce substantially echo James’s, so that despite some gentle irony at the narrator’s expense, the story constitutes a protest against the literary values and practices most central to the Illustrated London News. Within its pages, however, James’s satire of contemporary print culture gets complicated, contained and undercut by its context. ‘Greville Fane’ seeks to satirise literary celebrity and the notion of fiction writing as an ordinary job that can be mastered through training and experience. By placing this story in the Illustrated London News, which traded in literary celebrity and largely sanctioned a market understanding of literary production, James may have sought to carry his critique of these values into enemy territory. But James’s ‘take’ will not take when it is literally framed and contained by the dominant values of the Illustrated London News. ‘Greville Fane’ offers a partial taxonomy of competing models of authorship and opposed sets of literary values, and attempts to settle the contest on the side 51

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of self-conscious artistry, a specific version of literary professionalism aligned with realism, and innate literary ability. But in the complexly dialogic space of the Illustrated London News, its positions in ambient debates about literature, professionalism and work must compete with those stated by other writers and implied in everything from the paper’s use of literary celebrity and gossip to its appearance and organisation of space, image and text. ‘Greville Fane’ stages the well-known, overdetermined conflict between art and commerce internally, and the Illustrated London News stages the same conflict, literally around James’s story, with different emphases. The nexus of space and value plays out in the case of ‘Greville Fane’s’ ILN appearance in a number of overlapping ways. James’s story metaphorically spatialises the social location of different kinds of writing – different kinds of writers with different values are given distinct locations, locations that are both geographic and social. If the story thus offers a value-marked map of the literary marketplace, the Illustrated London News likewise posits itself as a guide through the urban spaces of London, performing a parallel process of mapping social class distinctions and thereby containing, perhaps superseding, James’s spatialised vision. And the spatial organisation of the periodical itself doubly marginalises James’s contribution to the debate – by emphasising image over word and by emphasising ‘journalism’, or writing-as-trade, over ‘literature’, or writing-as-art (and thus subverting James’s valuation of his own terms). These twinned emphases on journalism and visual images inform the ILN’s treatment of authors as celebrities, a publishing practice that commodified the author, his image and images of his private spaces in ways that ‘Greville Fane’ both traffics in and attempts to resist. Literature was part of the lifestyle of middle-class consumption constructed by the ILN, and readers could use the paper as a guide to what to buy and could consume literature in various ways within its pages. As Brake has noted, in the late nineteenth century magazines and periodicals began treating literature as news; Gosse remarked on the extensive coverage the death of famous authors was getting in the 1890s, and determined that as ‘newspapers are the most democratic vehicles of thought’, this coverage suggested that the public did not want to appear ‘indifferent to literature’.30 Weeklies of the 1890s, writes Beegan, ‘helped readers to quickly know which books and entertainments their fellows were consuming, and whether or not they too should acquire these experiences’.31 By the 1890s the ILN was featuring serial fiction by writers ranging from H. Rider Haggard, master of the imperial pulp romance, to Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, George Moore and James himself; regular book reviews by Grant Allen and George Saintsbury; celebrity author profiles including images of authors’ homes, and short literary gossip columns.32 The paper explicitly commodified images of authors and their homes: on 17 September 1892, the week of the first instalment of 52

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‘Greville Fane’, the paper’s literary gossip column puffed a forthcoming serial – Thomas Hardy’s The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved, in a paragraph that strikingly omits any mention of the story’s title but does boast that ‘a full-page engraved portrait of Mr Hardy will appear in the Illustrated London News of Oct. 1, together with a sketch of his house, by Herbert Railton’.33 The fact that advertisements for publishers’ lists shared back-page space with display ads for Lipton’s Tea was thus only the most obvious way in which the ILN treated literature as a commodity. Marc DaRosa has argued that James, in several of his other artist tales, contends with contemporary changes in the author-function linked to newspaper publishing and celebrity, forces that tended to disperse the authority of the author as guarantor of meaning. James, DaRosa argues, analyses this shift in focus from ‘the author (and text) as final locus of meaning to the social interests that generate the value of both artists and their art’.34 The ILN’s publication of ‘Greville Fane’ shows with particular clarity how the textualised social values evident in the artefact of the newspaper interact with and ultimately supersede the values the story insists upon, framing not only the tale’s value but its meaning. James’s tale tells the story of one Mrs Stormer, a well-known and successful writer of romances set among the continental aristrocracy, which she writes under the pseudonym ‘Greville Fane’. Though the sales of her works have recently sagged, requiring a move from the desirable Montpelier Square neighbourhood to the considerably more faux-gentil Primrose Hill, she embodies both success on the mass market and an embrace of the literary values and models of authorship associated with it. She describes the novelist’s work as ‘so delightful . . . and such a comfortable support’, echoing Payn’s ‘Our Notebook’ column of 17 September 1892, the day the first part of James’s story ran.35 ‘[B]rain for brain,’ Payn wrote, the author does not have much cause to complain of the inferiority of his gains as compared with those of his fellow creatures in other walks of life. No one who is acquainted with the subject supposes that the income of even the most popular novelist can be compared with that of the famous lawyer or the fashionable physician . . . but his calling is infinitely more agreeable, more independent, and sweetened by genial companionship and a thousand evidences of sympathy from far and near.36 Payn himself boasted of having earned about £1,500 a year from the time he started writing novels.37 His description of authorship as ‘more agreeable, more independent’ than other jobs and professions resonates with the image of authorship most commonly circulated in the Illustrated London News and its ilk, contradicting James’s (and other realists’) emphasis on literature as demanding, exacting work.38 Mrs Stormer/Greville Fane also has no compunction about providing the new reading public with material to its liking (though 53

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her attitude is mediated by the narrator): ‘. . . [S]he freely confessed herself a common pastry cook, dealing in such tarts and puddings as would bring customers to the shop.’39 Such details place Mrs Stormer on the commerce side of the emerging art/commerce divide, with contemporaries such as novelist and Society of Authors founder Walter Besant, for whom ‘the commercialization of literature was an opportunity’ and the writing of fiction ‘a job like any other, with the individual novelist enjoying a degree of success proportionate to his ability, temperament, or understanding of market forces’.40 Counterposed to Greville Fane is the narrator, a weary idealist whom readers are tempted, with reason, to identify with James’s position. The narrator has playful but (to him) secretly vexing arguments with his popular-novelist friend in which he defends the literary values of realism and formal complexity – aims that require hard and specialised labour. In his words, ‘a direct relation to life’ can only be achieved through ‘the grand licking into shape that a work of art required’; Greville Fane finds the latter ‘a pretension and a pose’, and to the former responds, ‘Oh, bother your direct relation to life.’41 As to the difficulty the narrator associates with the creation of art – the ‘torment of form’ – the narrator notes: ‘the furthest she went was to introduce into one of her books (in satire her hand was heavy) a young poet who was always talking about it’ (p. 115). Beneath this conflict lie contesting models of value: on one hand James’s idealised, labour-based theory of value, in which a combination of the writer’s unique gifts and his exacting labour produce literary value – a model James himself realises is not operative in the current market; on the other hand the system of exchange value exemplified by Mrs Stormer and by the ILN’s circulation of commodified images of celebrity authors, in which value is generated extrinsically, by consumer demand mediated by the ambient system of images and representations circulated in the print market. But while the narrator shares with James these marks of the self-conscious artist, he is, unlike James, a dextrous and sought-after journalist but a failed novelist. ‘My failure never had what Mrs Stormer would have called the banality of being relative – it was admirably absolute,’ he observes (p. 115). Whereas James had recently had several disappointments on the literary marketplace, he had been a well-established fiction writer since the 1872 debut of Daisy Miller and had, as recently as 1888, earned nearly $9,000 per year on his writing.42 From the story’s beginning it is clear that our narrator, in contrast, is bestknown as a skilled if reluctant journalist. Told in retrospect, the story begins with Mrs Stormer’s/Greville Fane’s death. The narrator receives a telegram from a newspaper editor, declaring: ‘Mrs Stormer dying; can you give us half a column for tomorrow evening? Let her down easy, but not too easy.’43 The telegram suggests not only the narrator’s track record with the newspapers but an editor’s faith in his ability to manage the finer points of journalistic tone. The narrator confirms this impression, noting that in writing the obituary, ‘I had 54

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to be pointed without being lively, and it took some tact’.44 Tellingly, the narrator never self-identifies as a journalist, and even consciously rejects the journalistic labels that come to his mind. When he arrives at Mrs Stormer’s house and begins talking to her son and daughter, he notes: ‘I felt, for the instant, like an interviewer, which I wasn’t.’45 The celebrity interview was one of the distinguishing marks of the ‘New Journalism’ in England, one for which James repeatedly expressed his dislike.46 Thus while the narrator holds his identity as a journalist at more than arm’s length, the story offers ample evidence of his journalistic ability but no evidence of his accomplishment as a fiction writer. If Greville Fane and the narrator thus represent two points on a map of authorial subjectivities, the story’s third point is her son, Leolin, who is the most disturbing presence in the story to the narrator. Mrs Stormer has undertaken to teach her son to be a novelist, in her words to ‘pick up’ the ‘happy knack’ of writing fiction.47 The result is that Leolin talks, dresses, travels and otherwise behaves as he thinks an author should, performing a kind of aestheticist/bohemian scandalousness, without ever writing a word.48 In essence, Leolin constructs himself as a literary celebrity (Oscar Wilde’s outré home décor and status as ‘leader of the aesthetic craze . . . lecturer, man of fashion, wit, poet, novelist, essayist, and dramatist all in one’ had gotten him into the ILN’s gossip columns earlier in the year) while eschewing labour entirely.49 For the narrator the terror of Leolin is that he can perform the authorial lifestyle with no substance behind it. Leolin talks shop convincingly, conversing with the narrator about the wider latitude against censorship and acknowledging the ‘question of form’.50 His presence raises the prospect that literary celebrity might be mistaken for literary professionalism, that professionalism can be feigned, can be, in Mrs Stormer’s words, ‘a pretension and a pose’. Thus the story is simultaneously a vexed refutation of the notion that one can be ‘taught’ to be a novelist, a cautionary tale of its results, and a critique of a culture of literary celebrity in which the visible signs of authorship can be performed. Payn, also within this same issue of the Illustrated London News, argued the opposite position on the question of training, and indeed attacked accomplished writers who were reluctant to mentor younger writers. ‘I am afraid a good many people who have succeeded in literature have been apt to discourage even those who gave some promise of succeeding in it,’ Payn writes. ‘The vain man is vain of his success, and wishes others to think that it has been attained by exceptional merit.’51 This formulation maps neatly onto the categories of ‘Greville Fane’, in which the narrator finds literary greatness to be founded upon a combination of ‘exceptional merit’ and exacting intellectual labour; in contrast Greville Fane believes, based on the project she imposes upon her son, that authorship can be the product of training and that an insistence on struggling with form is ‘a pretension and a pose’. Payn continues: 55

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From mere egotism also some men feel a jealousy not only of those who approach their throne, but who threaten a proximity to their footstool; while others of a baser sort, having reached a certain elevation which they have a secret suspicion was in great part owing to good luck, are very unwilling to instruct others as to the road up. (p. 354) While Payn stops short of suggesting that literary artistry is ‘a pretension and a pose’, he finds a competitive defensiveness in writers who insist that authorship cannot be taught. While it is impossible to know whether Payn was consciously engaging in dialogue with James’s story, it is striking that he revisits the matter the following week, on 24 Sept. 1892 – in the issue in which part two of ‘Greville Fane’ appears. Addressing a Society of Journalists proposal to establish a professional exam for journalists, Payn begins: Years ago the present writer got into hot water for suggesting that literary work of all kinds might be improved by a little technical education. He was accused of tampering with the sacred flame of genius, and of asserting (which he never did) that silk purses might be made out of sow’s ears.52 Here Payn takes a relatively moderate position – that ‘a little technical education’ might be salutary for ‘literary work of all kinds’ – a position that James exaggerates to parody in the form of Mrs Stormer’s faith that the ‘happy knack’ of novel-writing can be learned from a young age. Payn testifies to the ambient touchiness on the subject of literary work, in which the conflicting models of romantic inspiration, professional commitment to effort and artistry, and unashamed commercial production coexist. Indeed, Payn’s phrasing registers the perceived crisis of value precipitated by the emergence of the mass market: he has to disown any claim that a silk purse can be made out of a sow’s ear – that something worthless can, through training, be transformed into a convincing sham of value. Payn thus subtly pays tribute to the notion of inherent value while more prominently locating value in mastery of teachable skills. One of the nodes of the ambient categorical crisis lies precisely in Payn’s phrase ‘literary work of all kinds’: in keeping with the discourse of the literary marketplace, Payn silently conflates paragraph-writing for newspapers with the writing of fiction and poetry (recall that the item was inspired by a discussion of technical education for journalists) and suggests that all of these are similarly amenable to training. (As the next chapter will show, two decades later the new correspondence schools would be similarly yoking ‘literary composition’ to all manner of journalism – and claiming that it could be taught to virtually anyone). ‘Greville Fane’, then, purposefully differentiates writerly subjectivities that Payn conflates – Mrs Stormer as the untroubled commercial 56

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writer, the narrator as the intellectual and hard-working professional, troubled by his journalistic hackwork, Leolin as pretender-aesthete. Spatialised Hierarchies In a manner particularly resonant in the Illustrated London News, ‘Greville Fane’ spatialises this taxonomy of writerly subjectivities. Leolin, whose professionalism is all pose, is appropriately seen in the story in public and outdoor locales, where his ostentatious dress and flirtation with dissolution can be (mis) read as markers of his artistic status; the narrator hears tell of his appearance near the pleasure-beaches of Brighton, ‘driving, in a dog cart, a young lady with a very pink face. When I suggested that she was perhaps a woman of title with whom he was conscientiously flirting, my informant replied: “She is indeed, but do you know what her title is?”’.53 The scandalous implication that Leolin is consorting with prostitutes is appropriately situated in a town given over to consumptive pleasure, and he is seen out of doors. Mrs Stormer, in contrast, lives in a second-tier nouveau-riche neighbourhood, suggesting the tension between her commercial success and her unmet aspirations to respectability. This tension is raised most tellingly when Mrs Stormer laments that her daughter – who has married a minor aristocrat – will not allow her to move in with her, in terms loaded with the spatialisation of social position: ‘Ethel will not have me,’ she said. ‘I should give the place an air of literary prestige, but literary prestige is the eminence of nobodies. Besides, she knows what to think of my glory. She knows I’m only glorious at Peckham and Hackney’ (p. 131). Hackney, on the northeastern edge of what is now central London, and Peckham, deep in southern London, were both lower-class suburbs in the nineteenth century and stood on the city’s geographical margins: Mrs Stormer’s audience, too, is spatially marked. The most obvious symbolic use of London’s geography in the story comes when the narrator has to take a carriage to Primrose Hill in a vain attempt to see Mrs Stormer before she dies. The narrator makes clear that the journey to Mrs Stormer’s house is one of both social and spatial distance: he leaves a social engagement in which the woman whom he has taken down to dinner ‘had never heard of Greville Fane’, and where his other neighbour at table ‘pronounced her books “too vile”’. Once out of the house, ‘The journey took time, for she lived in the northwest district, in the neighbourhood of Primrose Hill.’54 Not as distant, socially or geographically, as Peckham or Hackney, Primrose Hill stands just north of Regent’s Park and was, in the late nineteenth century, a fashionable redoubt of new money: the neighbourhood is described as ‘northwest’, making the presumptive centre from which it is situated the north bank of the Thames from Westminster to the City – the centres of political, ideological and financial power. (Recall Gosse’s evocation of Charing Cross, which is situated precisely between Westminster and the City.) The 57

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story also pointedly describes Mrs Stormer’s continental summer travels as peripheral – ‘she favoured cheap places and set up her desk in the smaller capitals’ (p. 120). Crucially, however, though the geography of the story emphasises the narrator’s distance from both Mrs Stormer/Greville Fane and her pretender-son, the narrator himself is never given a fixed location. Rather, like the journalist he is but denies being, he navigates the city briskly and without comment throughout the story. It is as though the narrator’s uncertain relation to the literary marketplace, as neither hack nor acknowledged artist nor gleeful poseur, all of which can be located spatially, requires that the story silently deny him an identified locale and instead emphasise his mobility between the fixed points he maps out. The one interior identified with the narrator – the fireside at which he smokes a cigar, pondering the life and death of Greville Fane at the story’s outset – is, tellingly, never given the specificity of locales associated with the other characters. Mobility in space, indeed, typifies journalism, and command of space characterises the periodical form generally, and the Illustrated London News specifically. The periodical relies upon its ability to move through space as a stable, reproducible object, and upon its spatial reach – for instance, the fact that the Illustrated London News can command artists and writers in foreign capitals and transport their texts with relative stability back to the metropole, and then quickly package and distribute them throughout much of England. As Mussell observes in Science, Time, and Space in the Late Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press, ‘Periodicals move through space, and transform it into circulation routes, spaces of commercial exchange, library spaces, etc.’ even as they represent space and time in ways that make sense of them to readers.55 The Illustrated London News telescopes and rearranges vast amounts of space and represents it as legible and navigable.56 As in the case of the characters who are spatially identified in ‘Greville Fane’, the London locales that the ILN represents are class-marked and value-laden, as in an image from 17 September 1892 (the date of the first instalment of ‘Greville Fane’) representing the costermongers on the Farringdon Road, recently expelled by the city corporation (Figure 1.1).57 The illustration and accompanying text marks Farringdon Road as a middle-class, respectably commercial location and, by delineating the ‘class of persons’ represented by the costermongers, implicitly hails readers as middle class even as it expresses sympathy for the ousted vendors, by showing the unhappy body language of a female costermonger as she moves off towards the left border of the image. The accompanying text on the ‘Our Illustrations’ page suggests that the ouster was probably dictated by the consideration of the public interest. Although . . . the passage of the street was not much impeded, the practice referred to may have been deemed prejudicial to the success of the 58

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Figure 1.1  The costermongers in Farringdon Road, Illustrated London News, 17 September 1892 new markets erected by the City Corporation. The industrious class of poor persons, however, depending for their subsistence on the sales in Farringdon Road, have naturally felt much aggrieved by its summary prohibition.58 The sketch and the text, though separated in the periodical, work together to demarcate the Farringdon Road as middle-class and commercial, thus playing a part in an iterative process of mapping the social spaces of London. Such discrete elements work in tandem with others, such as the advertisements which dominate the paper’s back pages, often linking specific commodities (silver, fabric, etc.) with specific neighbourhoods and addresses. A 10 September 1892 advert for a silver merchant, for instance, precisely locates the store at High Holborn, ‘Immediately Opposite the First Avenue Hotel’.59 The spatial organisation of the newspaper itself replicates this process of mapping values onto space, and this process doubly marginalises the literary values underlying Henry James’s ‘Greville Fane’. Payn’s ‘Our Notebook’ column, which engages the same cultural debate reproduced in the tale but weighs in on the side of writing as a learnable trade, more strongly carries the sanction of the Illustrated London News itself.60 The first-person plural pronoun in its title, ‘Our Notebook’, rhetorically identifies it with the 59

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­ verarching voice of the newspaper, pulling against the single authorship o asserted by Payn’s signature. Its fixed location as the first letterpress material in each week’s issue likewise places it high in the newspaper’s spatial hierarchy of information, while James’s tale, by comparison, appears thirteen pages into the thirty-six-page issue, on a page that is visually dominated by the accompanying illustrations, which literally frame and significantly undercut the apparent values of the short story. Appropriately, when the story made its first appearance, the tale’s first page was adorned by three illustrations, two of which embed the vexed issue of literary ‘work’: below, interspersed with columns of print, a small naturalistic drawing of a plump, seemingly comfortable Greville Fane working at her writing desk; above, stretching the width of the page and covering nearly a quarter of its surface, and framed by the story’s title, a spare and more emblematic drawing of a tattered slave working a giant mill-wheel, a whipbrandishing slave-driver nearby, while a woman sits in a nearby window, fanning herself (Figure 1.2).61 The mill-wheel image operates on a different register of meaning than the image of Greville Fane at her writing desk, creating a tension between two registers of pictorial meaning we might loosely call ‘emblematic’ and ‘realist’. This tension resonates with the story, in which a committed realist novelist (the narrator) negotiates a friendship with a writer who works in an opposed aesthetic more akin to the hyperbolic, allegorical emblem of the first image. But the emblematic image dominates the page, visually dominating James’s words. By insisting upon a ‘direct relation to life’ and ‘the grand licking into shape that a work of art required’, the narrator of ‘Greville Fane’ places himself within the realist theory worked out by James and American contemporaries Frank Norris and William Dean Howells, in dialogue with the ideas of Zola, Balzac and Flaubert in the two decades preceding the 1890s.62 The implication for the story is that its textual portraits of Mrs Stormer/Greville Fane and of Leolin are true to life, free of exaggeration and rhetoric. The illustration, however, in its juxtaposition of a slave at the wheel while a woman idly fans herself, uses a heavy hand to exaggerate to the point of parody the narrator’s emphasis on his own labour and Greville Fane’s ease. One can read the dialogue between the image and the text in several ways: the image may be seen as caricaturing the narrator’s rhetoric, or as simply underscoring its rather overheated nature, and thereby highlighting an irony at the narrator’s expense which is otherwise not obvious. While the narrator talks of the ‘torment of form’, he sees Greville Fane as living ‘at ease however in those days – ease is exactly the word, though she produced three novels a year’.63 ‘I liked her,’ the narrator notes, she rested me so from literature. To myself literature was an irritation, a torment; but Greville Fane slumbered in it like a Creole in a 60

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Figure 1.2  Title image for Henry James’s ‘Greville Fane’. ILN, 17 September 1892 hammock. . . . She wasn’t a genius, but her faculty was so special . . . that I’ve often wondered why she fell below that distinction. This was doubtless because the transaction, in her case, had remained incomplete; genius always pays for the gift, feels the debt, and she was placidly unconscious of obligation.64 Here the parallel between the spatial rhetoric of empire and the rhetoric of literary value in the 1890s literary marketplace returns. Where Mrs Stormer and her readers have previously been placed on the geographical margins of London, here she is metaphorically banished to the imperial periphery, where she takes on the stereotyped laziness and non-productivity of the native. While the narrator’s value-laden terms are exaggerated – the ‘torment’ of literature and the dues exacted of the ‘genius’ as opposed to the ‘ease’ and ‘slumber’ of Greville Fane’s popular production – it is difficult by reading the text alone to tell whether James intends ironic distance from this narrator, who seems to voice his opinions about literary labour. In the story’s scale of values, certainly, ‘work’ is the primary value, as it is for the empire: opening the untapped resources of the imperial periphery so that they can be worked, and turned to productive use, is among imperialism’s chief justifications. Leolin is unequivocally the story’s villain, and his villainy resides in his dissolute pursuit of pleasure under false cover of literary work. The illustration, then, even as it visually dominates the page, either parodies the story’s values or creates the conditions for seeing irony at the narrator’s expense – in either case troubling the story’s emphasis on labour (even suffering), innate merit and careful composition as the marks of literary professionalism. Put another way, in order for James’s story to take on value as Illustrated London News content, it must be 61

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illustrated, but the illustrations are one of the many ways in which the story’s value and meaning are generated independently of, even contradictorily to, the author’s intentions. Indeed, in the ILN’s spatial hierarchy of information, the only thing that trumps Payn’s ‘Our Notebook’ is illustration itself. The issue in which ‘Greville Fane’ debuted carried – like all issues of the ILN in these years – a full-page illustration on its front page, in this case an image depicting the paper’s artist/correspondent being fumigated while covering the cholera outbreak in Hamburg (Figure 1.3).65 An unidentified man, presumably a border official, observes through a small pane of glass, paralleling the reader/spectator’s position of safely viewing this sensationally dangerous moment. This image of the globe-trotting artist-journalist, putting himself in physical peril as he demonstrates the newspaper’s mobility and mastery of space, resonates with the homeless mobility and journalistic acumen possessed by the narrator of ‘Greville Fane’, qualities he works so hard to deny. Indeed, the third illustration on the opening page of ‘Greville Fane’ insists on the presence of this journalistic mobility in the story, depicting the narrator, hat in hand, fresh off the carriage that took him to Primrose Hill and about to be admitted to Mrs Stormer’s home. The caption reads, ‘“Excuse my appearance at such an hour,” I said, “It was the first possible moment after I heard.”’ The illustration thus subtly resonates with the image of journalistic mobility on the front page, where the ILN, in its space of greatest prestige, trumpets both the supremacy of the image and the dominance of journalistic practices – marked by mobility, daring and improvisation. While these attributes seem distant from the ‘haunted study’ where James’s novelist-heroes toil at the ‘torment of form’, the third ‘Greville Fane’ illustration brings the mobile journalist literally to the author’s doorstep.66 This dominance of the image is clinched in the second and final instalment of ‘Greville Fane’, where the values of commerce and illustration ironically get the last word – or, rather, the last image. The story’s Illustrated London News instantiation ends with a drawing of the poseur Leolin, well-dressed and self-satisfied, under the closing words of the ‘Greville Fane’ narrator: ‘He really goes too far’ (Figure 1.4).67 For what is Leolin, finally, but a parody of literary celebrity, a pure literary commodity, pure exchange value – one who has imbibed the behind-the-scenes ‘shop talk’ one could find in James Payn’s column well enough to talk the writer’s game, who has read enough literary gossip in illustrated papers to know how an author dresses and where he is seen? The fact the Leolin never publishes anything clinches the caricature: he is, at the story’s conclusion, literally all image: empty but attractive and infinitely reproducible – indeed, given the Illustrated London News’s six-figure circulation, already heavily reproduced. And yet his image, enacting the Illustrated London News’s primary investment in visual representation, provides the 62

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Figure 1.3  ILN cover, 17 September 1892

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Figure 1.4  Closing image of ‘Greville Fane’. ILN, 24 September 1892 closing frame for James’s story, simultaneously underlining and undercutting the narrator’s hostility to this cipher-character. ‘He really goes too far,’ the narrator concludes; the words ‘THE END’ follow, but only after we see Leolin’s image. The editors of the Illustrated London News make Leolin, who goes ‘too far’, go still further, his self-satisfied visage standing just beyond James’s text. Image, as it so often does in this newspaper, gets the ‘last word’. Stevenson in Paradise/Purgatory: the Literary Commodity on the Imperial Margins Grant Allen’s review of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Footnote to History, which appears several pages before part one of ‘Greville Fane’ on 17 September 1892, shares the story’s concern with the literary marketplace, parallels its gesture of mapping the centre of value spatially, and links these concerns explicitly to geopolitical economy. Stevenson’s extended travels in the South Pacific and his eventual establishment of a home there made him a major figure of literary celebrity gossip in the Illustrated London News and elsewhere.68 As Barry Menikoff has shown, it also imperilled Stevenson, whose 1880s successes had 64

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made him both admired and bankable, as a literary commodity. Stevenson’s allies in the publishing world were unconvinced that his readers would share his fascination with the politics of the South Pacific – a fascination which, worse, spurred him to write so copiously that they feared he would oversaturate the market.69 Entering into an active journalistic fray over Stevenson’s ‘abandonment of England’, Allen conceptualises Stevenson as a literary commodity with striking clarity, and in the process reiterates the available mapping of the globe in terms of value, situating Polynesia as the essence of devalued marginality and London as a centre of value that Stevenson ignores at his peril.70 Throughout Allen’s review, commercial value goes underground but parallels literary value precisely: literary value is housed in Stevenson himself but derived from his Britishness, and compromised via his distance from London and his association with Polynesia, which he mines for second-rate raw material. Allen could scarcely be more dismissive of Samoa (‘an insignificant group of Pacific Islands’) as a subject, or more sure of the value of Stevenson (‘our inspired phrase-maker’, a ‘monarch’ whose ‘realm is the whole field of Literature’).71 Indeed, as a bearer of value as one of the home island’s most admired writers, Stevenson brings value to the barren turf of Samoa in much the way that imperial occupation and development establish value in the undeveloped lands of the colonies. The only reason for reading A Footnote to History, Allen writes, is ‘that Stevenson has written it’. He repeatedly asserts that Stevenson brings interest to the subject matter and not vice-versa: ‘One accepts [the book] with joy, for the author’s sake, not the subject’s’; ‘it is the telling, not the story, that holds one’s attention’; ‘It is the literary craftsmanship of the book that makes it worth reading’; Samoa is ‘important to us only by the fact of [Stevenson’s] presence’.72 Allen situates this disjunction between Stevenson’s value and his materials in economic terms from the start by acknowledging that the literary text is born into competition for a scarce resource: the attention of readers in ‘overdriven, overgoverned Europe’ with its ‘myriad engrossing occupations’. Allen confesses to having no interest in the imperial politics of Samoa (then nominally independent, but dominated by German commercial interests which were contested by Great Britain and the United States); he admits that he had judged the book on these terms before he opened it. But, much as the expertise of a modernising, imperial power converts colonial resources into value, Stevenson’s skill and intellect manage to similarly convert the unpromising, Samoan narrative raw material: I will frankly confess that I took up this new book of our inspired phrasemaker with no small apprehensions. I was afraid it might prove just a trifle parochial. . . . But the unusual process of reading my book before reviewing it . . . convinced me before long that I was quite mistaken. It 65

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is the parish indeed, but the parish seen with the cultivated eye of the cosmopolitan observer. Again, transformative power and value lie in ‘the cultivated eye of the cosmopolitan observer’ and not in the landscape, making clear that the cosmopolitan eye is both cultivated and cultivating. Allen’s review thus exaggerates the paradox in colonial discourse by which the unmodernised landscape is posited both as a repository of potential value and as lacking value in its current state: Stevenson’s qualified triumph here is to have imbued value upon the most unpromising raw material imaginable. But this triumph is qualified precisely because its materials are too remote from the world’s centre of literary/cultural value, and it thus threatens to undermine Stevenson’s standing as a literary commodity and a purveyor of literary commodities. In mapping these relationships Allen converts Stevenson himself into a widget circulated in global trade. Having taken credit for forecasting Stevenson’s value ‘ages before the boom’, Allen concludes that Stevenson needs to come back to England. Even the unsophisticated Samoans object to the undue exportation of cocoa-nuts – why should Englishmen submit without murmur of protest to the exportation of her Stevensons? There is a danger that the finestflavoured writer among our younger men may lose touch with English thought and English feeling. Even a Stevenson can hardly afford to run that risk. Let him come back again to his own, were it only for a visit, so few of us nowadays can spare the time for making a morning call in Samoa. Stevenson is here transformed into a commodity available for export, and his value is tied to a continuing vital connection to the homeland: locating himself and his literary subjects in Samoa risks degrading his exchange value, a ‘risk’ Stevenson cannot ‘afford’. The review’s conclusion uses a wry understatement to re-inscribe Samoa as both remote geographically and remote from the interest of English readers, who are no more likely to spend their time on an imaginative journey to Samoa via Stevenson’s book than to literally travel there. Re-establishing his value, Allen suggests, will require that Stevenson travel back to England literally and replace England at the centre of his writing. The review suggests, in effect, that Stevenson has lost his bearings, does not have a reliable map of literary-geospatial value before him, has relinquished the commanding view of the metropole and the panoptic clarity it offers. And yet, while Allen’s figuration of English expertise (Stevenson’s skill with language and narrative) converting raw material from the seemingly unpromising global periphery reiterates one aspect of the rhetoric of empire in the Illustrated London News, his dismissal of Stevenson’s exotic content is also somewhat paradoxical in this setting, since news about, fiction set in, 66

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and images of the imperial periphery were among the leading textual commodities purveyed by the ILN. (Recent among them, as I discuss below, had been Stevenson’s subtly anti-imperial ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’.) Just as the newspaper offered itself as a guide through the quickly expanding and differentiating literary marketplace and the growing and increasingly diverse city, the ILN reliably provided readers with representations of the imperial periphery that reiterated the reader’s position at the centre and gave him or her visual mastery over, and imaginary mobility through, the farthest-flung corners of the world. In the remainder of this chapter, I describe how the ILN’s newspaper aesthetic functioned to craft a new regime of visibility/mobility/intelligibility uniquely appropriate to a modernising, imperial nation. The Imperial Print Commodity and the Commanding View The newspaper’s use of illustration gives the imperial ‘commanding view’ a modern twist, grounded in contemporary newspaper aesthetics and arguably generative of the modernist aesthetics of the fragment in poetry, the portioned, flattened perspective of cubism, and the relation of multiple images in the soon-to-emerge medium of narrative film. This twist becomes visible when we consider the ways in which the visual aesthetics of the ILN and its ilk both adumbrate and differ from the aesthetic of the ‘commanding view’. As I have suggested, no view could be more ‘commanding’, on the level of readerly fantasy, than the composite view one takes in leafing through (and thereby travelling the world via) the illustrated newspaper. The newspaper routinely appropriates the ‘commanding view’ of Spurr’s formulation – providing the high-angle perspective of colonial (and other) locales in illustration – but juxtaposes it with multiple other views, creating an overall ‘view’ that commands multiple spaces simultaneously, though in a fragmented fashion. For Spurr, the commanding view constructs a unified landscape with traditional painterly perspective, with the writer situating himself (and thereby placing the viewer) on a rise overlooking a landscape which his gaze – trained to categorise the scene according to its accessibility and usefulness – brings to order. Under the colonialist’s eyes, the multiplicity of the scene coheres into a single image. Operating within the conventions of the newspaper, however, the Illustrated London News effectively re-fragments the visual space and then reassembles it into collage, giving the reader access to multiple scenes simultaneously (Figure 1.5).73 This sort of layout is a favourite device in the ILN in the late nineteenth century: a full page containing between five and seven separate images, arranged into a collage of distinct locales and moments, implying a larger narrative. In November, the paper ran such a collage of Tennyson’s various homes in its package on the death of the laureate. In the colonial context, however, the power dynamics at work in providing the illusion of such visual access are both laid bare and problematised. 67

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Figure 1.5  Collage of an imperial encounter. ILN, 27 August 1892 Clearly enough, this collage from the 27 August 1892 edition of the ILN affords the viewer an impossible, superhuman, comprehensive view of the colonial encounter, in this case the bloodless surrender of the Falam tribal area in Burma to imperial troops. Within the approximately one minute it takes a reader to view the images and connect them with the captions below, the reader gets both an ‘overview’ look at the colonial encounter and more focused images of several of its key moments. At the centre right of the page, in the space of greatest visual impact, the largest image offers us the commanding view, the field of occupation beneath laid out before us in the classic colonial fashion (Figure 1.6). Arrayed around it, however, are images from 68

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smaller spaces and different times within the process of occupation (Figures 1.7–1.9). The smaller images relate to the central image as the medium-shot and close-up relate to the establishing shot in film, and the reader’s circuit amongst the images anticipates the cinematic technique of cross-cutting. The reader can, moving from image to image, not only ‘cut’ to different locales representing details in the broader encounter, but can construct a narrative sequence. The narrative here seemingly begins at the top of the page and ends at the bottom, moving from the tense moments of waiting – the colonial troops waiting for re-enforcement and the sombre, glowering chiefs ‘waiting to give in their submission’, through the moment of rest before the occupation and the commanding view of the occupation itself, to the successful imperial outcome at the bottom left, in which the occupying forces demonstrate their superior technology by fishing with dynamite. The final image offers a classic aestheticised image of the colonial other in the un-harassed process of preparing food, food presumably provided through the modern British methods depicted in the previous image. The story, in other words, has a happy ending, beginning with the pre-occupation tension and ending with a set of images suggesting a productive, paternalistic transfer of technological knowledge from conqueror to conquered, ending with an image that paradoxically both implies the successful imposition of imperial order and sets the colonial other in a kind of eternal space outside of western time. The collage’s narrative conclusion thus embodies one of the central contradictions of colonial discourse, the need to both posit the colonised subject as inherently and permanently different (outside modernity and progress) and susceptible to, even desirous of, modernity’s benefits. These illustrations represent various elements of the colonial gaze as Spurr understands it, from the ‘commanding view’ from the elevated plain to the idealised image of the natives stirring their cooking-pot. Drawn in the Illustrated London News office by an anonymous artist, based on photographs provided by an officer taking part in the expedition, ‘Surgeon-Captain Newland’, the images view the landscape from the point of view of the colonial officer; they place him (and, by proxy, the newspaper reader) in the position of ocular/ epistemological power, converting the raw sensory data into ‘the sign . . . those gestures and objects that, when transformed into the verbal or photographic image, can alone have meaning for a Western audience by entering a familiar web of signification . . . investing perception itself with the mediating power of cultural difference’.74 Individually each image retains classical perspective, with five of the six viewed from slightly high or low angles to suggest background and foreground. However, once these images are assembled into collage by the ILN editors, the visual experience of the reader loses classical stability and takes on the newspaper aesthetic of paratactic juxtaposition, giving the reader command 69

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Figure 1.6 and Figure 1.7  The commanding view 70

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Figure 1.8 and Figure 1.9  Aestheticised colonial subjects 71

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of a strikingly enlarged but also fragmented field. The coherence of this field is more obviously arbitrary and fictive, relying on the conscious, active construction of the reader in order to convert it into narrative. (In addition to making the narrative links between images, the reader needs to return repeatedly to the captions beneath that explain each individual image.) Only the reader’s mind, and the boundaries of the ILN page itself, hold these images together; the collage’s visual lines do not cohere into a unified design but veer off in anarchic directions, most obviously in the three images along the left edge, all of which proffer a mix of colonial troops and subjects looking off the page, away from its centre and away from the commanding, hilltop image of the occupation. (Having images of people looking off-page is a no-no by today’s page design principles.) The visual vectors of the collage are centrifugal, contained only by the arbitrary boundaries of the page. We are moving here from a classical ‘commanding view’ to a modern one, where being in command means the considerably more difficult visual/conceptual work of comprehending multiple spaces and times at once. This view also represents more exactly the geopolitical positioning of the imperial metropole, where the empire’s central administration is tasked with the impossible duty of maintaining surveillance over multiple, non-contiguous territories. The ILN represents a precisely parallel effort of comprehension, in effect training its readers to occupy their valued position at the imperial centre. Imaginative Mobility, Imperial Romance and the Organisation of Space While Spurr’s work focuses on the ocular aspects of power in colonial discourse, mobility is an equally important aspect both of the rhetoric of colonial power and of the pleasures it affords to readers. Daly has analysed the role of imperial adventure fiction in helping metropolitan subjects to process their place at the ‘centre’ of a rapidly changing and expanding imperial state. (In addition to Stevenson’s ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, H. Rider Haggard’s Nada the Lily ran serially in the Illustrated London News in 1892.) The pleasures of such imperial adventure stories, Daly argues, often lay in the ‘imaginary mobility’ they offered readers. Faced, that is, with the potentially confusing, even overwhelming, sense of belonging to a political entity that comprehended more than half of the globe and whose fellow subjects included African and South Asian tribal peoples, adventure tales ‘articulated fantasies of spatiotemporal mobility’ through which, from one’s armchair, one could experience connection to the reaches of the empire and there see one’s countrymen interacting in triumphant ways with colonised natives.75 This is but one way in which, for Daly, imperial adventure fiction can ‘emplot the interconnections between metropole and periphery’ (p. 82). Thus imperial fiction for Daly achieves the cultural work of ‘enabl[ing] late Victorian middle-class culture to successfully accommodate certain historical changes’, most importantly con72

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tinued modernisation of the imperial economy, a part of which entails ‘bridging the gap between the disjunct spaces of metropolis and colony’ (pp. 24, 27). The ILN approaches similar goals in a different manner from the imperial romance, and this difference lies in the distinct reading experience of the newspaper – one paradoxically more comprehensive and more open and disjunctive than that of the complete work of fiction in book form. Like the imperial adventure tale, the newspaper affords imaginative mobility: from page to page the reader, according to his or her whim as it interacts with the landscape of the week’s issue, may be transported imaginatively to the fringes of London, the centre of Africa, the study of a famous writer, or any number of other locales. This imaginative mobility in fact goes well beyond that offered by the adventure tale when consumed in the single-volume book format. In the newspaper, the reader’s individual desires interact with the image of the world represented collaboratively by the editors and contributors; this interaction traces a unique but fragmented, disjunctive journey in the reader’s mind. This mobility commands more space, and more various space, than that offered by a single narrative fiction but is also less coherent – ordered, to the extent that it is, only by the decidedly abstract spatial organisation of the ILN. Both the bounded object of the book and the conventions of narrative fiction afford a more unified and coercive, if less visible, order. In contrast, the recurrent spatial organisation of the newspaper contains its heterogeneous contents only temporarily: the order it imposes must be reiterated weekly, showing again and again its ability to order different, if related, sets of content. Reading imperial fiction serially in the ILN, the reader consumes a fragment of a narrative, surrounded by other claimants on his or her attention, which gesture strongly forward and backward in time to previous numbers of the periodical. The resulting imaginary mobility is, I would suggest, in a sense more accurate and more modern than that offered by fiction in book form: more accurate in that it re-creates a more heterogeneous world, one with a more centrifugal pull and with a unifying schema whose abstraction, whose artificiality, is more visible, less self-occluding, than the often invisible schema of narrative itself; more modern in that the world it re-creates is modern – a fragmented world, reiterated anxiously with the temporal regularity of the work-week, in which overarching schema brings order but may begin to look suspect. Indeed, the reading experience the Illustrated London News offers – its value for readers, that is – consists substantially in its wide variety of opportunities for imaginary mobility. If Beegan is correct to argue that the ILN and its ilk helped the new middle classes achieve a level of comfort with consumerism, they did so in no small part by giving readers exercise in practising consumer choice when selecting from among each week’s copious variety of vicarious travel experiences. Building up this weekly miscellany required that the ILN traffic in a wide variety of textual commodities, including the imperial textual 73

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commodities whose functioning is the subject of the rest of this chapter. Here I examine three text-and-image packages that both represent and embody imperial economic exchange: Stevenson’s ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ serial; a news illustration representing a failure of imperial diplomacy repackaged as success; and a Lipton’s Tea advertisement. Each aims to represent links between London and the global periphery, positioning the reader imaginatively at the global centre. Each navigates differently the complex of imperial, commercial, journalistic and literary values that converged in the Illustrated London News. As in the cases above, these textual complexes articulate values in part through their placement in page-space that resonates with the imperial rhetoric of space. My examples span the range of newspaper’s value-marked positions – a front-page illustration, a serial that occupies a border position between front matter and ‘middles’, and a back-pages advertisement – and vary in the confidence of their commercial/imperial triumphalism. Each is, finally, in its own way an imperial commodity, seeking and constructing value by bringing European expertise to bear on colonial ‘raw material’. As imperial commodities, these texts simultaneously represent and enact the ways in which value is generated and expressed in an imperial economy. Indeed, the value of these textual objects inheres in a sort of double mapping function: on a symbolic level, they represent the connection between the centre and periphery and embody the way value is transacted between them. Materially, their value is posited within the value-marked grid of the newspaper. Imperial Textual Commodities and Their Value The paper’s front-page image of 30 July 1892 represented a showdown between British diplomat Sir Charles Euan-Smith and representatives of the Sultan of Morocco.76 Like all ILN covers, the Morocco illustration has value as a stand-alone image, as an enticement to newsstand shoppers and as a spur for the reader to continue inside, to the accompanying text on the ‘Our Illustrations’ page. In the paper’s spatial hierarchy of value, the front-page illustration is the most valued single item in any given issue. Indeed, the newspaper marketed its covers as collector’s items, and the Morocco image can be purchased on eBay to this day, for prices ranging between £16 and £30. In 1892, the sensational newsworthiness of the event it depicted made this image particularly valuable. (This newsworthiness is underscored by the fact that the Graphic ran a similar illustration on its front page the same week). That summer the Foreign Office sent Euan-Smith to Morocco, seeking a treaty reducing tariffs, opening ports to British trade, and legalising the purchase of Moroccan property by foreigners without royal approval; Britain was racing with France to strengthen its influence in Morocco amid the ongoing scramble for Africa. Talks failed, according to contemporary press reports, when the Sultan returned a signed version of the treaty that had been altered, deleting or 74

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amending key clauses, and ordered an emissary to offer Euan-Smith a £30,000 bribe to sign it. Euan-Smith reportedly tore the treaty to pieces in front of the Sultan’s emissaries. In its outline, the story narrativises complex global economics in simple, familiar terms: scheming Orientals attempt to gain the upper hand through subterfuge; Euan-Smith, the intrepid British character, sniffs out the ruse and stands up to it with righteous outrage. The story reframes a foreign-policy failure as an instance of diplomatic savvy, courage and English square dealing, and occludes Morocco’s power as a global competitor and obstacle to British aims. The events took place during the second week of July and the news broke on 22 July, so most ILN readers would have known about it by 30 July, when the illustration appeared, depicting Euan-Smith’s rebuke of the ‘treacherous vizier’ (Figure 1.10). The image uses classical perspective, framing the episode almost symmetrically even as it seeks to give us a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ view: irregularly overlapping arches in the Moorish courtyard behind Euan-Smith’s guesthouse recede to the vanishing point in the centre. In the mid-ground stands Euan-Smith, tearing the pages just to the right of the image’s centre; to our right stand two British colleagues, and the British delegation faces off against three Moroccan emissaries to the left, all framed by a Moorish arch. A fourth Moroccan occupies the foreground to the left of the arch, suggesting the boldness of Euan-Smith’s gesture – the sense that this is taking place in foreign territory where EuanSmith’s forces are outnumbered. The Moroccans have dark faces and wear white robes, while the white-faced Britons wear dark suits; all stand on a dark-grey and white checkered rug. The image works visually on contrasts of dark and light, with the white robes and white arches playing off the dark curtains around the edges of the frame and the Britons’ dark suits; the centre of visual/narrative focus is the white documents in Euan-Smith’s hands, which resonate with the white robes of the Moroccan delegation. (Euan-Smith is figuratively ripping the cheeky Moroccan position – the sullied treaty subtly identified with the Moroccan’s clothes via their shared whiteness – to shreds.) A caption at the bottom, assuming the reader’s familiarity with the episode, reads: ‘The Mission to Morocco: Sir C. Euan-Smith Tearing Up the Proposed Treaty in the Presence of the Vizier/From Notes and Sketch from Mr Walter H. Harris’. The image package neatly illustrates how an imperial textual commodity functions. The image’s value is predicated first on its authentic basis in the exotic setting, to which the caption attests by positing its origin in ‘Notes and a Sketch from Mr Walter H. Harris’. The caption implies that Harris was present at the event and made sketches and notes, which were then turned over to the ILN illustrator. Harris’s name and status as an eyewitness underwrites the image’s authenticity. Inside the issue, the ILN insists upon Harris’s expertise, as well: he is also credited with the accompanying ‘Our Illustrations’ copy 75

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Figure 1.10  ILN cover, 30 July 1892 inside the issue, where the honorific letters ‘F.R.G.S.’ (Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society) appear after his name.77 An accompanying text/image package describes him as ‘an experienced traveller in Morocco’. Thus Harris’s expert mobility underwrites the reader’s imaginative mobility. This dual insistence on Harris’s presence and expertise demonstrates the workings of the imperial textual commodity: the image’s value lies not only in its origins at the site of the event but also in its handling by western experts. The event is the raw material mined in the periphery, processed into value via English expertise – the expertise of Harris himself, of the illustrator to whom he handed off his materials, and of the corporate entity of the Illustrated London News, which 76

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commands the resources (artistic ability, communications technology, transportation and circulation networks) to bring this material home. Within the total context of the ILN, however, the image must also take on value relative to the rest of the newspaper’s contents, and this value is generated and attested to via the newspaper’s spatial self-mapping: the Morocco image gets the front page and an unusual amount of textual support inside. The ‘Our Illustrations’ page appears in its usual spot as the third page of the issue, thus highly ranked in the paper’s spatial hierarchy. But while the ‘Our Illustrations’ page usually consists of similarly sized one-paragraph items – one paragraph per illustration, that is – Harris’s account gets almost two-thirds of the page, signalling to readers the event’s greater-than-average newsworthiness. But such dynamics play out not only in the paper’s most valuable locations, and the calculus of textual value is nuanced even in its peripheral spaces, as an ideologically rich Lipton’s Tea advertisement from the back pages shows. There, advertisements dominate: in a typical week, five of the paper’s last ten pages are completely taken up by ads, with the others half- to two-thirds ads. There advertisements, some with striking images and designs, some consisting entirely of tiny print, compete for attention on visually crowded pages. They are effectively ranked low in the paper’s spatial hierarchy, and furthermore are not identified with its collective voice as are anonymous news paragraphs or, even more so, James Payn’s ‘Our Notebook’ column. But the tea ad’s inclusion of a large, memorable illustration increases its value; it draws the reader’s eye and gestures towards the ILN’s self-validation as England’s pre-eminent illustrated paper (Figure 1.11).78 Further, the dominant image’s clear reference to imperial holdings, and its evocation of a visual trope of imperial rhetoric, resonates with the ILN’s emphasis on imperial news and images. The Lipton’s ad ran repeatedly in the ILN in the fall of 1892 and appeared in the back pages on the day of ‘Greville Fane’s’ first instalment. It is dominated visually by an exoticised image of a beautiful, young Ceylonese woman on the right of the frame; she looks down, demurely, to the left, declining to meet the viewer’s eye, and holds at chest level a white teacup, set off by contrast from her dark skin and hair, bearing the words ‘Lipton’s Tea’. The text to the image’s left makes its claims for Lipton’s through a complex act of geospatial mapping. It emphasises the tea company’s mastery of global space: separate lines of bold text, set off by rule-lines and white space, indicate Lipton’s power and global reach: ‘Lipton, Tea & Coffee Planter, Ceylon’; ‘Direct from the Tea Garden to the Tea Pot/No Middlemen’s Profits to Pay’,; ‘The Finest Tea the World Can Produce’; ‘Over One Million Packets Sold Weekly’. Text in the lower corner names the tea estates in Ceylon from which its produce comes, the addresses of the offices of the company in Ceylon and Calcutta, the central London office, and then a long list, in agate type, of all of the company’s London branches. The advertisement thus links the colonial margins and their 77

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Figure 1.11  Exoticised produce. ILN, 17 September 1892 appealing produce (‘Rich, Pure, and Fragrant’) with extremely specific locales in the metropole (e.g. ‘18 St John’s Road, Clapham Junction’). The text of the advertisement, which took up about 12 by 16 inches of column space, refers to forty-one specific locations in India and London. A thick dark box frames the advertisement, and the words ‘Lipton’s Teas’ stretch across the top off the frame, constituting the largest lettering in the ad. The clear message is that Lipton’s commands all of this space (page space and global space): these farflung locales are linked by the power, resources and logistical mastery of the Lipton’s Tea company. This power is explicitly posited as lying in efficient connections between centre and periphery, connections that allow tea to travel ‘from the Tea Garden to the Tea Pot’ without the intervention of middlemen. Among the ‘produce’ brought home here is the exoticised female, whose deferential pose suggests that she is, like the tribesmen in the Burma collage, signalling her ‘submission’. She is both identified with the colonial landscape and transformed into an imperial commodity: like the image of Euan-Smith, her value lies in her purported location in the periphery, but this value can only be realised through the intervention of the metropolitan expertise of capitalists, artists and logisticians. Lipton’s power to bring us her image relies, like the ILN’s attractiveness 78

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to consumers, on the skill of British commercial artists, who become part of the team bringing these related imperial commodities from Ceylon; a similar nexus of experts and artistic tradesmen was able to capture, transport and reproduce the image of Euan-Smith’s triumph to readers. Clearly underpinning all of this real and symbolic traffic in imperial commodities is an assertion of the mastery of space, whether it be by one of the empire’s most prominent trading companies or by the Illustrated London News itself, a commodity consisting of other commodities, including images and narratives of the empire. Just as the bold typed heading ‘Lipton’s Teas’ stretches over the frame of the advertisement, asserting command of page space and implying command of global space, the daily flag of the Illustrated London News – embedded as always within a silhouette of the city’s skyline – asserts the newspaper’s mastery of its heterogeneous contents and thus the heterogeneous space-time represented inside. When the front-page image is one of imperial contest on the global stage, as in the Morocco image of 30 July 1892, the implication is of journalistic command of the globe. In the urban reading experience, these packages of textual commodities are available to the fantasy life of the ILN reader, granting him/her imaginative mobility and ocular access to exotic spaces which are contained and situated in reassuring ways, both within the value-marked page space of the paper and within the hierarchised, imperial circuit of value. Thus the irony that the woman pictured in the ad, presumably reared amid the tea gardens of Ceylon, is drinking Lipton’s Tea – the finished imperial product, complete with corporate logo: she is alienated local produce packaged for consumption, and she is drinking alienated local produce packaged for consumption. The entire imperial economic circuit – latent but unrealised value in the colonial margins, accessed and processed through western expertise, and capitalised through corporate mastery of labour and circulation routes – is expressed in the ad, for the delectation of the London reader. The ad thus exemplifies what McClintock calls ‘Panoptic Time’ – creating an ‘allegory of imperial progress’ in which ‘progress [is] consumed as spectacle from a point of privileged invisibility’ via the conversion of ‘imperial time into consumer space . . . imperial progress consumed at a glance as domestic spectacle’.79 The In-House Critique, Contained: Stevenson’s ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ In July and August of 1892, ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ offered Illustrated London News readers an imperial commodity and a domestic spectacle with a difference, as both its text and accompanying illustrations grant personhood and agency to a female, native character and complicate the racialist and geographical thinking undergirding imperial logic.80 Like James’s ‘Greville Fane’, Stevenson’s story represents a dissenting voice within the prevalent 79

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value system of the Illustrated London News, whose celebrations of empire and bibliographic codes likewise contain and supersede the author’s critique. Nonetheless Stevenson’s story, which ran serially over five issues from early July to early August, is the more radical and unsettling of the two texts. James’s story engages in debates about the nature of literary value on agreedupon terrain, simply placing value elsewhere in that terrain (in the author’s accomplishment, professionalism, mastery of form) than the ILN does (in the author’s training and ability to please an audience). Stevenson’s story encourages a fundamental rethinking of the racial and spatial distinctions on which imperial rhetoric is predicated.81 Indeed, as we shall see, the illustrations accompanying the first instalment of Stevenson’s story offer a counterpoint to Lipton’s demure south Asian maiden. Set on a small South Pacific island at the margins of western influence, ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ tells the story of James Wiltshire, a more-or-less dissolute English trader who sets up shop on the island, marries and falls in love with (in that order) a local girl, and finds himself boycotted by the islanders through the machinations of a corrupt, competing trader. While the story works some conventions of the imperial romance – naïve natives taken in by the stratagems of the whites, picturesque descriptions of the landscape and its inhabitants, a nighttime gun battle – the narrator adopts a surprising position of cultural relativism, repeatedly holding up for scrutiny and rejecting hard-and-fast distinctions between savage and civilised, imperial margin and colonial centre.82 The story, in essence, narrates the victory of the narrator-protagonist against the corrupt and cynical manipulations of Case, the competing Anglo trader, who epitomises the hypocrisy of colonial discourse and the rapacity of colonial economics – ideological fissures of which Wiltshire is increasingly aware. Purporting to welcome Wiltshire and expressing racial fellow-feeling, Case in fact uses his knowledge of folk beliefs to exploit the native ‘kanakas’ and, by providing Wiltshire with a native wife who has been rendered taboo locally, orchestrate a native boycott of Wiltshire’s trading post. (‘Kanaka’ was derogatory slang for South Sea islanders.) Wiltshire, a hard-bitten realist, is the story’s great creation, evincing an ambiguous mix of racist attitudes with humanist impulses, and he narrates his clash with Case from a position of increasing scepticism about empire and the racial and geospatial hierarchies that underlie it. Wiltshire rejects, for instance, the status of the local missionary in terms that first hold out racial distinctions and then collapse them. He tells the reader of his distaste for missionaries: ‘[T]hey look down on upon [traders], and make no concealment; and besides they’re partly kanakaized, and suck up with the natives instead of other white men like themselves’.83 This first utterance about missionaries seems to inscribe racial difference, proscribe fraternisation and miscegenation, and value loyalty to the English race. Shortly thereafter, though, when he confronts the missionary, Wiltshire’s terms change: 80

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I want to tell you that I don’t hold with missions . . . and that I think you and the likes of you do a sight of harm, filling up the natives with old wives’ tales and bumptiousness. . . . I’m no missionary, nor missionary lover; I’m no kanaka, nor favourer of kanakas – I’m just a trader; I’m just a common, low white god-damned white man and British subject, the sort you would like to wipe your boots on. (p. 149) While Wiltshire here clearly identifies as British, he identifies still more specifically in class terms – as a ‘trader’, ‘common’ and ‘low’ – and eschews any sentimental sense of an inclusive British identity that would include himself and Tarleton, the missionary.84 Indeed, ‘missionaries’ are levelled, through rhetorical parallelism, with kanakas (‘no missionary, nor missionary lover . . . no kanaka, nor favourer of kanakas’), so that class, professional and racial distinctions become muddled. Likewise he tacitly rejects the distinction between European ‘religion’ and native ‘superstition’, dismissing the former as ‘old wives’ tales and bumptiousness’. Wiltshire also, despite his evident racism, denaturalises racial distinctions, noting that categories that seem fixed in England are configured differently at the margins. Recalling his surprise to find a black man among the respectable traders on the island, Wiltshire observes that locally, ‘a Negro is counted a white man – and so is a Chinese! A strange idea, but common in the islands.’85 Elsewhere he makes provocative comparisons between natives and Englishmen. Acknowledging that Case has made young native men into ‘disciples’ by using cheap magic tricks, and playing on their need to prove their masculinity, Wiltshire observes: ‘This is mighty like kanakas; but if you look at it another way, it’s mighty like white folks too’ (p. 168). This observation comes shortly after Wiltshire observes that ‘We laugh at the natives and their superstitions; but see how many traders take them up, splendidly educated white men, that have been book-keepers (some of them) and clerks in the old country’ (p. 166). He adds that he believes ‘superstition grows up in a place like the different kinds of weeds’. Given Wiltshire’s earlier dismissal of western religion as a species of ‘old wives’ tales and bumptiousness’, this remark expresses the anthropological relativism that Roslyn Jolly, Reid and other Stevenson critics have tracked in Stevenson’s writing around this time.86 Most tellingly, Wiltshire refuses to exploit and cast off Uma, his island wife, or their children. The very existence of a protagonist who commits himself to marriage with an islander whom he sees as fully human is noteworthy at a time in which, as Daly argues, native women were typically positioned as part of the landscape, elements that have an ‘exotic sexuality’ that exerts a ‘peculiar fascination’, but are never allowed to capture the European male, who ‘must never become part of the landscape’.87 At the story’s conclusion, after Uma has risked herself and been wounded coming to Wiltshire’s aid, we learn that the 81

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narrator has stayed with her (‘there’s no manner of doubt that she’s an A-1 wife’) and their children, relinquishing his dream of making his fortune in the imperial outpost and returning to England to open a public house: My public-house? Not a bit of it, nor ever likely. I’m stuck here, I fancy; I don’t like to leave the kids, you see: and – there’s no use talking – they’re better here than what they would be in a white man’s country, though Ben took the eldest up to Auckland, where he’s being schooled with the best. But what bothers me is the girls. They’re only half-castes, of course; I know that as well as you do, and there’s no one thinks less of half-castes than I do; but they’re mine, and about all I’ve got. I can’t reconcile my mind to their taking up with kanakas, and I’d like to know where I’m to find them whites?88 While the narrator uses racial epithets and engages in other stereotyped thinking, here reiterating the racial category of ‘half-caste’, he repeatedly voices beliefs that question the underlying racial and imperial distinctions. Even here, his language undermines its own racist claims: clearly it’s not true that ‘there’s no one thinks less of half-castes than I do’ (emphasis added), as he is in fact describing the depth of his commitment to his half-caste children as he speaks here. What is more, Wiltshire recognises that Falesá is a more racially equitable society than England, as his half-caste sons are better off here than they would be ‘in a white man’s country’. This inverts the geospatial value system everywhere else evident in the Illustrated London News. Here the pre-modern society of Falesá is implicitly posited as a better proving ground for individual strength and initiative than the class-ridden United Kingdom. This closing paragraph also recalls an observation Wiltshire makes earlier in the story, on his wedding night, positing Falesá as superior in natural beauty and bounty to England: There was I, sitting in that veranda, in as handsome a piece of scenery as you could find, a splendid sun, and a fine, fresh healthy trade that stirred up a man’s blood like sea-bathing; and the whole thing was clean gone from me, and I was dreaming of England, which is, after all, a nasty, cold, muddy hole, with not enough light to see to read by; and dreaming the looks of my public house, by a kant of a broad high road like an avenue and with the sign on a green tree. (p. 130) The contrast between the ‘handsome piece of scenery’ and the ‘nasty, cold, muddy’ hole of England shows that the narrator sees the incongruity, even the folly, of his public-house idyll, a classically English fantasy of owning a classically English business in a classically English landscape. Indeed, it reveals a sort of split consciousness in Wiltshire, whose immediate surroundings cause him to question an ideological image of England which nonetheless remains 82

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alluring, its allure signalled by the way the idealising, descriptive impulse that begins the sentence, and is grounded in the present South Seas reality, gets transferred to an imagined English scene at its end. Given England’s self-image as not only the imperial but the literary centre of the world, Wiltshire’s assertion that there is ‘not even enough light to read by’ there – an aside which otherwise seems odd amid this discussion of sun, sea and blood-stirring breezes – becomes particularly resonant. This somewhat inchoate recognition of himself as split and of his English entrepreneurial desires as a dream is characteristic of Wiltshire, who incompletely shares the novella’s unsentimental ideological scepticism. As Jolly notes, Wiltshire’s enlightenment is only partial, so that the novella’s critique of imperial ideology requires not only his intermittent epiphanies but also a ‘sustained exercise in narrative irony’ in which Wiltshire’s residual western beliefs are contradicted by events.89 This irony cuts most directly at colonial ideology in an early conversation between Case and Wiltshire, in which Case claims he will stand by Wiltshire in the matter of the taboo. Wiltshire is not on his own against the natives, Case insists: ‘I count it all of our quarrel. I count it the White Man’s Quarrel, and I’ll stand to it through thick and thin, and there’s my hand on it.’90 Wiltshire quickly picks up the colonial rhetoric, asking Case to represent him before the local chiefs: ‘You tell them who I am. I’m a white man, and a British Subject, and no end of a big chief at home; and I’ve come here to do them good, and bring them civilization’ (p. 137). It is already clear by this point that Wiltshire has no such civilising motives: he has said directly that he is in the islands looking to make his fortune; like Case, he is deploying imperial rhetoric tactically, using it to manipulate the islanders as Case is using it to manipulate him. The story’s unfolding, though, works a partial conversion in Wiltshire; Reid notes that the story traces his ‘gradual awakening to the value of Polynesian society, encapsulated in the transfer of his loyalties from the white traders to Uma’.91 Wiltshire nonetheless seems at times unaware of the contradictions visible in the story or even in his own language, as in his declaration that he must stay in Falesá out of loyalty to his children, a declaration in which racialist thinking and overt slurs are undercut by the import of his statement. On balance, the events of the story and Wiltshire’s periodic insights combine to depict colonial commerce as pure will-to-power competition between dissolute whites, linking Wiltshire with Marlow, whose journey to the Heart of Darkness would hit the newsstands seven years later. But Wiltshire’s relativism, his inconsistent racism, his ironically undermined idealisation of England and his (qualified) granting of humanity to natives place him in a different category from Conrad’s narrator. Wiltshire’s growing alienation from ‘cold and muddy’ England may not precisely reflect Stevenson’s complicated national politics – he was a Unionist and thus more strongly identified with Great Britain than Wiltshire appears to be – and yet his South Seas experiences, 83

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as Reid has shown, taught Stevenson the integrity of traditional societies and the damage done to them by European imperial bureaucracies.92 Appropriately, Uma – the island girl whom Wiltshire marries – visually dominates Gordon Browne’s initial illustrations of the story in the Illustrated London News, in a way that insists upon her integrity and both enacts and problematises the ocular politics of imperial illustration. Uma appears in the first-page illustration each week in an image that, like the main ‘Greville Fane’ illustration, functions emblematically (Figure 1.12).93 In one sense she is the classic, exoticised native: beautiful, dark-skinned, her breasts uncovered, and – confirming Spurr’s equation of the exotic feminine with the landscape – nestled amid lush but threateningly darkening foliage: an image for the reader’s slightly nervous delectation. Unlike the Lipton’s woman, however, she is seen at medium length (we get a less intimate view of her features), and she meets the viewer’s glance head-on. The next image of Uma is still more striking (Figure 1.13).94 The image depicts Uma’s wedding to the narrator, presided over by a ‘grinning negro’ and with a drunk, white trader, seated on the floor in the foreground, as witness. The caption expresses the narrator’s discomfort with this exchange: ‘She showed the best bearing for a bride conceivable, serious and still; and I thought shame to stand up with her in that mean house and before that grinning negro.’ Here Uma is centred in the image, standing ramrod straight in contrast to the narrator, the black officiant and the drunk trader, and still more insistently and incongruously looking the newspaper reader/viewer in the eye in a way that is inconsistent with the narrative and the rest of the image. She takes on an uncanny power in the image, compromising its naturalism, gesturing back to the emblematic image that introduced the copy. Rather than looking at her husband or the officiant, or looking down demurely – all of which would make sense in the narrative context – she looks unashamedly at the reader. It is almost as though this character, despite her exoticism, complicates her objectification and resists the usual narrative and imperial framing, insisting upon standing out as an individual. Uma is sutured into a more expected role by her next visual appearance, seated on the floor deferentially at the narrator’s feet, listening to him speak. And she disappears from the narrative illustrations in subsequent weeks of the serial, which represent moments of action, suspense and violence. But the emblematic image of Uma continues to introduce the serial each week – ambiguously positing her simultaneously as an unashamed individual and as part of the landscape, at once trading on images of the exotic margins and reminding readers of her humanity, underscored in her centrality to the story, which bears her name in this serial version. All of these elements testify to the ways in which literary meaning is constructed within the print artefact in both deliberate and contingent ways that involve but exceed the author’s intentions. Stevenson had no advance 84

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Figure 1.12 and Figure 1.13  The colonial other gazes back. ILN, 2 July 1892 85

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i­nvolvement with the illustrations, though he was pleased with them; ironically, though, he wanted Uma’s name removed from the title, as it ultimately was for the book publication.95 But in the ILN, the nexus of the serial’s title, bearing Uma’s name, and the illustrations, foregrounding her image, invite a reading that emphasises her humanity and contrasts her with competing images of colonial women, such as the Lipton’s advertisement that would appear in the paper several weeks later. Epilogue: Authorship on the Margins Given the scepticism towards empire I have traced in ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, it is not surprising that the story made editors and publishers uncomfortable, and only debuted in the ILN after Stevenson agreed to small but significant revisions.96 While Clement Shorter, the paper’s editor, ostensibly objected to the manuscript’s spicy language and sexual scandalousness, it is interesting that the two most noteworthy edits Shorter demanded also come in episodes in which racial mixing and British identity are at issue. Shorter insisted on editing the language of Wiltshire’s marriage contract with Uma, which in draft made Uma Wiltshire’s wife ‘for one night’, affording him ‘the liberty to send her to hell the next morning’; likewise Shorter required the removal of the epithet ‘god-damned’ in the passage in which Wiltshire declares himself, ‘a common, low god-damned white man and British subject’. Writing about the episode two decades later, Shorter took recourse to the ILN’s status as a ‘family newspaper’, noting that ‘some of the greatest things in literature cannot be published in journals for general family reading’.97 Yet, given another of Shorter’s policies – that the editor of an illustrated newspaper must ‘struggle . . . to keep out all “opinions” of a controversial character’ – it seems likely that Shorter’s excisions reflect a broader discomfort with the story, whose protagonist vanquishes a fellow western subject, commits himself to a native girl and renounces England in the end.98 Menikoff observes that while ‘It is easy to label sex as the issue’ in the censorship of the novel, the nexus of sex, religion and politics in the marriage scene particularly ‘disquiets the Victorian reader (or rather the late Victorian editor) by disturbing his most profound prejudices of race, miscegenation, and colonialism’.99 Discomfort with Stevenson’s iconoclasm towards British racial assumptions almost certainly lay not far beneath the surface of Shorter’s conventional prudery. Nonetheless, Shorter approved the publication of ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, presumably because, despite his concerns with its content and the complications of negotiating with an author who was 6,000 miles away, he knew a marketable literary/imperial commodity when he saw one, and he had page-space to fill. While he made no bones about the superior marketability of illustrations, Shorter prided himself on getting accomplished and well-known writers for the ILN.100 ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ thus took part in the 86

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imperial circulation of value that the text itself problematises, circulation which fuelled the Illustrated London News and the empire it reported upon. The character of Wiltshire may have embodied Stevenson’s preference for Polynesia and, in more nuanced ways, his growing cultural relativism and scepticism towards empire. But Stevenson’s South Seas residency was underwritten by his continuing sale of lucrative imperial textual commodities. Indeed, his South Seas travels began in earnest after he secured about $15,000 in journalistic commissions to underwrite them.101 While Stevenson problematised the spatial value system of imperial capitalism in ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, he paid for his semiprincipled exile by colluding in the commodification of his politically radical writing. It is unclear to what level of detail Stevenson approved, or even knew of, Shorter’s revisions to the text, as he had turned his negotiating power over to literary middlemen Sidney Colvin and Charles Baxter; he later approved less dramatic revisions when ‘Falesá’ went into book publication.102 Stevenson’s pliability in these matters does not mean that he was unconcerned with the political edge of his writings or with his image back home. Roslyn Jolly and Glenda Norquay note Stevenson’s ongoing, canny engagement with questions of literary value, as he both recognised a need to please readers and sought to distinguish himself from writers of down-market genre fiction.103 Jolly notes two key changes in Stevenson’s self-conception as an author – the first in the 1880s, when he transformed from a belletristic, quasiDecadent essayist to a writer of popular romances (one who ‘acknowledged the importance of the market, studied its demands, and thereby secured a broad readership’), the second just preceding the South Seas years, when Stevenson sought to become a historical/political writer whose work might bring about change in the world.104 Indeed, in the early 1890s Stevenson privately downplayed his fictions and expressed his greater commitment to a never-finished historical opus on the South Seas. But readers and critics at home, as Jolly shows, and as Grant Allen’s review of A Footnote to History attests, were reluctant to accept Stevenson’s change from romance to realism and from Scottish and English locations to the imperial periphery. These changes ‘broke up the coherent authorial persona’ Stevenson had crafted in his most successful years, a persona built on ‘l’art pour l’art, romance, and resistance to realism’ (p. 26). Readers ultimately conceptualised Stevenson’s ‘exile’ not as he intended but rather through the lens of literary celebrity: in his final years of life and immediately after, Stevenson’s life (rather than his work) became marketable, while the South Seas writing failed critically and commercially. Ironically, Stevenson failed to achieve the value he sought at the end (as a serious commentator on global affairs) and instead gained celebrity value. Journalism about Stevenson from 1892 through the turn of the century typically focused not on his writing but on the ‘romance’ of his life, his house in Vailima, Samoa (with accompanying illustrations) and 87

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his (exaggerated) status as a political figure there (pp. 157–78). In print culture generally, this seems to be the kind of value that was available on the imperial margins, a value that lay in an exoticism and romanticisation that Stevenson eschewed in his South Seas writing. It was thus at the nexus of three journalistic values central to the Illustrated London News – illustration, imaginary travel in exotic locales and literary celebrity – that Stevenson found the final status he was to know in his lifetime. Stevenson was thus neither innocent of his own commodification nor able to control it. In these years, authors who strove for value distinct from pure commodity value did so in a material and discursive landscape in which models of authorship – and the cultural capital they embodied – were unstable and transforming. Such authors often thematised questions of authorship and value in their writing, as James did in ‘Greville Fane’ and elsewhere. As I have argued here, their interventions entered into a cultural imaginary that viewed value in spatial terms with imperial implications; further, these interventions took on material form in print artefacts whose evolving conventions both represented and shaped that imaginary. ‘Greville Fane’, a fiction of the literary marketplace, demonstrated the way different regimes of cultural value could be associated with trendy or déclassé locations; Stevenson’s ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ and A Footnote to History both critiqued this geographic logic and became commodities in a spatially mapped economy analogous to the one James represented. And both writers had their contributions situated within the landscape of spatialised values that was the Illustrated London News. The paper published their insurgent views but contained them within a larger spatial/rhetorical landscape that limited their power to sway the respective debates to which they addressed themselves. As my next chapter will show, the conflict over authorship that had emerged in the late nineteenth century, and which vexed James’s artist-characters and Robert Louis Stevenson’s legacy, persisted and transformed in the ensuing decades, and thus continued to influence emerging regimes of literary value. At the same time, the print market continued to expand and segment, so that new artefacts, addressed to newly postulated audiences and offering new pleasures and services, emerged to represent and influence the literary field. We turn to one such new artefact now: John O’London’s Weekly. Its service to the newly literate, in the years now associated with the rise of modernism, made it commercially popular but seemingly ineligible for cultural value or status – a condition which modernist studies has since codified by ignoring it almost entirely. Notes 1. Charteris, Life and Letters of Sir Edmund Gosse, pp. 222–3, subsequent citations in text. 2. Allen, ‘Literature: Mr Louis Stevenson’s South Sea Pamphlet’.

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3. See Chris Baldick, The Oxford English Literary History: V. 10 The Modern Movement (1910–1940) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 4. Beetham, ‘Towards a Theory of the Periodical’, pp. 20–2. 5. See McClintock, Imperial Leather, pp. 207–31; Richards, Commodity Culture of Victorian England. 6. Beetham, ‘Towards a Theory of the Periodical’, pp. 20–2, subsequent citations in text. 7. Mussell, Science, Time and Space, pp. 2–3. 8. Anderson, Spectre of Comparisons, p. 33. 9. For a concise history of the ILN, see James Bishop, ‘The Story of the ILN’, ILN, 280.7106 (May 1992), pp. 29–34. Sinnema (Dynamics of the Picture Page) and Beegan (The Mass Image) theorise the relationship of images to text, with Beegan particularly useful on the technical details of advancements in image reproduction and their relationships to meaning and ideology. 10. For a brief summary of the tumult in the literary marketplace during the 1880s and 1890s, see Harvie, ‘The Politics of Stevenson’, p. 108. For an exhaustive account of transformation in the print marketplace at the fin de siècle, see Keating, The Haunted Study. 11. Daly, ‘Colonialism and Popular Literature at the Fin de Siècle’, p. 37. 12. Altick, The English Common Reader, p. 344. 13. As Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor note, along with the Graphic the ILN occupied the ‘upper reaches of the illustrated serial market’ (Brake and Demoor, ‘The Lure of Illustration’, p. 7). See Beegan, The Mass Image, for an account of the paper’s contributions to advancements in image reproduction. 14. Shorter, C. K. S.: An Autobiography, p. 70. 15. Brake, Print in Transition, p. 11. 16. Shorter, C. K. S.: An Autobiography, p. 72. 17. Beegan, The Mass Image, p. 19. 18. Sinnema, ‘Reading Nation and Class’, p. 138. As David M. Henkin observes, scholars of urban studies and urban history often discuss the ‘legibility’ of cities, employing a metaphor in which the city is posited as a readable text; but such scholars have rarely paid heed to the ways in which the reading of actual texts is ‘a constitutive component’ of urban interactions (Henkin, City Reading, pp. 5, 11). 19. Beegan, The Mass Image, p. 100, subsequent citations in text. Henkin traces a similar process in daily newspapers in antebellum New York, which were an integral part of a ‘public sphere of urban letters’ which ‘reinforced the formation of a new subjectivity congenial to market relations’ (City Reading, p. 12). 20. I borrow ‘imaginary mobility’ from Nicholas Daly, whose analysis comes in for discussion below. 21. James Mussell notes that the form of a periodical ‘is both the means through which the identity of a title is established from issue to issue and the way in which it orders the abundance of changing events in the world to make them available for consumption’ (Mussell, ‘Cohering Knowledge’, p. 94). 22. I am not the first scholar to posit an analogy between page space and the geographic spaces it represents. Henkin’s City Reading similarly finds ‘suggestive homologies’ between the streets of antebellum New York and the columns of its daily newspapers. ‘Much like the streets in which they appeared, New York’s daily papers presented a grid of uniform columns juxtaposing a broad range of discreet elements . . .’ (p. 15). Henkin makes much of New York’s unusually uniform street grid and the similarly ‘rectilinear’ form of newspaper columns, and argues that as the city’s real estate filled up the grid, the newspaper was ‘reorganizing the printed space of the metropolitan press in an intriguingly analogous

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manner’ (p. 102). In that light it is suggestive that London’s less grid-like street plan is reflected in a considerably more varied page design in the ILN. 23. Spurr, Rhetoric of Imperialism, p. 15, subsequent citations in text. 24. Henkin, City Reading, p. 14. 25. Mussell, ‘Cohering Knowledge’, p. 94. 26. The categories ‘open’ and ‘closed’ are Beetham’s (‘Towards a Theory of the Periodical’, pp. 27–30). 27. Huyssen’s theorisation of the ‘Great Divide’ is familiar enough to require no elucidation here. Nicholas Daly notes that, while the categories of art and commerce became hypostasised under modernism in the 1920s and 30s, fiction writers in the 1890s recognised differences in their aims but did not see themselves as ‘radically different in kind’ (Daly, Modernism, Romance, and the Fin de Siècle, p. 4). For the most thorough account of emerging conflicts about authorship, see Keating, The Haunted Study. 28. See Brake, Print in Transition, Chapter 1. 29. Critics typically pay passing attention, if any at all, to ‘Greville Fane’. The most sustained recent readings are Kristen King’s ‘“Lost Among the Genders”’ and Mideroi Machida’s ‘Henry James’s “Greville Fane”’. King does a Sedgwickian reading of the relation between the narrator, Greville Fane, and her son, focused on the way James’s story marginalises Fane as a female novelist. I discuss Machida below. 30. Brake, Print in Transition, p. 24. See also Edward H. Cohen, who traces the origins of literature as news in the Daily Chronicle of the late 1880s in his ‘Images of Englishness’. 31. Beegan, The Mass Image, p. 100. 32. Machida notes in ‘Henry James’s “Greville Fane”’ the resonance of the ILN as an outlet for ‘Greville Fane’, calling it the ‘precise discourse space’ where many of the excesses of the contemporary literary marketplace circulated. James, Machida argues, wrote his satire of the literary marketplace in fictional (rather than essay) form and placed it in the ILN in an attempt to ‘regulate and shape popular imagination in a form more familiar to people who would never read criticism’ (pp. 31–2). What Machida misses, crucially, here is how literary the pages of the ILN were by 1892: ILN readers were exposed to a steady diet of reviews and criticism as well as serialised fiction and literary gossip. 33. ILN, ‘K’, ‘Literary Gossip’. 34. DaRosa, ‘Henry James, Anonymity, and the Press’, p. 836. 35. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 117. For the reader’s convenience, page citations are tagged to the New York edition of ‘Greville Fane’; however, I have used the text of the story as it ran in the Illustrated London News, indicating in footnotes changes made for the New York edition. 36. Payn, ‘Our Notebook’. 37. Keating, The Haunted Study, p. 83. 38. Daniel H. Borus writes that literary celebrity in the 1890s, by emphasising the author’s personality and the apparent comfort of the writing life, ‘undercut realist precepts on “work” and observation’ (Borus, Writing Realism, p. 127. 39. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 116. 40. Quoted in Keating, The Haunted Study, p. 82. 41. James, ‘Greville Fane’, pp. 115–16, subsequent citations in text. 42. Anesko, ‘Friction with the Market’, p. 176. 43. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 109. The New York edition substitutes ‘easily’ for ‘easy’ in both cases. 44. Ibid. p. 112. The New York edition substitutes ‘doing’ for ‘tact’, further underscoring the theme of work in the story.

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45. Ibid. p. 110. The New York edition inserts ‘infamous’ before ‘interviewer’. 46. Borus, Writing Realism, p. 130. 47. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 124. 48. For a convincing discussion of James’s grappling with the figure of the aesthete, see Freedman, Professions of Taste. With his parasitical adoption of an aesthetic lifestyle, Leolin fits into the series of satirical portraits of aesthetes that Freedman discusses. 49. ILN, ‘Personal’. 50. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 133. 51. Payn, ‘Our Notebook’, p. 354, subsequent citations in text. 52. Ibid. p. 386. 53. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 132, subsequent citations in text. 54. Ibid. p. 109. Machida, in ‘Henry James’s “Greville Fane”’, also notes that this episode emphasises the social distance between Greville Fane and the narrator. 55. Mussell, Science, Time and Space, pp. 2–3. 56. Beegan, The Mass Image, p. 113. 57. ILN, costermongers on Farringdon Road (image). 58. ILN, [Anon.], ‘Our Illustrations: Costermongers in Farringdon Road’. 59. ILN, silver merchant (advertisement); see also advert for Maple & Co. Ltd. in the same issue. 60. See Brake, who identifies the tension between signature and the collective voice of the periodical as central to late nineteenth-century publishing. On one hand, signature ‘posed a threat to the collective identity of the periodical, an identity fostered by the house style, the editorial “We” and the circulation of a periodical persona’ (Print in Transition, p. 16). On the other hand, authorship in periodicals cannot avoid being substantially collective: ‘intertextuality and editing ensure this, and authors themselves write within codes of discourse, of the kind of piece they are writing . . . and of the particular journal they are writing for’ (p. 18). 61. ILN, 17 September 1892, p. 351. 62. See Borus, Writing Realism. 63. James, ‘Greville Fane’, p. 115. 64. Ibid. p. 113. The New York edition adds to the unfortunate ‘creole in a hammock’ metaphor ‘like a cat on a hearthrug’, and substitutes ‘a call’ for ‘an obligation’. 65. ILN, 17 September 1892, p. 353. 66. The phrase ‘haunted study’ is from ‘The Death of the Lion’, James’s most celebrated meditation on literary celebrity. 67. ILN, 24 September 1892, p. 395. The New York edition refines the statement: ‘He really – with me, at least – goes too far’ (p. 134). 68. Harvie in ‘The Politics of Stevenson’ suggests that amid a boom in the journalistic creation of literary ‘personalities’, Stevenson’s ‘romantic situation’ in Samoa helped to make him ‘the biggest personality of them all’. 69. Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, pp. 10–31. 70. On this ‘tussle over “Our Stevenson”’, see Jolly, RLS in the Pacific, viii, pp. 104–11, 158. While most readers agreed with Allen, Jolly notes that the response to A Footnote to History also included a contrasting ‘liberal concern with Britain’s role in international affairs, particularly as it touched on issues of racial justice’ (p. 101). 71. Allen, ‘Literature: Mr Louis Stevenson’s South Sea Pamphlet’. 72. Such questioning of whether the subject was ‘worthy of Stevenson’s interest’ was a trope in the reviews of A Footnote to History, Jolly reports (RLS in the Pacific, p. 102). 73. ILN, 27 August 1892, p. 276.

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74. Spurr, Rhetoric of Imperialism, p. 21. 75. Daly, Modernism, Romance, and the Fin de Siècle, p. 157, subsequent citations in text. 76. ILN, 30 July 1892, p. 129. 77. ILN, Harris, ‘Our Illustrations: The British Mission to Fez’. 78. ILN, 17 September 1892, p. 383. 79. McClintock, Imperial Leather, p. 214. 80. For a reading of ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ as a domestic fiction, see Jolly, ‘Stevenson’s “Sterling Domestic Fiction”’. 81. Amid a major flowering of scholarly interest in Stevenson in the last decade, ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ has attracted less critical attention than most of his books. Excellent studies, however, include Jolly’s ‘Stevenson’s “Sterling Domestic Fiction”’, and ‘Piracy, Slavery, and the Imagination of Empire in Stevenson’s Pacific Fiction’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 35.1 (2007), 157–73; Katherine Linehan’s ‘Taking up with Kanakas: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Complex Social Criticism in “The Beach of Falesá”’, ELIT, 33.4 (Autumn 1990), 407–22; Seamus O’Malley’s ‘R. L. Stevenson’s “Beach of Falesá” and the Conjuring Tricks of Capital’, ELIT, 57.1 (Winter 2014), 59–80; and Vanessa Smith’s Literary Culture and the Pacific: Textual Encounters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 82. Reid and Jolly both find that Stevenson’s life in Samoa brought him to a position of cultural relativism. Reid analyses Stevenson’s understanding of native practices in the context of evolutionary anthropology, finding that in Stevenson’s ability to see native customs and legal practices as functional activities rather than atavistic survivals, his anthropological thinking prefigured twentieth-century cultural relativism (Julia Reid, ‘RLS and the Romance of Anthropology’, pp. 59, 67). Jolly finds a ‘thorough-going cultural relativism’ in Stevenson’s sense that western subjects cannot understand non-western practices because they view them through legal and political categories derived from Roman sources (RLS in the Pacific, pp. 36–7). 83. Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, p. 148, subsequent citations in text. For the reader’s convenience and due to the textual problems of ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, page citations are to Menikoff’s scholarly edition, listed under Menikoff in the bibliography. Relevant differences between Menikoff’s text and that of the ILN serialisation are addressed in my discussion below. 84. Here as elsewhere, Stevenson’s politics are complicated. As Harvie shows, Stevenson was a Unionist who had been horrified, in 1886, at Gladstone’s alliance with Parliamentary advocates of Irish Home Rule. Harvie, whose focus is mainly on the politics of the United Kingdom, persuasively depicts Stevenson as deeply Tory, an advocate for a social system ‘authoritarian but feudal and familial rather than technocratic’ (‘The Politics of Stevenson’, p. 124). Thus Stevenson was identified with Britain but, as his South Seas writings demonstrate, increasingly relativistic about the purported universality of European values and critical of the damage done to island cultures by blinkered imperial bureaucrats. See also Reid, ‘RLS and the Romance of Anthropology’. 85. Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, p. 120, subsequent citations in text. 86. See footnote 83. 87. Daly, Modernism, Romance, and the Fin de Siècle, pp. 63–4. 88. Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, p. 186, subsequent citations in text. 89. Jolly, RLS in the Pacific, p. 44. 90. Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, p. 136, subsequent citations in text. 91. Reid, ‘RLS and the Romance of Anthropology’, p. 61.

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92. See ibid. pp. 58–9. Reid adds that in his final Scottish novels, Stevenson worked from an analogy between the people of the South Seas and the Highlanders in Scotland, depicting Highland society as a valuable culture that had been lost in the integration of Scotland to modern Britain. On Stevenson’s Unionism, see Harvie, ‘The Politics of Stevenson’. 93. ILN, 2 July 1892, p. 9. 94. Ibid. p. 10. 95. See in Robert Louis Stevenson, Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, the letter, ‘To the artist who did the illustrations for “Uma”’, Autumn 1892. See Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, p. 8, on his preferences for the title. 96. For the essential account of the censorship and resultant textual history of ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, see Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’. Chapter 4 recounts the negotiations and results of the excisions discussed here. 97. Quoted in ibid. p. 87. 98. Shorter, C. K. S.: An Autobiography, p. 70. 99. Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, p. 89. Menikoff likewise notes that Wiltshire’s ‘god-damned white man’ outburst is ‘an attack on the entire class system, economic and political, that is at the center of Falesá’ (p. 81). 100. Shorter, C. K. S.: An Autobiography, pp. 84–90. 101. Jolly, RLS in the Pacific, p. 29. 102. See Menikoff, RLS and ‘The Beach of Falesá’, Chapters 2 and 4. 103. See Glenda Norquay on Stevenson’s ‘My First Book’ and ‘Popular Authors’ essay, in which he justifies his borrowings from popular sea tales and shores up his claims for originality by performing a ‘meta-perspective revealed in the author’s ability to review his own influences’, an ‘element that fixed him in a high “literary” context, while also claiming familiarity with the “low” of his sources’ (Norquay, RLS and Theories of Reading, p. 64). 104. Jolly, RLS in the Pacific, pp. 25–6, subsequent citations in text.

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‘QUITE ORDINARY MEN AND WOMEN’: JOHN O’LONDON’S WEEKLY AND THE MEANING OF AUTHORSHIP

Introduction: New Readers and New Writers in John O’London’s Weekly The flag of John O’London’s Weekly echoed that of the Illustrated London News, with the paper’s title in large letters under a silhouette of the London skyline. With an irregular line not quite enclosing the dome of St Paul’s, possibly suggesting a cloud but also imparting a whip-like energy emanating from the silhouette, and with bold teasers for featured articles above it (‘Striking Article by H. G. Wells’ on the first number), the flag suggests a welter of publishing energy emanating from London. One could assume from the title and the flag that John O’London’s operated on similar navigational and geographic tropes as the Illustrated London News. And when the paper debuted in 1919, there were similar suggestions of cartographic guidance and imaginative travel. The first edition contained a ‘London in Little’ column – a short piece about obscure corners of London worth visiting – and introduced editor Wilfred Whitten with reference to his reputation as a travel writer. ‘He has been familiar to the great reading public as one of the most genial and vivid writers of our time,’ the introduction begins. ‘He is the author of several delightful books, notably A Londoner’s London. As a literary critic and essayist and a frequent writer on the country-side he is equally well-known.’1 But this emphasis on Whitten as ‘John o’London’, though it does present the newspaper as an opportunity for imaginative travel, more powerfully personalises the paper, 94

‘quite ordinary men and women’ organising the paper around ‘John O’London’s’ (semi-fictional) personality, as compared with the more corporate identity of the Illustrated London News. That newspaper’s ‘Our Notebook’ column title gestures towards corporate authorship despite its signature by James Payn; indeed, the plural possessive pronoun is endemic to the Illustrated London News, in such repeated phrases as ‘our artist’, ‘our special correspondent’, ‘Our Illustrations’, emphasising the power and reach that the newspaper exercises through collaborative, corporate reportage and authorship. John O’London’s, in contrast, posited a more individual and personal relationship with readers, focalised through the figure of ‘John o’London’. If the Illustrated London News was a corporate and relatively impersonal map of the interlocking landscapes of contemporary London, the literary marketplace and the empire, John O’London’s posited itself as a more personal, individual guide. This contrast extended to the papers’ organisation, with the Illustrated London News much more rigorous in consistently locating key features (the front cover always given to a single illustration, ‘Our Notebook’ as the first letterpress feature on page two each week, the ‘Our Illustrations’ copy virtually always on page four). John O’London’s had a consistent design on its front page, but its leading article’s author and subject differed widely from week to week. The leading article was always continued to an inside page, but that page changed from week to week. Advertisements increase in frequency towards the back of John O’London’s, but again with significant variation, and with full advertisement pages often near the front. This more relaxed organisation, among other effects, makes value more fluid in John O’London’s. Bibliographic elements still assign value: headline sizes and article lengths vary; there is one article per week in the front page ‘leader’ position; one article is teased above the flag; and a text box on the cover regularly announces seven articles tagged as ‘Special Contents’ (though without page numbers). Even long-standing features closely identified with the paper’s voice and mission – ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, written by ‘John O’London’, or the weekly ‘Some Books Worth Reading’ column, do not occupy the same space consistently. Thus the spatial organisation and the landscape of values it creates are less consistent and less rigid. One is relatively freer to wander at one’s own whim in the more changeable landscape of John O’London’s Weekly, and thereby to make one’s own value judgements. If the Illustrated London News offered its readers the prospect of directed, imaginative travel outward from a set of clear centres to a set of equally clear peripheries, John O’London’s offered something more like a guided ‘ramble’ through the world of contemporary print culture. As we shall see, this looser mapping of space – implying looser fixing of value – made John O’London’s a more open periodical, one that ceded more authority to its readers even as it assumed a tutorial relationship with them. It also, however, made it difficult for John O’London’s to secure a valued position in the hierarchy of print. 95

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And despite the newspaper’s title, the terrain for which John O’London’s offered itself as a guide was not primarily figured as a set of spaces. Rather, John O’London’s offered access to a lifestyle centred on reading and writing, seen as accessible anywhere. Depicting and encouraging a lifestyle built on cultural knowledge, including familiarity with writers from the past and (to a lesser degree) from other countries, the topos of John O’London’s was not strictly mappable because it was not fixed in time or space. Indeed, while ‘John O’London’ may have taken some of ‘his’ ethos from the urban location written into his name, the life of reading and writing for which the paper provided material and encouragement – the viewpoint on print culture it offered its readers – was considerably less rhetorically centred in London than the profoundly imperial viewpoint of the Illustrated London News. ‘To the people of the British isles and in many parts of the Empire,’ the introduction to Whitten in the first issue concluded, ‘John O’London is the name of an old guide and friend.’ While I have argued that the Illustrated London News helped readers imaginatively navigate the city, the empire and the literary marketplace, this agenda was largely implicit, a contingent means to the end of its commercial mission of pleasing readers (and thus giving advertisers access to them) with demonstrably popular content, including literary gossip, news of the empire, a focus on London itself and, above all, pictures – all produced with the most advanced reproduction technologies. In John O’London’s we find a different and more focused mission invoked explicitly: that of providing readers with a ‘guide’ to culture, particularly literature, who was also ‘a friend’. John O’London’s addressed itself to readers and writers for whom these were new, or relatively new, pursuits – to people not born to cultural activity based on class status or brought up to them in public schools and the great universities. As Jonathan Wild has observed, the newspaper’s constituency consisted of the ‘new reading public’, including board-school educated readers without university degrees and men and women who had developed the reading habit during World War I – people with, in Richard Hoggart’s terms, ‘a strongly felt need’ for guidance in accessing a life in which reading and culture were valued pursuits.2 This orientation is visible from the first issue, in Whitten’s introduction as ‘guide and friend’ and in an article by him, as ‘John O’London’, in which he encourages readers who may suffer from ‘book shyness’ to ignore the ‘bogeys of correctness and completeness’ and thus avoid being left ‘shivering on the banks of literature’ (p. 106). Later in the same issue, in an unsigned article in the back pages, readers are offered ‘a guide for newspaper readers’, which provides definitions for terms in the news, including ‘syndicalism’ and ‘bourgeois’. A house advertisement of 13 December 1919 puts it succinctly, calling John O’London’s ‘invaluable to those who want to make the most of themselves’.3 The newspaper is clearly geared towards readers who lack, and desire, cultural knowledge. It was modelled closely on 96

‘quite ordinary men and women’ T.P.’s Weekly, where Whitten had served as assistant editor.4 Its price of two pence, its relatively high ratio of advertising to copy, and its paper quality (newsprint, but not the cheapest newsprint available) all signalled its lowmiddling position in the hierarchy of prestige among publications that covered literature.5 It offered more and (in some cases) longer reviews than the daily newspapers, but enjoyed neither the retro-nineteenth-century authority of such sixpenny literary publications as the Times Literary Supplement or the Athenaeum nor the insurgent cachet of the little magazines. Though Whitten, keen to the feeling of intimacy the newspaper sought with its readers, would later claim that John O’London’s ‘aspired simply to be a good companion to lovers of literature: it came to share, not to instruct’, early subeditor Sidney Dark may have described the paper more accurately: ‘We realised there was a large public interested in books, that has little knowledge but is anxious for advice and criticism, but that has no appetite for high-brow criticism.’6 To use Mark Hampton’s terms, John O’London’s appropriated a vestigial, nineteenth-century ‘educational ideal’ under which newspapers sought to prepare readers for increased participation in civil society.7 John O’London’s adapted this tutorial role to literature and the arts. This orientation shows up in myriad ways: in the weekly ‘Questions and Answers’ feature, editors responded to readers’ requests for recommendations of books on various topics; Whitten’s ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’ often offered basic information about canonical authors and texts; the paper frequently published articles explaining basic scientific concepts. The simplicity of these tutorials speaks to a readership eager for information but not educated beyond board school. A 1922 article on Homer’s depiction of wifehood, for instance, assumes the reader does not know the basic story of The Odyssey.8 The readers hailed in such articles are the readers who form the core of Jonathan Rose’s The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class – clerks and typists committed to improving their earnings and status through autodidactic efforts.9 To such readers it provided the titles of ‘books worth reading’ (in copious, short book reviews), fiction, ranging from contemporary potboilers to reprints of established classics, and shortcuts to becoming ‘well-read’. These shortcuts included the reviews, which were heavy on summary and quotation and lean on analysis or critique; gossip items that offered news of authors and recent publications; Tit-bits-style paragraphs such as the intermittent ‘Nibbles From . . . ’ column, which presented paragraph-long quotations from recent books with minimal comment; and the unsigned, weekly ‘Stories for All Moods’, which re-told, in brief, anecdotes from recent memoirs and biographies. All of these features were adapted from T.P.’s Weekly, which – under the sign of well-known New Journalist and Irish home rule advocate T. P. O’Connor, but in fact run by assistant editor Whitten – had pursued a similar mission for an earlier iteration of this audience. O’Connor wrote in his inaugural T.P.’s leader 97

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of 14 November 1902 that he sought to ‘bring to many thousands a love of letters’.10 I am not at all dismissive of the cultural work these papers attempted. True, a column offering excerpts from a single book, or snippets of poetry about marriage, for instance, might be faulted for giving readers a fragmentary view of the originals and absolving them from reading further in them. Indeed, an anonymous John O’London’s reviewer defended condensed books, praising an anthology entitled Half-hours with Representative Novelists of the Nineteenth Century as a boon to readers who lack the time or patience to read a threedecker.11 But we might also view such items as offering cultural guideposts for autodidacts, providing a scaffolding of surface knowledge of texts, writers and forms that could structure further primary reading and synthesis. John O’London’s literary tit-bits may thus have worked in tandem with its modelling and mentoring of reading practice, a particular emphasis of Whitten’s. In his ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’ of 2 April 1927, for instance, Whitten begins with a brief tutorial on literary evaluation: Any book is good if it makes you think about the books to which you know it to be kin. You say to yourself: ‘this is good, but why is it not better? It is readable to-day, but will it last? It is new and sprightly, but is it in the great tradition?’ Likewise, in the same month, an anonymous editor frames a reprint of Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’ with a note implying levels of readerly consciousness and discipline: he calls the poem ‘a pure lyric, the expression of a mood of ecstasy, although the careful reader will note that, even here, the poet does not relinquish his grim view of human life on earth’. By providing questions for readers to bring to literary texts and identifying levels of attention, such moments modelled active reading practice and suggested that reading was not exclusively passive or escapist. If there is a tension between the newspaper’s desire to steer its readers towards a ‘great tradition’ and its willingness to provide that tradition in ‘tit-bits’ form, that tension lies mainly in the position from which one views John O’London’s as a cultural artefact. Aware of, and comfortable in, their tutorial role, figures such as Whitten and Sidney Dark saw their mission of advancing readers from relative ignorance and escapist reading towards an embrace of canonical literature as entirely coherent and sensible. As Raymond Williams notes in The Long Revolution, an optimistic narrative of progress in literacy was widely available in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, though it was shadowed and ultimately bested by a corresponding pessimistic narrative that viewed mass literacy as a force for the levelling-down of the culture.12 The pessimistic narrative, Williams adds, seems ‘less to arise from the facts of press development than to be brought to them’ (p. 195). Regardless of the John O’London’s editors’ 98

‘quite ordinary men and women’ commitment to its didactic mission, however, the paper could not escape being evaluated in the high/low culture terms that were coming to dominate the larger discursive landscape. Predictably, we find Q. D. Leavis dismissing John O’London’s as a ‘lowbrow literary weekly’ in 1932. More revealing still is evidence that some readers – having used John O’London’s at early stages in their own literacy – tended to devalue it in terms adopted from high-culture critics. Rose quotes Marjorie Todd, a boilermaker’s daughter, critiquing her own early reading: ‘I slipped all too easily into those traps for the half-baked – books about books, the old John O’London’s Weekly, chit-chat of one kind or another.’13 From a perspective such as Whitten’s, Marjorie Todd’s is a success story of a reader mentored towards advanced literacy. But her trajectory meant moving to a position in the landscape of conflicting literary values from which she dispraised and disaffiliated with John O’London’s. Such tensions may have originated in a set of values extrinsic to John O’London’s, inhering mainly in readers’ variable positions in emerging scales of literary value and social distinction, and perhaps did not fundamentally undercut the validity of John O’London’s mission. But the trace of competing circuits of value is, as we shall see, visible everywhere within the pages of John O’London’s, as it attempts to shore up its value and advocate for the dignity and promise of its readers, with whom it sought an unusually strong identification. The deepest source of this tension stems from John O’London’s practice of mentoring its audience not as readers but as writers, a tension exacerbated by its construction of a friendly intimacy with its audience and by a cultural context in which understandings of authorship were in flux. In essence, John O’London’s Weekly was caught between, on one hand, a need to respect its autodidact audience’s ambitions to become published writers – an ambition likely to lead them to heavily commercialised, journalistic outlets perceived by the culturally powerful as a debasement of and a threat to ‘the great tradition’ – and, on the other hand, a need to steer its readers towards that tradition, to align itself with stable markers of literary value. The newspaper needed both to support its readers’ entry into the print marketplace via its lower rungs and to validate its own authority, and its readers’ dignity, by steering those readers towards literary value that could be seen as having transcended the commercial marketplace. As we shall see, this tension hampered John O’London’s ability to serve as a guide to new books: since its audience undoubtedly included not only readers but also writers of material running the gamut of literary quality, the newspaper was loath to insult anyone and remarkably hesitant to take any critical positions at all, including positions in prominent literary controversies. But the tension is still more fraught, and ubiquitous, in John O’London’s representations of authorship, which strain dramatically under the weight of accommodating both a desire for cultural authority and a respect for new, non-elite writers entering the marketplace through new, non-elite channels. 99

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Art, Commerce and Authorship in John O’London’s Weekly ‘We ought not to be interested in what authors are paid for their books, because that is to mix commerce with literature; but nevertheless we are.’ James Milne (‘Elijah True’), John O’London’s Weekly, 8 April 1922 In opening a gossip item with this disclaimer against mixing commerce with literature, James Milne invokes one of the shaping oppositions of early twentieth-century discussions of the arts – a pervasive ‘ideological contradiction between art and money’.14 This distinction cut to the essence of John O’London’s, powerfully shaping its constructions of itself and the readers to whom it was appealing. Milne’s quip – whether we read it as half-hearted or blithely comic – offers a nod towards a norm of separating art from commerce and sustaining (or feigning) disinterest in commercial aspects of publishing. In winking fashion, Milne quickly dismisses this ideal as one that ‘we’ cannot uphold, his plural pronoun asserting a shared orientation for reader and writer. Milne’s demurral leads into the juicy fact that ‘Mr Thornton Butterworth . . . has paid £3,000 in advance for the British book-rights for the ex-Crown Prince of Germany’s reminiscences.’15 As if to emphasise the faintness of Milne’s hesitation, his column stands next to one of the paper’s frequent advertisements for correspondence schools, its headline boldly promising to explain ‘How to Become a Successful Writer’.16 The demurral, its half-heartedness, and its location amidst advertisements promising success to hard-working, aspiring writers all speak to the contradictory and unstable positioning of John O’London’s Weekly, whose pages display commitments to multiple, incompatible models of authorship. The paper’s 1919 debut meant that it was launched just as various insurgent modernisms were combining with the explosion of print outlets to unsettle the discourses of literary value and the constellation of meanings and identities connected with authorship. Indeed, the pre-history of John O’London’s shows the degree to which it was, to its core, an artefact of transformations and contestation concerning the social location of ‘literature’. John O’London’s essentially took over the readership, mission, and some of the staff of T.P.’s Weekly, which ran from 1902 to 1917. As we have seen, T.P.’s began with a mission virtually identical to that John O’London’s would adopt: to ‘bring to many thousands a love of literature’. Philip Waller remarks that despite the paper’s light tone, its ‘ethos was unmistakably one of serious self-improvement’; he credits it with demonstrating that it was ‘feasible, not lunatic, to launch a literary paper for the masses’.17 The paper was fictively organised around the textualised personality of O’Connor (a considerable part of the paper was written in first person), as John O’London’s would be around the personality 100

‘quite ordinary men and women’ of Whitten. It was in T.P.’s Weekly that Whitten first became well known for his essays, published under the ‘John O’London’ byline. The main substantive difference between T.P.’s and John O’London’s lay in the latter’s greater emphasis on its readers’ status as potential writers, a function of the continued expansion of the print market and the appearance and multiplication of the correspondence schools. T.P.’s run as the quintessential literary paper of the aspirational board-school generations began to wind down with the ascension of Holbrook Jackson, cofounder of the celebrated New Age, as editor upon O’Connor’s retirement in June 1914. Jackson ostensibly upheld the mission of bringing literature to a wide readership and sustained the ethos of close ‘friendship’ between the paper and its readers. Announcing improvements under his coming editorship on 26 June 1914, he likened the paper to a ship and said ‘the more the merrier, because the more passengers we carry the more powerful we shall be, and it is my intention to make our readers co-partners in our success and power’.18 He promised that ‘the kinship (one might say the friendship) that has grown up between the literary staff and the public is not going to be impaired’. But Jackson had avant-garde commitments – it was he who had introduced New Age editor A. R. Orage to the philosophy of Neitszche – and within two years he was seeking a more select audience. He folded T.P.’s into To-Day in 1916, and in 1917 dropped T.P.’s name entirely, transforming To-Day into an intellectual monthly that would ultimately evince modernist leanings. Jackson’s inaugural editorial for To-Day emphasised the degree to which he was moving away from T.P.’s audience and mission: . . . if To-day deliberately appeals to the few who like to think their own thoughts and to read the work of writers who are among the best – but not necessarily among the ‘best-sellers’ – the editor is catholic enough in taste and, he hopes, tolerant enough to recognize the rights of the many, even if he does not cater to their needs.19 When John O’London’s picked up the mantle of T.P.’s in 1919, it rapidly became a field of contest for conflicting models of the writing life. As a densely printed commercial weekly that included signed articles, anonymous and pseudonymous standing features, letters and questions from readers, and copious advertisements, John O’London’s displayed an irreducible polyvocality that did not allow any model to emerge as a norm. Rather, its pages became an arena for the reiteration, variation and reformulation of the terms of contest between models of authorship. There Whitten and other prominent contributors attempted to contain the paper’s gleefully commercial images of writing within more respectable norms. Validation of commercial understandings of authorship came sometimes from contributors or letter-writers but appeared most insistently in the advertising columns, where correspondence schools 101

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touted the money to be made by entry-level writers. As we shall see, letterpress material was sometimes virtually indistinguishable from advertisement copy in the paper – a condition that effectively put the imprimatur of John O’London’s Weekly on advertisements promising quick success in publishing for neophyte writers, even as ‘John O’London’ was elsewhere trying to steer readers towards appreciation of high culture. As much recent scholarship has shown, new and conflicting models of authorship emerged at the turn of the twentieth century and in the following decades. In tandem with the growth and diversification of periodicals at the fin de siècle, well-known writers emerged as the first modern celebrities – a shift in the cultural understanding of authorship that, as we have seen, spurred a vexed Henry James to some leading-edge work on differentiating literary ‘art’ from ‘commerce’. Joyce Wexler probes the emerging rhetoric opposing art to commerce, which posed a ‘Romantic ideal of writer as genius’, unoccupied with market concerns, against ‘a new definition of the author as professional’ who earns a living through drive, training and self-discipline. Yet despite the apparent neatness of these categories, images of authorship did not cleanly divide between the Romantic ‘starving artist’ and the Jamesian professional; each ideal was shadowed by its ‘cautionary counterpart’: the professional writer’s shadow was the ‘hack who wrote only for money’, the Romantic’s the self-involved ‘amateur who wrote for no one’.20 John O’London’s circulated all of these images and more, displaying commitments to multiple, conflicting models of authorship. Its pages reached out to the beginning writer and excoriated the ‘hack’; idealised authorship as pure inspiration and demystified it as professional craft; circulated the names and faces of celebrities, positing literary work as a pleasant and remunerative lifestyle, and braced new writers for toil and frustration, describing writing for a living as ‘dead-lift and disheartenment’.21 Amidst it all came the siren song of the correspondence school advertisements, promising that ‘Nearly Everyone Can Write Well Enough To Get Into Print’.22 In this context John O’London’s efforts to establish cultural value and authority by containing commercialism had to be constantly reiterated, but were undermined not only by the advertisements but by the newspaper’s tutorial stance towards aspiring writers. Indeed, its didactic agenda for readers (mentoring them towards the ability to read and appreciate the classics) conflicted with its agenda for writers (assisting their entry to the lower strata of the print marketplace), a tension worsened by the fact that many of its readers occupied both categories. John O’London’s was deeply invested in a self-help ethic that pulled it towards affiliation with the grandiose claims of the correspondence schools; it tried to contain this drift by associating itself with an authentic culture located inexactly between a more elevated professionalism and a Romantic ideal of self-expression. Though John O’London’s was commercially successful – it ran for thirty102

‘quite ordinary men and women’ five years and probably exceeded 100,000 in weekly circulation – these conflicts in its internal rhetoric made it difficult for the newspaper to garner cultural capital, as is visible in Marjorie Todd’s poignant denigration of her childhood reading of the newspaper.23 Ironically, John O’London’s Weekly offered itself as a way of accessing a sphere of activity and prestige – ­literature, culture, being ‘well-read’ – whose attainment entailed a rejection of the imagined community the newspaper laboured to construct around itself. John O’London’s attempted to garner cultural (as opposed to purely economic) value by associating itself with the seemingly unquestionable value of canonical literature, to which it promised readers access. Its attempts to establish and reiterate its own value were simultaneously an implicit defence of its eager but uncredentialled readers. But in part because of its identification with these new and untutored readers and, moreso, new and untutored writers, one of the key markers of cultural capital and distinction – the judgement and assignment of value to contemporary work – was effectively closed off to it. Consider that the typical little magazine flatly and obtrusively asserted its authority, usually by opposition to dominant (popular, or bourgeois) tastes, and thus built up its (typically fleeting) cultural weight by positing itself as an arbiter of contemporary literary value. John O’London’s, in contrast, set itself up to access for itself and its readers the seemingly stable, agreed-upon cultural value and authority embodied in literature and culture. The circuit of value in the case of John O’London’s is different from that in upstart critical outlets (the little magazines) or establishment reviews (the Spectator, the New Statesman): rather than asserting its authority by evaluating cultural products, John O’London’s attempts to establish its authority by association with cultural products whose value is purportedly agreed upon. This is where John O’London’s ran into trouble: the very visible presence of new and relatively uneducated writers in its imagined audience, along with the staggering number of new titles referenced in its ads and review columns, testified to the flux and radical contingency of value in contemporary print culture. And the heteroglossia in its relatively open, multiply-authored pages made it impossible for the magazine to speak with one voice on matters of value. It attempted to stabilise its cultural position by associating itself with acknowledged classics – a risky gambit when it came to living authors. Nonetheless John O’London’s pinned its appeal for cultural authority on a small set of contemporary names whose value it asserted as beyond question. We can see the bind John O’London’s was in when we explicate the conflicting significance of those names, who in the 1920s were Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells and, to a lesser degree, Joseph Conrad. Since, for reasons we have seen, John O’London’s was studiously uncritical about contemporary writing, the newspaper instead claimed authority by its association with such seemingly stable markers of value. 103

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Self-help, Commodities, and Writing as Lifestyle in John O’London’s Weekly John O’London’s mentorship of beginning writers resonated with frequent images of an attractive lifestyle in which reading and writing were central – images conveyed in gossip items, feature stories on authors and advertisements for pens, reading-lamps, typewriters and book-cases. Ads for modular bookcases, which one could add on to as one’s book collection grew, encoded a narrative of knowledge and wealth simultaneously increasing. Items in gossip columns such as ‘What I Hear’, written by George Blake (as ‘Audax’) and ‘The Book World’, written first by Milne (as ‘Elijah True’) and later by Blake (as ‘Colophon’), reported on authors returning from exotic vacations or establishing homes in desirable locations. Such features depict authors as people with interesting lives: Desmond MacCarthy, we learn, has just returned from a vacation in Switzerland; Alec Waugh plans to maintain homes in England, the United States and Tahiti; John Masefield is acting in a village production of King Lear.24 Such items evoke established tropes of literary celebrity, which had been widespread enough to attract cultural commentary as early as the 1880s. John O’London’s letterpress columns never explicitly state that these lifestyles are within the reach of its readers: the logic of celebrity is predicated on treating the writer as, at least ostensibly, unusual and therefore newsworthy.25 But these items also shared space with editorial content and (especially) advertising reiterating that excellent money could be made by writing, that the print market was an area of rapid upward mobility. Nowhere is this ethos clearer than in the paper’s advertisements for correspondence colleges. If these ads could not be identified precisely with the newspaper’s editorial persona, their sheer number and the relentless iteration of their message could not help but colour the experience of reading John O’London’s Weekly. The London School of Journalism placed long, text-heavy advertisements virtually every week; almost as ubiquitous were competitors the London Correspondence College and the Premier School of Journalism. These advertisements often used narratives – in the form of signed, headlined testimonials – that told quasi-conversion stories of struggle in the print market, or at unsatisfying jobs, followed by fast, easy schooling and rapid success. They tended to follow the newspaper’s three-column format, appearing under headlines that made them indistinguishable from letterpress content but for the ‘ask’ section of the ad, which usually appeared at the end – in the bottom of the right column – sometimes with a clip-out coupon that one could mail in for a prospectus. The Premier School of Journalism published a series of more than forty of these advertisements, under the recurring headline ‘My Literary Career’, in John O’London’s in 1926–7, and the London School of Journalism published similar ads almost weekly for long stretches in the 104

‘quite ordinary men and women’ 1920s (Plate 1). Their narratives invite reader identification in an aspirational fantasy, and they occupy a middle ground between the mentorship offered by the newspaper’s letterpress tutorials and the diversion and imaginative travel provided by features such as serial fiction or travel writing. John O’London’s further invited the blurring of such advertisements into ‘advertorial’ status by occasionally allowing the newspaper’s imprimatur to be placed upon them. A London School of Journalism advertisement from 1927 begins with an italicised editor’s note reading, ‘This is the first of several announcements which will appear in John O’London’s Weekly for the purpose of enabling readers to appreciate the elements and the methods which have made the London School of Journalism the recognised centre of instruction for the profession.’26 While the source of the note is never explicitly named, its placement in italics evokes the paper’s code for editorial notes, suggesting that this yoking of the John O’London’s and London School brands has the newspaper’s sanction. These advertisements’ central message was that success in writing was available to virtually anyone. In a 1929 advertisement headlined ‘Pen-Money/ Why Not in Your Pocket?’, the London College of Authorship noted the ‘ever-increasing supply’ of copy needed by editors of the ‘13,000 British and Colonial periodicals alone – besides the vast American and other markets’. It concluded: In the many millions of pounds paid out for these you, if you can use a pen with any intelligence at all, may share if you will master the simple technics of Press-writing. £22, £31, £54 a month, £250 a year are typical earnings by quite average men and women who have simply learned, through inside information, just the things editors want and just how to supply them.27 This is the typical pitch: the demand for copy is so great that a little training and some easily-gained ‘insider knowledge’ can enable anyone, ‘given the resolution to work and learn’, to thrive as a writer; people without training, however, are doomed to multiple rejections. The Premier School ad in the ‘My Literary Career’ series from 2 April 1927 consisted of a testimonial from one T. S. Denham, who boasted that the Premier School’s ‘main tutor’, ‘Mr Gordon Muggy . . . saved me from a stool in the bank’ (p. 967). Strikingly, these ads acknowledge no distinction between art and commerce or (an important subset of that binary) literature and journalism. Such ads call their target readers ‘literary aspirants’ and offer instruction on, for instance, ‘Journalism/ Short Story Writing/English Composition/Advanced Literary Training/Verse Writing’.28 Advertisements for such ‘literary’ training shared space with others similarly invested in narratives of self-help and upward mobility: ads for secretarial and civil-service test preparation courses; the Encyclopedia Britannica, which offers its knowledge as a key to success in difficult economic times; and 105

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Corona typewriters, which borrowed directly from correspondence school ads in declaring, ‘The field of the Free Lance is limitless, remuneration is excellent. Every Free Lance feels the need for his or her typewriter at some time or another.’29 Such advertising was part of a larger continuity between the literary and the commercial in the newspaper – an overt strategy by which the periodical sought a defining role in the lifestyle of its readers. This lifestyle was focused on reading and writing but extended to the desire for a host of products and services, some of them tied to reading in concrete, even embodied ways (chairs, tables and bookcases, all of which imaginatively located reading and writing in comfortable, attractive spaces), some more tangentially related. An Encyclopedia Britannica advertisement from April 1922 touted a ‘special offer to John O’London’s readers’.30 A tobacco ad asserted that it was ‘no wonder the “Craven A” mixture appeals to John O’London’s readers. The full blend of choice leaf gives it a character all its own.’31 Such gestures combine the paper’s purely commercial side with its appeal to a readership that sees itself as developing discernment and discrimination. And they anticipate later, more assertive moves into the everyday lives of readers, including the establishment of ‘John O’London’s Reading Circles’ throughout the United Kingdom and the launch of John O’London’s brand cigarettes. This last extension may be the most obvious (even egregious) example of this embrace of the commercial as part of the construction of a wider lifestyle, but it is evident earlier, in more subtle ways, including puffs in the gossip columns for the London School of Journalism. John O’London’s thus, in collaboration with advertisers, sought assertively to become integral to its readers’ everyday lives. It did so by combining practices of the Edwardian suffrage periodicals – which introduced innovative ways to integrate the suffrage cause to everyday life by extending the suffrage ‘brand’ to consumer goods such as brooches and cigarettes – and the women’s ‘service’ magazines of the late twenties and thirties, which sought a role in readers’ domestic and fantasy lives through a combination of advice columns and aspirational images in advertising and letterpress sections.32 ‘Why Write?’ Writing as Trade? Profession? Passion? The ‘you can do it’ motif from the correspondence school advertisements informs editorial content as well, though more equivocally, and it competes with more exalted understandings of authorship. The paper, for instance, offers conflicting takes on whether journalism and literature are symbiotic categories or distinct, even hostile pursuits. An unsigned 1927 article, ‘Up from Grub Street’, posits newspaper work as an apprenticeship for novel writing and ‘a stepping stone to fame and fortune’.33 In the same issue, Whitten labours to separate literary work from commerce, distinguishing it from journalism as well. This effort appears in a treatment of Lewis Hinds’ Why Write? 106

‘quite ordinary men and women’ in which Hinds declares that he writes primarily for money and advancement. Whitten reproduces Hinds’ comical breakdown of his reasons for writing: ‘50 per cent Ambition . . . 25 per cent Vanity . . . 20 per cent earning a living, 5 per cent something to say’.34 Whitten rejects this understanding of authorship, though its mixture of ‘ambition’ and ‘earning a living’ accords exactly with the explicit message of John O’London’s advertising columns, one conveyed more subtly elsewhere in the paper. ‘I cannot feel sure’, Whitten writes, ‘that Mr Hind understands himself or does himself justice under these apparently exact formulae.’ He goes on to express doubt whether the earning of a livelihood is ever a real spring of action in a born writer. It is the consequence of his work, but surely not in essence its motive, still less its inspiration. Even if he has no other way of making a living he does not set this before himself as the principle object. If he did he would almost certainly fail and fail for of all the tasks a man can undertake, to write for bread and butter is nearest to dead-lift and disheartenment. (p. 186) In its insistent distinguishing of writing from its commercial ‘consequences’, this passage bears the marks of someone who is protesting too much. Earning cash, lest we miss the point, is appropriately neither ‘spring of action’, ‘motive’, ‘inspiration’ nor ‘principle object’. Word choices are telling: the phrase ‘born writer’ invokes its implied opposite, the ‘made writer’, calling up a hierarchy that values innate talent and implicitly devalues the hard-working self-improver – i.e. the implied reader of John O’London’s Weekly. The hierarchy resounds more explicitly later in the column, when he suggests that most contemporary writers are not ‘authors pure and simple . . . they are first and foremost journalists, purveyors to given markets’; but even these, he insists, do not pursue money as an ‘originating motive’. Whitten reaches here for what Wexler calls the Flaubertian model of the professional writer, for whom ‘to be concerned with payment was beneath his dignity, though as a professional he was entitled to receive a fee’ (xiii). At the same time, Whitten’s fine distinction between ‘motive’ and ‘inspiration’ invokes the romantic model of authorship as irresistible self-expression. Whitten’s reinscription of more exalted models leads to his claim that living by one’s pen is extraordinarily difficult – ‘the nearest to dead-lift and disheartenment’ – which is essentially the opposite position to that advertised by the correspondence schools week after week. The awkward forcefulness of Whitten’s rejection of literary commercialism is remarkable here, but the gesture itself is not. In the editorial columns, elevated understandings of authorship predominated, giving the tutorial approach towards readers a different pitch from that found in the correspondence columns. In 1920, Whitten had declared flatly that ‘writing is not a career’. He cited the difficulty of earning a living wage by one’s pen and distinguished 107

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those who would attempt it from people who (appropriately, to Whitten) write from ‘passion’: ‘One receives many letters which declare an ambition to make money by writing, but curiously few that reveal the passion and the power to write.’35 The paper’s narratives of writing as a field for upward mobility and authorship as a desirable lifestyle thus competed with descriptions of writing which were, like these, deeply invested in an expressive model. John O’London’s could even mentor writers and downplay commercial motivations simultaneously, as in ‘The Making of a Novelist’, a 1927 series ‘designed to help those beginners in fiction who so frequently apply to John O’London’s Weekly for advice and help’.36 The series was written by Ernest Raymond, whose 1922 novel memorialising the generation lost in the Great War, Tell England, had been a huge critical and popular success. Though the paper’s advertising columns often offered commercial advice to writers, its editors introduced the series by noting that Raymond ‘is naturally not concerned with the business side of novel-writing’ – as though an absence of commercial concern were the ‘natural’ way to mentor writers. Raymond’s first instalment re-inscribes the distinction between journalism and literature, urging aspirants to read Thomas Browne and Izaak Walton, prose writers from ‘before the arrival of the universal daily newspaper’ (p. 309). After producing quotations from these writers, Raymond advises: ‘He who cannot hear in such passages an idiom different from that of his leading articles, let him not begin to write his novels till he can’ (emphasis added). With that last phrase, Raymond sustains the paper’s self-help ethic and temporarily avoids the distinction between ‘made’ and ‘born’ writers by implying that the difference between literary and journalistic language can be learned. But he does so by recourse to the distinction between literature and journalism, which conflicted with the conflation of these categories in the advertising columns and would have proven problematic for the autodidacts among his readers. Those readers were, elsewhere in John O’London’s, being urged to act instantly, not to master the nuances of English prose but to learn ‘just the things editors want and just how to supply them’. This tension foregrounds the uneasy coexistence of three incommensurate discourses in John O’London’s: one an inclusive, persistent nineteenth-century journalistic/educational ideal that seeks to mentor everyone into the world of letters; a second a sort of commercial ‘rags to riches’ narrative of success in print culture; a third the rising regime of professionalism, invested in establishing standards and limiting membership, that was increasingly informing discussions of the arts at this time.37 One week later, Raymond explicitly adjudicated between competing models of authorship, sketching out what he called ‘two schools of thought’: The one which maintains that the artist creates solely to satisfy himself and technique is just some inevitable form into which he feels his creation 108

‘quite ordinary men and women’ must flow, and the other, which emphatically declares that the artist must have some public, good or bad, in his mind, and that technique is a business of making his work intelligible, easy, and delightful for this public. Amid Raymond’s studied avoidance of commercial aspects of fiction, the word ‘business’ registers the close tie in discussions like this one between rhetoric (a focus on impact on the audience) and commercialism – the twin enemies of the professionalist ethos as it was assuming modernist form at this time. Professionalism was a reshuffling of elements from existing models of authorship, combining the emphasis on the uniqueness of the artist’s expression from expressivist/romantic models while purging it, in the critical writing of such figures as Hulme and Eliot, of its personal and emotional suggestions. While Raymond plays at balancing these imperatives, he declares an expressivist model to be ‘very near the truth. Great art is akin to a cry . . . the expressed reaction of a sensitive soul to the spectacle of life before him.’38 He goes on to satirise devices for capturing audiences, such as cliff-hanging suspense, before finally spelling out how these imperatives might be brought into harmony. ‘[T]here must be that inner compulsion driving us to cry out our reaction to the great pageant of life before us; and there must be a reader in our mind . . . whose many tastes and hungers we are always trying to satisfy’ (p. 355). Raymond’s ideal reader – unsurprising in the context of his series, but uneasy in the context of John O’London’s, where mentoring on pleasing editors and audiences is offered and advertised – is the writer himself. ‘He is a reader whom we have carefully trained for this work, sending him among the greatest writers that every facet of his mind may be polished, and his demands may become more exacting and his criticism more trustworthy. . . . That reader is Ourself’ (p. 355). Just as Raymond’s balancing of these models is not really balanced, his resolution is a false resolution: by positing the implied reader as the author himself, he essentially denies the claims of the audience while forging a composite of the romantic and the professionalised author, one whose work is the ‘cry . . . of a sensitive soul’ but who is also ‘carefully trained . . . polished . . . exacting’. This formulation ignores various overlapping, implied readers of John O’London’s Weekly, among them the aspiring writers promised quick entry to the marketplace by the correspondence schools and Sidney Dark’s reader, ‘interested in books’ but with ‘little knowledge . . . [and] no interest in highbrow criticism’.39 In this context, then, Raymond’s series displays the contradictions in John O’London’s constructions of authorship. Ostensibly aimed at ‘beginners in fiction’ (the same audience the correspondence school ads addressed), it studiously ignores the commercial aspects of writing that would surely concern this audience, working instead to shore up the prestige of authorship by synthesising the romantic and professional models. 109

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That this tension is structural to John O’London’s Weekly becomes evident when we consider that Raymond otherwise seems an ideal fit for the paper’s tutorial stance. Raymond was a novelist of relatively modest origins who attended the public school St Paul’s. Though he had a middle-class upbringing, his status as an illegitimate child left him without an inheritance, and he had only his £150 living as a curate when his novel-writing career began.40 Sales of Tell England allowed him to write full-time. In his journalism, he typically expresses a deep commitment to educational efforts to make literature accessible to all – a position virtually identical to Whitten’s. In addition to his tutorial for aspiring novelists in John O’London’s, he wrote similar articles for the Teachers World, a magazine aimed at board-school educators. While he published more than fifty books after Tell England, his greatest commercial successes came in a 1928 volume repackaging the Teachers World articles, Through Literature to Life, which he dedicated to ‘those who long to catch of love for literature and those who long to give it; for those who want to write, and those who want to help others to write’.41 There his negotiation of the tension between an inclusive, democratic view of writing and a commitment to standards and notions of genius, more fully articulated and framed within a warm and encompassing humanism, reads somewhat more coherently, isolated as it is in book form from the welter of commercial visions of writing in John O’London’s Weekly.42 These same tensions come into sharper focus in the newspaper, where his insistence that ‘a sincere author loves his characters more than his sales’ and his elevation of literary prose above ‘the dreadful region of journalese, which is a blasted heath’ jar drastically with the thin, newsprint pages on which they appear, surrounded by advertisements for schools of journalism offering coursework in ‘literary composition’ and promising £250 a year to ‘quite ordinary men and women’.43 There the correspondence school claims seem a reductio ad absurdum of Raymond’s openness, seemingly incommensurable with his emphasis on genius and lofty humanist influence. John O’London’s inclusion of articles like Raymond’s series and Whitten’s review of Hinds thus shows that its embrace of the tradesman-like, self-help model of authorship evoked a counterstrain of anxiety about the quality of writing, the social status of the author and the cultural status of the newspaper itself, contributing to a polyvocality on this topic that in turn registered the unsettled nature of authorship in these years. Markers of value: H. G. Wells, Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad We can further trace these competing, entangled models of authorship in the paper’s treatment of H. G. Wells, Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad. In the weekly’s first ten years, Wells featured as the paper’s avatar of the writer as tradesman, Hardy as its embodiment of literary greatness. The paper treated both as celebrities as well, and juxtaposing them shows how differently l­ iterary 110

‘quite ordinary men and women’ celebrity could signify in individual cases. Wells’s ubiquity made him something of a polarising figure in British culture: his prolific output, his copious newspaper writing, his lower middle-class origins and the didacticism of his fiction combined to make him a man of the people to some, to others the epitome of degraded print culture. Hardy’s fame and sales seemed only to have increased his critical reputation, and John O’London’s assertively appropriated Hardy as a signifier of its own cultural value. As we shall see, this embrace of Hardy created numerous problems: while he was still alive and writing poetry (and thus ‘contemporary’), his era as an iconoclast in fiction was a quarter-century in the past, making him an unlikely icon for a newspaper so thoroughly marked by its contemporaneity. Ironically, even as his durable critical weight seemed to make Hardy a safe ‘classic’ for John O’London’s to back, the harsh naturalism of his fiction remained unacceptable to some of the newspaper’s readers. Conrad was a still more vexed figure for John O’London’s: his combination of popular recognition and critical regard made him comparable to Hardy as a signifier of value, but the patent difficulty of his texts brought resistance and required explanation. In the paper’s early years, though, it was Wells who was most ubiquitous in its pages, from brief puffs in the gossip columns, to long articles by and about him, to his testimonials for Corona typewriters and other products in the advertising columns.44 Wells wrote a long featured article in the paper’s first issue, a polemic about history teaching that doubled as advance publicity for The Outline of History. His name is sprinkled liberally throughout many early issues. On 15 April 1922, for instance, one could read a long review of Sidney Dark’s critical study of Wells, entitled The Outline of Mr Wells; learn of the high sales of The Outline of History in George Blake’s ‘What I Hear’ column, and see Louis McQuillard cite Wells as a touchstone in a review of a novel by E. V. Odle.45 Venerable journalist H. M. Tomlinson, reviewing Dark’s study, praised Wells’s ‘intelligence and energy’, describing him as ‘not an artist who is aloof from us’, a man ‘of the crowd, not an artist – in the exclusive sense of that word – but one of the multitude’.46 All this implicitly positions Wells as a role model for the weekly’s imagined readership of hard-working literary strivers. As someone down-to-earth, ‘not an artist – in the exclusive sense’, Wells is figured differently from Raymond’s ideal novelist, who as the sole judge of his own work approaches Joycean levels of detachment and self-sufficiency. In the advertising pages, Wells is even more strongly written into the selfhelp ethic. The London School of Journalism advertisement of 22 April 1922, having asserted that ‘success is inevitable’ to freelance writers with appropriate training, adds: ‘Some of our greatest journalists began their career as FreeLance Writers. . . . I have a fancy that H. G. Wells, W. W. Jacobs, and Rudyard Kipling all began in the same way – “free-lancing” in their spare time.’47 The advertisement plays out the recurrent narrative of upward ­ mobility while 111

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Figure 2.1  The selling power of print-culture celebrity. JOLW, 8 April 1922 112

‘quite ordinary men and women’ explicitly positing Wells et al. as role models, even if the assertion’s force is blunted by the ham-handed admission that these career histories are the ad writer’s ‘fancy’. A typewriter advertisement of 8 April 1922 singles out Wells and is remarkable for its condensation of the traits of John O’London’s implied reader-as-writer (Figure 2.1). The smartly designed ad, covering the right two columns of the weekly’s three-column page, features an illustration of a typewriter with a copy of The Outline of History standing behind it. Above, in smallish print, appears a fiftyword testimonial from Wells, expressing his ‘complete satisfaction’ with his Corona, ‘exactly the typewriter for an author like myself’.48 The typewriter is ‘so light and small it can be taken anywhere’, ‘portable, hardy, willing, and easy’. Beneath this tableau of illustration and testimonial appears the headline, ‘Corona helped H. G. Wells to write this book’ over the advertisement’s main copy. The Corona, it asserts, ‘helps men and women to success’ by allowing them to compose quickly and legibly ‘anywhere and at any time’; it is the ‘perfect instrument for literary composition’. The call to identification with Wells is explicit: ‘With Corona’s help, H. G. Wells wrote the story of the human race. . . . You too can hasten your success with the help of this “Personal Writing Machine”.’ All the elements of John O’London’s version of writing-as-trade are here: the narrative of self-improvement (helping ‘men and women to success’), the labelling of all freelance writing as ‘literary composition’; the sense of writing as a vigorous and exciting career, embedded here in the repeated assumptions that writers must be on the move and ready to write at all times. Indeed, ‘literary composition’ here seems to be all about speed and motion: four times the ad refers to the typewriter’s portability, which allows writers to record their thoughts ‘swiftly and legibly’. Wells’s own adjectives, ‘portable, hardy, willing, and easy’, pick up the note of vigour while chiming with the paper’s ‘you can do it’ ethos – its reiterated assumption that literary labour is available to anyone with sufficient gumption. We seem a long way here from the Romantic image of the passionate artist tossing on his bed: clearly the writer figured in this advertisement does not need £500 and a room of his own to write, since his typewriter will go anywhere he wants it to go and costs just £15/15, with a deferred-payment scheme available. It is a measure of how neatly H. G. Wells embodied the newspaper’s image of the professional writer that when Cassell’s hatched the idea of re-starting T. P.’s Weekly as a publication to compete with it, they approached Wells about re-naming it H. G.’s Weekly, with him as its titular editor.49 More broadly, John O’London’s image of Wells aligns him with definitive characteristics of modernity: speed, mechanical reproduction, the modern print marketplace itself. He was also widely identified with science and progress: reviewing Sidney Dark’s The Outline of Mr Wells for John O’London’s, H. M. Tomlinson called Wells their ‘manifest spokesman’.50 While Wells’s image was 113

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almost always positively valued in John O’London’s, his status as an avatar of modernity and print culture laid the paper open to critique by those who did not view these forces favourably. Wells’s prolific output could imply haphazard research and composition: his embrace of technology and his status as ‘one of the multitude’ could place him among the forces of so-called cultural decline. Winston Churchill, vexed with Wells’s praise of the Soviet state in 1922, wrote that ‘When one has written a history of the world from the nebula to the Third International and of the human race from protoplasm to Lord Birkenhead in a twelvemonth, there ought to be no difficulty becoming an expert on the internal conditions of Russia after a visit of fourteen days.’51 Years later, T. S. Eliot posited an intellectually serious ‘minority journalism’ by naming Wells as its antithesis; Eliot evoked commuters reading Wells ‘in the first class as well as the third class compartment’, entranced with his writing because ‘he does not reason, or draw upon any kind of wisdom inaccessible to the common man’.52 John O’London’s was, undeniably, a thoroughgoing artefact of modernity – a product of modern reproduction and distribution technology that sought a large audience within the saturated, hyper-mediated literary marketplace. Nonetheless, Raymond’s tutorial for aspiring novelists, with its quasi-­modernist emphasis on canonical learning and the integrity of the artist, illustrates that the paper also valued (or attempted to raise as a value) a more elitist and professionalised model of authorship as well as a scale of literary quality to which Wells would not measure up. Along with paeans to the Wellsian ethic of self-help, the paper displays an attraction to the contrasting image of the artist ‘in the exclusive sense’.53 Its editors found a suitable marker of such literary value in Thomas Hardy, whose status as a surviving Victorian who had rebelled against Victorian mores linked him positively with modernity without associating him with its commercial and technological excesses. Tess among the Correspondence Schools The aptness of Hardy for John O’London’s self-positioning explains the paper’s unusual decision to serialise Tess of the D’Urbervilles – a novel more than a quarter-century old – from October 1925 to July 1926. (The paper followed up the next year by publishing a set of Hardy’s poems, also in serial form.) For Tess the paper paid the breathtaking sum of £1,000, suggesting eagerness to invest in the impressive cultural capital Hardy had built up by 1925.54 In the twenties Hardy may have shared with Conrad alone the distinction of combining cachet among intellectual readers with the kind of popular currency enacted by frequent mentions in the gossip columns.55 Despite this currency, and in contrast to Wells, Hardy was not sanguine about progress or modernity; nor did he fancy himself ‘of the multitude’, regardless of his empathy for the suffering poor. Hardy saw the emergence of the new reading public and 114

‘quite ordinary men and women’ the expansion of print culture as drags on the culture. In a 1912 prize speech he named as ‘enemies to literature’ the expansion of literacy, ‘slipshod writing’ and ‘hurried descriptive writing in the newspapers’.56 John O’London’s embrace of him can be read as an effort to counterbalance its association with modern, commercial print culture by linking the paper to a respected writer as an indicator of stable cultural value. To quote Marc DaRosa’s work on Henry James, such a move transforms ‘the value contained in [the] name into a transactable, exchangeable source of social effects’ (p. 843). In other words, John O’London’s Weekly’s association with Hardy sought to accumulate prestige for the journal, balancing its more blatantly commercial models of authorship and parrying the ambient distrust and devaluation of mass periodicals in 1920s Britain. That Hardy’s name served as such highly valued currency for John O’London’s is evident in its aggressive promotion of the Tess debut on 24 October 1925. Scattered references to Hardy appeared throughout the paper – in teasers, in the gossip columns, in perhaps random filler spaces – for several weeks before its appearance and during the serial’s early weeks. On 17 October, the front page included a small, one-column profile photo of Hardy above a legend referring readers to an inside page for the ‘important announcement’ that the serial would begin next week.57 The same day’s ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, Whitten’s weekly column, prepares the ground for Hardy’s serial at length, claiming that ‘hundreds of thousands of readers are agog to read “Tess” because of a theatrical adaptation of the novel running on the West End’ (p. 105). It posits John O’London’s readers as enlightened in comparison to its original, puritanical 1891 audience; Whitten claims to ‘know our readers too well to fear any reproach’. The column spends the final 650 of its 1,000 words aligning John O’London’s with the novel’s courageous iconoclasm, claiming that despite its age Tess’s ‘statement of what its author believes to be inner Necessity and Truth’ needs to be shared anew, because ‘time and progress have called unmistakably for the repetition of that statement’. The column thus somewhat muddily posits the continuing relevance of a ‘statement’ made three decades ago, on the grounds that ‘progress’ requires it. It then shifts into tutorial mode, preparing its readers for the challenges of Tess. Though Whitten describes the novel as a ‘statement’, he adds here that is nature is ambiguous, and advises that reading the novel will call on readers’ capacities for reflection and analysis. The moral – never stated by its author – is one for the research and meditation of our readers. . . . It is my expectation that as they read, from week to week, the seven ‘Phases’ of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, they will find themselves absorbed not only in the story but in reflection upon the deepest issues of life. . . . [W]e offer the readers of this journal the 115

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opportunity to read it slowly and thoughtfully, to think about it, to talk about it among themselves, and to file it in what way they will. I believe that the week-to-week reading of ‘Tess’ may be commended to its new and old readers alike. Calculated to create the aura of an event around the serial, Whitten’s column effectively set Hardy’s novel as a mark for John O’London’s readers to reach for even as it assured them that they were up to it. Whitten’s column thus takes part in the near-obsessive validation of Hardy with which John O’London’s surrounded the serial and, in a slightly more attenuated way, validates its readers as equal to this modern classic. (One might ask why, if the readers are equal, they need this tutorial preparation.) The column also reiterated the paper’s tutorial stance when it came to literary ‘classics’, especially visible here in the degree to which the reading protocols outlined for Tess here (‘research’, ‘meditation’, discussion) accord with developing practices in the nascent academic study of literature. Parrying any ambient cultural snobbery against John O’London’s as a disposable, commercial periodical, Whitten goes so far as to suggest that the seriality of the current reprint is ideal for the careful, active reading Tess will require. The blitz of Hardy references continued through and beyond the serial’s debut. The 24 October cover includes Hardy’s ‘Message to our Readers’ (discussed below) and a reproduced illustration from the novel’s original ­publication; a one-column headshot of Hardy graces an inside page.58 The second week’s cover contains an above-the-flag teaser declaring Tess ‘A Modern Masterpiece’.59 A 14 November item in ‘What I Hear’ notes that the dramatic adaptation of Tess will be moving to London’s Garrick Theatre.60 And on 7 November, week three of the serial, Hardy’s name is listed in an advertisement for Newnes’s World’s Library of Best Books, edited by Whitten.61 This appearance of Hardy’s name in a publisher’s ad marks the sort of happenstance inevitable in literary periodicals that accept publishers’ advertisements. It thus may not have been deliberate on John O’Londons’ part, but it nonetheless re-circulated Hardy’s name, contributing to the iterative cultural process of asserting its value. The ad’s status as a house ad, for the paper’s publisher and highlighting its editor, subtly underscores the association between the periodical, Hardy and the world’s ‘best books’. The ubiquity of Hardy in these weeks rivalled that of Wells in the paper’s earliest years. Most striking amid this intense reiteration of Hardy’s value was the front cover layout of 24 October, the first day of the serial, most of which was taken up by an unusual teaser focused around the ‘Message to Our Readers’. This occupied the space normally reserved for the weekly leading article and consisted of a facsimile autographed letter from Hardy himself (Figure 2.2). Topped with the salutation ‘Gentle Reader’, Hardy’s message makes a claim 116

‘quite ordinary men and women’

Figure 2.2  The authorial aura in cheap print. JOLW, 24 October 1925

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for the novel’s continued relevance: Tess’s events, Hardy writes, are ‘as likely to have happened last week as fifty years back’.62 An editor’s note underscores the facsimile’s claim to authorial sanction and its attempt to evoke authorial presence: ‘It is our great privilege to present to our readers the message from Mr Thomas Hardy reproduced above. It is, we feel, a significant communication; for the searching story of Tess is likely to stir up as much controversy to-day as it did on its first appearance thirty years ago’ (p. 125). Both the facsimile and the editor’s note underscore Tess’s age and assert its continued relevance, perhaps belying some anxiety on that head. But the notes also demonstrate the degree to which Tess is positioned as safely modern for John O’London’s purposes: its continued relevance distinguishes it from pure nostalgia but also separates it from the ephemera surrounding it in the paper, where the sheer number of titles referenced in reviews, literary gossip columns and publishers’ advertisements testified to the oversupplied print market and the contingency of literary value. Hardy’s note further serves as a sort of fetish, its mechanically reproduced nature paradoxically elided, then foregrounded – it is both ‘presented’ and ‘reproduced’ – as it asserts authorial presence and fictively links the weekly, its readers and the author. This insistence on connection with the famous author – and its implication that Hardy was directly involved in the serialisation – was echoed two years later when the paper serialised the Hardy lyrics: ‘Our selection has received the author’s approval and he has thus in a degree served as his own anthologist’ (p. 933). The Tess packaging authenticates the paper’s connection with Hardy and posits the serialisation as, to quote the headline above the first instalment, ‘A Literary Event’. The facsimile autograph, as Richard Salmon has shown, had been part of the semiotics of literary celebrity since the 1880s; and it had a paradoxical effect, its mechanical reproducibility not deflating but increasing the symbolic value of the author’s signature.63 George Blake, John O’London’s ‘Colophon’, went so far as to suggest that copies of the paper including the serial would become valuable to collectors.64 If Wells’s typewriter testimonial marked an effort to use his name to validate the Corona through a rhetoric of identification with readers, Hardy’s ‘Message to our Readers’ worked similarly for the value of John O’London’s Weekly itself, seeking to polish its brand and take it upscale, through a claim of authentic association with a name that served as a relatively stable, secure marker of literary value. And yet, if Tess seemed uniquely suited to support John O’London’s claim for cultural respectability – if it was a ‘modern masterpiece’, but neither too modern nor too taxing to the audience’s reading ability – this 1891 novel of the severities of rural social life still looks out of place amid the welter of contemporary print culture that typified the newspaper’s pages. While the beginning of each week’s instalment always gets a full page to itself, beginning with a summary of the story so far, the continuation pages force Tess into jarring 118

‘quite ordinary men and women’ juxtapositions emphasising the tenuousness of the novel’s alleged contemporaneity. The rural folkways represented in Tess butt up against such signs of modernity as advertisements for typewriters and the Pelmanism programme for mental training. One continuation page of the second instalment contains an ad for the London School of Journalism, including a testimonial headline ‘Experiences of a Woman Journalist’ – as though to emphasise the degree to which non-elite women’s voices, through the enlarged and diversified print media Hardy decried, have gained access to publicity and no longer so desperately require the empathetic ventriloquism of a Hardy. Indeed, the story of Tess’s entrapment within restrictive social norms and an economic landscape devoid of options for an unmarriageable woman, when placed within a print setting that emphasises economic opportunities and upward mobility, functions subtly as an endorsement of the present, countering Hardy’s claim that the novel’s events remain contemporary. The first continuation page of the 21 November instalment contains an ad for the John O’London Home Library, ‘an intellectual investment’. The third jump page contains an ad for the Regent’s Institute, inviting the reader to ‘Learn to Write/and/Earn While You Learn’.65 While Hardy’s story evokes a stifling provincial culture teetering on the edge of modernity, the pages surrounding it embody the energy, variety and exaggerated optimism of a modern, commercial print culture in overdrive. Such advertisements are only one aspect of the polyvocality that complicates John O’London’s efforts to claim Hardy and Tess as markers of a valued literary modernity. In small and large ways, other letterpress content pulls Hardy’s image – and the newspaper’s representation of the literary landscape in which he fits – in multiple directions. One gossip item, from the ‘Book World’ column of 5 December 1925, critiques the Nobel Prize committee’s apparent snub of Hardy, whose candidacy to the prize seems to ‘have been definitely set aside’.66 While the column reiterates the newspaper’s valuation of Hardy, it also evokes a separate, authoritative circuit of value where his claims are more tenuous. But though Hardy’s status among English arbiters of value was secure, his status as ‘modern’, and the status of Tess as a distinctly modern classic, was out of step with other content in John O’London’s. Blake’s ‘Wheel of Life’ gossip column of 2 January 1926 indeed posits Hardy as a holdout against modernity, noting that he continues to light his home with paraffin lamps, shunning the gas main passing beneath the road in front of his house. This ‘tit-bit’ remains silent on whether Hardy’s resistance to modernity is heroic or quixotic. Even gestures that shore up Hardy’s status as a classic often undermine his status as a contemporary. About midway through the serial, Whitten’s ‘Letters from Gog and Magog’ reviewed a new volume of Hardy poems, praising him as ‘a great artist’ while suggesting that he ‘bears more likeness to Browning’ than any modern poet.67 In a more profound sense, the newspaper’s embrace of Hardy as its avatar of 119

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literary mastery is irreconcilable with a key aspect of the newspaper’s mission: contemporaneity. A key part of its mission lay in giving readers access to the world of books as it existed in Britain in the present. The emphasis placed by Whitten, Raymond and others on literary classics of the past competed with equally strong markers of contemporaneity, including its status as a newspaper, dependent for copy on reviews of the latest works and fresh literary ‘news’ and gossip. Contemporaneity was a significant part of what it was selling. It addressed a class of readers whose arrival as aspirants – as both readers and writers – was itself a contemporary phenomenon. And its contributors necessarily engaged with developments in fiction next to which Hardy’s novel seemed an artefact of the past. The newspaper may have tried, in framing the serial, to recover its status as an edgy, controversial work – one that still might shock sensibilities. But elsewhere in the Tess issues it was evident that the leading edge in literary experiment now lay elsewhere. The serial overlapped with a long, equivocal meditation on Proust which, though faulting his long sentences and his ‘obsession’ with the ‘inscrutable working of the subconscious self’, appeared under the headline ‘Genius in Red Flannel’.68 As I discuss below, Hugh Walpole’s survey of the year 1925 in fiction tries to finesse its way around controversies over modernism, offering faint praise to Mrs Dalloway and Parade’s End. Yet while he critiques these novels’ purported failure to depict ‘a world beyond and outside their authors’, he nonetheless finds in Woolf and Ford ‘admirable examples of what the new novel in England is trying to do’. He favours novelists who ‘follow the old tradition of the novel – they tell stories, they create characters external to the author, and they are easily understood’, but his typology nonetheless marks Woolf and Ford as practitioners of the ‘new novel’ and the rest as continuing ‘the old tradition’.69 If claiming Hardy as a contemporary was a reach, John O’London’s had ample support from more established cultural authorities in claiming him as a classic – a status that nonetheless did not win complete approval for the serialisation from readers. Hardy biographer Michael Millgate notes the worldwide publicity for Hardy’s eightieth birthday in 1920, calling Hardy ‘the universally acknowledged grand old man of English letters’.70 From this ambient praise John O’London’s could draw evidence of Hardy’s centrality to be shared with readers as it puffed the ongoing Tess serial. Blake’s ‘What I Hear’ column of 20 February 1926 notes, ‘Books about the novels of Thomas Hardy are innumerable. The latest is “Thomas Hardy’s Wessex” by Herman Lea (Macmillan).’71 But the newspaper also offers evidence that readers were pushing back on the elevation of Hardy as an icon for John O’London’s Weekly. The paper’s commentary upon the serial’s final instalment adopts the tone of self-­congratulation we saw in its initial framing, proclaiming: ‘The tragic story of Tess has been retold and that, as we have the best reasons for believing, to the vast satisfaction of our readers.’ But even here the commen120

‘quite ordinary men and women’ tary acknowledges that John O’London’s stands in a tutorial relationship to its readers when it comes to Hardy, as the paper describes its pride in having ‘done something towards demonstrating to a wide circle of readers the greatness of a living English writer’.72 The silent assumption is that the paper’s readers needed the demonstration. Blake, in the ‘Wheel of Life’ column simultaneous with the fourth week of the serialisation, began in this same vein of self-congratulation – ‘The serial publication of [Tess] has inevitably aroused considerable interest’ – before acknowledging the paper’s receipt of ‘three anonymous post-cards abusing us for our policy’. He continues: ‘. . . but the number of congratulatory letters arriving daily disposes me to believe that the objectors are in a miserable minority’.73 The evidence of ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’, however, paints a more equivocal picture. Particularly in the later stages of the serial, the section hosted a vigorous dialogue among letter-writers, some unconverted to Hardy’s naturalism and others keen to defend him – suggesting that reception was more varied than Blake let on. ‘An Old Dairy-Maid’ wrote on 27 March 1926 to protest the depiction of dairy maids, finding it ‘improbable, and quite unnatural’.74 A ‘Scots Country Woman’ wrote in on 8 May to support the ‘Old Dairy-Maid’, asserting that ‘no girl I have ever come across would have behaved in such a slack and feeble fashion’ as Tess.75 Several subsequent letters defended Hardy: an E. H. Bennett began, ‘I do not find Mr Hardy’s dairymaids in the least overdrawn’, while M. M. Robson argued that individual psychology is ‘one of the eternal mysteries’ and thus Hardy’s depiction of Tess need not square with other individuals’ experiences.76 Several weeks later, one H. Bowdedge set off a second flurry of responses, writing that he had been tempted to take a third try at reading Tess based on John O’London’s ‘enthusiastic advocacy’. In the event, he found the novel ‘pure melodramatic rubbish’, Tess herself an ‘unreal and farcical . . . stage-heroine’ and the tale overall ‘a wretched tangle of sex, morality, and religion’ bearing ‘no true relation to real life and real men and women’.77 A ‘Gleaner’ wrote subsequently to agree, while two dissenters in the same column defended Hardy, including an H. Hoare, who accused Bowdedge of ‘heresy’ and B. Waddington, who accused Bowdedge of having faulty ‘mental digestion’.78 This dialogue attests to John O’London’s status as a relatively open periodical – multi-voiced (and thus given to dialogue and disputation) among its own writers but also permeable to the opinions of its readers, in the form of letters to the editor and editorial discussions of reader feedback. This dialogic nature was an essential part of the tutorial stance the newspaper assumed towards readers: if John O’London’s was primarily a commercial enterprise, it was one that was marketing – in part – a sense of a reading community and a promise of cultural uplift not entirely distinguishable from that being sold by the correspondence colleges that filled its advertising columns. And just as 121

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the correspondence colleges promised ‘expert advice’ on the writing of ‘literary aspirants’, John O’London’s also offered a two-way communication circuit to its readers, providing a questions-and-answers feature, accepting their letters, publishing small selections of them, writing about reader response from various editorial positions, holding contests and sponsoring the discussion circles. Jonathan Wild has suggestively described John O’London’s as a sort of ‘interactive distance learning centre’.79 To its credit, John O’London’s pedagogical model was not the lecture but the tutorial, and it allowed in readerly voices that challenged its evaluative moves. But this also meant that its attempts to shore up its cultural value (as distinct from its commodity value) always rested on uncertain ground, which its own readers could help to destabilise. Joseph Conrad: ‘They had sought manfully . . . They had failed.’ Joseph Conrad’s status as an established marker of value, as well as a quasicelebrity whose name was in heavy circulation, made him function similarly to Hardy in the culture. But he was perhaps an even more fraught figure for John O’London’s, given that his most ambitious fictions were difficult to read. The unexpected commercial success of Conrad’s Chance in 1913 had added popularity to the critical sanction his works had been receiving since the turn of the century. And, unlike Hardy, Conrad had continued to produce highprofile novels through the first quarter of the century; he also had a greater claim to being near the leading edge of literary craft. Eliot’s ‘Hollow Men’, with its Conradian epitaph, appeared in 1925, as did Woolf’s ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’, which named Conrad as a register of the new fiction. In the overall discourses of literary value in the 1920s Conrad was a consensus figure on whom experimentalists and writers of serious but traditional fiction could agree. Conrad’s status as this apparent universal is visible in Walpole’s ‘Novels of 1925’ column.80 As we have seen, the column divides serious fiction into conventional novels (he admired particularly Wells’s Christina Alberta’s Father, which ‘continues definitely the old tradition’) and experimental novels (Mrs Dalloway was ‘the best written novel of the year’). While he spent more time on Woolf and Wells, Walpole reserved his unqualified (though unarticulated) praise for Conrad, whose Suspense he named ‘the only novel of absolute genius’ to come out in England in 1925. It is a safe bet that virtually no one would make that claim for Suspense, Conrad’s all-but-forgotten final novel, today.81 But Conrad’s cultural value was so strong in 1925 that even what appears to our eyes as, at best, a second-tier Conrad novel could then appear as the only common ground between serious traditionalism and experimentalism, and thus the only ‘novel of absolute genius’. But Conrad’s difficulty – his sometimes-tortuous, impressionistic prose, his penchant for proto-modernist ‘delayed decoding’ – made him a difficult fit for John O’London’s. In 1926, after Conrad’s February death became the 122

‘quite ordinary men and women’ year’s leading literary news story, John O’London’s staked a claim to his value by serialising the 1915 novel Victory. But the newspaper’s handling of the death and the serial makes it clear that this was a more ambivalent embrace than the one extended to Hardy the year before. Just weeks after Conrad’s death, an anonymous review of a new edition grappled awkwardly with his literary value, acknowledging stiff resistance to Conrad’s fiction among John O’London’s readers. Some of them, [m]istrusting the enthusiasm of obituary notices, wrote to this office to say that, while they had sought manfully to appreciate Conrad’s novels, they had failed nevertheless to see wherein he was great. Some said bluntly that they found him tedious, some . . . that they simply could not make heads or tails of him.82 The article goes on to qualify its praise for Conrad severely – admitting that Conrad is ‘sometimes tedious’, assenting to Wells’s criticism that Conrad’s prose is marked by ‘vague mental gestures’, and praising the ambition of the longer novels while finding in them signs of ‘a man baffled by the limitations of language’. The review rallies to his defence in its closing sentences, advising John O’London’s readers to begin with the short stories, where they will find Conrad’s characteristic virtue, a ‘fine, spacious idea . . . that man is a pigmy against the vast background of the sea and land wherein he moves and has his being, but that man’s endeavour, however unavailing, to contend in good causes with the mighty force of Nature is always and invincibly noble and moving’. If the Tess serial can be understood as an attempt to raise John O’London’s prestige by linking it to a relatively fixed marker of value – a marker whose vestigial instability came out when some of the newspaper’s readers demurred – this equivocation upon Conrad’s death is a more local, tactical attempt to position the newspaper in a proper relation to a more problematic, if equally powerful, marker of value. The discussion cedes some ground to the evoked John O’London’s readers who have struggled with Conrad, even allowing Conrad’s value to suffer the dinge of that ‘sometimes tedious’ phrase, before shifting back into the tutorial mode to urge readers to start with the short stories, implying that (even if the novels are ‘sometimes tedious’) Conrad’s oeuvre is a challenge worthy of ‘manful’ effort. Given the equivocation in this review, whose reference to letters sent ‘to this office’ suggests that it was written by Whitten or a subeditor, it is noteworthy that eight months later John O’London’s serialised Victory, but without the full-court-press of self-advertising that had characterised the Tess serial. Here was a seemingly identical event in terms of John O’London’s orientation towards literary value: a serial re-issue of a book from the past (Victory appeared in 1915, so it was comparatively recent but still predated the newspaper’s birth) from an author whose name was firmly associated with 123

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c­ontemporary literary value. Conrad’s recent death had brought accolades and a great deal of publicity, so that aligning John O’London’s with Conrad would seem an ideal opportunity to shore up its cultural bona fides. Yet compared with the promotional hard sell the newspaper put on for the Hardy serial, the Victory reprint is treated as routine. ‘“Victory.” By Joseph Conrad. Our New Serial Starts To-Day’, reads the weekly above-the-flag teaser on 30 October 1926, but that is the extent of the promotional paratext. Neither the 30 October issue nor the 6 November issue contain any of the puffing we saw in the launch of Tess. These two issues each mention Conrad’s name precisely two times – on the front page (the second issue lists Victory in the weekly ‘Special Contents’ box, on the front page’s lower left corner) – and in the byline on the first page of the serial. They pass up the many opportunities to name-check Conrad in such casual feature columns as ‘The Book World’, ‘What I Hear’, and ‘The Wheel of Life’ – though all of these features appear in these issues. I can only speculate on why John O’London’s did not give Conrad the full celebrity treatment. (As my last chapter showed, the deaths of famous authors had been, since the 1890s, occasion for over-the-top exercises in literary celebrity, such as the special Illustrated London News supplement on the death of Tennyson.) Perhaps readers’ resistance to Conrad, and the nature of that resistance – evident in the anonymous review’s reference to readers unable to ‘make heads or tails of him’ – made Conrad a mark that John O’London’s wished to mentor readers towards but not (like Hardy) a figure they sought close identification with. It is clear that John O’London’s had not given up on celebrity, or on Hardy as a celebrity, by 1927, as their serialisation of his poems – boasting of Hardy’s sanction of their selection – overlapped with the Victory serial. The contrasting significance of Hardy, Wells and Conrad as circulated names in John O’London’s speaks to the unstable nature of literary celebrity in the late 1910s and 1920s, as well as to the betwixt-and-between nature of the newspaper itself. Amidst its many-voiced effort at self-definition, ‘H.G. Wells’, ‘Joseph Conrad’ and ‘Thomas Hardy’ were not simple, interchangeable ciphers in the game of literary celebrity. Nor were they what Aaron Jaffee calls modernist ‘imprimaturs’, names such as ‘T. S. Eliot’ and ‘James Joyce’, which circulated as a unique form of elite currency precisely because they had been purged of association with journalism and celebrity and were thereby lifted into a separate circuit of literary value.83 The modernist regime Jaffe outlines would ultimately become the most powerful among competing and non-aligned circuits of literary value, but it was provisional and insurgent in these years. As I argued in the Introduction, such competing circuits have points of overlap and connection but do not comprise a totalising system: they’re related but distinct organisations of the ongoing processes by which value is articulated. The ‘imprimatur’ was defined by opposition to the kinds of value circulating in 124

‘quite ordinary men and women’ mass periodicals, built on a caricatured image of these papers’ use of such elements as photographs, gossip columns and ‘author at home’ interviews. Yet, as we have seen, Hardy, Wells and Conrad performed contrasting and conflicted functions for John O’London’s: literary celebrity functioned in more nuanced ways than the modernists acknowledged. Hardy’s name was most valuable as a signifier of durable literary greatness, marking John O’London’s desire for a cultural legitimacy that Wells and the associated, inclusive ethic of self-help could not offer. Conrad, perhaps, marked the limit of John O’London’s reach for cultural prestige – a marker the paper could invoke but not fully claim as its own – and foreshadowed the increasing authority of modernist accounts of value, which were able to integrate Conrad. Hardy, despite his rancorous denunciations of the cheap press, retained a sort of cultural capital based partly on the mechanisms of literary celebrity but somewhat untainted by it, and John O’London’s was able to trade on this capital in a way that made commercial sense, helped to craft a self-respecting image for the paper, and – in a reversal of the more common flow of literary value – raised the prestige of the paper more than that of the author. That the circuit of value flowed in this direction is clear from the paper’s willingness to pay a princely £1,000 for Hardy’s novel. Tellingly, the newspaper made no reference to these financial terms, although information about rates paid to writers was a staple of both the gossip columns and the correspondence school ads. The Tess serial was about accumulating a different kind of cultural capital, one predicated on occluding the link between art and commerce – between ‘A Literary Event’, and the exchange of cash behind it – a connection that was otherwise the stock-in-trade of John O’London’s Weekly. The Value of John O’London’s Weekly These tensions reflect the middling position of John O’London’s Weekly in the informal, unstable hierarchy of print – a position the paper’s editors were eager to stabilise, provided doing so did not alienate its readers. John O’London’s was neither a ha’penny rag nor the sort of little magazine or authoritative, twoshilling review that would have defined itself by rejecting literary celebrity and gossip. T. S. Eliot’s supremely snooty slam at literary celebrity – by reference to an imagined, satirical feature on ‘Miss Precocia Pondoeuf’ with a ‘photograph of the nursery in which she wrote’ appeared initially in Harold Monro’s Chapbook.84 But such evaluative statements, as Barbara Herrnstein-Smith has shown, are always interested, never pure statements of a stable, pre-existing scale of value; they are, she writes, value’s ‘springs’ rather than its ‘signs’.85 Hardy himself, having been sent a copy of John O’London’s as its editors were wooing him for the Tess serialisation, observed that it ‘seems of a very good class’ – an interested evaluation by a sometime mass-media curmudgeon with £1,000 of skin in the game. It contrasts tellingly with an observation from a 125

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differently interested Maurice Macmillan – Hardy’s publisher – who observed hopefully that Tess’s popularity would be increased by association with ‘this rather popular paper’.86 All agents involved in the construction of John O’London’s value – editors, advertisers, readers, contributors, critics – were likewise (if differently) interested. Depending on one’s position, association with John O’London’s could signify cultural ambition and uplift or a state of being mired in the middlebrow and the mass. Circuits of Distinction: Lord Riddell and George Blake The instability and relativity of the paper’s value is evident its relations with George Allardice (Lord) Riddell, majority owner of the Newnes publishing combine (and thereby of John O’London’s Weekly) and a frequent contributor of its leading articles. As a spokesman for uplift via print culture, he was a natural: the son of a bankrupt photographer in Brixton, he rose through law clerkship to the newspaper business, where he eventually earned a fortune running the News of the World, ultimately gaining influence among prominent MPs and a seat in the House of Lords. In his leaders Riddell often iterated the message of self-improvement through literacy, though he saw literature as functional to a degree that may have made Whitten queasy. ‘Books will help you take advantage of your opportunities,’ Riddell wrote in one column, ‘and has not someone said that the art of life consists in the seizing of opportunities? . . . You require a happy combination of experience and bookwork in the proportion of, say, three to one.’87 Sidney Dark, a primary subeditor at John O’London’s from 1919–23, suggests in his memoir that Riddell’s background made him sympathetic to ‘the particular public we were out for in John O’London’s Weekly, the public that has intelligence and curiosity, but lacks education and culture’.88 With his modest origins, Riddell seems to have sought prestige through his connection with John O’London’s. John McEwan, editor of Riddell’s diaries, suggests as much: Riddell’s public image needed polishing because of his better-known association with the News of the World – the highest-circulation newspaper on earth and a signifier for the excesses of modern journalism. Riddell placed himself on the boards of John O’London’s and Country Life, McEwan suggests, ‘as if in search of the respectability which the News of the World did not confer’; he recalls a recurring dream Riddell described in which ‘he knelt before the Recording Angel and pleaded that his connection with those two journals should lighten his punishment for the News of the World’.89 Here we see the circuit of value we observed in John O’London’s appropriation of Hardy reversed: instead of the newspaper accumulating value by its association with a valued figure, we see a figure attempting to add value to his image by association with the newspaper. In fact, this connection likely did little for Riddell and may have eroded the tenuous prestige of John O’London’s. 126

‘quite ordinary men and women’ Riddell’s association with John O’London’s fuelled at least one critique, one that emerged from a similarly fraught and interested, if different, cultural position. In 1929 Faber and Faber instituted a series of pamphlets known as the Criterion Miscellany Series, so-named to associate them with T. S. Eliot’s Criterion magazine and edited, in part, by Eliot. One of the first issues, from 1930, was a critique of the mass press called ‘The Press and the Public’, penned by none other than George Blake, subeditor at John O’London’s from 1924 to 1928 (replacing Dark) from whose ‘Wheel of Life’ and ‘Audax’ columns I have been quoting liberally. Blake was a prominent voice at John O’London’s, writing the ‘Book World’, ‘The Wheel of Life’, and ‘What I Hear’ under the pseudonyms ‘Colophon’ and ‘Audax’. The cover of ‘The Press and the Public’ adduces this experience as undergirding his authority on the subject, identifying him as ‘an experienced Fleet Street journalist’.90 The pamphlet rehearses the standard litany of complaints against the press, asserting the familiar thesis that the press is ‘vulgarising the mind of the public’.91 His argument briefly addresses Riddell and John O’London’s Weekly. Identifying Riddell as a former colleague, he praises him for ‘having no political axe to grind’, before concluding flatly, ‘The charge against him is simply that of vulgarisation’ (p. 8). Near the argument’s conclusion, he notes that journals like John O’London’s and the rebooted T.P. and Cassell’s Weekly will ‘give an outline of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall in one page of 1,500 words’, a practice that raises the question, ‘Does this form of summarization act as a proper incentive to the earnest seeker after knowledge? Or does it merely serve to satisfy the lazy and ill-educated, who, armed with last week’s John O’London’s Weekly, can face with confidence the local debating society?’ He concludes with a lukewarm defence of John O’London’s and its ilk: ‘I incline to think the influence of such periodicals is on the whole for good. At least there is no moral or political vice in their teachings, whatever their offence against strict intellectual integrity may be’ (p. 32). This virtual concession that John O’London’s commits an ‘offence against intellectual integrity’, combined with Blake’s depiction of its readers as passive consumers who have literature ‘served to them’ in ‘tabloid form’, suggests that anxiety about the weekly’s cultural value was present within the office itself, which Blake had occupied just two years before (p. 32). His departure from John O’London’s, and his ascension to the podium of the Criterion Miscellany Series (which also published a short story by him), seem to represent a significant apostasy: three years earlier, we can find him in John O’London’s defending the tastes of bestseller-readers. In ‘Colophon’s’ ‘Passing Remarks’ on 21 November 1925, Blake accepts that most reading is escapist, and that such reading is accurately described as a sort of ‘opiate’. But he defends the practice, asserting that ‘“dope” and “opiate” may be only picturesque terms for “restgiving” or “recreative”, and “recreative”, remember, means “re-creative”.’92 127

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But through the Criterion Miscellany, Blake wrote from an institutional position within a competing circuit of value – the Eliot/Faber and Faber/Criterion nexus and its network of modernist connections. While it probably did not reach many John O’London’s readers (the miscellany series had a comparatively tiny print run), the miscellany was building up its own cultural authority using the time-tested rhetoric of differentiation from the mass press. Blake’s willingness to adopt an apostate ethos for his pamphlet – his authority is based on his experience in the mass press, which he largely excoriates – illustrates the gathering cultural power of a circuit of value that would cumulatively erode the cultural value of John O’London’s. If Riddell’s eager embrace of John O’London’s was an interested gambit to give himself a patina of cultural credibility, Blake’s The Press and the Public was an effort to purge from himself the taint of ‘vulgarisation’ that tarred the mass press, and was beginning to cling to John O’London’s Weekly, as modernist accounts of cultural value and cultural decline gathered authority. Modernism and Literary Value in John O’London’s Weekly In this context, the responses of John O’London’s to emerging modernist literary values are, at first glance, surprising.93 The controversy over modernism would seem to promise interesting and copious copy to a paper whose main topoi were literature and print culture. Further, John O’London’s sought intimate connection with a readership substantially drawn from the ‘new reading public’, which was one of modernism’s intermittent rhetorical enemies; one might thus expect the paper to engage in controversy on their behalf. And yet we find it defending the novels of Dorothy Richardson, warmly praising the mature novels of Virginia Woolf, and – in the rare cases where it does take up modernism as a cultural phenomenon – taking a (sometimes maddeningly) reasonable and even-handed position. The paper rarely engages in direct controversy on such modernist fronts as vers libre or difficulty. Its engagements with modernism are equivocal and surprisingly uniform, marked by a sort of hedging that, I think, belies the anxiety about its cultural status that I have been tracing in this chapter. References to writers and texts that we have come to identify as modernist are somewhat scarce in the newspaper’s first two years, 1919–20. (Simultaneously, an updated version of the poetry wars was underway in J. C. Squire’s new, aesthetically reactionary London Mercury, at which Eliot took potshots from the pages of the American Dial.94) The few early references include several articles praising Richardson. S. P. B. Mais defended her, praising her representation of interior consciousness as a salutary shaking-up of reader expectations. ‘It is not nonsense: it is realism carried to excess, perhaps. . . . Miss Richardson draws us back to re-examine the validity of our beliefs and our first principles. . . . Is not such an author a subject for commendation rather than scorn?’95 An 128

‘quite ordinary men and women’ unsigned review two months later praises Interim as ‘absorbing . . . when one has set one’s teeth and battled through the first pages’, ‘arresting because a real, combative individuality is evident on every page’.96 These two articles are, interestingly, among the few I have found in which the writer is willing to take a forceful position on an identified controversy about modernist literary value. (As we shall see, Hugh Walpole’s 1931 ‘The New Spirit in Literature’, whose paratextual trappings work to posit it as a salvo in an ongoing controversy, is considerably tamer and more equivocal than these early reviews.) More common in the earliest years is a virtual silence on modernism and its attendant controversies. This may stem in part from the paper’s emphasis on fiction rather than poetry: reviews of new books of poetry were rare, as were references to poets in the gossip columns. In these first years, the paper passed up numerous opportunities to join the fray. Its first issue includes a blurb on Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop – the effective headquarters of the ‘new poetry’ since 1913 and the site (literally and figuratively) of intense debates between poetic factions.97 But the blurb from the weekly ‘Book World’ column evinces no awareness of controversy on modern verse, and settles for an atmospheric sketch: ‘You are conducted to a little old upper room, dimly lighted and austere, and there in a company numbering a score or two you listen to a poetry utterance.’98 A 1925 feature on ‘Five English Poets of Established Fame’ – a pure exercise in literary celebrity and space-filling, featuring photos and 150-word biographical sketches on Walter de la Mare, Robert Graves, John Drinkwater, W. H. Davies and Squire – obliquely references Squire’s status as an antimodernist crusader but downplays controversy: ‘He is the typical public school and varsity man, and his loyalty to friends has led him to be charged with literary partisanship.’99 It took until the mid-twenties for modernism to emerge as a regular topic in John O’London’s. Now such dealings were almost always equivocal, whether they appeared as unsigned reviews or – as was increasingly the case – in signed contributions by well-known critics. With a few notable exceptions – ­including, on the one hand, Robert Lynd’s polemical dismissal of T. S. Eliot in 1932 and, on the other, the paper’s consistent, enthusiastic embrace of Virginia Woolf – John O’London’s writers tended to hedge when modernism was at issue. Recurrent gestures included praising individual, experimental writers while looking askance at the wider, vaguely defined set of ‘moderns’ behind them, and raising complaints about modernism but balancing them with concessions.100 The first is visible in a 1922 review of Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party, which praises its experimentalism but posits Mansfield as an exception. Mansfield, the anonymous reviewer writes, ‘has contrived naturally what other moderns have ineffectually and ridiculously striven after – a new form in literature’.101 This remark is at odds with itself, praising Mansfield’s 129

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achievement in formal experimentation while seeming to doubt whether ‘a new form in literature’ is a valid goal. (Does ‘ridiculously’ as an adverb for ‘striven’ suggest that the goal itself is ridiculous?) The sense that Mansfield resists the excesses of her modernist fellows is clear enough, and this move recurs in John O’London’s, reiterating the sense of a sort of laughable, extreme experimentalism ‘out there’, against which the present writer can be distinguished. Gerald Bullett’s 1932 critical appraisal of Woolf similarly praises the narrative technique of The Waves: ‘Here, up to a point, is the “stream of consciousness” again, but not, thank heaven, the would-be-all-inclusive catalogue of thoughts that is sometimes over-dignified by that designation.’102 Frank Kendon’s 1931 review asserts that The Waves, ‘unlike so many modern literary experiments . . . is not so baffling in its originality as to be incomprehensible to those who are not in the artist’s confidence’.103 A related gesture, encoded somewhat muddily in the Mansfield review, is a defence of experimentalism as a valid goal, linked with a sense that many writers’ experiments fail or exceed reasonable bounds. Humbert Wolfe – a successful poet with a traditionalist bent who appeared in the Georgian anthologies – balances these values in his ‘The Making of a Poet’, a 1,000-word essay from 7 July 1928. Noting a contemporary ‘vigorous reaction against established forms’, Wolfe finds in much experimental verse ‘an impatient neuralgia’, a ‘reaction’ he sees as ‘often ridiculous and sometimes fraudulent’.104 But he adds that the move towards experimentation has ‘a genuine core of poetic sense’, since ‘after testing all established modes, [the poet] may come to the conclusion that none suits his need. In that case it is not merely appropriate but necessary that he should invent his own.’ Revisiting the poetry wars of 1913–15, he asserts that proponents of free verse were right to reject ‘rhyme and elaborate rhythm’, though, ‘alas, they made only little use of the freedom’. Thus experimentalism can be justified, but only on the merits of its results. In Wolfe’s essay, tropes common to dismissals of modernist writing – an association with illness (‘neuralgia’), a claim that it is ‘fraudulent’ – are balanced by concessions that avoid the peremptory tone common to the literary polemics of the little magazines or the London Mercury. A later review essay by L. A. G. Strong – another contributor to the Georgian anthologies – ends on a similarly conciliatory note: ‘No art can live without experiment, and the experiments of any sincere artist deserve our respect.’ Strong calls for ‘balanced judgment’ to determine ‘whether or no the experiment seems to be proceeding on sound lines’.105 These two motifs in John O’London’s treatment of modernism – ­equivocal defences of experimentalism, or praise of a specific writer against the backdrop of a larger, excessive movement with which he or she is identified – register the oblique view of modernism typical of John O’London’s Weekly, especially in the twenties. They register, that is, the fact that modernism, if going 130

‘quite ordinary men and women’ only occasionally by that name, was becoming central to the context through which contemporary writing made sense – indeed was emerging as a topic of controversy. John O’London’s came late to this controversy, and seems to have stepped into it (or sidestepped it) with considerable trepidation. By repeatedly invoking a vaguely defined, decadent set of ‘moderns’ against which single writers could be situated – usually positively – John O’London’s nonetheless subtly reiterated the sense of difficult, experimental literature as a movement, a phenomenon and a controversy, re-enforcing modernism as a concept while maintaining distance from it. As Diepeveen notes, by suggesting that this strange literature was ‘everywhere’, modernism’s opponents (and, I would add, ambivalent publications like John O’London’s, which were unsure where to position themselves in relation to it) ‘tacitly conceded that there was a movement’.106 The early thirties saw a new willingness to foreground modernism, in articles with titles like ‘This New Poetry’ and ‘The New Spirit in Literature’ – though the equivocation did not disappear. Bibliographical elements of these stories’ presentation – headlines, illustrations, layout, etc. – subtly suggest an engagement in controversy. Subheadings in Strong’s ‘This New Poetry’ advertised the article as an attack on obscurity: the drop-headline under the main title reads ‘The Ordinary Reader’s perplexity: Two Kinds of Difficulty’. (John O’London’s is nothing if not a friend to the ‘ordinary reader’.) Bold subheadings throughout the text promise discussions of ‘the difficulty of symbolism’ and ‘the flight from meaning’. But, as we have seen, the article in total offers a neutral explanation of difficulty, ending with the qualified defence of experimentalism quoted above. Walpole’s 1931 ‘The New Spirit in Literature’ is pitched more emphatically as controversy. Walpole introduces the article as a response to Harold Nicolson’s recent BBC talk championing Woolf, Eliot, Joyce and D. H. Lawrence, and the page’s visual layout echoes this framing, featuring headshots of Nicolson and Walpole facing each other at quarter-turns, both with serious expressions, as if they were squaring off (Figure 2.3). Again, though, Walpole’s argument broaches controversy tamely, despite the fact that Nicolson in his talk explicitly dismissed Walpole (along with Galsworthy, J. B. Priestly and James Barrie) as unworthy of discussion. While Walpole notes the relative unpopularity of modernist work, his only direct refutation of Nicolson comes in response to an assertion that ‘to be a writer of real and original merit to-day, one must . . . be unflinchingly honest’.107 Walpole seizes on Nicolson’s implication that ‘such writers as Mr Priestly and myself are not honest’, replying that his set ‘portrays life exactly as [we see it], and so does Mrs Woolf’. But on the question of modernism’s literary value (under a subheading that reads ‘The real question’), Walpole does not take positions, but rests at stating the questions. 131

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Figure 2.3  The page layout suggests a conflict that the story eschews. JOLW, 24 October 1931

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‘quite ordinary men and women’ Is the present modernist school . . . contributing something to letters so important and valuable that it will change the whole course of literature even as the Elizabethan dramatists changed it, and, after them, Fielding and Smollett, and, after them, Coleridge and Wordsworth? Or is it possible that the contribution has already been made, that it has been valuable but slight, and that the spirit of the ages is already once again changing? Further . . . is it only because of its difficulty and frankness that this school has not yet won any popular following, that genius is always misunderstood and neglected by its own generation, and that the critics of future ages will find that this school . . . was generally neglected only because of the stupidity and cowardice of this particular generation? Many interesting questions are raised here that cannot possibly as yet be answered. While it may be possible to read what Walpole thinks from the tone of these questions, the essay is subtler and more restrained than the typical antimodernist polemic: none of the usual claims of fraud, insanity or publicityseeking here. The only specific critiques asserted in the column are that the influence of modernists on young writers has been negative (a concern even Richard Aldington shared) and that the Edwardians and their like-minded followers have ‘certain gifts that the modern school altogether lacks, gifts of clarity, narrative, belief in human nature, and restraint’. This latter remark is followed by a moment of hedging characteristic of John O’London’s negotiations of modernism. ‘I must add here hurriedly that it is absurd to say that Mr Eliot and Mrs Woolf, for instance, lack all these gifts,’ Walpole writes. ‘I have said often, and I repeat again, that these two writers are to myself, and many other old-fashioned people like myself, enchanting and inspiring artists.’ Thus, despite its trappings of controversy, Walpole’s essay is in fact an especially detailed working out of the ambivalence towards modernism typical of John O’London’s Weekly, with the usual balance reversed – the critique of the larger movement foregrounded, and the praise of individual writers shunted to an aside. Notably, Kenyon’s effusive praise of The Waves appeared in the same issue as Walpole’s critique. The Persistence and Disappearance of John O’London’s Weekly Why all the hedging? Lawrence Rainey has called 1922 the moment at which modernism switched from a ‘literature of an exiguous elite’ to a ‘position of prestigious dominance’; Karen Leick has suggested that in 1933, ‘modernist writers became truly popular, rather than sensational, as they were in the 1920s’.108 While these temporal lines may be too stark, modernism’s cultural force was undoubtedly waxing as John O’London’s came of age. My examples show the paper warily positioning itself relative to this emerging current of 133

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value. Wild observes that John O’London’s ‘was not a particular champion of literary modernism’ but also evinced ‘no desire to enforce an anti-modernist agenda’ – a position he attributes to editor Wilfred Whitten’s critical temperament and sense of mission.109 John O’London’s aesthetic catholicity stems, for Wild, from Whitten’s ‘generosity of vision’, his openness to ‘the whole cultural spectrum of his age’, including the pulp fiction of Charles Garvice (pp. 108–9). I am persuaded that Whitten viewed the literary field in this way and agree that it was a sane and reasonable – indeed, generous – stance for its age. What Wild’s analysis misses, however, is the degree to which the newspaper’s equivocations were also overdetermined by John O’London’s uncertain relation to emerging discourses of literary value – that is, by its own fragile, provisional value. Having built up a relatively intimate tie with its readers, a tutorial relationship that was also metaphorically personalised, John O’London’s found its cultural authority tied to their status, and their status tied to its (tenuous) cultural authority. Its mission of uplift for readers therefore relied on uplifting itself, a condition that produced three distinct positioning gestures. First, standing up for its readers’ right to cultural participation meant defending them, often implicitly, from the scorn of defenders of high culture, and accordingly treating with kid gloves examples of genre fiction that Whitten and many contributors (Raymond, Blake, Walpole and others) did not personally value. Secondly, attempting to secure its authority in a contest-ridden field of cultural value meant associating itself with the most stable touchstones available, even if they did not appeal to some of the paper’s readers: to wit, Conrad and Hardy. Finally, it meant a cautious approach to the radical and the new, to avoid commitment, and thus vulnerability, on this unsettled and transformative controversy. The result was that John O’London’s Weekly functioned less as a critical periodical and more as a ‘service’ magazine – giving readers a plethora of entry points to reading and print culture but effectively doing little to assign relative value to them. Like the women’s service magazines whose popularity boomed in the twenties and thirties, John O’London’s positioned itself as a ‘guide and friend’ to production and consumption within the sphere of everyday life; its difference was that it specifically emphasised consumption and production of print. But John O’London’s guidance was more introductory than critical, which explains why its book reviews seem (to contemporary eyes) strangely devoid of evaluative language, long on summary and quotation, virtually always mildly positive. John O’London’s evaluation of contemporary works came down largely to the decision whether to review books or not. At times it seemed the entire critical enterprise could be reduced to the title of the weekly books column, ‘Some Books Worth Reading’. But guidance through the overcrowded book market was not primarily what this newspaper was about. Margaret Beetham has suggested that one of the defining characteristics 134

‘quite ordinary men and women’ of periodicals is the coexistence of two objectives – earning money (or, at a minimum, remaining financially viable), and engaging in ‘the struggle to make the world meaningful’.110 Beetham writes: ‘The exercise of power to make one’s meanings stick – the desire to educate the readers – whether in religious truth or political knowledge – could be as powerful as the desire for profit’ (p. 21). Though it was a highly commercial print artefact, John O’London’s had a strong, coherent sense of mission beyond selling copies, making money for the Newnes corporation, and providing employment to scores of editors and journalists: to give its readers a hand up to the worlds of literature and culture. Having offered means to this access – basic cultural literacy and vocabulary, names and information about canonical writers, fandom of a few widely valued figures – the newspaper did not effectively provide any further guidance through the hyperactive field of contemporary print culture. It did not extensively map points of literary value (as distinct from celebrity value) beyond the relative safety of the canon of dead writers and the problematic nodes of Hardy, Conrad and Wells. It obliquely registered the growing conflict over literary value as modernism’s authority became stronger. One speculates that its readers learned the landscape of the canon from John O’London’s but met with some frustration in attempting to use it to decide what to read among contemporaries. This strategy made for commercial success, though, and while most modernist little magazines had vanished by the early thirties, John O’London’s Weekly lived to see 1954. If John O’London’s failed to pair this commercial success with cultural prestige – if it seemed ‘of a very good class’ only to someone with a financial interest such as Hardy, or to someone like Riddell, whose background made invisible to him the emerging codes of distinction being fought out in the galleries, the little magazines and the respectable reviews – the paper’s lack of critical stridency also protected it from becoming a casualty in contemporary battles over literary value. John O’London’s popularity and mass cultural orientation would seem to make it a natural rhetorical enemy for the purposes of modernist self-fashioning, and yet references to the weekly are virtually non-existent amid all the blasting and bombardiering. As we have seen, Q. D. Leavis did, inaccurately, describe John O’London’s as ‘a lowbrow literary organ . . . merely a resume of publishers’ advertisements, literary gossip, with an original short story’.111 But the letters, essays and journals of major modernists are all but silent on John O’London’s Weekly. Virginia Woolf, who agonised in her diary about reviews in the New Statesman and Times Literary Supplement, did not register John O’London’s glowing reviews of To the Lighthouse and The Waves. T. S. Eliot’s letters contain no references to the newspaper, but several dozen – virtually all negative – to Squire and the London Mercury. In declining to set down a firm stake in the shifting ground of literary value in the 1920s, John O’London’s seems to have rendered itself beneath notice to the 135

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era’s culture warriors. This invisibility has also meant, of course, that up until now John O’London’s has, despite its popularity, been unknown to scholars of modernism, virtually unremarked, unstudied and (importantly) undigitised.112 But it is worth noting again that John O’London’s comfortably outlasted such sites of modernist and anti-modernist polemic as the little magazines, Eliot’s Criterion and Squire’s London Mercury. Contrasted with John O’London’s, the Mercury – with which it shared such contributors as J. B. Priestly, Walpole, Humbert Wolfe and L. A. G. Strong – did posit itself as a critical organ, did put down strong markers amid controversies over literary value, did attract the venom of its opponents. And it paid the price as modernism moved towards aesthetic hegemony. It is to the London Mercury and its aspirations for value that we now turn. Notes

1. JOLW, ‘London in Little’. The testimonial to Whitten appears under his sketch on the left rail of the front cover. 2. Wild, ‘“A Strongly Felt Need”’, p. 109, subsequent citations in text. This article and Wild’s ‘“Insects in Letters”’, along with my own ‘John O’London’s Weekly and the Modern Author’ – parts of which are integrated into this chapter – are to date the only scholarly works focusing on this newspaper. 3. JOLW, 13 December 1919, p. 281. 4. Wild, ‘“Insects in Letters”’, p. 61. 5. Through the 1920s, the paper averaged forty pages in length, with a ratio of advertising to copy of about 35/65 per cent, including several full advertising pages of mixed display and classified ads in the back. It cut back to about thirtytwo pages per week during the Depression. Wild aptly describes its paper quality as slightly better than the newsprint used for daily newspapers but not as nice as the ‘finer quality material used for more prestigious periodicals’ (‘“Insects in Letters”’, p. 54). 6. Wild, ‘“Insects in Letters”’, p. 60, n. 5; Dark, Not So Bad a Life, p. 136. Wild aptly adds that the paper would ‘neither patronize its readers by adopting a schoolmasterly tone, nor assume that the process of instruction was completely unnecessary’ (p. 51). 7. Hampton, Visions of the Press in Britain, pp. 9–11. Indeed, though Hampton acknowledges that the educational model retained its currency into the twentieth century, particularly for intellectual commentators, its adoption by mass periodicals such as John O’London’s Weekly suggests that this notion, albeit in somewhat different form, may have been more pervasive in the twentieth century than Hampton allows. 8. JOLW, Dark, ‘Homer’s Model Wives’. 9. Jonathan Rose describes T. P.’s Weekly, John O’London’s predecessor and prototype, as a ‘penny literary review for self-improvers’, and reproduces a contemporary report suggesting that, in Edwardian times, ‘practically every bank clerk’ read it (Rose, Intellectual Life of the British Working Class, p. 407). 10. O’Connor, ‘Literature the Consoler’. 11. JOLW, ‘Books Worth Reading’, 2 April 1927. 12. Williams, The Long Revolution, pp. 195–6, subsequent citations in text. 13. Rose, Intellectual Life of the British Working Class, p. 376. 14. Wexler, Who Paid for Modernism?, xii.

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‘quite ordinary men and women’ 15. JOLW, Milne (‘Elijah True’), ‘The Book World’. 16. JOLW, ‘Power of the Pen’, London Correspondence College (advertisement). 17. Waller, Writers, Readers, and Reputations, p. 88. 18. Jackson, ‘Changes and Ideals’. 19. Jackson, ‘Speaking Editorially’. 20. Wexler, Who Paid for Modernism?, xii. 21. JOLW, Whitten, ‘Passing Remarks’, 21 May 1927. The article from which this quote is taken is discussed in more detail below. 22. This legend was stripped across the bottom of full-page advertisements for the ‘Premier School of Journalism’, which advertised in the mid-to-late twenties almost weekly, with long testimonial articles virtually indistinguishable from letterpress text, under the recurring headline ‘My Literary Career’. See for instance JOLW, ‘My Literary Career’, Premier School of Journalism (advertisement). 23. The circulation estimate is from Wild, who quotes Leavis (‘“Insects in Letters”’, p. 59). 24. JOLW, Audax [George Blake], ‘What I Hear’, 2 April 1927, p. 926; ‘What I Hear’, 28 May 1927, p. 206; ‘What I Hear’, 29 April 1922, p. 98. 25. On literary celebrity in the late nineteenth century, see Salmon, ‘Signs of Intimacy’, pp. 169–70. Salmon notes that the genre of the interview of the ‘author at home’ paradoxically depends upon a sense of the author as special, as accessible and as mechanically reproducible, all at once. 26. JOLW, ‘The Personal Element in Journalism’, London School of Journalism (advertisement). 27. JOLW, ‘Pen-Money / Why Not in Your Pocket?’, London College of Authorship (advertisement). 28. JOLW, ‘Journalism/Short Story Writing/English Composition/Advanced Literary Training/Verse Writing’, London Correspondence College (advertisement). 29. JOLW, 2 April 1927, p. 950. 30. JOLW, 15 April 1922, p. 43. 31. JOLW, 29 April 1922, p. 116. 32. See Barbara Green’s ‘Feminist Things’ and Fiona Hackney’s ‘“Women are News”: British Women’s Magazines 1919-1939’, in Ann L. Ardis and Patrick C. Collier, Transatlantic Print Culture 1880–1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 66–79; 114–33. 33. JOLW, Anon., ‘Up from Grub Street’. Also, the ‘Nibbles from . . .’ column of 29 April 1922 quotes Anatole France’s refutation of the common claim that newspaper writing spoils the mind for serious literary labour: ‘I have no knowledge of any fine talent being spoilt therein,’ he writes; rather, some minds ‘gain a suppleness and veracity’ from journalistic work. In contrast, in the same issue as ‘Up from Grub Street’, George Blake, writing as ‘Colophon’, declares: ‘I have seen nothing which stresses the difference between literature and journalism more clearly than a book which has just reached me from America, “Writing of To-Day”’ (JOLW, ‘The Wheel of Life’, 21 May 1927). While Blake’s short review concerns the republication of journalistic essays and ‘Up from Grub Street’ concerns journalism as preparation for literary writing, the two articles explicitly take opposite positions in defining literature and journalism as distinct activities. 34. JOLW, Audax [George Blake], ‘Passing Remarks’, John O’London’s Weekly, 21 November 1925, p. 296, subsequent citations in text. 35. JOLW, Whitten, ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, 10 January 1920. 36. JOLW, Raymond, ‘The Making of a Novelist’, 18 June 1927, p. 309, subsequent citations in text. 37. On the rise of professionalism and expert culture as it relates to literary

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culture in the period, see, in addition to Wexler: Gail McDonald, Learning to Be Modern (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); Lois Cucullu, Expert Modernists, Matricide, and Modern Culture (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2004); and Thomas Strychacz, Modernism, Mass Culture, and Professionalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). 38. JOLW, Raymond, 25 June 1927, p. 354, subsequent citations in text. 39. Dark, Not So Bad a Life, p. 136. 40. See Raymond’s memoir, The Story of My Days (London: Cassell’s, 1968). 41. Raymond, Through Literature to Life (London: Cassell’s, 1940), p. 16. 42. Through Literature to Life argues that authorship is a difficult craft, involving practice and training, but that literature, as both practice and cultural asset, could and should be made accessible to all; it even directs the ‘literary aspirant’ to read Thomas Love Peacock, using a phrase right out of the correspondence columns (p. 146). At the same time, Raymond posited literary texts as the result of genius, distinguishing the ‘real novelist’ from the ‘entertaining plot contriver’ (p. 35). 43. JOLW, ‘My Literary Career’, Premier School of Journalism (advertisement). 44. I discuss the Corona ad below; see also ads including Wells’s sanction of ‘Neoceology . . . a simple drugless home treatment’ (JOLW, 2 April 1927, p. 954) and ‘The Linguaphone Method’ of learning languages by gramophone (JOLW, 20 February 1926). 45. JOLW, Audax, ‘What I Hear’, 15 April 1922; McQuillard, ‘Lure of the East’, 15 April 1922; subsequent citations in text. 46. JOLW, Tomlinson, ‘Mr Polly and the World State’. 47. JOLW, Anton, ‘The Freedom of the Press’, London School of Journalism (advertisement). 48. JOLW, Corona Typewriter advertisement, 8 April 1922. 49. Dark, Not So Bad a Life, p. 187. 50. JOLW, Tomlinson, ‘Mr Polly and the World State’. 51. Churchill, quoted in Mackenzie, H. G. Wells, p. 327. 52. Eliot, ‘Journalists of Yesterday and To-day’. 53. JOLW, Tomlinson, ‘Mr Polly and the World State’. 54. Hardy, Collected Letters, p. 355. 55. See Wexler, Who Paid for Modernism?, pp. 44–7, on the unexpected commercial success of Chance in 1913; Johnston, Poetic Economies of England and Ireland, p. 70, on Hardy’s popularity as a poet from 1910 forward, during which he outsold Yeats by a factor of 50. 56. Quoted in Johnston, Poetic Economies of England and Ireland, p. 5. 57. JOLW, 17 October 1925, subsequent citations in text. 58. JOLW, 24 October 1925. 59. JOLW, 31 October 1925. 60. JOLW, 14 November 1925. 61. JOLW, 7 November 1925. 62. JOLW, Hardy, ‘A Message to Our Readers’, subsequent citations in text. 63. Salmon, ‘Signs of Intimacy’, p. 170. ‘Rather than dispelling a belief in the aura of the celebrity,’ Salmon writes, the facsimile autograph ‘attempted, however paradoxically, to instill one. The photographic facsimiles of author’s signatures may be seen as having disseminated an anachronistic notion of the authenticity of authorship to a much wider public than the hunters and collectors of the originals. At the very moment when the cultural value of these signs should, in Benjamin’s scheme, have been diminished, new conditions for their valuation were forged.’ 64. Audax (Blake) quotes the Publishers’ Circular as praising the serial and predict-

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‘quite ordinary men and women’ ing that, like Hardy’s first editions, it would become valuable in the future. ‘I commend these significant words to my friends, the bibliophiles,’ he adds (JOLW, Audax, ‘The Wheel of Life’, 14 November 1925). 65. JOLW, 21 November 1925, pp. 287, 301. 66. JOLW, 5 December 1925, p. 411. 67. JOLW, Whitten, ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, 16 January 1926. 68. JOLW, Anon., ‘Genius in Red Flannel’. 69. JOLW, Walpole, ‘The Novels of 1925’. 70. Millgate, Thomas Hardy, p. 490. 71. JOLW, Audax, ‘What I Hear’, 20 February 1926. 72. JOLW, Anon., ‘The World’s Greatest Short Stories / An Announcement’. 73. JOLW, Audax, ‘The Wheel of Life’, 14 November 1925. 74. JOLW, ‘An Old Dairy-Maid’. 75. JOLW, ‘A Scots Country-Woman’. 76. JOLW, Bennett, ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’; JOLW, Robson, ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’. 77. JOLW, Bowdedge, ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’. 78. JOLW, Hoare, ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’; JOLW, Waddington, ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’, 19 June 1926, p. 346. 79. Wild, ‘“Insects in Letters”’, pp. 50–62. 80. JOLW, 5 December 1925, p. 373. 81. For a concise review of the sparse critical work on Suspense, see Susan Jones, ‘“Stepping Out of the Narrow Frame”: Conrad’s Suspense and the Novel of Sensation’, Review of English Studies, pp. 306–21, n. 2. 82. JOLW, Anon., ‘The Best of Conrad: A Fine New Edition’. 83. Jaffe, Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity, pp. 63–70. 84. Eliot, ‘A Brief Treatise on the Criticism of Poetry’. 85. Herrnstein-Smith, Contingencies of Value, p. 52. 86. Hardy, Collected Letters, p. 356 and p. 363 n. 87. Reprinted in Riddell, Some Things That Matter, a collection of John O’London’s columns published in 1922. 88. Dark, Not So Bad a Life, p. 187. 89. Riddell, The Riddell Diaries, p. 10. 90. Blake, ‘The Press and the Public’. The phrase identifying Blake appears on the title page. Subsequent citations in text. 91. See Chapter 1 of Collier, Modernism on Fleet Street, for a survey and analysis of early twentieth-century critiques of the mass press. 92. JOLW, 21 November 1925. 93. I concur here with Wild, who notes, ‘While one might assume that JOLW would avoid (or otherwise awkwardly satirize) those experimental texts which we now recognize as examples of literary modernism, this was simply not the case in practice’ (‘“A Strongly Felt Need”’, p. 108). I respond to Wild’s analysis of this engagement below. 94. Collier, Modernism on Fleet Street, p. 55. 95. Mais, ‘Plotter against Plots’. 96. JOLW, 28 February 1920. 97. See Howarth, British Poetry in the Age of Modernism, pp. 26–35. 98. JOLW, Anon., ‘The Book World’, 12 April 1919. 99. JOLW, Anon., ‘Personalities on Parnassus’. 100. For Lynd on Eliot, see Lynd, ‘The Reputation of T. S. Eliot’. 101. JOLW, Anon., ‘New Novels by Katherine Mansfield and Stephen McKenna’. 102. JOLW, Gerald Bullett, ‘The Art of Virginia Woolf’.

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103. JOLW, Kendon, ‘The New Books at a Glance’. 104. JOLW, Wolfe, ‘The Making of a Poet’. 105. JOLW, Strong, ‘This New Poetry’. 106. Diepeveen, Difficulties of Modernism, p. 13. 107. JOLW, Walpole, ‘The New Spirit in English Literature’. 108. Rainey, Institutions of Modernism, p. 91; Leick, ‘Popular Modernism’, p. 136. 109. Wild, ‘“A Strongly Felt Need”’, pp. 98–112, 109, subsequent citations in text. 110. Beetham, ‘Towards a Theory of the Periodical’, pp. 19–33, 20–1, subsequent citations in text. 111. Leavis, Fiction and the Reading Public, pp. 21, 10. 112. See note 2 on the scant scholarship on John O’London’s Weekly. Odd copies of JOLW appear at such sites as www.archive.org. Most usefully, Conrad scholars have digitised the entire run of the newspaper serialisation of ‘Victory’ at http:// www.conradfirst.net/view/serialisation?id=261 (last accessed 17 March 2016).

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3

REACTIONARY MATERIALISM: BOOK COLLECTING, CONNOISSEURSHIP AND THE READING LIFE IN J. C. SQUIRE’S LONDON MERCURY

‘To renew the old world – that is the collector’s deepest desire . . . ’ Walter Benjamin, ‘Unpacking My Library’, 1931 ‘To collect rare books is a splendid distinction.’ ‘Directory of Advertisers’, London Mercury, November 1927 Modernist writers and many of their rhetorical opponents could agree on one aspect of early twentieth-century British print culture: the sense that literary evaluation was in crisis, that there was no guarantee that works of aesthetic quality were being identified and rewarded by critics or the marketplace, and thus that works of the first order were in danger of sinking into obscurity. Explanations of this crisis varied widely, with blame falling alternately on the increased number of books produced, the explosion of the periodicals market and resulting fragmentation of the public sphere, the new machinery of literary publicity and celebrity, the retrograde tastes of established, bourgeois critics (for modernists), or modernism itself, which became a sensation before critical protocols had emerged to explain and evaluate its productions.1 This crisis constituted an opportunity for scores of new literary periodicals launched in the early twentieth century; they seldom passed up the opportunity to posit themselves as, at their most modest, guides to readers in a crowded book market or, more stridently, beacons of light in the darkness of a print culture gone wrong. Modernist versions of this self-positioning are familiar: Scrutiny’s assertion that ‘the age is illiterate with periodicals’; Eliot’s implication that the 141

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Criterion would partake in ‘the elucidation of works of art and the correction of taste’; the Little Review’s resolve to brook ‘no compromise with the public taste’.2 Less well-known today, but for some years closer to the centre of literary values in England as well as more widely read, was the London Mercury. A monthly literary review edited by Georgian poet and celebrated parodist J. C. Squire, the journal is best known today for rejecting modernism, most memorably in Squire’s trenchant slating of The Waste Land – best known, that is, for ending up on the wrong side of literary history.3 A fresh look at the London Mercury confirms this sense of anti-modernist mission, although it is crucial to note that these dividing lines were less firm, even in 1919, than we often assume. As Peter Howarth and others have shown, the Georgian poets – who in the twenties came to be identified with Squire and the Mercury – were in the 1910s perceived as pursuing a separate, equally experimental, poetic agenda from the Imagists – and thus as equally ‘new’, though modernist literary history has enshrined Imagism and dismissed the Georgians.4 The Mercury is better understood as representing a later phase of the Georgian–Imagist split and attacking specifically the emerging Eliot–Pound version of modernism.5 Beginning with the first editorial in the Mercury’s first number, Squire articulated a sort of traditionalist experimentalism and attacked more extreme literary experiments. The editorial underscores the sense of critical crisis the magazine shared with (and blamed on) Pound, Eliot and company. Under the title ‘Editorial Notes’, Squire positioned the magazine in regards to the crisis of literary value: There has been a central body of writers – from Mr Hardy, Mr Bridges, and Mr Conrad to the best of the younger poets – who have gone steadily along the sound path, traditional yet experimental, personal yet sane. But there has also been a large number of young writers who have strayed and lost themselves amongst experiments, many of them foredoomed to sterility. Young men, ignoring the fundamental truth expressed in the maxim, ‘Look in thy heart and write’, have attempted to make up poems (and pictures) ‘out of their heads’. Others . . . have invited us to admire strings of disconnected words and images, meaningless and even verbless. . . . Amid this luxuriant confusion the voices of critics at once sane and informed have been few.6 Instead the journals, Squire wrote, were full of ‘haphazard and timid or haphazard and reckless criticism’. Some critics had turned against young writers entirely, failing to recognise the distinctions between ‘the traditional and the anarchistic’ among them. Critics who were in touch with new work, in contrast, tended to overvalue everything, failing to distinguish ‘the best contemporary work’ from ‘the humbug and the faux bon’ (p. 5). These conditions were slowing the dissemination of good contemporary work and the establishment 142

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of young writers’ reputations. Some of the critical ‘rubbish’ needed to be ‘cleared away’ (p. 4): In a nation so large, and with so immense a volume of literary production, such numerous and diverse news-sheets, and such congested and illarranged bookshops, this phenomenon is bound to exist in some degree. But it may be minimised, and . . . we shall do our utmost to contribute towards that end. (p. 6) Squire thus acknowledges some institutional instability as feeding the crisis of value (poorly organised bookselling, a glut of ‘literary production’ and evaluative outlets) while emphasising the baleful influence of modernist experimentation. But neither its adoption of the ambient discourse of critical crisis nor its reactionary aesthetic fully explain the Mercury’s relative longevity and success, nor its ultimate capitulation, demise and obscurity. It ran for seventeen years (twelve under Squire), achieved circulations in excess of 12,000, and counted among repeated contributors Robert Graves, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad and elder statesmen Edmund Gosse and George Saintsbury (Eliot described the latter as ‘the most eminent English critic of our time’).7 The Mercury’s rejection of the Pound–Eliot version of modernism probably helped in its early years, as initial enthusiasm for Imagist poetry waned in England; from the mid-­twenties on, though, its position increasingly became a handicap, as modernism moved towards critical hegemony. Even Squire’s admiring biographer, Patrick Howarth, acknowledges that Squire’s anti-modernism hurt his and the journal’s reputation: in 1923 and 1924, Howarth notes, Squire’s ‘Editorial Notes’ contained critical statements from which ‘there was no going back’. He adds: In 1924 Squire could hardly have been expected to foresee that within a few years the author of The Waste Land would become the principal spokesman of an orthodoxy from which younger critics would require courage or originality, or both, to depart, or the light in which he himself would soon be regarded by Eliot’s admirers.8 But I want to argue here that the Mercury’s early success and eventual failure lay less in its appeal to a supposedly retrograde, anti-modernist public – to its purported ‘middlebrow’ orientation – than to its unique, though partial and problematic, solution to the perceived crisis of value. No less invested in a narrative of critical anarchy than modernism, and just as politically reactionary (if not as explicitly) as modernism’s avatars of royalism or neo-aristocratic patronage, the Mercury attempted to ground and stabilise value in solid objects, including print artefacts. Critical of an emergent system in which personal alliances and social pressures were evidently shaping literary evaluation, the Mercury embodied an unsystematic but consistent theory of value as 143

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at once intrinsic and evident on the face of things, paradoxically universal and personal, and above all, independent of social contingencies. And it located value in physical things: in the English heritage as materialised in old churches and monuments; in the time-honoured craftsmanship of rare and antiquarian books and editions de luxe; even in the artefact of the Mercury itself. Decrying the increasing dominance of commercial systems of value in all spheres of human activity, attacking what it posited as a failed culture of reviewing bamboozled by modernist self-promotion, the Mercury asserted, in their stead, the integrity of the object. In this intermittent, ad-hoc aesethetic theory, objects could appear as receptacles of uncontestable intrinsic value, independent of contextual factors, or as participants in older, more traditional and more reasonable systems of evaluation. The Mercury’s anti-modern nostalgia thus shared with many modernists a partial rejection of an increasingly commoditised print culture and a search for a system of literary production and valuation centred on the aesthetic. To use Lawrence Rainey’s terms, the Mercury, though virulently and increasingly anti-modernist, adopted a strategy Rainey has associated with modernism: positing itself – and the sorts of objects it saw as repositories of value – as ‘commodities of a special sort . . . temporarily exempted from the exigencies of immediate consumption prevalent within the larger cultural economy’.9 In the Mercury’s discourse of value, the market for rare and fine books was the most important and the most problematic element: while the magazine could claim, without fear of contradiction, the intrinsic value in Stonehenge or a Christopher Wren church and the need to protect them from the neglect of a commerce-driven culture, it was more difficult to claim that the value of rare and fine editions was intrinsic: they were obviously priced according to the workings of a market. But given the complex, contingent, frustrating and only partially discursive means by which aesthetic values actually gain prominence, the market for rare and fine books seemed to offer a compensatory sphere in which value was anchored in the object and judged by a small community of self-educating amateurs – participants whose exchanges took place in a relatively unmediated, perhaps even pre-modern, market. The Mercury’s evaluative writing linked these two distinct values – the monumental solidity of architectural treasures and the nuanced pleasures of the rare or fine edition – under a larger ethos of cultural nationalism, as the magazine sought to preserve national architectural treasures from the wrecking ball and to defend the local rare books market against incursions by American millionaires. In Squire’s ‘Editorial Notes’, in regular monthly features entitled ‘Bibliographical Notes’ and ‘Book Production Notes’, in pointed asides in book reviews of all kinds, and (crucially) in its advertising pages, the Mercury celebrated precious books and the pleasures of high-quality printing and binding. From an early stage but with increasing vigour, the journal also 144

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emphasised its own relatively lush and tasteful materiality. These themes reached their apex in 1931, with the publication of ‘Special Printing’ and ‘Book Production’ numbers, which I discuss in detail below. Three years later the Depression economy and Squire’s divided attention precipitated a crisis ending in his ouster and the Mercury’s quiet capitulation to modernist hegemony, under the editorship of Edwardian sage R. A. Scott-James.10 Ultimately, the Mercury’s emphasis on objects could not keep its toehold in British culture precisely because, by trying to solve the complexities of literary valuation by reference to the non-literary (i.e. non-linguisic) aspects of books and culture, it dramatically de-emphasised writing. As frequent contributor J. B. Priestly observed, Squire ‘had wide knowledge of literature, but from the ’20s on I suspect he cared more about architecture and cricket’.11 Modernist literature might have run into the same dead end – as Rainey has shown, modernist promoters cannily used collectors’ editions, conceived more as investments than as books to be read, to underwrite careers and establish provisional institutional prestige – had not figures such as F. R. Leavis and I. A. Richards succeeded in enshrining modernist aesthetics in the academy. Their version of modernism was purged of Georgian poetry and, for the most part, textual materiality: linguistic features became the focus of literary study, literary texts the anchor of cultural value. Yet the Mercury had its day, and a re-examination reveals further complexities in the contest between competing programmes to renovate the construction of literary value in these years, including the surprising roles textual materiality could play. By fashioning an audience including rare and fine book collectors, and mentoring readers towards these enthusiasms, the Mercury discovered a market niche to which it could give advertisers access; features on fine books and fine printing served as marketing strategy and aesthetic ethos. This ethos added up to a kind of reactionary materialism, invested in a specifically English heritage and a vision of literary consumption as an amateur, connoisseur activity, served by a relatively unmediated (even pre-modern) specialty book market, and performed through the acquisition and (perhaps) reading of opulent, rare and finely printed books, and of the Mercury itself. J. C. Squire and Literary Value in the London Mercury Well before his journal happened upon the niche of rare and fine book enthusiasts, Squire had arrived at an essentially Kantian understanding of literary value in which perceiving aesthetic quality was paradoxically personal and universal, and largely independent of the social. Reading was an exchange between artist and reader; intelligibility was part of the writer’s responsibility. Even if literature’s subjects must change with the times, the proper aims of writing remained consistent and would be evident to most readers. Writers in the early modernist modes and ‘isms’ (Imagism, Vorticism, free verse), Squire 145

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suggested, were not trying to apprehend and articulate eternal verities; they were identifying themselves with a fashion, a fad, constructed, mediated and promulgated through ad-hoc social institutions such as salons, coteries and partisan journals. Reviewers followed suit, fearful of expressing their dislike of Imagism or free verse for fear of being thought behind the times. In an exchange of letters with Imagist F. S. Flint in 1917, while Squire was literary editor at the New Statesman, Squire criticised an anonymous TLS critic for ‘start[ing] with an idea that the Imagistes were the latest thing: he was in a blue funk lest he should prove to have undervalued what posterity might think good’.12 As his opening ‘Editorial Notes’ column shows, Squire carried these principles to the Mercury, of whose ‘dogmatic’ nature he boasted and over whose content, especially in the early years, he exercised such control that he claimed only one article had been published in the first two years with which he disagreed. For Squire, critics who favoured ‘anarchistic’ literature were, like the ‘young men’ who wrote it, failing to ‘look in their hearts’ and instead playing along with current fashion, trying to establish or protect their reputations. Parrying some criticism from novelist Hugh Walpole of the Mercury’s fiction column, Squire wrote in 1920, ‘We set out to be dogmatic. A literary paper that does not profess to know bad from good, and to know its own mind, is not worth running.’13 The distinction between the ‘dogma’ articulating a universal ‘bad from good’ and what Squire called the ‘fashions’ or ‘shibboleths’ of coteries lies not just in personal preferences but (though this fact was not visible to Squire) in their relative institutional locations. Squire had, by 1919, worked his way into a literary intelligensia that had not yet been superseded by modernist institutions, and from that position of power, contingent literary criteria appeared to be timeless values. Squire’s belief in intrinsic, universal literary values, then, implied not a rejection of the authority of literary institutions and middlemen, but a denial of their historically contingent nature. Legitimate authority in aesthetics was, for Squire, anchored in universal values, illegitimate authority in modern, alien systems: commercialism, celebrity, professional ambition and the fashionable values of the coterie. He depicts all of these, in his polemics and fiction of the early 1920s, as purely social in nature. As he declared in the inaugural ‘Editorial Notes’: It is not a matter of attempting to make universal the shibboleths of some coterie or school, or of carrying some technical ‘stunt’ through the country as though it were a fiery cross. We do not propose to maintain . . . that literature should be didactic or that it should be amoral. We are not interested in urging that the couplet is exhausted, that the sonnet should be revived, that plays should have four or three acts, that rhyme is essential or that it is outworn, that lines should or should not be of 146

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regular lengths. We are tied to no system of harmony. . . . Our aim will be, as critics, to state and to reiterate what are the motives, and what must be the dominant elements, of all good art, whatever the medium and whatever the idiosyncrasies of the artist, even if he find it convenient to draw upon papier-mâché with a red-hot poker, and even if his natural genius impels him to write in lines of one syllable.14 This canny formulation asserts the existence of vague but immutable values – ‘what are the motives, and what must be the dominant elements, of all good art’ – pace the purportedly schematic rules that gain authority through the social interactions of schools and coteries. In the face of such socially constructed values, the artist feels pressure to write to the schema, Squire argues, and the critic ignores his own (more valid) predilections for fear of being perceived as passé. The enemy here is systematisation, which trumps the individual’s innate common sense as to what is bad and good. Squire’s inaugural column supports artistic experiment when it is coming from the right impulses (defined only negatively, as not emerging from adherence to a system), even if the experiment issues in poetic ‘lines of one syllable’. In his February 1920 notes, Squire pursued this strand further, asserting that great but eccentric art can come from an artist with a peculiar view of the world (he cites El Greco) or from an artist who experiments with form out of a personal interest in ‘what might accrue’ from a new ‘method’. But he goes on to decry several species of systematised aesthetics – to base a theory on the mannerism of an original artist . . . to build a convention on his unsuccessful experiments; and worst of all, perhaps, for an artist to paint not what he sees as he sees it through the medium of his temperament, but what some philosophical critic, with a distaste for both Nature and humanity, tells him to paint.15 Here again systematised aesthetics threaten to overwhelm individual vision, e.g. what the painter ‘sees as he sees it through the medium of his temperament’. As Leonard Diepeveen has pointed out, Squire and other opponents saw modernism as artificial because its conventions so clearly emerged from a social context (the coterie, the ‘school’, the little magazines and their networks – all generators of ‘shibboleths’). For Squire, Diepeveen writes, ‘Literature ought to be above the social.’16 Two powerful ironies accompany Squire’s adoption of these tenets. First, Squire’s critique of the social, institutional nature of literary evaluation was issued from positions of social and institutional power: after his early tenure as literary editor at the insurgent New Age, his opinions codified while he was serving as literary editor, then editor, of the prestigious New Statesman; he later achieved his greatest position of prominence in literary controversies 147

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during the Mercury years, when he was also the lead book reviewer in the Sunday Observer.17 All of these achievements built (and built on) his reputation in several informal, overlapping social networks. Secondly, this sworn opponent of coteries became best known among his rhetorical enemies as the leader of a coterie, the so-called ‘Squirearchy’ – a claim that particularly rankled him.18 Squire consistently rejected this characterisation, which was probably overblown due to his prominence at a uniquely polarised moment in the literary marketplace. Writing to H. E. Palmer in 1930, he references a recent satire at his expense by Roy Campbell: ‘I liked his last book & said so in the Observer, so he may possibly have revised his opinion about my scoundrelism . . . but it is depressing to see people “getting into a state” because of imaginary literary conspiracies against them.’19 Eight years later, with the Mercury’s battles in his past, he wrote, again to Palmer: I never had, as you seem to think, a gang: I merely spent the best years of my life, usually without pay, trying to keep the poetic flag flying by printing what I thought good. . . . I had no school. I merely encouraged people I thought were good writers. Some of the good writers I disliked personally, some of my dearest friends I refused to print!20 Yet regardless of whether Squire and his frequent contributors could be accurately described as a ‘coterie’, in the late 1910s and early twenties Squire undeniably wielded power in the social/institutional nexus through which literary value was constituted and contested, and he was effective at making alliances and navigating networks. This facility was precisely T. S. Eliot’s concern when he wrote to John Quinn, in 1919, that the Mercury had debuted ‘with a great deal of advertisement’ but would, he hoped, ‘fail in a few years’ time. . . . J. C. Squire, the editor, knows nothing about poetry; but he is the cleverest journalist in London’.21 The story of Squire and the London Mercury is, in part, the story of Squire amassing cultural capital that would ultimately lose its value. He had a humble upbringing, but a scholarship to the public school Blundell’s, followed by education at Cambridge, set him on the road to literary editorships at the New Age and the New Statesman. This arc placed him in the public-school literary intelligentsia which, until the mid-twenties, had more power than the emerging institutions of modernism: witness the relative sales of the Mercury in its early years as compared with Eliot’s Criterion, which never exceeded a circulation of about 1,200.22 In the 1910s Squire had made the acquaintance of Yeats, with whom he lunched to discuss a publication in the magazine Form; Arnold Bennett, with whom he visited Turkish baths; and perhaps most importantly, Gosse, an well-connected member of the Edwardian literary elite, who introduced Squire around and recommended him to the National Club and the Royal Society of Literature. In 1917 Squire was promoted from literary editor to editor of the New Statesman, from 148

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which position Gosse facilitated introductions to Winston Churchill and Lord Haldane.23 In the mid to late teens he consolidated his role, in part by reading manuscripts for John Lane as he would later do for Macmillan.24 Squire’s connectedness and his rapid rise explain the confidence with which he prepared for the opening of the Mercury in the early autumn of 1919, when he described his venture to publisher and bookseller Frank Sidgwick as ‘this which will be the most important literary paper in England’ and to novelist Hugh Walpole as ‘this great enterprise’.25 The intelligentsia to which he belonged in these years could not accurately be described as a coterie because it was unified not by a stylistic agenda but by a network of personal associations, with practices including literary dinners and the cricket matches for which Squire became known. Squire’s papers at the Harry Ransom Center supply countless examples: a dinner celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Charles Lamb’s retirement, during which the King gave the opening toast and the programme included Squire, Gosse, G. K. Chesterton, and Augustine Burrell; a 1926 dinner of Squire’s cricket team, the Invalids, to which ‘[Hillaire] Belloc and Chesterton turned up . . . and sang like Larks’.26 Squire also belonged to PEN, the writers’ organisation, and was involved with the Royal Literary Fund, which gave pensions to writers in financial trouble. As England lacked an institution like the French Academy, this network informally served its purpose, and the cultural capital it wielded allowed Squire and other participants to see their own literary values as ‘universal’ but those of its partisan opponents as socially constructed ‘fashion’. Indeed, the Mercury’s pages and Squire’s correspondence make clear that the elder colleagues of this network (Gosse, Chesterton, Belloc, Hardy) were the elder writers he most admired, the standard-bearers of a tradition he claimed to carry on, along with the writers he published in the Mercury. The Mercury’s rhetoric of literary value, with its dominant notes of common sense, accessibility, feeling and the integrity of the unmediated expression and response of ‘the heart’, may seem – may even be – less exclusionary than modernist aesthetics, but it should not be misread (as it frequently has been) as middlebrow or populist.27 The Mercury’s treatment of bestselling authors and genre fiction and its equivocal, nose-holding approach to the mass-journalistic practices of literary celebrity make clear that its common-sense rhetoric (‘the sound path, traditional yet experimental . . . at once sane and informed’) meant not an embrace of the newly and partially educated readership or a striving middle class, but a battle with modernists over which contemporary writers would achieve lasting value. Mercury reviewers and critics were as scathing towards popular fiction as anyone. Assistant Editor Edward Shanks’s 1921 review of popular novelist Hall Caine’s The Master of Man asserts that Shanks read it only out of curiosity because of its outsized print run of 75,000. Having read it, he can find no evidence of its attraction; nor does he know 149

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how to place it among other popular novels – that is, relative to ‘the vigorous crudities and absurdities of Miss Marie Corelli and Miss Ethel M. Dell’.28 When bestseller Marie Corelli died in 1924, Squire himself weighed in with a short obituary in his May ‘Editorial Notes’, offering the truism that a writer as successful as Corelli could not succeed ‘without some positive qualities’, citing her vivacity and offering the faint praise that she was a better writer than Edgar Rice Burroughs, meanwhile doing most of his denunciatory work via metaphor: literary successes of Corelli’s kind ‘sweep over the country like a prairie fire or an influenza’; every six months a ‘swarm’ of her ‘red volumes would settle like locusts on the drawing-room tables of the United Kingdom’. Squire spatially marginalises her audience from the ‘London’ which insistently locates the Mercury, suggesting that Corelli ‘spoke to the suburbs and the country towns as a kind of popular equivalent of Carlyle and Mr Bernard Shaw’.29 While more variety crept into the review pages in the back of the Mercury in the early thirties, Squire’s columns continued to reject modernism and the values of mass culture. His ‘Editorial Notes’ in the 1931 ‘Special Printing Issue’, which I discuss further below, approvingly adduce a snobbish quote from recently deceased art critic Philip Heseltine: ‘Mediocrity is the eternal enemy of genius, and the higher the general level of mediocrity rises the more difficult it will become for genius to be recognised by the public at large as belonging to another plane of existence altogether.’30 Squire’s approving use of this quote, his utterly commonplace, respectfully insulting obituary of Marie Corelli and his lack of enthusiasm for such ‘middlebrow’ modernist bêtes noires as the popularly respectable John Galsworthy make clear that his defence of ‘universal’ values and aesthetic ‘common sense’ does not entail defence of the reading practices of the common man or even the middlebrow.31 Rather, Squire’s battle with the modernists was fought over the turf of high culture, between an insurgent elite and an increasingly vestigial one.32 Literary Value, Celebrity and Periodical Form: the Mercury and The Bookman In 1919, once Squire knew he would have the Mercury as a base from which to engage this conflict, he set about positioning it within the informal hierarchy of printed forms by giving it the physical markers of seriousness and authority. In the process, he laid the groundwork for the emphasis on textual objects as repositories of value that would virtually come to dominate the magazine. The Mercury’s physical signs of value included its a relatively high copy price (2/6); thick, woven paper; advertisements segregated from letterpress, on different quality paper, and separately paginated; and a tasteful and extremely restrained visual appearance: no photographs, large-font type with wide margins and a single-column format, and the same minimalist cover design each week, bearing the journal’s title, its insignia of a small helmeted 150

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Mercury’s head, and the cover price (Figure 3.1 and Plate 2). The Mercury’s visual appearance, layout and (to an extent) content harked back to the great nineteenth-century journals (the Edinburgh, Quarterly, Nineteenth Century and After, all still in circulation when the Mercury launched), with the front half of the magazine accommodating, in addition to poetry and fiction, long literary essays (up to 10,000 words). Measuring a compact ten-and-a-half by seven-and-a-quarter inches – a surface area larger than a novel, but smaller than a glossy magazine – and with its squared spine and its roughly 126 pages giving it a height of a half-inch, the magazine’s dimensions and its thick paper convey an even greater impression of solidity than its (slightly smaller format) Victorian forebears. The Mercury differed from the historic Victorian journals, as well, in focusing primarily on literature and exclusively on the arts. Squire was perhaps correct in calling the Mercury unique in his first ‘Editorial Notes’: the only monthly journal in England to bring together long critical essays, original poetry and fiction and copious review sections, all devoted entirely to the arts. It carefully positioned itself, in this way, as distinct from the Times Literary Supplement, ‘which reviews, with the utmost approximation to completeness, the literary output of the time’, the weekly papers (the New Statesman, the Spectator, the Nation and Athenaeum) and the political monthlies (the Edinburgh et al.).33 But Squire’s introduction ignored The Bookman, whose forty to fifty glossy pages, wider (thirteen-and-a quarter by eight-and-three-quarters inch) flat format, shorter articles and extensive use of photographs perhaps made it a ‘magazine’ rather than a ‘journal’ in Squire’s implicit typology. But The Bookman’s monthly appearance and tight focus on literature and the arts made it the Mercury’s nearest relative and competitor. Though its essays were shorter, its letterpress content was more like that of the Mercury than any other periodical, and it employed and favoured many of the same writers. The magazines’ affinity is born out by The Bookman’s origins and ends: it launched in 1891, describing itself in similar terms to the Mercury, and celebrated its tenth anniversary by trumpeting its status as ‘the only monthly magazine entirely devoted to the interests of literature’.34 When The Bookman collapsed in 1935, it was merged with the Mercury. Squire’s overlooking of The Bookman when positioning the Mercury in 1919 was thus strategic: he implicitly posited The Bookman as beneath the Mercury’s notice. In truth its content perfectly matched Squire’s description of the Mercury in the first editorial: ‘all those various kinds of matter which are required by the lover of books and the practising writer’.35 A comparison of the two magazines in the late teens and early twenties illustrates the deep interconnection of prestige, visual appearance and content in the print marketplace they shared. The Bookman was launched by William Robertson Nicoll, editor of the British Weekly, and from 1908 edited by Arthur St John Adcock. It was 151

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Figure 3.1  Retro-Victorian page design. Mercury, March 1920 aimed at the middle of the market, costing sixpence and seeking to serve busy readers interested in literature, to ‘appeal to the average intelligent reader and to provide a popular account of contemporary literature’.36 Its history parallels the emergence of literary celebrity in England: from the start it treated literature as ‘news’ and the lives of authors as matters of interest; by the late teens, now printed on glossy paper and costing one shilling, it was replete with photographs of popular authors. Its literary aesthetic was likewise pitched to the broad cultural middle. In contrast to the Mercury, with its self-positioning as an arbiter of legitimate culture, The Bookman walks an inclusive path, praising prestigious writers but being careful to alienate no one. Its equivalent of Squire’s ‘Editorial Notes’ was the monthly column titled ‘The Bookman’s Diary’, most likely written by St John Adcock; it adopts the convention of addressing the audience from a fictional first-person persona (this is but one of The Bookman’s many similarities to John O’London’s Weekly) and issues friendly if bland equivocations on literary value. Though The Bookman also features book reviews and frequent, slightly longer (around 1,200 words) critical essays, the ‘Bookman’s Diary’, where the magazine’s ‘personality’ is most directly expressed, consistently iterates the magazine’s treatment of 152

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literature as news and its desire to address everyone for whom reading is an enthusiasm. The ‘Bookman’s Diary’ for February 1923 illustrates this newsy neutrality. Discussing the latest novel from sensation writer Fergus Hume, ‘the Bookman’ observes that someday Hume might write a story based entirely on character, and will startle us by what he can do with normal people in normal circumstances. At present he writes for the entertainment of the public that hungers and thirsts for thrills, and does it with the ingenuity of a practised hand.37 Without adopting the lowbrow aesthetic of the audience that ‘hungers and thirsts for thrills’, the column treats such readers as an objective fact, clearly identified but presented without judgement. A similar triangulation is visible earlier in the same column, when ‘the Bookman’ faults J. B. Priestly for using the term ‘vulgar’ to describe a fellow essayist: I have a notion that to speak of another as vulgar indicates a certain selfcomplacence in the speaker and is itself a vulgarity. Because I prefer to wear no jewellery am I justified in saying that those who wear any are ostentatious and therefore vulgar? Because my temperament inclines to sadness or makes me, at most, but a chastened optimist, shall I say that the man who, perhaps because he is more robust of body and mind, maintains an irrepressible cheerfulness of outlook must needs be a vulgar fellow? (p. 252) As Bourdieu implies, the term ‘vulgar’ has a place of honour in the vocabulary of distinction: journals with pretensions to legitimate culture must participate in the ‘refusal of facile involvement and “vulgar” enjoyment, a refusal which is the basis for the taste for formal experiment’. The Mercury’s cultural positioning relies on the ‘vulgar’ as a category and, even in the tonally tricky duty of, for instance, marking the death of pulp novelist Marie Corelli, must make clear, distancing gestures. The Bookman, by contrast, strives for an open-armed position of popularity (or what a less generous critic might call mass appeal), signalling its respect for discerning readers by placing images of figures such as Joseph Conrad on its cover but protecting its other frontier by, as Bourdieu puts it, ‘refusing the refusal’ of vulgarity on which the Mercury’s aesthetic is partially predicated.38 This is not to suggest that one never sees the art-vs-commerce binary invoked in The Bookman; its form and its popular orientation made The Bookman an open periodical, playing host to a variety of opinion.39 As we have seen, the Mercury started out as a remarkably closed periodical for one with so many contributors, as Squire strove to make its entire contents reflect the ‘dogma’ outlined in his opening column. Despite overlap with the Mercury in aesthetic 153

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preferences and contributors, The Bookman suggests a lighter editorial hand, and its popular orientation was expressed in periodical conventions that allowed a more multi-voiced presentation and more give and take with readers. The Bookman published more and shorter reviews of poetry, fiction and belleslettres by a wider variety of reviewers than the Mercury. Unlike its competitor, it adopted the popular genre of the ‘symposium’ on a question of literary interest, to which celebrity authors would offer short answers (often less than 200 words), and sponsored monthly contests in which readers competed for prizes of between a half-guinea and fifty guineas for poems, stories and essays. Such conventions were long-standing markers of the mass print market (recall Leopold Bloom’s defacement of a readers’-prize story in Tit-Bits), but they also institutionalise a greater multivocality, a greater embrace of the democratisation of print. Contests open the boundary between literary producers and consumers; symposia entertain multiple points of view on questions like the commercialisation of literature even as they trade, without apology, on the culture of literary celebrity.40 While The Bookman’s leader writers adopted some positions quite similar to the Mercury’s – Gerald Gould, in The Bookman of August 1923, offered a distinctly Squire-like attack on the new poetic ‘schools’ and the recent vogues of free verse and imagism – The Bookman overall eschewed literary partisanship built on expulsion of modernism or of the vulgar, and was open to alternative voices when such issues arose.41 Like John O’London’s Weekly, The Bookman sponsored reading circles around Great Britain, reaching out to self-improvers by making permeable the boundary between the magazine and the readers (and writers) in its audience. The magazines’ different self-definitions are evident in the content and form by which they manage literary celebrity. In content, the Mercury ranges from complicity to indifference to harsh criticism of celebrity, which Squire satirised in numerous ways in The Grub Street Nights, a series of short stories published in 1923 and ’24. In ‘The Lecture’, a celebrity whom the narrator describes as ‘an oracle revered by all the half-read people in the country’ has a momentary epiphany, causing him to lambaste his lecture audience for ‘liking to gape at a picturesque celebrity’ and himself for ‘selling my personality’, being a ‘popular humbug’, a dispenser of ‘well-fed cant’.42 In ‘The Best Seller’, a mindless housewife writes a pulp romance and becomes famous and wealthy after a newspaper prints a (largely fictional) interview with her. Will Dyson’s cartoons of 1923–4 likewise deflated the culture of literary celebrity and chaffed individual personalities.43 But the Mercury did not so much reject the system of literary celebrity as take up a critical position within it. And indeed, though Squire claimed in his opening ‘Editorial Notes’ to have ‘made no endeavour to arrange a dazzling shop-window of names’ for the first number, the presence of Hardy and then-famous poets Rupert Brooke, Walter de la Mare and W. H. Davies suggested otherwise. The Mercury published images of writers but, tell154

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ingly, these were woodcuts, line drawings, caricatures or cartoons, and rarely took up more than six to eight pages of the magazine. Many issues had no images at all. The use of such ‘handmade’ images meshes with the Mercury’s overall retro-Victorian look and suggests earlier, pre-industrial, artistic or craft-like forms. In England, photographs had been the dominant technology for images in serial publications for almost three decades and, as Gerard Curtis has shown, were indispensable to the culture of literary celebrity.44 (Tellingly, the most visually striking issues of the Mercury focused not on images of authors but on displays of print and book production artistry, as we shall see.) By contrast The Bookman traded openly on its pictorial strengths, branding itself ‘The Illustrated Monthly for all book-lovers’ and boasting, in a 1923 ad in the Mercury, that it was ‘illustrated with many portraits’.45 The Bookman’s recurrent cover design featured a large photographic headshot of an author in its centre, standing atop an ink-drawn pedestal surrounded by rising flames and a vinework border – a virtual self-parody of its outsized emphasis on celebrity names and images. Inside, columns of text were interrupted by photographs, often as many as eight images (usually headshots) in a two-page spread. The cover’s unabashed embrace of the visual culture of celebrity contrasted with the Mercury’s unadorned cover and almost complete absence of photographs: its use of pre-photographic images allowed it to traffic in literary celebrity more subtly. Powys Evans’s pen-and-ink portraits of writers in the Mercury (he contributed more than seventy, under the intermittent title ‘Modern Portraits’), with their classical perspective and spare page designs, signified a more tasteful iteration of literary celebrity. If The Bookman trafficked without apology or self-consciousness in the photographic technology of celebrity, the Mercury seemed instead to seek, through nostalgic identification with lessmediated image technologies, a greater proximity to the solid object crafted by human hands. Jaffe writes that in modernism ‘the matrix of associations supporting reputations is not intrinsically image-based but predicated instead on a distinctive textual mark of authorship’; Goldman, in a similar vein, argues that modernist authors construct their subjectivity textually, a strategy partly fuelled by their ‘notorious’ suspicion of ‘mass-produced images’.46 The Mercury, in its use of woodcuts, cartoons and drawings, managed to trade on the circulation of images essential to contemporary celebrity culture with a difference that gave it nostalgic appeal, distancing its use of celebrity from that system’s most ubiquitous and characteristic technology – photography. This practice de-emphasised mechanical reproduction and foregrounded, despite the reproduced nature of the images, their ‘thinginess’ and identification with individual, human creators – their origin as objects made by human hands: Evans’s line-drawings seem to bear the quick and almost incidental scratchings of the pen (Figure 3.2). By 1924, when Dyson’s cartoons were appearing in the 155

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Figure 3.2  Nostalgic illustration practice. Mercury, May 1927 Mercury, the magazine had become invested in another set of objects freighted with a nostalgic value inextricable from their materiality: fine and rare books. Textual Materiality: Rare and Fine Editions The differences in self-positioning between the Mercury and The Bookman are most evident in their advertising columns. While The Bookman’s advertisements hailed a reader similar to the one we have seen in John O’London’s Weekly, the Mercury’s increasingly constructed a reader attracted to expensive rare and fine editions. The magazines’ advertising sections have some similarities: they have roughly the same amount of advertising per week and, naturally, contain many ads from publishing houses, including full-page spreads announcing their lists. Both number advertising pages separately from full letterpress pages. (The Bookman, however, does admit a few pages each month in which letterpress takes up the left half of the page and advertising the right, and which are numbered with the magazine’s main pages.) But the similarity ends there, as is clear if one places issues of the magazines side by side. The Bookman is replete with image-heavy, illustrated display advertising; the Mercury’s ad pages, in contrast, are dominated by square or rectangular, unillustrated display ads, a vast majority of them for publishers or booksellers. By the mid-twenties the Mercury sometimes contains as few as one or two illustrated ads (often from reliable advertisers P&O passenger 156

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lines and Perfectos Cigarettes.) And a striking number of its unadorned ads emphasise rare and fine books and/or fine printing, hailing an upper-middleclass readership for whom luxurious materiality is, at minimum, one aspect of their book-buying and, at its most extreme, a substitute for book reading. Advertisements in The Bookman, in contrast, often reach out to lower-middle and working-class readers with aspirations to culture, literacy and the writing life. These were readers, the ads suggest, for whom a pleasurable material experience was embodied not in fine editions or eighteenth-century rarities but in affordable modular bookcases; readers willing to read the classics in cheap reprints; readers who might seek upward mobility by writing for the mass publishing industry. (The same correspondence schools that advertised in John O’London’s were stalwarts of The Bookman.) In context, the Mercury’s relative scarcity of advertisements for correspondence schools is striking, particularly for a magazine that promised to address the needs of the ‘practising writer’.47 A brief comparison of advertising in the two magazines for May 1923 will illustrate. The Mercury issue features nineteen and a half pages of advertisements, including the inside back, back, and inside front covers. Most advertise publishers or booksellers, and fully half prominently mention fine editions or rare books. These include advertisements from: Lamley & Co., promising ‘Attractive Books’ including some of Yeats’s Cuala Press titles for 15/- and 25/and a leather-bound complete Conrad for £20; New York bookseller James F. Drake, headed ‘First Editions’; and an ad for Nonesuch Press, promising a Triple Ideal in Publishing – Significance of Subject, Moderation of Price, and the most distinguished Beauty of Format. They are books for those among collectors who also use books for reading.48 This percentage of advertisements touting rare and fine books or emphasising their materiality is not unusual in the Mercury during Squire’s run. The December 1930 number contained thirty-six total ads, seventeen mentioning rare and fine books; the third number (January 1920), which appeared before the magazine had settled into its routine mix, included in its modest ten advertising pages six ads for rare and/or fine book dealers, and two aimed at antique collectors. Most telling in the 1923 specimen, however, is the paucity of advertisements aimed at aspiring writers and other self-improvers. These had diminished over the Mercury’s first four years. Three years earlier the magazine’s third number (January 1920) had included ads for Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pen, asserting that the pen was ‘ideal’ for aspiring writers; Funk and Wagnall’s ‘Basic Reading Course in Applied Psychology’ (‘should be examined by anyone who wishes to achieve success’); the Correspondence College Ltd. (‘Anyone who wants to write, either as a profitable spare-time pursuit or as a profession, can save years of disappointment by learning the practical essentials’); 157

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the Regent Institutes (‘Learn the Secrets of Successful Writers’); and a classified from a literary agent.49 By 1923 the Mercury’s advertising was settling into a norm that would last through Squire’s tenure and feed its emerging ethos of lush textual materiality. And the number of ads addressing aspiring writers decreased dramatically. The May 1923 issue contains only one display ad that can be loosely construed as hailing self-improvers, for the New Gresham Dictionary of the English Language, ‘an inexpensive dictionary . . . for the Author, the Writer, the Reader, and the Student’.50 In contrast, The Bookman’s first advertising page for May 1923 contains advertisements for the Regent Institute; the Metropolitan College (‘Augmented Earning Power . . . unique postal courses . . . in all business subjects’); a mailorder book on ‘How to Write and Sell Short Stories’ (two shillings), and two advertisements for literary agencies. The second page includes John Long’s announcement of a £500 first-novel contest, the back pages an ad for the ubiquitous London School of Journalism.51 The number contains no advertisements for rare and fine book dealers per se, and such ads are rare in the magazine overall.52 More typical are advertisements from ensuing months offering ‘Carlton Classics Cheap’ and pocket ‘Cabinet Library’ editions of Conrad.53 As we have seen, the Mercury’s advertising pages gradually became a virtual hoarding for rare and fine booksellers and boutique printers, suggesting a reading life of the prosperous classes embodied in rare or luxurious textual objects. The Bookman’s advertisements, meanwhile, meshed with the wider net it cast, its more dialogic relationship with readers, and the permeable boundary between print culture’s consumers and producers suggested by symposia, contests and correspondence-school ads. The contrast carries into the two magazines’ letterpress pages. For the entirety of its run, the Mercury published a column called ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’, which reported on the market for rare books and expensive editions. It debuted with the signature ‘A.L.H.’ but for most of the run was written by Iolo Williams, a family friend of Squire’s who helped underwrite the magazine’s launch. The column reported on new editions, posed bibliographical puzzles to readers, reported on new sales and catalogues from dealers, and mused chattily on the writers’ own rare book encounters. A.L.H.’s first column reports that the ‘Serendipity Shop’ has a seventeenth-century edition of Herrick on sale for £140 and that Hollings’s has a complete run of The Savoy at £7.10. It laments a boom in prices for seventeenth-century books, and notes conversationally that ‘a rather battered Purchas’s Pilgrim . . . came into our hands recently’.54 In the ‘Bookman’s Diary’, in contrast, ‘the Bookman’ turns a relatively cold eye on expensive books and praises well-made, cheap ones. He writes in June 1924, ‘Mr de la Mare’s first editions are fetching high prices, but I shall not be tempted to impoverish myself by buying one of “Henry Brocken” while I can get the excellent new edition now published by 158

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Messrs Collins at eight shillings and sixpence, beautified with the charming illustrations of Miss Marian Ellis.’55 A year earlier, he praised Dent’s cheap ‘bedside library’ editions because they were ‘small and light enough to hold easily . . . the one thing needful in books for reading in bed’. He added that even Dent’s deluxe editions were ‘delectably produced’ and, at 3/6, ‘a wonder of cheapness for these days’.56 Both magazines thus acknowledge the physical pleasures of books, but The Bookman’s emphasis is on the reading experience and the affordability of nice editions, while the Mercury’s is on the desire for, and value of, books as objects. This emphasis on expensive print artefacts gradually suffused the Mercury, surfacing in expected places like advertisements, ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’ and another column (added in the first year) on ‘Book Production Notes’, but also, more surprisingly, in routine book reviews, ‘Editorial Notes’ and original fiction, in the case of Squire’s ‘The Grub Street Nights’. As the magazine’s aesthetic for poetry and fiction fell out of step with other serious voices on the arts, the emphasis on materiality came into greater relief, becoming integral to its anti-modern stance – an effort to locate stable values, amidst an unmoored world, in solid objects. To a degree, this emphasis on the materiality of books was ambient in the culture. Booksellers had long, conventionally, listed the physical specifications of books in advertisements. And in the 1920s, with the publishing industry expanding after the slump occasioned by the Great War, publishers accelerated the practice of marketing authors and titles at different price levels, with different levels of material quality. Even advertisements for cheap novels often referred to the physical properties of books. More so than today, physical properties were part of the constellation of elements that constituted books as marketable commodities, as distinct offerings in a crowded marketplace. The cheap reprint house Eveleigh Nash & Grayson, in a 1922 ad listing the popular romances The Blue Lagoon and The Four Feathers along with titles by Wells and Conrad, said of their 2/6 editions: ‘Paper, Printing and Binding equal to any 8s 6 d. novel on the market’.57 In a market oversupplied with books, impressive materiality becomes one available set of distinctions, a potential source of revenue and cultural capital. Publishers, agents and authors thus looked to multiple, differently priced editions, particularly for titles that were not going to enjoy sales in the five-to-seven-figure ranges. At the higher end of the scale, the presence of editions de luxe not only increased revenues and royalties but also signified and reproduced an author’s distinction, linking the author to the network of classics deserving similar treatment. In these years one could buy an ‘unusually fine’ edition of Sir Francis Bacon with pigskin and sharkskin bindings or, more modestly, a £3.3 edition of Conrad’s Secret Agent from ‘a limited edition of one thousand copies for private circulation and sold only to subscribers, printed on handmade paper, each copy numbered and signed by the Author’.58 Nobody was producing handmade or sharkskin 159

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editions of Hall Caine or Edgar Rice Burroughs, although their publishers did tout the attractiveness of the cheap editions in which they appeared. But in many ways, the Mercury stood out even within a milieu so attuned to textual materiality, developing a unique synergy between the advertising pages, the letterpress and the magazine’s overall identity. In attempting to secure book enthusiasts as readers, the magazine actively emphasised its advertising mix, heavy on rare and fine editions and fine printing; the ads were posited as one of the reasons you would buy the magazine. A 1923 house ad boasts that the magazine, ‘with its Reviews and the Publishers’ Announcements in the Advertisement Pages, supplies you each month with a list of the best books’. It goes on to announce that the next three issues will feature the October ‘Publishers’ Autumn Announcements’, the November ‘Special Booksellers’ Section’, and the December ‘Christmas Announcements’.59 By 1927, the ‘Special Booksellers’ Section’ included a full-page directory of the issue’s book advertisements. Presumably a premium offered to advertisers as well as a service to readers, the directory for November 1927 begins with the epigraph, ‘“To collect rare books is a splendid distinction” – Michael Verinus’; below, the category ‘fine and rare books and early editions’ is the largest category, with nine entries, and the directory also contains categories for ‘modern first editions’, ‘private presses’, ‘oriental books and mss’ and ‘eighteenth century’.60 The Mercury’s synergy surrounding luxury print artefacts also lay in the ways ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’ and ‘Book Production Notes’ referred to advertisers, whether this constituted conscious puffery or not. Either way, the columns’ discussions of valuable and desirable books-as-objects and the aesthetics of printing, binding and typography often referred to loyal advertisers. This began on a modest scale in the first issue, in which A.L.H. mentioned several books on offer at Dobell’s and Hollings’s bookstores in the ‘Bibliographical Notes’.61 Hollings’s had bought an advertisement in the first number; Dobell’s began advertising in the fourth, and became a regular advertiser.62 This referentiality increased as the years went by and likely marked both a financial strategy – puffs in the columns certainly encouraged fine-art printers, rare book dealers and specialty publishers to advertise – and a means of constructing and enlarging the magazine’s audience by hailing enthusiasts for the book-as-object and encouraging this constituency’s growth. This synergy surely contributed to its success: while the Mercury never really became financially stable – and its financial records are not available – it did earn enough to stay open for fifteen years under Squire. More direct evidence of the success of its appeal to amateur bibliographers, rare book buyers and book-craft enthusiasts can be found in its small letters column (it featured one or two letters each month), where readers often quibble with ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’ and ‘Book Production Notes’ on matters of book history, bibliography or book aesthetics.63 As this synergy gathered force through the 160

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mid-1920s, the Mercury’s ad columns became a theatre for playful innovation in advertising for printers and helped make the Mercury an increasingly obsessive journal of the book-as-object, ultimately to the detriment of the linguistic code and ‘literature itself’. Textual Materiality: Printing The Westminster Press was the first printing house to advertise in the Mercury, and it quickly became a reliable customer, along with the houses of George W. Jones and Caslon & Co., a historic English printer. Their advertisements necessarily foreground material aspects of print production, but they also interact with the Mercury’s self-definition in interesting ways. They depict printing as a craft with a formidable history in England, gesturing towards the cultural nationalism that will come to inform the Mercury’s ethos of the object. With their playful and innovative advertisements, some printing house ads also invite in the reader a metatextual awareness, an attention to the physicality of the Mercury as an artefact in itself – an awareness that would recur, in exaggerated form, in the 1931 ‘Special Printing’ and ‘Book Production’ issues, which specifically addressed audiences in the printing and book production trades and were considerably more noteworthy for their physical properties than for their literature and criticism. A 1921 Westminster ad cites the Daily Telegraph’s praise of its printing, evoking the cultural nationalism that often informs discussions of print technologies in the Mercury. It quotes a review of A History of the Ports of London: . . . these superb volumes reflect the highest possible credit upon the taste and skill of contemporary printing and publishing enterprise in this country. The press work has been undertaken by the Westminster Press, which has set so fine an example both in proportion and in handicraft to modern followers of the art of Caxton, and we have never seen a more finished instance of their workmanship.64 Suggesting that Westminster’s work reflects not only its own craftsmanship but a high level of accomplishment across England’s printers, the advertisement then links contemporary printing, and the Westminster Press, to a tradition dating back to William Caxton and England’s first printed books. It posits continuity between today’s printing and early, relatively pre-industrial modernity (‘handicraft’, ‘workmanship’). As we shall see, this celebration of physical objects that embody artistry and carry an aura of tradition would come to typify the Mercury’s mature strategy of establishing value amid the confusions of modernity. Such reference to the craft of printing could at times invite an uncanny meta-textual self-consciousness, or rather object-consciousness, in the reader. 161

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An advertisement for Jones in January 1922 is just one such case, in which the textual message points emphatically to the materiality of the object being held in the readers’ hands. Hailing and praising the ‘large section of the book and typography loving public’, the advertisement says that consumer demand for finely printed texts ‘is responsible for the type face in which this advertisement is composed’. The advertisement goes on to identify the font as ‘Venezia’, named for the most important city in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century printing, noting that the punches that produced it were engraved by Edward Prince, ‘who cut the punches for the Dove press, the three Morris faces, and other Private Press types’. This and other artisanal types, the ad continues, are available from Jones’s for ‘lovers of beautiful typography for editions de luxe, brochures, and general printing of a high character’.65 The advertisement is noteworthy for its confident assumption of, and address to, an audience interested in typography and for its closing move towards a trade audience (i.e. readers who might be in the position to produce an edition de luxe). The ad also typifies the moments of object-awareness that become increasingly common in the Mercury, with its pointed reference to ‘the type face in which this advertisement is composed’. The Mercury’s pages often command this unusual sort of readerly attention. As I discuss below, Caslon & Co. makes similar moves in its frequent half-page, horizontal advertisements. Meanwhile B. H. Newdigate, longtime writer of the ‘Book Production Notes’, often included playful entries in which accompanying illustrations or even the print of his column itself would become objects of discussion. His January 1922 note on France’s refusal to loan the original punches for Garamond type is itself printed in Garamond (making it distinct from the rest of the column); his February 1924 column discusses a fifteenth-century type which is being revived for a forthcoming history of printing, appending a specimen page with the note that he can do so ‘because the measure of the page in that book is just that of The London Mercury’, again summoning attention to the print artefact in the reader’s hand.66 These moments break the patterns of readerly engagement normally evoked by periodicals. Formalist claims of the distinct nature of literary language aside, from a broader perspective advertisements function comparably to other magazine content – e.g. referentially, with the letters on the page cueing the reader to envision and engage imaginatively with a world of things or ideas beyond the page. As the reader’s absorption increases, she becomes less aware of the ink, paper, visual layout. While the beauty or strangeness of language or the cleverness of advertising design might command passing attention to form – might bring back to view the materiality of ink and page – both advertising and literary writing usually seek action and/or immersion in an envisioned world beyond the page, whether that action consists in making a purchase or completing, via imaginative co-creation, the world cued by the literary writer. The main competing poetic aesthetics of the milieu out of which the Mercury 162

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grew – Imagism and Georgian poetry – both stressed concretion of images and the elimination of rhetoric, thus intensifying the referentiality of language to a physical world materially disconnected from the page. In the case of Imagism and much modernism that followed it, these values also fed an aesthetic of hardness or concreteness, but crucially, this concreteness was largely metaphorical, a solidity of image, sound and description that usually de-emphasised the materiality of print even as it was inextricable from it. But the Mercury’s emphasis on textual materiality alternately pulls the reader away from the referential world beyond and back to the print object itself, or makes the world of textual objects, even the magazine itself, the referent. In ‘Editorial Notes’ Squire boasted often of the Mercury’s physical beauty and emphasised the care with which it was made up. In January of 1924, amid a subtle redesign, the Mercury accidentally published a number in which letterpress appeared in two fonts. In February Squire apologised, remarking that the error was a result of the ongoing ‘essential project of beautifying our pages’. The ‘Book Production Notes’ column likewise emphasised the materiality of the Mercury and placed it within a vogue of appreciation for tasteful design of print artefacts. The February 1920 column by J. H. Mason asserts that an enthusiasm for quality type is ‘in the air’.67 To whatever degree such gestures report on an existing vogue for fine printing, they simultaneously, and as importantly, posit such a vogue, both identifying and constructing an imagined community for the magazine to claim as its own – a community it connects with on an intimate, physical level by calling readers’ attention, in the moment of reading, to the physicality of their experience. The ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’ and ‘Book Production Notes’ construct their audience, paradoxically, by simultaneously addressing connoisseurs (literally those ‘in the know’) and attempting to mentor others towards connoisseurship – teaching them the knowledge of terms and distinctions that mark the connoisseur. The paradox lies in the fact that the pleasure of connoisseurship stems from already having knowledge that others lack. These Mercury features, as well as some of the ads for printing houses and rare and fine book dealers, want to provide the connoisseur’s pleasure and, more pressingly, want to expand the connoisseur audience and thereby increase demand for fulfilment of that pleasure. Caslon & Co., which repeatedly secured the top half of the Mercury’s second advertising page, created beautifully designed display advertisements with ornate borders and tasteful use of negative space whose text explicitly mentors readers towards greater knowledge of the printer’s art, all in ways that invoke Caslon’s central role in English printing history. An advertisement from June 1923 valorises amateur interest in printing by linking it back to Horace Walpole, ‘one of the earliest amateurs of printing in this country’, adding that Walpole favoured Caslon types and mentions William Caslon in his diary.68 An advertisement from the preceding number defines and 163

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traces the lineage of the adjective ‘Caslonic’ in discussions of printing, defining the term as generally referring to ‘old roman’ type like that designed by Caslon, marked by ‘legibility, grace, and dignity, with a certain grace of style which proclaims the artist in type design’, ‘bold without coarseness, distinctive without eccentricity’.69 In the familiar moment of meta-textual awareness I have been tracing, the ad also informs readers that ‘This advertisement is set in Old Roman.’ All this stands under a larger-point headline asking, ‘What is Caslonic character?’, both assuming an enthusiast’s interest in typography and offering information to build up a potential connoisseur’s vocabulary. The ad’s language resonates powerfully with the Mercury’s initial declaration of aesthetic principles in the first ‘Editorial Notes’ column, which traces a similar middle ground between tradition and innovation, praising poetry that can be described as at once traditional and experimental. Thus it’s not as surprising as it initially seems that the Mercury would align itself so strongly with fine-arts, material practices like those of Caslon: Caslon’s claim that it both maintains and builds on a vital tradition while retaining flexibility and innovation – ‘bold without coarseness, distinctive without eccentricity’ – are remarkably similar to the Mercury’s claims to represent the newest and latest in literature without, contra its modernist competitors, giving in to seemingly ungrounded or unmoored experiment for its own sake: ‘traditional yet experimental, personal yet sane’. The apotheosis of the Mercury’s emphasis on typography and book production – even its reductio ad absurdum – came in 1931, amid a depression-fuelled slump in the book market that, based on the evidence of the year’s issues, did not spare the Mercury. The year’s first two issues were noticeably slim, offering only ninety-six pages of letterpress as compared with the 124 pages of the early years. More troubling, the advertising space was at an all-time low, with only ten pages of advertisements including the inside pages and back of the wrapper. In February, a full page of this modest allotment was a poorly written, mostly white-space advertisement for the Mercury’s binding service, suggesting a last-minute addition to fill unsold space.70 Amidst these diminished advertising sections rare and fine book dealers are still much in evidence, dominating the ad columns along with publishers’ listings. Meanwhile nonbook advertising, which in the mid-twenties had included small but steady representation of patent medicines, pens, and furniture, had all but disappeared, whittled down to single ads for the Vapex Inhalant (a cold remedy) and the ever-reliable P&O shipping line. The Mercury responded to this crisis with a bold initiative that succeeded in generating income but foregrounded the tensions inherent in its investment in textual objects: two special issues, one on typography and one on ‘book production’. These experiments resulted in large, lavishly produced advertising and letterpress sections that radically foregrounded the physical properties of 164

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texts – including the text of the Mercury itself – to the corresponding neglect of literary content. In March, the ‘Special Printing Issue’ featured a front advertising section of an unprecedented forty pages, twenty-two of them featuring colour (red and black), while in the letterpress, written features were printed in five different typefaces, all of them designed by the Lanston Monotype Corporation, which also took out a full-page advertisement. Though it featured an only slightly trimmed complement of articles and regular features, the ‘Special Printing Issue’ was the most visually diverse number in the Mercury’s history, only to be bested by the November ‘Book Production Number’. The March number boasted a vivid green cover and contained four woodcuts, a line-portrait by Evans, two pages of sample typographer’s decorations, a fourpage spread illustrating a new process for reproducing watercolour images and the second, eight-page instalment of Thomas Derek’s cartoon illustrations of New Testament parables. The November ‘Book Production’ number went a step further: in addition to a similar range of woodcuts and drawings, it offered seven unpaginated supplements from printing houses including photographs, drawings or specimen pages showing their typefaces. The front cover was black with silver lettering, the back a stunning multicoloured design with oil ink produced by Lorilleux and Bolton, who also took out a full-page ad and offered a two-paragraph, exhaustive description of their process (Plates 3 and 4). By contrast, it is worth noting that the magazine’s inaugural number contained no images except for the Mercury head on the wrapper, and that a typical issue throughout the Mercury’s run contained five or fewer images. In his editorial notes to the printing number, Squire half-jokingly apologised to readers for the shock, implicitly acknowledging what had happened here: he had effectively converted the Mercury, for one week, from a literary journal that also served a segment of readers interested in collecting and fine printing to a trade journal of fine book production that happened to have some literature and belles-lettres in it. The advertising section tilts away from readers and towards collectors and, more strikingly, towards people who work in the book trade. Few ordinary readers would be in a position to patronise Winstone & Sons (‘Manufacturers of Fine Printing Inks’) or the ‘Nickeloid Electrotype Co.’, a manufacturer of print blocks. Some publishers who were regular advertisers likewise took these special issues as an opportunity to emphasise their contract printing business rather than their book sales: the Shakespeare Head press, while offering a list of available (expensive) titles, boasts its service of producing ‘privately printed books’; Cambridge University Press eschews book sales altogether, advertising only its print house, available for ‘the production of literary, scientific, and technical works’.71 The number’s letterpress features also show this tilt towards a specialist audience of print professionals. The issue’s spreads on printers’ decorations and water-colour print processes – ostensibly ‘content’ and not ‘advertising’ – might have been pleasant for ­ordinary readers 165

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to look at, but they were clearly geared towards possible trade patrons of the Lanston Monotype and Nickeloid Electrotype companies. The printer’s decoration spread even provided the catalogue numbers for several of the print decorations reproduced in the spread, to facilitate ordering. In the ‘Editorial Notes’, Squire did not address the shifts in the advertising section, although he does show some defensiveness on the blurring of boundaries between advertising and letterpress. Recognising that the changes might fluster readers, Squire promised that the magazine’s design would return to normal next month. Under the sub-headline ‘Apologies’, Squire wrote: We hope that publishers, owners of periodicals, and printers, will get enough edification out of the venture to compensate for the irritation which must, we know, be caused to readers who hate having the ordinary routine disturbed. To these last we apologise.72 Here Squire virtually acknowledges that the special printing issue was in essence a trade journal: he clearly evokes two audiences – book-trade figures (publishers, owners of periodicals, printers) to whom the issue’s oddities are addressed, and ‘readers’ likely to be alienated by them. He assumes there is little overlap between them. But he is equally at pains to paint this initiative as an act of appreciation of and support for the artistry of printing, not as a money-making venture. Thus Squire’s explanation of the special issue adopts the discourses of education and curation to justify the experiment: hopefully people in the book trades will ‘get enough edification’; later, he describes the issue as ‘an exhibition of founts’. One could hardly stress the materiality of the magazine more emphatically: the issue is an exhibition; readers are urged to consider the different types as objects in a gallery or museum. Eliding the financial benefits of the huge advertising section, Squire explains that ‘we came across a whole series of new types produced by the Lanston Monotype Corporation’ and wanted to show them to best advantage, so ‘decided to produce a whole number in which each of these types should be used on an ample scale’ (p. 401). Squire then declares: This being a wicked world, we may as well make it clear that we have not been paid by the Lanston Monotype Corporation to make this exhibition of types, and of ourselves, and that, in the cause of good printing, we shall be willing in the future to show any other printing novelties from whatever corner they may come. Again, Squire underscores the Mercury’s transformation into pure object – in his jokey reference to the phrase ‘making an exhibition of oneself’ – while disclaiming commercial motivations. One presumes that, despite Squire’s disclaimer, the good people of Lanston Monotype at least paid for their full-page advertisement. But this relationship only scratches the surface of the commer166

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cial nature of the ‘Special Printing Issue’: with forty pages of advertising in the midst of ‘the slump’ and in the usually slow month of March, the Mercury clearly succeeded in marketing the issue to advertisers. (As Huculak notes, the bump in advertising was short-lived: the January 1932 issue had a scant four pages of ads.73) Squire’s clever disclaimers could not obscure the priorities embodied in the Special Printing Issue. In capitalising on the Mercury’s status as a fine object, Squire turned it temporarily into a pure commodity. Textual Materiality: Collecting If my implied distinction between the ‘object’ and the ‘commodity’ begs the question, that same question was being begged insistently in early twentiethcentury literary culture, as artists of varying stripes tried to envision artistic subjectivities and a social role for creative work that eluded the cultural logic of late-modern capitalism. As Douglas Mao has shown, Anglo-American modernism is replete with attempts to posit the ‘solid object’ as a repository of integrity and radical alterity, a fragment that cannot be re-inscribed into the human systems that threaten to reduce all things to symbols or goods, all interactions to signification or commercial exchange. This ‘feeling of regard for the physical object as object – as not-self, as not-subject’ issues in modernist aesthetic theory that posits the literary work itself as a kind of solid object and thus a refuge from the ‘subordination of individuals (humans and objects) to system, a process that for modernists . . . represented the essential direction of modernity at its most destructive’.74 If the Mercury rejected the associated modernist aesthetics of Hulmeian hardness, Woolfian disinterestedness, Eliotic impersonality or Joycean stasis, the magazine was equally invested in saving literature from the taint of commodity culture and locating value outside human systems, and this process also led it to the object as a locus of value. In positing literary works as analogous to objects, modernist aesthetic theory largely ignored their actual textual materiality: their solidity was purely metaphorical, of the sort Eliot implied when he figured the Tradition as a set of things occupying a seemingly hyperborean space, things which, to strain the metaphor, would presumably shift over a bit when the ‘new (the really new) work of art is introduced among them’.75 The Mercury took this problem in the opposite direction, ultimately validating the print artefact to the extent that it verged on supplanting the literary text it embodied and made reproducible. It was thus portentous that Squire’s first ‘Editorial Notes’ hail both the ‘cultivated reader’ and ‘the lover of books’.76 For there is a paradox, one on which the Mercury is ultimately unsettled and multi-voiced, in the attempt to ground literary value in the textual object, which would seem to foreground the book’s status as an object of exchange (a commodity, albeit of a ‘special sort’) and to de-emphasise the writer’s artistry as expressed in the text’s linguistic code.77 In virtually every such iteration in 167

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the Mercury – from the book advertisements to the Bibliographical and Book Production Notes – specific prices are referenced liberally; indeed, part of the attraction of ‘Bibliographical Notes’ lies in the gossip value of learning the stunning prices paid for certain works by certain buyers: thus Williams repeatedly chided (gently) bookseller A. S. W. Rosenbach for shipping elements of the English heritage back to Philadelphia.78 But this contradiction is everywhere in the Mercury and typically goes unacknowledged. Newdigate, in the September 1921 ‘Book Production Notes’, goes so far as to criticise Harvard for including consideration of the commercial value of books as part of its course on ‘History of the Printed Book’.79 His protest is marked by touchiness surrounding the book’s commodity status, undoubtedly based on Newdigate’s sense of himself as an artist and his profession as an art. Quoting the Harvard syllabus, which includes ‘discussions of the characteristic qualities which affect the excellence and value of any volume’, Newdigate concludes: It is odd to find the ‘commercial value’ of books included in the Syllabus – as though a Slade Professor were to lecture upon prices at Christie’s. But it is good that Harvard should recognise the history and practice of printing as a field of liberal study. (p. 521) The syllabus, at least based on Newdigate’s quotation from it, never actually references ‘commercial value’, and it is conceivable that the syllabus intended ‘value’ in some other sense. This desire to posit some form of value for artefacts separate from their exchange value, but grounded in their materiality, extends to occasional columns on antiques and other collectibles. In a back-page ‘Chronicles’ section on books about collecting, Bohun Lynch praises R. W. Symonds’ The Present State of Old English Furniture for avoiding the topic of ‘current prices’, since ‘These are always fluctuating, being largely governed not only by excellence and rarity . . . but by fashion’ – as though ‘excellence’ were self-evident and ‘rarity’ somehow less contingent than ‘fashion’. Since the instability of prices seems to mark their arbitrariness as a value system, Lynch reaches for the seemingly ontological ‘excellence’ – an apparently universal term analogous to Squire’s articulation of ‘the dominant elements of all good art’ in his inaugural notes. Lynch praises Symonds for ‘directing the collector’s attention to such simple matters as proportion. Good old furniture is almost invariably wellproportioned.’80 Stable valuation lies in observable aspects of physical objects, which ostensibly are objective and independent of human or abstract systems of valuation. Lynch repeatedly dismisses relative, historically contingent value in favour of ideology-laden universals: he concurs with Symonds that Chippendale has been overrated, his fame a function of ‘commercial ability in catering for the variable tastes of a large and fashionable clientele’ rather than on ‘his powers as a creative artist’ (p. 335). Discussing other titles, Lynch 168

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critiques Frederick Litchfield’s Antiques: Genuine and Spurious for an emphasis on ‘“value” and “importance”’ rather than ‘(mere) beauty’ and condemns Charles Rowed, author of Collecting as a Pastime, for following ‘prevalent crazes’ rather than being ‘moved . . . by the wish to procure things beautiful in themselves’ (pp. 335–6). Such evocations of a self-evident beauty and autonomous artefacts (‘beautiful in themselves’) are, of course, utterly conventional. But not far beneath such statements, in a setting saturated with the celebration of rare and fine books, lay the embarrassing fact that such books are often not read by their purchasers, that handling them might lessen their value, that reading them can be less pleasurable than using cheap editions. (Squire wrote, in a personal letter congratulating J. B. Priestly on his 1925 The English Comic Characters, that he found editions de luxe ‘admirably got up’, but somewhat annoying, as ‘one has to read them with gloves on. I shall get a coarser copy for “use”.’81) On the investment market, uncut pages increase the prices of old books and limited editions – making the ‘unread’ book more valuable but also emphasising that while its value may be, perhaps obscurely, related to verbal features, it is not being bought for those reasons. The beauty and value of rare and fine books lie ‘in themselves’ not as verbal texts but as objects. Equally troubling to the Mercury’s emerging theory of value, books that thus circulate primarily as objects of exchange function too obviously within a purely economic system of value – the sort from which Squire, like many contemporary critics, wished to distinguish literary value. We have seen the Nonesuch Press clearing space for itself within this nexus in its 1923 advertisement, in which it asserts that its books balance the linguistic and bibliographic merits, combining ‘Significance of Subject, Moderation of Price, and the most distinguished Beauty of Format. They are books for those among collectors who also use books for reading.’82 The advertisement emphasises that many collectors of rare and fine books do not read their purchases and that producers of inexpensive ‘reading editions’ also seek the cachet associated with rare and fine books. Another advertisement in the same Mercury number attempts to link the linguistic pleasures of reading with the desire for high-quality and first editions. The advertisement for bookseller James F. Drake Inc. asserts, perhaps defensively, that . . . the instinct of the collectors is a sound one. It is impossible to feel a peculiar affection for an author without wishing to have his books as he first saw them, or for a period without wishing to possess its characteristic writings in bindings and type which reflect its atmosphere as surely as do arguments and phrases, images and epithets.83 The ad’s text both naturalises the desire for the fine object (‘It is impossible’ not to desire original editions from your favourite author or period) and elevates the book’s materiality (bindings and type) to an equal status as its linguistic 169

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content (‘arguments and phrases, images and epithets’). Having legitimated the pursuit of first editions, the Drake ad goes on to discuss books in terms of bald exchange value, positing them as investments – but, tellingly, investments that demonstrate both the buyer’s financial acumen and his sense of literary value: The man who buys modern first editions backs his judgement: as surely as a writer is good he makes his way: as surely as he makes his way the value of his first editions appreciates. The early first editions of Mr Kipling and R. L. Stevenson, issued for a few shillings apiece, are now unobtainable except by rich men. There are probably a dozen young living writers of whose ‘firsts’ the same thing will be said twenty years hence. The ad implies that successful investments are ‘surely’ products of good aesthetic sense (rather than, say, contingent and unpredictable fluctuations of a market). It asserts a clear, unproblematic causal chain among literary value, initial publishing success, and the future value of first editions: ‘surely as a writer is good he makes his way: as surely as he makes his way the value of his first editions appreciates’ (ix). The advertisement oversimplifies the processes by which literary value is constructed by positing an unproblematic identity between literary value (which is actually amorphous, complex, discursive and debatable) and exchange value (which is precise and measurable, if unstable). While the Mercury’s negotiations of value in essays and reviews are less crude, it is noteworthy that, as we have seen, there is substantial rhetorical overlap and dialogue – of a largely reinforcing nature – between the advertisement columns and the letterpress. In an apparent puff in the same number as the Nonesuch Press ad, Squire praises the press’s mission, which he describes as ‘to achieve typographical excellence in books that people use for reading’ (emphasis added).84 If advertisers thus sought to validate the consumer desire for quality editions by identifying it with the more ideologically armoured linguistic pleasures of reading, the Mercury’s powerful but implicit response to the same problem was to attach a culturally nationalist, conservationist ethos to rare and fine books and to situate that ethos within a larger, and increasingly strident, conservationist agenda. This agenda unites a set of diverse and seemingly random interests of Squire’s that characterise the magazine, including his protests against the planned destruction of old churches and other historic structures, his advocacy for the restoration of Stonehenge and its environs to a more pristine landscape style, his agitation for higher-quality design and materials for English coins, and the Mercury’s abiding interest in rare book collecting. While Priestly complained that Squire’s commitments to literature were overtaken by his enthusiasm for buildings, the two themes are more integral than they would seem, both anchoring value in solid, material entities which could be posited as transcending exchange value or other social systems. Amidst what Squire 170

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described as a modern world whose values had gone astray, the Mercury repeatedly posited inherent or transcendent value, which it located to a striking degree in material objects. These objects were, in the Mercury’s reckoning, at risk because of the growing hegemony of exchange value or other modern, instrumental values (progress, innovation, efficiency, etc.). Thus the Bishop of London’s plan to demolish numbers of old churches came in for criticism in similar terms to the trend of American investors buying up precious English manuscripts or early books and shipping them back to the United States. The magazine’s conservationism, if ‘conservative’ in the most literal terms, is also reactionary in its (mostly implicit) linking of conservation with the ethos of clubbish, gentlemanly amateurism that architectural preservation and rare-books enthusiasm shared at this time. Architectural and bibliographic conservation were both supported by amateur ‘learned societies’, including the Architectural Society, of which Squire was a founding member. While these politics never become explicit in the Mercury (Squire was less the screed writer than Pound, and explicitly designed the Mercury to eschew politics per se), the magazine does consistently assert such leisured and connoisseur activities as ways of resisting modernity and its hegemonic commercialism, whose dominant values might otherwise lead to the loss of precious heritage items. Squire’s ‘Editorial Notes’ of September 1923, for instance, emphasise the amateur status of efforts by the Folk Song Society, the Bibliographic Society and the Horace Walpole Society to put out editions of rare works, thus ‘rescuing knowledge that would in a few years be irretrievably lost’.85 For Squire, the amateur nature of these activities distinguished them from a commercial culture unlikely to support them. In so doing he validates the public-school, private-club, connoisseur culture represented by the societies, implicitly valuing leisured amateurism over the increasingly dominant regimes of commercialism and professionalism. He praises a recent illustrated edition from the Walpole Society, noting that Were an ordinary commercial publisher to undertake such a book, it could only be published at several guineas a copy; but the Walpole Society, because it has no profit to make, no authors’ royalties or overhead charges to pay, is able to issue this annual to its members in return for their guinea subscription. (p. 450) Squire’s emphasis on the relative cheapness of the volume to Walpole Society members masks the cultural capital underlying such enthusiasms – the leisured ability, in Bourdeiu’s terms, to ‘squander time’ becoming connoisseurs, ‘time devoted to the cultural acquisition which adequate consumption presupposes’.86 This conservationist ethos was deeply ingrained in the London Mercury and visible, in more general form, in Squire’s opening ‘Editorial Notes’, which emphasised the need to preserve and transmit English traditions 171

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in the wake of the Great War: ‘Our traditions are never more jealously to be cherished than when they are threatened, and literature is the repository of all our traditions,’ Squire wrote.87 This ethos extended to material (textual, architectural, archaeological) objects and linked literature to them at the apex of the Mercury’s rhetoric of value. The Mercury presented all of these as imperilled by forces of modernity ranging from commercialism to modernist aesthetics. Well before Squire’s advocacy for architectural preservation became a leitmotif of the Mercury, rare books embodied the conflict of value systems in which the Mercury attempted to intervene and the culturally nationalist conservationism that characterised that intervention. In the magazine’s third number, A.L.H.’s ‘Bibliographical Notes’ stridently protests the inflation of prices on the rare book market, blaming it on an unwelcome shift in regimes of value – a shift identified with modernity and with America. A.L.H recounts a record-setting sale at Sotheby’s, which had seen £110,356 paid for a collection of Renaissance and eighteenth-century books. Most were bought by ‘Mr G. D. Smith, the American buyer, who seemed to have learnt to think so imperially about book prices that very few English dealers could compete with him’.88 He goes on to suggest that price inflation is energised by the competitive drive of the bidders, a force that steamrolls traditional values. At the sale, A.L.H. recounts, the bidding on each item ‘typically resolved itself into a duel between Mr Smith and Mr Quaritch’. The final result marked . . . the triumph and the reduction to the absurd of book collecting. The absurdity of picture dealing is already manifest; prices have long ceased to have the least relation to the merit of the work purchased. It is out of mere snobisme and not from any love of art that people will give fifty thousand pounds for a picture by a second-rate eighteenth-century artist. The same spirit has invaded the book-collecting world. The amateur who collects books out of a genuine love of literature had better retire as gracefully as he may. There is no place for him in the topsy-turvy universe where fifteen thousand pounds is paid for a little volume of poems. (p. 325) Here again we see the evocation of the seemingly pure categories of ‘merit’ and ‘genuine love of literature’, presumed to be free of economic desires and determinants, placed at risk by values more aligned with modernity and capitalism. Later in the column A.L.H. distinguishes ‘love of literature’ from a crass ‘biblophilious instinct’ and voices irritation that ‘people should be so stupid as to collect books because they are rare and not because they are worth reading’. By evoking snobisme A.L.H. asserts, in essence, that the desire for distinction – the urge to establish and proclaim one’s social status, to link economic power with prestige – has trumped the pure value of ‘merit’, the latter recognisable by one who possesses a ‘love of literature’. Of course, it was Bourdieu’s contribu172

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tion to demonstrate that this ‘love of literature’ is itself the source and the sign of a distinction that masks its economic foundation. Thus the term ‘amateur’ – ‘the amateur who collects books out of a genuine love of literature’ – is key here, tacitly evoking an aristocratic model, ultimately co-opted by the English middle class, in which having time and money to spend non-productively, on activities such as connoisseurship, is the essential mark of culture. The amateur has cultivated a discerning ‘love of literature’; implicitly, the American tycoon has merely a mound of money and a competitive drive, allowing him to corrupt the system by which value is constituted and exchanged. ‘One left the sale’, A.L.H. laments in conclusion, ‘with a curious feeling of bewilderment and indignation, almost vowing that one would never look at an old book again’ (p. 325). This type of protest against perceived American cultural imperialism in the collecting market recurs periodically in the Mercury, coexisting fretfully with the magazine’s support of American writers and its reliance for advertising revenue on the high-end rare book trade, for whom competition and high prices were a boon. Rosenbach, the most famous American book collector of the period, took out half-page advertisements monthly in the Mercury beginning in 1921, offering items for sale and soliciting offers from people with access to library and estate sales. Still, Mercury writers tweaked such American incursions, in more comic and satirical ways as the years went on. The ‘Literary Intelligence’ column of June 1923, recounting a PEN Club dinner with a formidable guest list of famous writers, reports Israel Zangwill’s quip that ‘any American millionaire present would be tempted to transport the whole collection’.89 In the ‘Bibliographical Notes’ column in the 1931 ‘Special Printing Issue’, Iolo Williams takes pains to distinguish ‘collectors’ (who have a genuine affection for the objects) from ‘dealers’ (who buy for profit), grouping Rosenbach with the latter.90 Literary Value, Collecting and ‘The Grub Street Nights’ This nexus of literary value, physical objects and cultural nationalism is perhaps most thoroughly aired in ‘The Grub Street Nights’, in which Squire allegorises his critique of literary evaluation in a series of light fictions. Many take aim at familiar targets: the culture of reviewing, celebrity, modernism. These include ‘The Man Who Wrote Free Verse’, in which two precocious young literary types orchestrate a hoax to show the vacuity of modernist poetry by writing facile poems that seem to follow the patterns of free verse. The critics adore the poems, but the hoax backfires when the Bolshevik revolution comes to England and the protagonist is declared ‘the poet of the revolution’ and forced at his life’s peril to continue writing in a modernist vein.91 In ‘The Success’, a serious but traditional novelist loses his contract with a publisher after writing a series of excellent but poorly reviewed and thus 173

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­poor-selling books.92 The ‘success’ in the story is the revelation that the woman he had loved and (long ago) lost adored his books (p. 146), opposing commercial and journalistic values, which the story posits as political and bankrupt, to a crystallised instance of writing as human connection. In ‘The Painful Dilemma’ a critic, against his better judgement, writes a positive review of a modern novel he dislikes because he believes its author is dying.93 His review revives the writer, and the critic is stuck advocating his work forever, diminishing his own reputation. All of these stories depict cultural mediators and the institutions and discourses of reviewing as warping literary value. The narrator of ‘The Painful Dilemma’ thus describes the results of several positive reviews: ‘There was a rush for The Overworld at the libraries. A great many people no doubt persuaded themselves that they liked it, and a great many more that if they didn’t it was because it was too deep for them’ (p. 925). The stories thus encapsulate both the Mercury’s contemporary yet ‘sane’ aesthetic and Squire’s critique of literary evaluation in the contemporary literary marketplace. ‘The Golden Scilens’, published in January 1924, gathers the Mercury’s enthusiasm for and angst over book-collecting into this critique. ‘The Golden Scilens’ tells the story of Mackenzie Wile, a crafty Jewish amateur book collector who, having discovered some manuscript pages of Hamlet, by an elaborate stratagem buys them at auction and sells them to wealthy American collectors. The story is curiously at odds with itself about its protagonist. He becomes wealthy because of his self-training in rare books, a self-training that, as we have seen, the Mercury serves and mentors its readers towards. And his sudden transformation from hand-to-mouth literary journalist to international cause célèbre is inflected positively in the opening paragraphs: ‘to-day, happily, Mackenzie Wile need no longer work as hard as he did and his little wife, though she still sews and knits incessantly, no longer has to conceal her worries under a brave face’.94 Yet the story traffics in antiSemitic stereotypes of Wile, and his sale of the Shakespeare fragment, for £12 million, through a fantastic series of unlikelihoods, causes a stock market crash and a world economic crisis. Most tellingly, though, while Wile’s autodidactic mastery of the world of rare books is generally celebrated, the evil in the story lies in the intervention of a purely commercial, mercantile mindset – identified with the American millionaires who compete to buy the fragment from Wile: that is, identified with the movement of the fragment from the relatively selfenclosed and unmediated marketplace of rare book dealers and their clients to a modern, global economy where exchange value is driven by the forces of market competition. At the initial auction, Wile’s competition for the fragment comes from an American businessman who has no idea at all what he’s bidding on, but becomes interested in the object when the bidding gets competitive: ‘It was at this point that Mr Ling . . . began to take notice. . . . How slowly these Britishers (for he always used that offensive term) were creeping up; how cau174

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tiously they schemed for this bit of old rubbish. Now was the opportunity for a little jovial Napoleonism just to oxygenise ’em’ (p. 245). Once Wile has secured the fragment and placed it on the open market, an American financier outbids the British museum (which offers ‘a beggarly hundred thousand pounds’) and several other Yankee competitors, and the fragment is destined for a library the American is endowing ‘at his old university in Troy, New York’ (p. 248). The story’s hyperbolic ending aside, the point seems to lie in the loss of this precious piece of the English heritage to a crassly commercial America in which money is the only register of value. Squire and the Mercury seek to make value inhere in the object, where it is ultimately inexpressible in money terms; but in the story, commercial values determine the object’s fate. That this victory of crass American commerce is orchestrated by a ‘half-Scotchman and a half-Jew, an alarming combination on paper’, is the story’s most unfortunate move, presaging Squire’s later reactionary politics (p. 240).95 The cultural nationalism inherent in this fictional episode – and its understanding of exchange value as violating the inherent value in objects – is consistent with other positions Squire takes in the Mercury in 1923–4, during which its gathering reactionary materialism matures and fully comes to the fore. These include his opposition to the destruction of old London churches, as proposed by the archbishop of Canterbury, which he satirised in a long poem in the December 1923 Mercury, one month before the appearance of ‘The Golden Scilens’. The poem sarcastically suggests that the church might as well sell its buildings to American collectors and envisions St Paul’s being reconstructed on the banks of the Ohio.96 Two months later Squire would write that in the question of church preservation, ‘The money criterion is hopeless: by that token half the antique sites in the country might be sold, the National Gallery included.’97 Like the treasures of England’s printing traditions, architectural treasures need to be protected from the gathering dominance of capitalism and its scale of values. Aptly enough, as the Mercury was gearing up for its ‘Special Printing’ and ‘Book Production’ issues, Walter Benjamin was also positing the rare book market as a utopian space within capitalism, where an alternate set of values held sway, where the object recovered its integrity and a non-instrumental relationship could exist between subject and object. Unlike Squire and his Mercury colleagues, however, Benjamin acknowledges the reactionary nature of the collecting urge and celebrates its tangential (at best) relationship to reading. In ‘Unpacking my Library’, Benjamin describes book collecting as reliant on a passing social formation, one grounded historically not in modern commodity exchange but in older codes of inheritance and hand-to-hand transfer. This reactionary potential is clearest in Benjamin’s claim that, of all the ways of acquiring books, the most appropriate to the collector is to inherit them: ‘a 175

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collector’s attitude towards his possessions stems from an owner’s feeling of responsibility. Thus it is, in the highest sense, the attitude of an heir.’98 Book collecting is thus both nostalgic and subversive of current economic values: ‘To renew the old world – that is the collector’s deepest desire when he is driven to acquire new things. And that is why a collector of older books is closer to the wellsprings of collecting than the acquirer of luxury editions’ (p. 61). While certain aspects of capitalism operate in the rare book market – i.e. scarcity raises prices – exchanges are more often determined by vagaries of individual desire or sheer chance (for Benjamin, ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’). Benjamin recounts using feints and deceptions at auctions to outsmart wealthier bidders, suggesting that prices were subject to nearly random interactions in the moment of the auction. These forces undermine the sense of a rational ‘invisible hand’ setting prices; at the auction, complex and incommensurate, even opaque, systems of value come into play. Benjamin’s discussion of these highly contingent, highly differentiated sales – in which books and their prices seem to escape the machine-like instrumentality of a commodity-driven economy – help explain how rare book collecting could seem a way of resisting a distressingly systematised, commercialised modernity. Indeed, as we saw in the Introduction, Benjamin specifically validates auction purchases in contrast with book buying in its modern forms: ‘The purchasing done by a book collector has very little in common with that done in a bookshop by a student getting a textbook, a man of the world buying a present for his lady, or a businessman intending to while away his next train journey’ (pp. 62–3). Benjamin is more explicit than the Mercury in positing collecting as subversive of capitalist instrumentality, tracing a dialectic between the reactionary nature of book collecting and its subversive potential. Thus for him the best way to secure a book for one’s collection is to borrow it and not return it, subverting both the sanctity of personal property and social expectations for the functionality of books. For Benjamin, the fact that collectors don’t read books constitutes part of the special nature of collecting: And the non-reading of books, you will object, should be characteristic of collectors? This is news to me, you may say. It is not news at all. Experts will bear me out when I say that it is the oldest thing in the world. Suffice it to quote the answer which Anatole France gave to a philistine who admired his library and then finished with the standard question, ‘And you have read all these books, Monsieur France?’ ‘Not one-tenth of them. I don’t suppose you use your Sevres china every day?’ (p. 62) Indeed, while the purchases that typify the modern market – the student’s textbook, the bourgeois’s gift, the train-traveller’s diversion – suture the purchaser into a series of ready-made identities (market segments) and thus emphasise his or her interpellation, the collector’s patterns of buying, for Benjamin, con176

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stitute his individuality. His individual, contingent purchases feed and constitute his subjectivity, though it is an attenuated subjectivity, constituted by his relationship to objects. Benjamin insists that successful book collecting relies not on ‘money or expert knowledge alone’ but on ‘flair’, on a creative process of reading ‘[d]ates, place names, formats, previous owners, bindings, and the like: all these details must tell him something – not as dry, isolated facts, but as a harmonious whole’ (pp. 63–4). Thus the essay reaches this crescendo near its end: ‘. . . for a real collector – and I mean a real collector, a collector as he ought to be – ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them’ (p. 67). This creative exchange between purchaser and object – this construction of a ‘harmonious whole’ – constitutes the value of the object qua object; it allows the collector to allow the book to express itself. In positing book collecting as a subject–object relation that exceeds or eludes that of buyer and commodity, problematising both terms, Benjamin underscores the degree to which reading has been framed by capitalism, reader choices reduced to conditioned responses within a differentiated market. His idealisation of the mysterious affinity of collectors for books takes the Mercury’s own valorisation of textual materiality – likewise a species of incomplete resistance to the commodification of print – to its logical and extreme conclusion: the point at which reading is more than just beside the point, but actually detracts from the ineffable pleasures of ownership. In rejecting the importance of reading, of course, Benjamin was being deliberately scandalous. His position, though homologous with the Mercury’s reach for the solid object as antidote to modernity, was beyond the magazine’s conceptual framework. Founded on the promise to ‘clear away some of the [critical] rubbish’ and restore English letters to order, the Mercury, in its collecting fetish, was reactionary without being dialectical. Conclusion The problem that doomed the Mercury’s attempt to establish literary evaluation on non-commercial, asocial and ahistorical lines – and ultimately left the magazine flailing about in an aesthetic that mixed the clubbish pleasures of rare and fine books, an eccentric enthusiasm for print technologies and increasingly passé literary styles – is the problem that dooms all attempts to establish a pure aesthetic or to theorise intrinsic value. The Mercury’s problem was not that capitalism and commercial principles had crushed proper regimes of value, nor even that its bête noire – modernism – would have more success in navigating emergent matrices of literary value such as the university (though the latter certainly happened). Its problem was an insistence on the purity of value, a blindness to its own status as an institution embroiled in value’s exceedingly complex social construction. ‘Evaluation is always compromised,’ 177

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writes Barbara Herrnstein-Smith, ‘because value is always in motion.’99 Booksellers catering to widely varied markets, literary journalists in a transforming and highly segmented print culture, fine and rare book collectors, professors in the nascent academic field of English – all of these actors evaluated books and writers, and any actor’s ability to make an evaluation stick depended not only on the actor’s effectiveness within his or her institutional location but on its unpredictable interactions with the others. In 1919, Squire’s institutional power seemed so assured that its social and historical nature was invisible to him; the London Mercury seemed destined to play a major role in literary history. His aesthetic, or so it appeared to him, was above the social, his values universal: it was his rhetorical opponents whose value was generated socially, via alliances and interested acts of criticism and reviewing. When he lost this power, his thoughts took an apocalyptic turn: he wrote to Clifford Bax in 1935, a year after his ouster from the Mercury, ‘[T]hose who think like us about God, life & poetry are now a tiny beleaguered garrison.’100 By that point his successor, Scott-James, was bringing the Mercury into line with the gathering consensus, emanating from Cambridge and the pages of Scrutiny, the Criterion, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman and Nation and elsewhere, that modernism was the contemporary literature that would stand the test of time. E. M. Forster and Wyndham Lewis appeared in the Mercury shortly after Squire’s departure in the fall of 1934; he wrote to Edward Davison two months later to say, ‘The Mercury is dead and something else is bearing its name.’101 In Institutions of Modernism Lawrence Rainey argued that, faced with a ‘gnawing anxiety about the nature of value and its justification in a market economy and an increasingly democratic society’, modernist writers and their supporters staged a partial ‘retreat from the domain of public culture’, pinning literary value instead on a ‘different economic circuit of patronage, collecting, speculation, and investment’.102 In the case of Ulysses, for instance, rather than gambling on the evaluative mechanisms of the print marketplace (publishers’ readers, literary journalism), Joyce and his advocates established value for the novel by marketing it to collectors as a book sure to rise in value over time, inscribing it in a ‘double order of values’ in which the high price of the limited edition would lead its purchasers to ‘invest’, in more than one sense, in the book’s aesthetic value (p. 71). As we have seen in the Introduction, Rainey views Joyce’s gambit as a kind of sell-out, an abandonment of faith in the literary public sphere and an embrace, instead, of an (albeit specialised) exchange value, a forfeiture of ‘demands for public sanction to the operations of the market’. This move, Rainey writes, encouraged a misunderstanding that has continued to reverberate in debate about the avant-garde and its public, art and its audience. For the 178

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marketplace is not, and never can be, free from systematic distortions of power, and its outcomes cannot be equated with undistorted participation in practices of justification, or with norms of equal and universal participation in discussions about cultural and aesthetic value. The operations of the market are not an adequate substitute for free agreement; indeed, they are not a substitute at all, insofar as they are operations of an entirely different order. (p. 72) The story of the London Mercury’s brief ascendance, somewhat longer equivocation between textual objects and literary works, and ultimate capitulation to modernist hegemony highlights the gaps in Rainey’s influential account. It shows, first, that anxiety about how literary value would be identified and supported in a market economy was not a uniquely modernist problem, and that the recourse to such seemingly marginal centres of value as the rare and fine books market is less an ‘institution of modernism’ than an existing institution that modernists and anti-modernists appropriated, each in their own ways. Most striking, though, is Rainey’s apparent, nostalgic belief in the (apparently lost) possibility of a realm of pure and disinterested aesthetic evaluation, a space in which ‘practices of justification’ can be ‘undistorted’, where ‘aesthetic agreement’ can be ‘free’. If Squire places his faith in ‘universal values’, Rainey’s lies, evidently, in a Habermasian public sphere where aesthetic value can be debated in disinterested fashion. As I have argued, Rainey wholly embraces Habermas’s familiar account of the rise and fall of the public sphere – which sees eighteenth-century norms of disinterested debate collapsing under the weight of working-class, interest-group politics in the mid-nineteenth century.103 But the Mercury’s story, like the critical history of modernism, demonstrates amply that there is no ‘disinterested’ space from which to argue, only multiple, often incommensurable, differently interested spaces to occupy; that evaluative utterances are formed in interaction with institutions, and rise or fall in part on the positions of social power or weakness from which they emanate; that constantly changing evaluative institutions and practices are always, and always have been, imbricated with the constantly changing marketplace; and that this thing called ‘public sanction’ is the complex, multiple, impure result of interactions that cut across the seemingly ‘different orders’ of aesthetics, politics, economics and institutional practice. We move now to a genre that arises fundamentally out of the interactions between literary evaluation and the print marketplace; a genre that is in essence evaluative; a genre that is, in fact, the material instantiation of a set of evaluative manoeuvres; a genre valued in the marketplace because of its evaluative function: the poetry anthology.

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Notes 1. In a nuanced reading of the perceived ‘crisis of evaluation’, Leonard Diepeveen notes that the difficulty of experimental modernism put certain ‘grand and vague evaluative criteria – emotional expression, the directness of pleasure, and authentic communication . . . under stress’; modernist literature was thus difficult to evaluate: ‘it became impossible to discern the real from the sham’ (Diepeveen, Difficulties of Modernism, p. 37). The LM cited this context in asserting a ‘disinterested universality’ as its critical mode (p. 11). 2. Leavis, ‘Scrutiny: A Manifesto’; Eliot, ‘The Function of Criticism’, p. 13. 3. For an excellent overview of the LM’s history, including circulation estimates, see Huculak, ‘The London Mercury and Other Moderns’. Diepeveen draws heavily on Squire’s responses to modernism in the LM in Difficulties of Modernism; see Chapter 1. 4. See Howarth, British Poetry in the Age of Modernism, Introduction and Chapter 1. 5. Thus Huculak suggests that the magazine sought to address ‘two groups simultaneously: an avant-garde public attuned to experimental movements’ and a public ‘accustomed to Edwardian and Georgian literary production’ (‘The London Mercury and Other Moderns’, p. 244), though the magazine was from the outset emphatically opposed to the poetic experimentalism associated with Eliot and Pound. 6. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919, pp. 4–5, subsequent citations in text. 7. Eliot, Letters, vol. II, p. 54. The circulation estimate is from Howarth (British Poetry in the Age of Modernism, p. 136). 8. Howarth, Squire, p. 181. 9. Rainey, Institutions of Modernism, p. 4. 10. Hucalak, ‘The London Mercury and Other Moderns’, p. 242. 11. Howarth, Squire, p. 143. 12. Squire, letter to Flint. 13. Squire, letter to Walpole, 18 December 1920. 14. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919, pp. 2–3. 15. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, February 1920, p. 386. 16. Diepeveen, Difficulties of Modernism, p. 56. 17. Bingham in ‘Cultural Hierarchies’, pp. 56–8, briefly addresses Squire’s tenure at the Observer. 18. Denunciations of Squire on these terms abound in the early twenties, perhaps most amusingly in Osbert Sitwell’s ‘The Jolly Old Squire, or Way Down in Georgia’, a Dunciad-like closet drama published in September 1922 in Monro’s Chapbook. There Sitwell lampoons along with Squire such frequent contributors to the LM (titled the English Hermes) as sometime co-editor Edward Shanks, J. W. Turner, Edgell Rickword, John Freeman and Logan Pearsall-Smith (pp. 17, 20). 19. Squire, letter to Palmer, 26 December 1930. 20. Squire, letter to Palmer, 13 December 1938. 21. Eliot, Letters, vol. I, pp. 1, 435. 22. Harding, ‘The Idea of a Literary Review’, p. 356. Though the Criterion may be viewed as having sought ‘fit audience but few’ based on its initial print run of 600 in 1922, Harding notes that Eliot told Geoffrey Faber that he ultimately envisioned the magazine reaching a sale of 5,000 copies per issue (p. 349, n. 9). 23. Howarth, Squire, pp. 113–17. On the connection with Yeats, see Squire, letter to

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Lane, 6 October 1916. See also Gross, Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, pp. 239–42. 24. Letters from Squire in the John Lane Collection at the HRC contain discussions of manuscripts Squire is reviewing for Lane. See letters from 15 August 1917, 27 August 1917, 13 March 1918. 25. See Squire, letter to Walpole, 5 September 1919; and Squire, letter to Sidgwick. 26. Dinner programme (100th anniversary Charles Lamb’s retirement). On the cricket match, see Squire, letter to Blunden. 27. Gross’s dismissal, in Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, is characteristic, reading the magazine’s loss of a rhetorical and discursive battle over distinction as an aesthetic fait accomplit: ‘. . . though a cultivated middlebrow reading public remained loyal to the Mercury (it reached a sale of about 12,000), even Squire’s friends were forced to admit that it mostly made tepid reading, that the real action was going on elsewhere’ (p. 241). Huculack is closer to the mark in describing the LM as ‘high-middlebrow or low-highbrow’ and recognising that the LM ‘had a stake in upholding one literary tradition over another’ (‘Meddling Middlebrows’, p. 16). 28. LM, Shanks, ‘Fiction’. 29. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, May 1924, p. 2. 30. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, March 1931, p. 213. 31. Defending the LM’s fiction column in correspondence with Walpole, Squire declared his dislike for Galsworthy’s fiction, declaring it presently beneath the LM’s notice. ‘Ten years ago he would have been worth going after,’ Squire wrote, adding that the only thing published in the LM’s first two years with which he disagreed was a positive notice of Galsworthy’s Skin Game, ‘which I thought – I can’t help it if this shocks you – abominably bad & silly’ (letter to Walpole, 7 December 1920). 32. In emphasising that the LM envisioned a ‘cultivated’ readership and thus was battling over the ground of high culture and the selective tradition, I depart from Huculak, who suggests that ‘The London Mercury sought to become the arbiter of high and middlebrow culture.’ Huculak usefully takes us beyond the stereotyped image of the LM as an unproblematically anti-modernist ‘conservative, market-driven, middlebrow organ’ (‘The London Mercury and Other Moderns’, pp. 242, 244). 33. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919, p. 1. 34. Sullivan, British Literary Magazines, p. 45. 35. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919, p. 2. 36. Sullivan, British Literary Magazines, pp. 45, 47. 37. Anon., ‘The Bookman’s Diary’, Bookman, 65.390, pp. 255–6, subsequent citations in text. 38. Bourdieu, Distinction, pp. 4–5. 39. For ‘open’ vs ‘closed’ periodicals, see Beetham, ‘Towards a Theory of the Periodical’, and my discussion of this issue as it relates to John O’London’s Weekly in Chapter 3. 40. See for instance ‘Has the New Writer Any Chance?’ 41. Gould, ‘The New Poetry’. Gould praises Charlotte Mew, Alice Meynell, Robert Graves, Robert Nichols and Siegfried Sassoon as writers who ‘do not found schools or belong to them’ and whose project is not to give ‘new direction to the muse’; and critiques Eliot, F. S. Flint, H.D. and the Sitwells for ‘straining after novelty for its own sake’. 42. LM, Squire, ‘The Grub Street Nights. IV. The Lecture’, pp. 475, 476, 479. 43. A full discussion of Dyson’s cartoons is beyond my scope, though they are worthy

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of attention. They caricatured literary and artistic figures, and they demonstrate in nuance the LM’s position on celebrity—relying on that system to make their jokes hit home while critiquing the system itself. Readers needed to bring a great deal of surface knowledge of such celebrities as Shaw, Wells, Gosse in order to get the jokes, even as the series overall equated the culture of celebrity with selfpromotion and a laughable arrogance. See for instance LM, April 1924, p. 578; December 1923, p. 129; February 1924, p. 353; April 1924, p. 579. 44. Curtis, ‘Dickens in the Visual Market’, p. 236. For more on the links between photography and literary celebrity, see Annette Federico, ‘Literary Celebrity and Photographic Realism: Marie Corelli and Late-Victorian “Picture Popularity”’, Nineteenth-Century Studies, 11 (1997), 27–50; and Leo Braudy, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 554. 45. LM, May 1923, xv. 46. Jaffe, Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity, p. 1; Goldman, Modernism is the Literature of Celebrity, p. 11. 47. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919. 48. LM, Lamley & Co. (advertisement) and Nonesuch Press (advertisement). 49. LM, Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pen (advertisement); Funk and Wagnall (advertisement); Correspondence College Ltd. (advertisement); Regent Institute (advertisement). 50. LM, New Gresham Dictionary (advertisement). 51. Regent Institute; Metropolitan College; ‘How to Write and Sell Short Stories’; John Long first-novel contest; London School of Journalism (advertisements), Bookman, 64.380. 52. While the March 1924 Bookman contains an ad for Foyles Booklovers’ Paradise – also a regular advertiser in the LM – Foyles was (and remains) a large, full-service bookstore with a rare and fine section. A Foyles ad in the LM in 1924 boasts ‘first editions’ and ‘out of print books’ but adds ‘more than a million volumes in stock!’ (LM, Foyles, advertisement). 53. See Bookman, 65.390. 54. LM, ‘A.L.H.’, ‘Bibliographical Notes and News’, pp. 74–5. 55. Anon., ‘Bookman’s Diary’, Bookman, 66.393. 56. Anon., ‘Bookman’s Diary’, Bookman, 64.380. 57. LM, Eveleigh Nash & Grayson (advertisement). 58. LM, Jones-Evans (advertisement). 59. LM, advertisement, October 1923. 60. LM, Directory, November 1927. 61. LM, ‘A.L.H.’, ‘Bibliographical Notes and News’, p. 76. 62. LM, Hollings (advertisement); LM, Dobell, (advertisement). 63. Indeed, the idea for ‘Book Production Notes’ may have come from a letter from a subscriber. The LM’s first published letter, bylined ‘Original Subscriber’, appeared in the first number and asked that the LM pay heed to ‘what is called, I believe, “Book Production”’. In a note that appeared underneath the letter, Squire approves this sentiment and promises ‘in our next issue to institute a regular page of “Book Production Notes”’ (p. 77). One wonders whether this letter was planted by the staff: it’s the only LM letter I’ve seen not to be signed with a full name and thus may be a rather transparent instance of the magazine fictively bringing its imagined community of readers into being. 64. LM, Westminster (advertisement). 65. LM, Jones (advertisement). 66. LM, Newdigate, ‘Book Production Notes’, January 1922, p. 300; February 1924, p. 416.

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67. LM, Mason, ‘Book Production Notes’. 68. LM, Caslon (advertisement), June 1923. 69. LM, Caslon (advertisement), May 1923. 70. LM, advertisement, February 1931. 71. LM, Cambridge University Press (advertisement). Likewise W. H. Smith, which usually purchased a small advertisement indicating that books reviewed and advertised in the LM were available at its stores, this week took out a full-page ad for its printing service, advertising contract work for ‘finely printed books’ or ‘artistic treatment of all forms of advertisement, whether in the press, for the hoardings, or for the post’ (LM, W. H. Smith, advertisement). 72. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, March 1931, p. 401, subsequent citations in text. 73. Huculak, ‘The London Mercury and Other Moderns’, pp. 252–3. 74. Mao, Solid Objects, pp. 4, 7. 75. Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, p. 5. 76. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919, pp. 2, 6. 77. Rainey, Institutions of Modernism, p. 4. 78. See for instance the May 1924 ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’, in which Williams reports that Rosenbach bought £220,000 worth of the £430,000 Britwell Court Library at its multi-part auction and frets over Rosenbach’s purchase of a seventeenth-century book of devotional songs and meditations (LM, Williams, ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’). 79. LM, Newdigate, ‘Book Production Notes’, September 1921, p. 521, subsequent citations in text. 80. LM, Lynch, ‘Collecting and Antiques’, p. 334, subsequent citations in text. 81. Squire, letter to Priestly. 82. LM, Nonesuch Press (advertisement). 83. LM, James F. Drake Inc. (advertisement), subsequent citations in text. 84. LM, Squire, ‘Literary Intelligence’, May 1923, p. 5. 85. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, September 1923, p. 449, subsequent citations in text. 86. Bourdieu, Distinction, p. 281. 87. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, November 1919, p. 1. 88. LM, ‘A.L.H.’, ‘Bibliographical Notes and News’, p. 75. 89. LM, Squire, ‘Literary Intelligence’, June 1923, p. 117. 90. LM, Williams, ‘Bibliographical Notes’, March 1931, p. 489. 91. LM, Squire, ‘Grub Street Nights. VII’, p. 137. See Diepeveen’s incisive reading of this story (Difficulties of Modernism, Chapter 1). 92. LM, Squire, ‘Grub Street Nights. I’, pp. 138, 144, subsequent citations in text. 93. LM, Squire, ‘Grub Street Nights. VI’, p. 924, subsequent citations in text. 94. LM, Squire, ‘The Golden Scilens’, p. 241, subsequent citations in text. 95. Patrick Howarth treats Squire’s late politics glancingly, attributing a reactionary impulse to ‘personal tragedies and personal losses’ Squire encountered in the early thirties (Howarth, Squire, p. 247). 96. LM, Squire, ‘A New Song of the Bishop of London’. 97. LM, Squire, ‘Editorial Notes’, February 1924, p. 338. 98. Benjamin, ‘Unpacking My Library’, p. 66, subsequent citations in text. 99. Herrnstein-Smith, Contingencies of Value, p. 9. 100. Squire, letter to Bax. 101. Quoted in Huculak, ‘The London Mercury and Other Moderns’, pp. 253–4. 102. Rainey, Institutions of Modernism, pp. 72, 73, subsequent citations in text. 103. Rainey posits Habermas’s argument as ‘the background of this study’, and summarises the decline of the public sphere as ‘its gradual distortion and partial

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­ isintegration, occurred under the impress of its continual expansion to include d more and more participants and the development of large-scale social organizations that mediated individual participation’. He matter-of-factly states that modernist literature came into being ‘at the cusp of that transformation of the public sphere’ (Institutions of Modernism, 5).

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4

HAROLD MONRO, POETRY ANTHOLOGIES AND THE RHETORIC OF TEXTUAL MATERIALITY

Introduction: the Uses of Anthologies That spring has come there is no doubt: Buds and anthologies are out; The Nightingale is giving thanks, And so are de la Mare and Shanks. Stanley Snaith in the Library Review, 1933 ‘Of the making of anthologies – as has been observed before – there is no end.’ John O’London’s Weekly, 19251 In the early twentieth century, poetry anthologies (like virtually every class of print artefact) were an overproduced commodity. To offer one snapshot, English publishers released twenty-nine anthologies in the lead-up to Christmas 1927, ranging from Thomas Moult’s annual survey of recent verse to topical anthologies such as Cambridge’s Poetry Book for Boys and Girls, Longman’s Songs of Deliverance and Oxford’s Victorian Narrative Verse.2 Book reviewers who were writing about anthologies, and anthologists who were introducing their own books, seldom failed to make the apologetic gesture of acknowledging the oversupply of anthologies before discussing why the particular volume at hand might be of interest.3 Introducing his Twentieth Century Poetry, Harold Monro noted the earlier success of the Georgian anthologies 185

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(published by his Poetry Bookshop), which spawned imitators, ‘culminating in a natural fatigue’.4 Erstwhile Georgian poet Robert Graves and his partner Laura Riding went so far as to issue A Pamphlet Against Anthologies, wherein they identified a small number of relatively rare types of anthologies they favoured before denouncing the more common ‘publisher’s trade anthology’ as a ‘grotesque form’, a ‘mere wanton re-arrangement of poetry that has its proper place elsewhere’, a ‘second-hand clothes shop of poetry’ that turns poetry into ‘an industrial packet-commodity’.5 Paradoxically, this rhetorical setting, in which launching (or praising) a new anthology required apology, coexisted with a material context in which anthologies were popular among readers and useful in many ways to poets, editors and publishers.6 As Barbara Korte argues, anthologies respond to the basic human and social needs for ‘evaluation, discrimination, and structure’ – needs ‘aggravated by an exploded universe of texts’.7 With the emergence, in the late eighteenth century, of a print culture large and diverse enough to require advice and mediation, Korte writes, the anthology became ‘an eminently useful form of publication’ (23). John O’London’s Weekly, always tuned in to the needs of common readers, praised the accessibility of anthologies in 1927, noting ‘Anthologies grow more astonishing every day in their scope, size, and cheapness’; it praised Harrap’s Great Poems of the English Language for its size and affordability: ‘The size of the book disarms criticism on the points of selection: all that need be said is that it is indispensable to the poetry lover.’8 The Labour Woman praised Georgian Poetry 1918–19 by noting that anthologies have ‘special value for busy people with little money to spend on books, and few hours in which to enjoy them’.9 In addition to serving readers well, anthologies were one of the few ways for poets to get paid for their work. A few exceptional figures (Rudyard Kipling stands out among them) made large sums from the permission fees they collected by keeping a steady stream of their work appearing (and reappearing) in the equally steady stream of anthologies being issued by English publishers.10 More commonly, poets who cobbled together livings out of journalism, editing and publishing work added to their mix of modest revenue streams the occasional £1–£5 they received by granting an anthologist permission to publish their poems. Monro estimated that by the late twenties he was earning between £50 and £60 a year in this way.11 And yet, amid the dominant discourse of crisis in discussions of media and publishing in these years, praise for the anthology seemed about as common as praise for daily newspapers. Indeed, Graves and Riding made this very analogy: the emergence of small, cheap anthologies, ‘handier to the pocket, more dashing though more perishable in format’, was akin to recent developments in journalism: ‘they have improved themselves with regard to everything but the one thing necessary, Poetry, as the newspapers with regard to everything but Truth’.12 186

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Why such ingratitude to anthologies? To an extent, poets both needed them and needed to hate them, or at least to say so – a paradox evident in the appearance of poems by both Graves and Riding in the 1936 Faber Book of Modern Verse, eight years after A Pamphlet Against Anthologies appeared.13 This tension stemmed in part from the oversupply and the discourse about it. Inevitable conflicts between poets and anthologists also stirred up tension: granting permission meant relinquishing control over how your poem was handled and framed. Above all, though, it was the popularity of anthologies, relative to the marketability of poetry in other forms, that made them a fraught issue in discussions about the function and future of poetry. Anthologies dominated the poetry market, and were thus a force poets had to reckon with. The 1900 Oxford Book of English Verse sold 250,000 copies before the 1939 second edition was released – not Marie Corelli numbers, but certainly more than any single-authored poetry volume in the period. Debates about anthologies were in essence debates about the social position, function, and viability of poetry. It seemed indisputable that most readers got most of the poems they read from anthologies. What, poets wondered, did this fact say about readers’ ways of reading? About their attention to individual poets? About poetry’s commercial prospects? About the kinds of poems the culture valued? Riding and Graves suggested that anthology classics, such as Yeats’s ‘Lake Isle of Inisfree’ – had common characteristics and that poets, knowing this, consciously tried to write anthology poems. Contemporary scholar Anne Ferry has extended this argument, suggesting that the continued dominance of the lyric poem results from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century anthologists’ preference for it, and from the lyric’s essential compactness, which makes it easily anthologised.14 Many poets chafed, as well, when anthologists repeatedly picked the same poems from their bodies of work; most who raised the objection then quietly accepted the two guineas. Anthologies seemed to be shaping the poetic field, determining the kinds of poetry that reached audiences and the images and reputations of individual writers, in ways that raised discomfort for poets and critics. Dispraise of anthologies in the early twentieth century meets its contemporary equal in the work of George Bornstein, whose Material Modernisms (2001) encourages and models the reading of modernist texts in multiple, historically situated publishing locations such as periodicals and early editions. The straw man in Bornstein’s argument is the contemporary teaching anthology, which for him strips away ‘the social, political, and reputational aspects’ of original bibliographical and contextual codes and presents readers solely with ‘the text’, the linguistic code. Bornstein continues: In that respect, an anthology does for poems what an art museum does for art objects: it removes them from a social or political setting – whether 187

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a church, a palace, a town hall or whatever – and inserts them into a decontextualized realm which emphasizes the aesthetic and stylistic. In this material sense the ‘ideology of the anthology’ means not a selection of poems representing certain points of view but rather the anthology itself as a dehistoricizing field that obscures the social embedding of its own contents.15 Obviously, my methods in this book are indebted to Bornstein’s modelling of how (and why) to read bibliographical and contextual codes of literary texts by tracing them to the books and periodicals in which they first appeared. But Bornstein’s distaste for contemporary teaching anthologies requires qualification, as it obscures two crucial facts: that all anthologies (and art museums, for that matter) are not created equal, and that even the worst does not merely strip a text of original contextual codes but also inserts it into new ones. One anthology might, indeed, place the poem in an apparently neutral setting, a ‘dehistoricizing field’; another might carefully and assertively use bibliographical and metatextual material to re-historicise, re-contextualise, even r­ e-politicise the original work, making juxtapositions that create dialogue between texts or emphasising thematic aspects that would otherwise be obscured. As Jeremy Braddock argues, anthologies and anthologists are mediators not only in the sense of ‘middlemen’, i.e. in that they situate themselves between poets and audiences – they are also mediators in the more creative sense in which works of art mediate reality, drawing material from the world and r­e-presenting it in new forms and structures that create meaning and value. Like early collections of modern art, Braddock argues, early anthologies of modernist poetry were ‘means of intervening in and reforming cultural practice, doing so on the basis of [their] form’; an anthology’s ‘aesthetic arrangement, as well as its inclusions and exclusions, was a representation of its ideological position’. Anthologies, in short, are works of art in their own right: they represent, via aesthetic form, an understanding of reality, and may serve as interventions in cultural contests.16 Yet, as Bornstein notes, the mediations of anthology form are never more ideological than when they claim to be neutral or to efface their interventions: behind such moments lie tacit cultural assumptions about the purpose of poetry or the nature of literary value. Arthur Quiller-Couch made such a claim of neutrality in the 1900 Oxford Book of English Verse, assuring readers that he sought merely to ‘choose the best’ English lyrics since 1250, urging them to ‘forget the editor’s labour’.17 Like Braddock, we need to foreground the editor’s labour, to view anthologies as ‘authored works’ that put forward ‘a mediated representation of the social totality’ in the same way we would expect of any literary work.18 A good deal of Bornstein’s virulence lies in the fact that he takes the contemporary teaching anthology – the Norton Anthology of Poetry and its 188

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competitors – as paradigmatic. But the early twentieth century was a sort of Golden Age of anthologies, in which their format (size, cover type, paper quality, internal organisation, use of paratextual materials such as indexes and tables of contents, etc. – all aspects of ‘bibliographical code’) was patently in flux – a flux that made their materiality uniquely available as a medium for expression and experimentation. This was, of course, the age of the Georgian Poetry anthologies, Pound’s Des Imagistes and Catholic Anthology, Amy Lowell’s Some Imagist Poets, Harriet Monroe’s Some Modern Poets, and other unique, interventionist anthologies. As Braddock argues, anthologies took on a set of new roles in this period, seeking ‘not simply (or even primarily) . . . institutional consecration but social and cultural intervention’ (2). While such modernist anthologies generated controversy and raised the visibility of anthologies, other forces also made the form, function and ideological work of anthologies visible. As with other modern print artefacts, the anthology became caught up in the discourse of crisis around the overcrowded print marketplace, industrialised mass publication and anxiety about literary value. One result was that the anthology form – rather than functioning as an invisible, decontextualising or de-historicising field – became visible as a context with a history of its own. In my Introduction, I showed that readers and reviewers were more conscious of the materiality of books – typography, design, paper quality, etc. – than we tend to be today. So it was with poetry anthologies. Reviewing six anthologies in the lead article for the Times Literary Supplement of 1 February 1923, an anonymous critic praised the format of W. H. Davies’s Shorter Lyrics, 1900–20, in which Davies had presented one poem to each page. The reviewer noted the effect this layout had on readers: each poem is given equal space as a stand-alone work – ‘framed and isolated’ – freeing the reader of uncertainty about how long the lyric will be and dispelling what the writer calls the universal ‘apprehension’ among readers – that a poem will go on for too long. ‘Mr Davies gives us perfect ease and security; our fate is before us; we know that we shall not have to turn over.’19 Such consciousness of textual materiality and the fluid conventions of the anthology format made it, in these years, uniquely suited to expressive manipulation by anthologists and their printers and publishers, a collaborative artefact whose materiality contributed to new ‘social, political, and reputational’ meanings. Such meaning-making at the level of the material text was not limited to fine printing and small-run, artisanal production, nor were its effects controlled entirely by editors or poets. This chapter re-engages the material history of poetry anthologies in these years, juxtaposing the two most influential anthologies at the fin de siècle – Francis Palgrave’s Golden Treasury and Quiller-Couch’s Oxford Book of English Verse – with two anthologies associated with Harold Monro. Monro, as I shall demonstrate, was uniquely aware of the kinds of expressive or 189

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interpretive curation available to the anthology form in the 1910s and 1920s. Having published Edward Marsh’s Georgian Poetry series, the flagship of the early 1910s’ poetry revival and spur to the renewed popularity of anthologies, Monro was both uniquely committed to the popularisation of modern poetry and fluent in the potential of transforming print media – fluent, that is, in the expressive possibilities of print artefacts. Working as poet, publisher, bookseller and impresario from the platform of his Poetry Bookshop, Monro experimented in the 1910s and 1920s with small-run editions de luxe, inexpensive chapbooks, broadsides and Christmas cards bearing classic or contemporary poems. These culminated in The Chapbook, a hybrid artefact that combined elements of the little magazine and the anthology into a neat, charming package. His belated emergence as an anthologist in his own right, marked by his successful 1929 release Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology by Harold Monro, drew on these experiences and on his understanding of the generic and bibliographic codes of anthologies bequeathed to the twentieth century by Palgrave and Quiller-Couch. Specifically, Monro adapted the thematic structuring pioneered nearly fifty years earlier by Palgrave, who would have happily embraced the notion of his popular Golden Treasury as an ‘authored work’, and resisted the more self-effacing approach of Quiller-Couch, whose Oxford Book of English Verse was the unquestioned standard in the Edwardian years. The Golden Treasury and the Oxford Book – along with the vogue of fine printing and the ambient critique of anthologies as print commodities – defined the horizons within which the materiality of anthologies signified in these years. The end of this chapter focuses on two fascinating material/textual creations: Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century (1922, edited by popular poet W. H. Davies), an inexpensive Poetry Bookshop title that deftly invoked the fetish for retro-artisanal book production; and Monro’s Twentieth Century Poetry, an entry in Chatto & Windus’s inexpensive Phoenix Library series. Monro’s anthology proclaimed its status as a commercial print artefact even as it emerged as the most thorough and important collection of modern poetry to date, bringing together Georgians and late-Victorian elders with Imagists and high modernists. In it, Monro arranged poems to highlight points of dialogue and resonance, conducting an open-ended inquiry into the relations among poetic styles and between poetry and the century’s tormented history. Before establishing Palgrave and Quiller-Couch as delimiting the field for the Poetry Bookshop’s experiments, I want to look further at the transformations in the economics of anthologies and their textual conventions in the period. Permission Fees Between the release of the first edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse in 1900 and its second edition in 1939, poets and publishers gradually realised that granting permissions for anthologies could become a source of income. 190

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Ultimately few would pass this opportunity up, given the doubtful saleability of individual volumes of verse. One can track this development by sampling the correspondence concerning anthologies in various publishers’ and poets’ archives. Permissions were barely an item of concern for the first Oxford Book, beyond rumblings that Quiller-Couch was having trouble getting permissions from Gosse, Yeats and Swinburne.20 Yeats was surprised to learn in 1910 that some publishers had begun charging fees to anthologists (as well as to musicians wanting to set poems to music); he resisted this practice, writing to publisher Elkin Matthews that I cannot charge people and will not, and would like to hear definitely whether you claim your right or not in the matter. . . . People will forgive a publisher for having a head for business but they will certainly not forgive a poet. I have no pity for musicians who drown my words with complicated modern sentimentality, but I am full of sympathy for anthologists having been one myself.21 In 1922, Monro allocated £200 for permissions for Davies’s Shorter Lyrics, then tentatively titled Songs and Lyrics by Living Poets. A memo in the Poetry Bookshop archives indicates that, by then, a significant number of poets had seized on anthology fees as a source of revenue, others knew that fees were sometimes paid but declined them, and still others had not heard of permission fees. Thomas Hardy wrote that he would accept a fee if it came out of neither Monro’s nor Davies’s pocket; Alfred Noyes insisted that neither he nor his publisher be paid ‘under any circumstances’.22 Of the ninety poets listed in the memo, twenty-six requested specific fees, twenty-nine offered their work for free, and thirty-three referred the query to their publisher or had other complicating factors. Fees ranged from a half-guinea for one poem to a sobering £5 per poem from Kipling. Equally surprising were the high rates demanded by relatively obscure poets Joseph Campbell (£3) and Violet Jacob (£2). Davies probably had them in mind when, in his introduction, he complained that ‘the worst poets have charged the highest fees’. Most telling in context, however, is the number of poets who offered their work for free or left remuneration up to Davies and Monro. ‘I have no view as to terms,’ wrote Eva Gore Booth, ‘but shall be content with anything. Or if you give me a copy of the anthology instead, I shall be very pleased.’23 Asking for permission fees had not yet emerged as a standard practice. By the mid-1930s, permissions were a significant production cost, which publishers estimated up front, with crossed fingers, for any anthology that included copyright material. The most infamous instance was the Oxford Book of Modern Verse, published in 1936 and edited by Yeats.24 For it Yeats was promised a £500 advance that was to cover both permissions and an advance on his royalties. Yeats ended up paying £650 for permissions alone 191

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– £100 out of his own pocket – and, in a dry closing to his preface, remarked that, in addition to the poets included in the anthology, ‘Two others, Rudyard Kipling and Ezra Pound, are inadequately represented because too expensive even for an anthologist with the ample means of the Oxford University Press at his disposal.’25 When the volume sold briskly (by 1942 it would go through seven printings totaling about 55,000 copies), press director Humphrey Milford expressed himself ‘delighted’ to pay Yeats an additional £250 ‘on account of royalties’ to cover his out-of-pocket expenses on permissions.26 In writing back, Yeats’s agent, Watt, noted that ‘publishers have become much more aware of the financial value of contributions to anthologies’.27 Poets typically split their permission fees with publishers, although the contractual conventions varied. Charges varied somewhat, thought it seems a guinea for a poem was average. It is worth noting, for perspective, that on the one hand a guinea was not a negligible amount of money in the 1920s. One could get a nice, cloth edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse for 7/6; the Daily Mail cost a penny; and T. S. Eliot’s salary at Lloyd’s bank was £250 per year (thus making two guineas, in effect, about half a week’s salary for a respectable if entry-level white collar job). On the other hand, well-known writers could get up to twelve guineas for light magazine columns at the same time. A guinea for a poem was thus neither negligible nor a high rate relative to the contemporary print marketplace, where there was great demand for prose copy but little for poems. A guinea’s permission fee was with rare exceptions more than periodicals paid for individual poems: probably the most common case was that an author received nothing for a poem’s initial appearance, and a guinea if it became anthologised. Walter de la Mare reckoned that the £3 he got for five poems in the first Georgian Poetry anthology equalled his earnings on his first three books.28 In other cases, as with Ezra Pound in regard to Yeats’s anthology, poets asked exorbitant rates as a way of signalling their distaste for the anthology in question or for anthologies generally. Anthology Conventions: Guiding the Reader (or Not) Looking at anthologies of the early twentieth century, one is struck by the standardisation of today’s anthologies, and the degree to which we take for granted conventions that were codified relatively recently. Early twentiethcentury anthologies cast this matter into relief because the conventions of layout and organisation we expect, which seem all but natural to us, had not yet emerged as norms. These include chronological arrangement; table of contents in the beginning; biographical and other background information at the end, or in period- and author-driven section introductions; and poems by each author grouped together, with titles, under the author’s name. The model we now expect began to take form in the 1920s as American and British publishers began designing anthologies for use in secondary schools, but even into 192

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the thirties formats varied widely. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s formats varied widely. It is easy to find books that do not list the authors of poems until the end; where no poems are given titles; that lack tables of contents, or are not arranged chronologically or by poet. Anthologies with a chronological arrangement and a sequential table of contents are the exception. Such matters of layout tell us something about the way publishers and anthologists imagined their books being used; as Ferry notes, ‘arrangements of entries and other devices for presenting them . . . can exercise authority over poems and readers’.29 Take the question of the table of contents. Without it, one cannot quickly survey the book’s contents and the order in which they appear, then turn to one’s favourite poem or poet. In these years, editors would more often provide an index of authors (with poem titles sometimes listed under the authors’ names), usually at the back of the book, where a reader in search of a favourite would have to find it, often stashed along with an acknowledgements section and an index of titles or first lines. Even in the mid-1930s, a table of contents was not the norm among anthologies of contemporary verse published in England. The Everyman Library’s New Book of English Verse (1935) did not have one, nor did Yeats’s Oxford Book of Modern Verse. The Faber Book of Modern Verse – the most influential of the three, if we can judge by the percentage of its poets who remain in today’s teaching anthology – is the one that looks most like a contemporary anthology, with a sequential table of contents that is attractively spaced and easy to use. But the more common formats in these years, in essence, did not assume that most readers would want to survey the anthology’s contents first, as virtually all anthologies do today. Such variations show that these editors operated under less rigid generic constraints. They thus had more leeway to shape the reading experience their volumes would offer. Facing no expectation to design their anthologies for ease of searching and sampling, they could expect and encourage people to read their books in their entirety, from front to back, or to wander within them with relative aimlessness. Robert Bridges’ The Spirit of Man (1916), one of the period’s most striking experiments in anthology form, presented excerpts of poetry and prose without titles or authors identified and discouraged readers from looking them up in the volume’s back matter – an innovation Bridges explained thus: ‘the reader is invited to bathe rather than to fish in these waters’.30 But if early twentieth-century anthologists entered a generically open field, they did work in the shadow of Palgrave’s and Quiller-Couch’s touchstones: the Golden Treasury, one of the bestselling books of the late nineteenth century, and the Oxford Book of English Verse.

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The Trend-setters: Palgrave and Quiller-Couch Surveying the recent history of anthologies in 1928, Graves and Riding singled out both the originality and the damage done by the Golden Treasury, which they called the ‘first popular anthology’.31 Palgrave claimed that he was not a critic, and sought primarily to give pleasure; his was not an authoritative ‘representative or historical anthology’, he wrote.32 Nonetheless, Graves and Riding wrote, the Golden Treasury’s popularity made it a shaper of the canon, the still-reigning ‘Dean of Anthologies’.33 They argue that Palgrave established a more or less personal set of preferences as canonical: the Golden Treasury was a usurping private anthology, very conscientiously compiled, but all the more formidable for that. For Palgrave was in private life not only an unsuccessful poet but a successful educationalist (the first because of the second); therefore well equipped to impose a personal taste (his own, guided by Tennyson’s) as a critical canon on his public. (p. 174) To the degree that sales are a measure of influence, Graves and Riding had reason to be cranky. Launched in July 1861 under the seldom-repeated full title The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language: Selected and Arranged with Notes by Francis Tower Palgrave, the book sold 7,000 copies by November; it would go on to require twenty-four reprintings by the end of the nineteenth century. It continued to sell through both world wars, reaching 650,000 in sales by 1945.34 In the book’s paratexts, Palgrave’s discussion of literary value exhibits the usual soft Kantianism: he trusts that his instincts embody universal criteria – a belief untroubled by the pre-mediated nature of much of his reading (he notes without apology that his chief labours included reading previous anthologies) or by his divergences from critics and popular audiences. His selections, he wrote in the first edition’s back matter, avoided fleeting innovations or oddities; readers would thus find ‘a similarity of tone and manner’ throughout the book, ‘something neither modern nor ancient, but true and speaking to the heart of man alike throughout all ages’.35 His vision for the social function of poetry is decidedly Victorian and Arnoldian – imperialist in its sense of poetry as a crowning achievement of English civilisation, humanist in its strident belief in the moral health of poetry. While he professes that his object is pleasure rather than instruction, didacticism infuses his rhetorical flourishes. Praising his beloved Romantics, he writes: In a word, the Nation which, after the Greeks in their glory, may fairly claim that during six centuries it has proved itself the most richly gifted of all nations for poetry, expressed in these men the highest strength and 194

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prodigality of its nature. They interpreted the age to itself – hence the many phases of thought and style they represent; to sympathize with each, fervently and impartially, without fear and without fancifulness, is no doubtful step in the higher education of the soul. For purity in taste is absolutely proportionate to strength – and when once the mind has raised itself to grasp and delight in excellence, those who love most will be found to love most wisely. (p. 432) Palgrave’s ‘pleasure’, then, fronts for a social and educational mission; Graves and Riding had a point about his status as a ‘successful educationalist’ (he was a civil servant in the Education Department) shaping his anthology. As Ricks recounts, Palgrave conceived the volume partly to reform a reading culture in which people spent much of their leisure with newspapers, periodicals and other ephemera.36 He approved a proposal to use the Golden Treasury as a classroom text among colonised populations (‘the higher native students’) on the grounds that ‘English poetry is to these people what Homer is to us’ (p. 444). In his preface Palgrave repeatedly invokes the overlapping, Victorian narratives of progress and self-help: poetry is ‘better worth reading than much of what fills the scanty hours that most men spare for self-improvement’; poetry is appropriate to readers of all ages, ‘leading us in higher and healthier ways than those of this world’.37 This moral pedagogy informs Palgrave’s editorial practices and the book’s format, both of which look strange to contemporary eyes. He divided the volume into four chronological ‘books’, each covering a period he (and, silently, Tennyson) identified as aesthetically coherent and comprising, roughly, the Renaissance, the seventeenth century, the eighteenth century and ‘the half-century just ended’. These, Palgrave wrote, ‘might be called the Books of Shakespeare, Milton, Gray, and Wordsworth’ (p. 7). Within each section, however, he did not arrange poems chronologically or group them by poet; rather, he arranged them creatively, juxtaposing works in a manner that could be imprecisely described as ‘thematic’. He rejected a ‘rigidly chronological sequence’ precisely because he sought not ‘instruction’ but ‘pleasure, and the wisdom that comes through pleasure’, and therefore arranged the poems ‘in gradations of feeling and subject’, seeking what he called ‘the most poetically effective order’ (p. 7). Thus in the Renaissance section one finds Shakespeare’s sonnets and songs from his plays scattered over about sixty pages; Sonnet 66 (‘Tired of all these, for restful death I cry’) falls amidst lyrics by other poets about age, death and resurrection. Palgrave was proud of this method, calling it ‘paste and scissors authorship’.38 As Ferry has observed, this arrangement created a powerful sense of English poetry as a coherent tradition – with one poem in Palgrave’s arrangement leading thematically, and seemingly inevitably, to the next – and offered the reader an almost narrative-like experience 195

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rather than a lock-step tour governed by the categories of author and chronology (50). Palgrave’s collection, Ferry writes, ‘seems designed to allow an unmediated experience of poetry – “she speaks best for herself,” Palgrave said in closing the preface – as if the reader were a house-guest left alone to enjoy the host’s private library’ (51). Paradoxically, Palgrave sought this ‘unmediated’ experience for readers through an ordering of contents that vigorously asserted his own ideas. Perhaps most surprising, he placed his own thematic headings – subtle guides to the ‘gradations of feeling and subject’ underlying his arrangement – at the top of some untitled poems. Sonnett 66 thus receives the apparent title ‘The World’s Way’. Palgrave’s most important successor and partial imitator, Quiller-Couch, took a different approach; while he also eschewed a table of contents, he arranged the poems chronologically and grouped them by author.39 The Oxford Book was from its conception modelled in relation to the Golden Treasury; shortly after he was commissioned as its editor, Quiller-Couch sent a letter delineating five substantial ways the Oxford Book would differ from the Golden Treasury, item (c) being ‘the arrangement chronological and the poets kept separate’.40 The Oxford Book was also much larger (with 883 poems, more than twice as many as Palgrave’s) and reached back to the earliest printed verse in English, covering, in Quiller-Couch’s words, ‘the whole range of English poetry’.41 The broader sweep and chronological, authorby-author arrangement gave the anthology a more official, authoritative feel than Palgrave’s explicitly popularising volume. Though Quiller-Couch and the Oxford University Press directors seemed dimly aware of this possibility at the time, the volume took on an authoritative reputation over the next few decades: Graves archly called it ‘the Establishment’s first choice for educated men and women’.42 The Press came to embrace this reputation: refusing to license it to a Swedish publisher in 1942, director Kenneth Sisam referred to the ‘official character of the book’ and called it, along with the Oxford English Dictionary, the ‘Ark of the Covenant’.43 Its sense of ‘official character’ stemmed in part from its size: with only slightly larger page dimensions than the Golden Treasury but almost twice as many pages, the book was considerably thicker. (Charles Canaan, the press’s secretary in the 1890s, worriedly called it ‘impossibly thick’.) Its size rendered it unlikely that people would carry it in their pockets for reading on mass transit, despite promotional descriptions of it as portable.44 Like Palgrave, Quiller-Couch sought to limit the signs of the anthologist’s mediation – to appear to let poetry ‘speak for herself’. He did so by writing a very short preface and using a bare minimum of explanatory notes; these were generally used to gloss unfamiliar phrases from medieval or Renaissance English and displayed unobtrusively at the bottom of the page; he did not use superscript footnote indicators or append explanatory endnotes (Palgrave had 196

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done the latter). These decisions concerned the book’s appearance – endnotes were eschewed to keep the book from growing ‘unwieldy’, superscript numbers to keep the pages from being ‘disfigured’ – but were also ways of giving readers an apparently unmediated experience: ‘The function of the anthologist includes criticizing in silence,’ Quiller-Couch wrote in the preface.45 Palgrave, by eliminating both the table of contents and the ordering mechanisms of chronology and authorship, had created a book likely to be read like a novel – one page after another, in a series of sequential shorter sittings – a book, that is, that discouraged selective reading. Quiller-Couch, perhaps inadvertently, made the Oxford Book of English Verse more open to selective reading and browsing by using a chronological arrangement and grouping each poet’s verses together. By eschewing a table of contents, however, he kept from going too far in that direction: readers could use their knowledge of chronology to flip to a poet or period they liked, but could not scan the book’s contents or quickly locate an entry, as a table of contents would have allowed. Finding a favourite author would require sorting among the back matter for the ‘index of authors’; no index of titles was provided. The Oxford University Press correspondence files suggest that a table of contents was never discussed for the 1900 Oxford Book. By 1939, when Oxford issued Quiller-Couch’s new edition, tables of contents were becoming conventional, and one was added. Quiller-Couch was pleased, noting ‘The Table of Contents will persuade the Critics to credit me with a damn sight of industrious learning which I do not possess.’46 These bibliographic elements of the Golden Treasury and the Oxford Book, in addition to revealing the volumes’ contrasting ways of trying to guide a reader, point to differing understandings of the editor’s role. As we have seen, Palgrave saw himself as an artist, a maestro of the careful ordering and juxtaposition of poems for ‘poetic effect’. The Golden Treasury’s lack of aids to navigation forced readers to experience his juxtapositions. In contrast, Quiller-Couch, despite his defensive claim that ‘the anthologist’s is not quite the dilettante business for which it is too often and ignorantly derided’, had a more self-effacing understanding of the anthologists’ role.47 His preface acknowledged the influence of previous anthologists (with special attention to Palgrave), and downplayed any eccentricity of his personal taste by noting his overlap with them. He quickly summarised his relatively impersonal system of arrangement and, at the close of a brief four-and-a-half pages, noted that he would wish the reader to ‘in his own pleasure quite forget the editor’s labour’ (xi). With Quiller-Couch’s labour out of the way, however, readers were left to fall back on the seemingly ‘natural’ ordering principles of chronology and authorship – principles whose commitment to notions of an objectively existing, progressive, coherent tradition as well as the author-as-creator are invisible and thus thoroughly ideological. Quiller-Couch’s hand was less visible than Palgrave’s, and implicitly laid claim to greater authority and objectivity. 197

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But both anthologists sought to create the illusion of unmediated exposure to poetry – one through the apparent disappearance of the anthologist and one, paradoxically, through a more transparent assertion of the anthologist’s authorship. As we shall see, Harold Monro, and W. H. Davies in collaboration with Monro, intuited the politics of such editorial choices and sought to intervene in their own ways. The Oxford Book of English Verse gradually replaced the Golden Treasury as the most popular poetry title in the British market; it was reprinted twenty times before its second edition appeared in 1939, and sold more than half a million copies.48 As an artefact, however, the Oxford Book embedded/­ embodied a series of mixed messages as to the social role of poetry and the social locations in which it is read. At 7/6 for the standard trade edition, the volume was inexpensive compared with other books (though still too expensive for working-class readers), and its price remained low despite periodic adjustments through the first half of the century. It could therefore justly lay claim to continuing Palgrave’s tradition of making poetry accessible to common readers, if for ‘common’ we read ‘non-professional’ rather than a reference to working-class status. The book’s octavo format differentiated it from academic publications, as did its limited notes and the absence of other scholarly apparatus. At the same time, the gilt top edges of the pages and the rich, blue board covers of the trade edition, printed in gilt on the front cover and spine, ornamented with Oxford’s crest on the spine and a laurel design on the cover, worked to situate the book as a luxury item (Plate 5). (An edition de luxe was also available at ten shillings.) Still more ambiguous were the title – with ‘Book of’ echoing the titles of biblical books – and the use of India paper, a tough, thin paper consumers would have identified with the materiality of bibles.49 These elements gestured towards a reverence for the book that made it more talismanic, more a sacred object than one to be read and used. Added to these subtle markers, the book’s size places it in an ambiguous space. Quiller-Couch envisioned the book as a reading edition – ‘the entire field of English poetry . . . in a handy little volume’ – not a prestige object for display.50 In 1939, Sisam reiterated this point in roughing out advertising copy for the second edition: the press should boast about keeping prices low during wartime scarcity, he wrote, concluding that the ‘India paper edition may be carried in the pocket on all occasions’.51 Yet it seems likely that more readers displayed the book on shelves than carried it around – and that more consulted it when searching for occasional poems or jogging their memory than read it front to back. Measuring 5¼ by 7¾ inches in area and a full 1¾ inches thick, the 1900 edition could conceivably be carried in the large pocket of a well-made overcoat, on whose seams its almost two pounds’ weight would put a strain. The book thus seemed uneasily perched between its status as a mass print object, meant to offer access to the nation’s poetic riches, and its 198

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gestures towards authority, luxury and status as a quasi-sacred object, the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ in Sisam’s telling witticism. Sales in the first weeks after the book’s publication were disappointing, raising concern that the book was too expensive for a ‘small’ book and prompting Quiller-Couch to urge production manager Henry Frowde to issue the India paper editions in leather covers: ‘The difference between leather and cloth is the sort of thing to impress their silly minds,’ he wrote.52 In the event it needed only the approach of Christmas to assuage Quiller-Couch’s worries. By 4 January 1901, the cheaper editions were out of print and Frowde was warning of unmet orders; by May, Frowde could observe that sales were exceeding expectations.53 But anecdotal evidence, and the book’s reputation, suggest that it functioned more effectively as a cultural totem than a force for democratising poetry, and was more likely to adorn the mantle than be carried on the train. Discussing the contemporary section in the second edition, Oxford Press director R. W. Chapman wrote to Q: ‘We are building, as you justly remark, for posterity’ (letter to Quiller-Couch). Harold Monro, the Miscellany and the Anthology That Quiller-Couch and Palgrave saw their starkly different methods as ways of giving readers unmediated access to poetry speaks to the gathering cultural anxiety about the second-handedness of modern experience and the din of competing sensations – print and otherwise – that were competing for readers’ attention. Their contrasting means of giving ‘direct’ access to poetry were iterations of an abiding paradox of the time: the deeply felt need to remedy the alienation and mediation of modern life through the use of print – arguably the primary agent of mediation. It helped that both Quiller-Couch and Palgrave could see themselves as passing on an objectively existing tradition and preserving aesthetic values that preceded them: Palgrave did not include work by his contemporaries, and the contemporary sections of Quiller-Couch’s volumes were relatively tiny. The many anthologists who collected modern poetry in the early twentieth century could not posit their selections as drawing from several centuries of gathering critical consensus. And though they often invoked a language of universal values, the fact of their mediating role was unavoidable: they had to embrace their position as arbiters of contested value, as mediators between the early twentieth century’s poets, with their copious output, and the overmatched reader, even as they posited poetry as an antidote for an alienated, hyper-mediated modern existence. No one worked this ambiguous field with more energy and improvisatory flair than Harold Monro. As Mark Morrisson has argued, Monro sought, through the public readings at the Poetry Bookshop, to re-establish social significance for poetry by moving it out of the private study, where the development of bourgeois society – underpinned by the printing press and the resulting print marketplace – had removed it from vital connection with daily life.54 As 199

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a 1930 advertising flyer declared: ‘The Poetry Bookshop was founded in 1912 with the object of establishing a practical relation between poetry and the public.’55 The Poetry Bookshop was in part an attempt to move poetry into a public space where people would read aloud, listen to and debate poetry face to face. Part of Monro’s agenda concerned the adjudication of value: in the bookshop’s early years, when he edited first the Poetry Society’s Poetry Review and later his own Poetry and Drama, he saw establishing standards amidst the overproduction of poetry as the most needful reform.56 These early ventures emphasised criticism and reviewing rather than publishing new poetry; Monro described the Poetry Review as ‘a weapon of criticism’.57 Before long, though, such an authoritative stance smacked of the sort of mediation that had, for Monro, alienated poetry from the people, made it a preserve of print professionals and a form of solitary entertainment for the privileged. By 1914 Monro had designed for Poetry and Drama a ‘reviewing’ practice that minimised prose commentary in favour of lengthy quotation: brief prose evaluations would be limited to the monthly ‘chronicle’ section, and the former review section would be given over entirely to extracts, so that readers could judge modern poetry for themselves.58 This experiment aimed to present modern poetry directly to readers, in Morrisson’s words, without ‘any mediation beyond the selection process used to assemble the extracts’ (76). Monro thus sought a sort of democratic process for the adjudication of poetic value. As Morrisson suggests, this was an attempt to establish a public sphere – aspiring to the ideals of disinterested debate and rational deliberation – in which standards for poetry could be debated and applied. Monro pursued this vision by improvising within the conventions and institutions of print culture.59 The Poetry Bookshop issued cheap rhyme-sheets and broadsides, ranging from a penny at the start to sixpence in the twenties. These typically contained one poem, illustrated, by a classic English author or a contemporary, and they were salvos in a populist mission of disseminating good poetry widely and cheaply by appropriating the serendipitous, throw-away culture of mass publishing to poetic ends. ‘We desire to see a public created that reads verse as it now reads its newspapers,’ Monro wrote in Poetry and Drama. Broadsides would be ‘accessible, portable, unconfusing, and, above all, inexpensive. They are meant to be sold anywhere and everywhere, carried in the pocket, read at any spare moment, left in the train, or committed to the memory and passed on.’60 At the same time, like other critics of his day, he recognised that the mediations of print, particularly in their modern form, constituted a hindrance to the functioning of this idealised public sphere. In this light it is telling that Monro envisions his broadsides and chapbooks being ‘committed to the memory and passed on’. These cheap, disposable print artefacts are envisioned as means whereby a poem could make the leap from modern, alienated print culture to a nostalgically imagined oral culture. Several contem200

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porary accounts assembled by Penelope Fitzgerald suggest that the broadsides may actually have had such effects on some readers (xxxi). Monro thus had complementary strategies for restoring poetry to the social centrality he imagined in pre-modern, pre-print times: promoting the practice of oral reading and reception and using print creatively to get poetry onto the streets, buses and trains, where it might subvert the results of modern print culture, most notably the retreat of poetry to the bourgeois study.61 It was one thing to put the broadside to socially and aesthetically progressive ends. Though an utterly commercial artefact, historically the broadside had populist and radical associations, from the welter of radical groups during the English Civil War to the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tradition of crime and sensation broadsides, sold by and to the urban poor. The broadside’s history had elements of truly popular (as opposed to mass) culture about it. Anthologies, in contrast, in the early twentieth century came freighted with the taints of both mass publishing and academic severity, with Palgrave’s mass popularity and stuffy Victorianism and with the Oxford Book’s pretensions to posterity. The Oxford Book was now first in the field, and the word ‘anthology’ itself is Greek, having made its way into English as an adaptation of the title of ‘The Greek Anthology’, a classical artefact.62 Even in the radical hands of someone like Ezra Pound, the anthology seemed geared to exclusivity – to provisional canon-making (or breaking) gestures or the sketching out of aesthetic group agendas and borders – and more likely to find its readers in the quiet of the study than amid the democratic welter of the streets. As Braddock has argued, various modernist groups used the so-called ‘group anthology’ as a ‘provisional institution’ of modernism in the years before academic and other institutional bodies (award-granting agencies, etc.) had been established to validate modern poetry.63 The 1910s saw the anthology form used heavily to this end; examples include Pound’s Des Imagistes (published by the Poetry Bookshop) and The Catholic Anthology, as well as the biggest commercial success of Monro’s publishing career, the first of the Georgian Poetry series. (It sold more than 15,000 copies, and the Poetry Bookshop was still issuing reprints in the early twenties.) Two things occurred in the wake of the Georgian Poetry moment: avant-garde figures sought to issue their own group anthologies, and commercial publishers recognised the viability of the anthology as a commercial genre, so that cheap, quickly-produced anthologies became staples of publishing lists.64 Thence arose the discourse among poets and reviewers of overproduction and mercenary practice surrounding anthologies: anthologies were ‘cannibalistic’, poorly edited, gave readers a narrow view of modern poetry, sated any demand for poetry among the reading public. Monro himself observed in 1923 that ‘anthologies have been so foolishly, indiscriminately, we might say unscrupulously, overmultiplied that their excess has now at last begun to prejudice the circulation of individual volumes’.65 201

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Monro’s neutrality regarding poetic cliques and rivalries and his vision of a less-mediated, more oral culture made the anthology an unlikely medium for him, as anthologies of modern verse seemed divided into various uncongenial forms: exclusive, partisan, group anthologies; uninspired, commercial trade anthologies; and the lofty pretension of the Oxford Book. Though his press had issued the Georgian Poetry series, the granddaddy of group anthologies, it was almost entirely editor Edward Marsh’s creation; Monro’s work was limited to promotion and production concerns, and he later distanced himself decisively from the Georgians, writing to poet H. E. Palmer, ‘I am merely their publisher, but not otherwise their supporter or apologist.’66 And from the Georgian–Imagist split of 1913 through the more acerbic post-war division between the modernists and the poets associated with the London Mercury, Monro maintained a stance of independence and pluralism consistent with his view of the Poetry Bookshop as an institution where all views could come into contact. The anthology would seem, for Monro’s agendas, both too much the mediating force – too much the obstacle to the reader’s opportunity to experience poetry independently – and too much the product of a publishing industry bent on flooding the market with product regardless of quality. It is not a surprise, then, that Monro did not jump into the fray of commercial anthologies as it picked up again after the war but, rather, worked a cheap, accessible variation on it: the one-shilling ‘monthly miscellany’ known as The Chapbook. ‘Miscellany’, as Ferry points out, is one of numerous generic terms (along with ‘Cabinet’, ‘Treasury’ and ‘Beauties’) for the various print artefacts that fulfilled the anthology’s collecting function before the modern anthology took form.67 Tottel’s and Dryden’s miscellanies were effectively forerunners of the commercial anthologies of contemporary verse common in the 1920s: their function was to make a variety of current verse available to readers in one place. There is no ontological difference between a ‘miscellany’ and an ‘anthology’: the distinction between the terms is historical. Monro’s use of ‘miscellany’ is rhetorical. His Chapbook could just as easily be thought of as a monthly anthology, but to call it so would beg the question of its small size (twenty-four pages most months) and, more importantly, foreground the associations clinging to the anthology form that Monro would not have wanted. Monro’s use of the term ‘monthly miscellany’ avoided these associations while evoking the anthology’s collecting function and, at the same time, alluding (via Tottel and Dryden) to artefacts of an earlier, more artisanal period of print culture. (The Birmingham Post nonetheless described The Chapbook, upon its debut, as ‘a contemporary anthology’.68) Meanwhile the adjective ‘monthly’ also situated it as a periodical, but one different in kind from those Monro had edited earlier and from the many periodicals now competing in London’s literary marketplace. Monro addressed his artefact’s intergeneric status in a house 202

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ad that ran repeatedly on The Chapbook’s inside cover, taking care to situate it as unique on multiple fronts: It grinds no particular axe. It seeks to entertain rather than to elevate. It is neither Philistine nor High-Browed. It represents no clique. . . . The Chapbook does not attempt to compete with the average monthly review. A definite continuity is preserved from number to number. Each issue is, nevertheless, of separate interest, and has its own readers accordingly. While Morrisson accurately reports that The Chapbook leaned modernist – as evidenced by such issues as its ‘Three Critical Essays’ (by Huxley, Eliot and F. S. Flint) – it nonetheless succeeded in eluding partisan or other categorisation.69 Its numbers included verse plays by Edna St Vincent Millay and Ford Madox Ford and poetry by American and British experimentalists as well as early Georgians and senior, traditionalist figures such as Walter de la Mare, Humbert Wolfe, Robert Bridges and T. Sturge Moore. In whimsical moments it satirised both modernists and neo-Georgians: the unattributed 1920 satire ‘Pins for Wings’ affixed pithy labels on a list of mostly modernist poets (‘T. S. Eliot: The wedding-cake/Of two tired cultures. . . . Ezra Pound: A Rhythmic Busybody/Announcing himself busy’); ‘Pathology Des Dommagists’, similarly unbylined, satirised Pound’s Des Imagistes anthology; Osbert Sitwell’s ‘The Jolly Old Squire, or Way Down in Georgia’ took aim at Squire and the London Mercury circle. Even The Chapbook’s (relatively sparse) advertisements reflect this catholicity: while most of its six advertising pages contain publishers’ notices (including Poetry Bookshop house ads), they also include ads for other periodicals, fine printing services and correspondence schools, along with frequent ads for Morny perfumes. While The Chapbook struggled financially, staying afloat for most of six years solely through Monro’s willingness to operate without profit, it succeeded in occupying its own self-defined space in between literary partisanships and print genres. The Chapbook was small, attractively (and often whimsically) illustrated by accomplished graphic artists and printed on good, thick paper; it conveys to modern eyes an irresistible feeling of accessibility. Experienced at devising hybrid, in-between print artefacts – he had described the rhyme sheets as ‘something between the periodical and the collected volume’ – Monro devised in The Chapbook a combination periodical/anthology, at once a complete, stand-alone object and an item in a series, a nicely produced but cheap print artefact desirable for its physical characteristics.70 The Anthologist’s Art: W. H. Davies’s Shorter Lyrics The Chapbook represented the sum of Monro’s anthologising efforts by the mid-twenties: he wouldn’t take on the role of anthologist per se until 1927, when he contracted to edit Twentieth Century Poetry for Chatto & Windus. 203

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By that time, however, he had also assisted in assembling a successful, smallscale, non-partisan anthology that differed bibliographically – in telling ways – from the Georgian Poetry books. This was W. H. Davies’s Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century (1922) – the volume whose permissions negotiations I detailed above – and it performed a sort of expressive and interpretive curation that Monro was to take to greater lengths and depths in Twentieth Century Poetry. The Poetry Bookshop brought out Shorter Lyrics just as the Georgian Poetry series was running its course with the final, 1920–22 volume. Davies’s small, attractive book included 169 lyrics by eighty-nine poets. Priced cheaply at 3/6, the book could slip snugly into a sport-coat pocket. The archive suggests that Monro and his wife, Alida Klementaski, handled most of the correspondence. For his work, Davies received £50 upon delivery of the manuscript and was promised a 5 per cent royalty for sales beyond 3,000. By 1925 a fourth thousand had been issued, and a few copies remained of the edition de luxe. In context, these are reasonably good sales for a small book of poetry with modest production costs. (By comparison, the slightly tarnished but still potent Georgian brand garnered 8,000 sales for the final volume in that series.71) Compared with Davies’s (and later Monro’s) anthologies, the Georgian Poetry volumes strive for an invisible bibliographic code and a light impress of the anthologist’s hand. From the outset, the Georgian anthologies grouped poems by poet and arranged them alphabetically by the poets’ last names. The ‘Prefatory Note’ to the first volume was signed ‘The Writers and the Editor’, with the latter referred to obliquely as ‘E.M.’ These volumes thus emphasise group identity to the relative neglect of the editor, foreground the authorial identities of the poets and, by using the neutral arrangement-principle of the alphabet, eschew the meaning-effects that Palgrave sought through thematic groupings and juxtapositions. They limit the editor’s visible influence to the selection of works. In contrast the Davies and Monro anthologies feature the editor’s name on the front cover and title page, and both anthologists made use of the expressive possibilities opened up by arranging poems for thematic effect. By breaking up the work of individual poets and distributing it throughout their volumes, they create juxtapositions and clusters that suggest resonances and dialogic exchanges. In some cases thematic juxtapositions seem obvious and intentional, as when, in Twentieth Century Poetry, Monro lumps together five poems about death, three of them emphasising the striking physicality of the corpse (Hardy’s ‘Shelley’s Skylark’, Brooke’s ‘Friend of Youth’, Davidson’s ‘Last Journey’, Sassoon’s ‘To an Old Lady Dead’, and Davies’s ‘The Inquest’). At the same time, the meaning effects such juxtapositions generate also operate in unpredictable ways that exceed the anthologist’s intentions, which can never be explicated with great fineness in any case. Such effects are contingent on individual readers’ practices in no small way. Anthologies like 204

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Davies’s and Monro’s construct a stage on which literary meanings can happen rather than crafting meaning in fine detail; on this stage readers create meaning in improvisational ways in dialogue with the editors’ choices. Like most anthologists, Davies used his introduction to distinguish Shorter Lyrics from competitors, rehearsing a number of the ambient complaints about anthologies. Fittingly for a writer who successfully played up his reputation as a ‘tramp’, Davies adopts the voice of an outsider to poetic institutions, critiquing the poetry market by performing an impolite frankness. He implicitly defines Shorter Lyrics in opposition to the Oxford Book of English Verse and the hyper-connected Quiller-Couch, whose elite education and work as a publishers’ reader marked his role as insider. Davies declares himself ‘not a fastidious bookworm’ and asserts that ‘there is probably not another author living who knows less about books’.72 Later, in eschewing patriotic poetry (patriotic anthologies ‘are mostly bad’ because they seek to instill ‘a love of patriotism, not of poetry’) he declares, ‘I am determined to run no risk of being offered a knighthood’ (pp. 7–8). (Quiller-Couch had been knighted in 1910.) Patriotic anthologies, he writes, are typically edited by professors, and ‘the life of a Professor is usually a series of mistakes’ (p. 8). (Quiller-Couch got a chair at Cambridge in 1912.) Davies reiterates common complaints about anthologies while positioning his book as simultaneously canon-making and antiinstitutional, objective and personal. He argues that anthologies are usually parasitic of one another, repeating the same chestnuts time and again. Typical anthologists, he writes, First . . . think of a poet – let us say W. B. Yeats or John Masefield. Then, thinking that ‘Innisfree’ or ‘Cargoes’ must be their best lyrics, because they are the most popular, make those poems their first choice. But my first cry, on thinking of W. B. Yeats, was ‘A Faery Song’, which I think is his most perfect poem, although it is not held in much esteem by anthologists. (p. 7) Such principles apparently only went so far with Davies, as ‘Cargoes’ and ‘The Lake Isle’ are both contained in Shorter Lyrics, as is Yeats’s ‘A Faery Song’, along with ‘When You Are Old’, perhaps his second-most anthologised poem in these years, and the relatively obscure ‘The Moods’. This mix of Yeats selections suggests a balancing of audience expectations with what moved Davies personally. Davies asserts the soundness of his judgements, even if they come from someone who is not a ‘fastidious bookworm’: he boasts of an instinctual eye for beauty – ‘when I have once read a beautiful poem, it clings to my memory’ (p. 7) and suggests that his volume can be taken as a ‘guide to the best short poems’ (p. 9). In a familiar gesture, he distances himself from the professional politicking among poets that might compromise aesthetic taste: the book is ‘an anthology of poems, and not an anthology of poets’; he has 205

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refused, he declares, to promote himself or friends, a neutrality that ‘speaks for its [the anthology’s] honesty’ (p. 7). The introduction’s last words, the complaint that ‘the worst poets have charged the highest fees’ for permissions, belies his outsider pose but also serves as a final, nose-holding gesture at the workings of the poetry market (p. 10). While the introduction does not invoke the materiality of his book explicitly, it does gesture intimately towards the scene of reading: his goal, he says, is to offer ‘a thing of beauty or interest’ on ‘each page’. He also seeks to offer the reader ‘surprises’: ‘It is agreed that an anthology, to be good must hold surprises; some of the poems in this book have been discovered for the first time’ (9–10). ‘Surprises’ envisions a reading scene in which one’s circuit through the book is marked by specific, affective moments; his promise to provide ‘a thing of beauty’ (singular) on ‘each page’ of Shorter Lyrics invokes the volume’s arrangement, with each poem allotted its own, single page. (Lyrics that could not be contained on one page were excluded.) This one-poem-per-page layout creates many pages with a striking amount of negative space, though the pages vary a lot in how densely they are printed. Poems are centred horizontally and begin near the top of the page, in 9-point type under a 12-point title. Thus the book’s shorter poems take up less than half of their allotted page space, resulting in large fields of ivory blank space interrupted only by page numbers and occasional printer’s marks (Figure 4.1). The book’s opening poem, Robert Bridges’ ‘I Love All Beauteous Things’, and the third poem, John Masefield’s ‘Invocation’, at eight and six lines respectively, thus appear on pages composed of about ninety per cent negative space. A majority of pages consist of half or more negative space. This effect is exaggerated in a limited, large-paper edition, which has five and a half inches of white space beneath ‘Invocation’, compared with five inches in the trade edition. A relatively small number of poems are long enough for their lines to approach the bottom margin (Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’, in four stanzas of eight lines each, is one.) This unusual layout gives even the book’s trade edition – small and inexpensive at 3/6 – an unexpected air of luxury. The copious blank space solicits a focused, uncluttered and calming reading experience. Indeed, the Times Literary Supplement reviewer aptly described the experience of reading Davies’s anthology: the reader knows that each poem will start and end on the same page and so begins with an accurate sense of the shape and length of each poem, eliminating the ambiguity or cognitive reshuffling one might experience, in a different anthology, upon turning a page mid-poem. As I discuss below, Monro’s Chatto & Windus anthology, though similar in content and spirit to Davies’s book, provides a very different reading experience, with pages crowded with print, lyrics that stretch over ten pages and more, minimal white space and occasional page layouts that raise ambiguity as to the authorship of individual poems. While these material features may 206

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Figure 4.1  A lavish amount of white space. Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, 1922 have resulted from cost considerations and attempts to make the presentation fit Chatto’s Phoenix Library brand, the effect, in contrast to the minimalist elegance of Davies’s book, suggests the hyperactivity and confusion, as well as the vitality and exuberance, of modern print culture. The materiality of Davies’s book, indeed, is a conscious throwback to a more restrained and individualised print culture, with a more elite clientele and more artisanal modes of production. The book was issued in two editions: 200 of the limited, hand-numbered, large-paper edition at eleven shillings, and the trade edition at 3/6. Both used laid paper, the product of an anachronistic technology in which netting that holds the drying paper leaves its gridwork marks on the page, visible when it is held up to light. The pages of each edition bear the watermark of their (separate) manufacturers. The pages were untrimmed, those of the limited edition gilt on the top. The large paper edition was lettered on the spine in gilt and came with a thick dust jacket in mottled ivory. The trade edition’s first printing had a magenta cover, printed in black and bearing one of the Poetry Bookshop’s characteristic print devices, which also formed a latticework around the margins of the cover. But the Poetry Bookshop followed the then-common practice of issuing trade editions one thousand at a time, and the thousands subsequent to the first were issued with variant covers, so that surviving editions are in a range of colours. Mine, purchased from an online used bookseller, has a burnt sienna cover of paper boards mottled with black scoremarks and a brown cloth spine printed in gilt (Plate 6). All of these peculiarities – the variant covers, the ‘distressed’ look created by the irregular mottling on the later thousands, the thick, untrimmed pages bearing the stationer’s watermark, and page layout featuring copious white space – suggest careful aesthetic design. Here is a book that, to quote Bornstein, ‘respects integrity of materials rather than simply trying to reproduce linguistic codes as cheaply as possible’.73 207

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The book’s physicality thus both honours and enlarges upon Davies’s stated intention to emphasise poems and not poets, and to provide something beautiful on each page. Its organisation does the same: there is no table of contents, but rather a front index that lists the poems alphabetically by title rather than by author. Each page announces the poem’s title in 12-point roman, centred, with the author’s name in smaller italic above it, justified left. These pages are thus well designed to foreground the experience of individual poems, with a clean setting purified of possible distractions and the author given secondary importance. Monro was certainly aware, as well, that the page layouts and untrimmed pages of Shorter Lyrics evoked the nineteenth-century renaissance of fine printing, identified with William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, and thus obliquely referenced that movement’s idealisation of early- and pre-modern book production. These physical elements counteract, to an extent, the seeming randomness of Davies’s ordering of poems. While I would assent to the TLS reviewer’s sense that no rigorous organisational principle seems to guide the poems’ order, I would add that very clear themes emerge, in part because the book’s physicality foregrounds them. Davies’s ordering does not seem as deliberate as Monro’s in Twentieth Century Poetry (or Palgrave’s in the Golden Treasury): significant-seeming juxtapositions and sequences occur, though less frequently than one might suspect, so that the reading-effects often seem accidental. But in the absence of a more explicit statement of aesthetic criteria or thematic concerns in the foreword, the book’s physical allusions to older, artisanal methods underscore a thematic tension in the poems between the past and the present. The material setting thus enables a reading that sees dialogue between nostalgic/­ pastoral and anti-pastoral impulses, between a desire for escape from modernity, the city, politics and daily life on the one hand, and a realism that undermines such escapes on the other. The book’s retro physicality tilts it towards the past and an embrace of this anti-modern strain, while its contents express similar impulses while airing countervailing strains. (Davies’s sparse discussion of thematics in the preface adopts a vaguer framework of light and dark; he asserts, ‘I have not made this anthology a bowl of goldfish that have no dark companions’.74) The artefact’s physical attributes, in other words – by foregrounding the tension between its status as an artefact in a modern print genre (an inexpensive, pocket poetry anthology) and the nostalgic suggestions in its physical form and much of its poetry – offer the sort of critical framework that Davies withholds in his foreword. In so doing, these material aspects also ground the poems more fully in their contemporary history, also marked by an ongoing cultural tension between ambivalent nostalgia for the past and equally troubled embrace of the new. Reading this tension back onto the poems brings to light self-referential moments in which the anthology’s mediating role between the present, past and future seems to echo through the poems themselves. 208

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The anthology opens with Robert Bridges’ ‘I Love All Beauteous Things’, an invocational gesture that resonates with Davies’s emphasis on universalised beauty in the foreword. In a moment that, in context, invokes the poem’s location at the start of an anthology, the speaker declares it his wonted practice to ‘seek and adore’ beautiful things. The first stanza also evokes impermanence and, more obliquely, modernity, in referring to the ‘hasty days’ in which man is, nonetheless, honoured for the creation of beauty. The second stanza more insistently posits the paradoxical value and ephemerality of beautiful things: I too will something make And joy in the making! Altho’ to-morrow it seem Like the empty words of a dream Remembered, on waking. (p. 17) Appearing at the front of a poetry anthology, the poem seeks identification with the reader who has sat down, like the speaker, to ‘seek and adore’ the beautiful. And while the speaker goes on to embrace ‘joy in the making’, attempting to dismiss the misgiving that his work might disappear – might ultimately be no more substantial than ‘the empty words of a dream’ – the setting turns this misgiving into a witty, knowing joke: the anthology will preserve – has preserved – the object that this poet has made; his poem will not fade like a dream upon waking: it lives beyond the ‘hasty days’ of its composition, because the anthology has preserved it. (Bridges was the Laureate at this moment, and his well-known name, hanging in italic from the left top margin of the page, underscored the relative security of his creation.) As the apparent physicality or objecthood of ‘beauteous things’ in the first stanza slides towards the status of verbal artefact in the second (the beautiful, made thing may seem ‘empty words’), the resonance of ‘making’ (rhymed with ‘waking’) underscores the status of the poem and the anthology as made things, as ‘beauteous things’ – one of which will aid in the other’s survival. This dynamic of ephemerality and permanence recurs throughout the volume, as does the appeal to a universalised beauty. Within the next five pages we find Yeats cantankerously asserting the paradoxical, archetypal permanence of ‘fire-born moods’ as opposed to the ephemerality of the ‘mountains and woods’, and John Masefield calling upon beauty to, through his poetry, ‘shame the world’ (pp. 19, 20). At its end the book winds through various endings, deaths and farewells, in a kind of concluding movement. It runs from Masefield’s ‘By a Bier-side’, through Yeats’s ‘When you are old’ (evoking the physicality of the print object, in the speaker’s famous injunction to ‘take down this book’), and ends with J. Elroy Flecker’s ‘The True Paradise’. Flecker’s poem begins ‘Lord, is the poet to destruction vowed,/Like the dawnfeather of an April cloud/Which signs in russet character or Grey/The name of 209

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Beauty on the book of Day?’ These questions of beauty’s ephemerality – and the poet’s role in capturing and preserving such beauty – again invoke the cultural function and the physical presence of the anthology, particularly as this anthology has itself gone to lengths, despite its low cost, to achieve an existence as a beautiful object and even to appear older than it is – to appear, that is, as though it had lasted longer than it has, with its scored cover, untrimmed pages and throwback page layouts. This elegiac evocation of the past coexists with moments of anti-pastoral satire or realism – a dynamic that squares with the conflicting impulses in Davies’s own writing: an anti-urban, anti-modern celebration of the vagrant life combined with moments of harsh realism. Indeed, when the poems are read in order, Davies’s anthology seems to orchestrate (however consciously) movement along this continuum: strings of lyrics that celebrate escape to nature or to mythical or fabulous landscapes, with corresponding depictions of modernity (or even civilisation) as a fall from innocence and an alienation from some deeper unity, are interrupted by individual poems that reject or complicate such pastoral idealism. Herein lies the uniqueness and, in my reading, the expressive feat of Davies’s anthology. The TLS reviewer was on to this feat in claiming that, while no pattern is visible in Davies’s arrangement, it nonetheless constitutes a single, composite lyric utterance orchestrated by him. Davies, the TLS reviewer wrote, is like ‘the pianist who interprets another’s work and in interpreting it makes it partly his own’; in the anthology he uses ‘the poems of others as his alphabet’ to write ‘with them one lyric of his own’.75 Tellingly the one poem of his own that Davies includes, ‘The Kingfisher’, embodies this tension between engagement in the world and escape. His speaker first calls upon the Kingfisher to preen on luxurious lawns and ‘clap thy wings/Before the windows of proud kings’, but ultimately celebrates the bird’s rejection of ‘proud ambitions’ and preference for ‘a quiet place/that’s green, away from all mankind’.76 Extremes along this continuum include poems that, on the one hand, extol drinking rum with milkmaids (Charles Dalmon’s ‘Early Morning Meadow Song’), exoticise the rural insane (L. A. G. Strong’s ‘The Mad Woman of Punnet’s Town’) and contrast rural poverty favourably to urban poverty (Evelyn Underhill’s ‘Lady Poverty’): I met her on the Umbrian hills, Her hair unbound, her feet unshod: As one whom secret glory fills She walked, alone with God I met her in the city street: Oh, changed was all her aspect then! With heavy eyes and weary feet She walked alone, with men. (p. 51) 210

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At the other extreme, somewhere beyond ‘The Darkling Thrush’, Hardy’s familiar song of nature’s non-empathy for man, stands Edmund Blunden’s ‘Wilderness’ – a rejection of sentimental notions of rural and village life whose images include a ‘half-blind tottering plough-horse’, over-ripened fruit swarming with wasps, a spider who spins his ‘glittering maze/To murder doddering hungry flies’, and which concludes with: And Hob and Nob like blind men pass Down to the Dog for pipe and glass. (p. 169) Blunden’s poem, with its differently abled plough horse, illustrates the general dynamic nicely in context, as the poem relates dialogically to four poems that elevate the lives of ploughmen over the triviality, violence or ephemerality of modern life. One is Hardy’s ‘The Breaking of Nations’, in which ‘a man harrowing clods/In a slow silent walk/With an old horse that stumbles and nods/ Half asleep as they stalk’ is granted an archetypal endurance that will outlast ‘war’s annals’ (32). Expressing the same idea more flatly is Louis Golding’s ‘Ploughman at the Plough’: ‘In the stark might of his deed/There is more than art or creed; . . . /He, his horse, his ploughshare these/Are the only verities’ (p. 21). On several occasions this tension plays out on poems set on facing pages, so that the book’s design creates contextual meaning the poems would lack in isolation. Charlotte Mew’s ‘Sea Love’, for instance, undercuts the pathetic fallacy, so prominent a pastoral gesture: Mew’s speaker believed love to be as eternal as the sea only to find, one day, the sea still roaring but her lover gone – ‘no more to me nor me to him/Than the wind goin’ over my hand’ (p. 154). On the facing page Alfred Noyes, in an occasional poem on George Meredith’s eightieth birthday, conventionally dispraises his own verse by comparison to the song of the sea. Still more resonant is the juxtaposition of A. C. Benson’s anti-pastoral ‘The Hawk’ with Yeats’s ‘The Lake Isle of Inisfree’. ‘The Hawk’ is one of several poems in the volume that depict nature as harsh and violent. Benson’s lyric empathises with the hawk’s victim: ‘For the bird’s song sickened and sank/She cowered with furtive stare/ . . . And over the heather drifted the down from a bleeding breast’ (p. 36). While the lockstep rhymes and uneven fourteeners of Benson’s quatrains do not compare well with the dazzling musicality of ‘Inisfree’, in context Benson’s poem causes one to raise an eyebrow at the idealised, anti-modern landscape imagined by Yeats’s speaker, where factory time gets subverted (noon is ‘purple’, midnight ‘all a-glimmer’) and dissolves into a continuous sensory lushness (‘always night and day/I hear lake water lapping . . .’). Yeats’s scrambled (morning, midnight, noon, evening) and ultimately dissolved temporality contrasts with Benson’s harsh, linear narrative sequence of predation and kill, raising scepticism of the ‘peace’ which comes ‘dropping slow’ in the second stanza of ‘Inisfree’, ending with ‘evening 211

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full of the linnet’s wings’. (Following on Benson’s hawk, one fears for these linnets!) Benson’s poem thus underscores the idealised, imaginary nature of Inisfree, which the poem itself acknowledges in the last stanza by locating all of these sites and sounds not in reality but in the ‘deep heart’s core’ (p. 37). While it is unknowable whether Davies chose this juxtaposition consciously, it nonetheless creates a reading effect that underscores the primary thematic tension in the volume. What is more, it invites a new look at that shopworn anthology chestnut, ‘The Lake Isle of Inisfree’, providing the ‘surprise’ that Davies promised readers and, perhaps, justifying his inclusion of the very poem he identified as an anthologist’s cliché. In the context of Davies’s anthology, the juxtaposition of ‘The Hawk’ and ‘The Lake Isle’ activates multiple linguistic, contextual and bibliographical contexts – the arrangement of poems one to a page, the thematic patterns of the book as a whole, Davies’s promise of ‘surprise’ and his holding of ‘Inisfree’ at arm’s length in the foreword, the book’s evocation of an idealised past print culture – to make these two pages a microcosm of the book’s most fertile and expressive tension. The Anthologist’s Commerce: Harold Monro’s Twentieth Century Poetry Five years after the debut of Shorter Lyrics, Monro struck a deal with Chatto & Windus to do a comprehensive anthology of the best twentieth-century poetry for the firm’s Phoenix Library series. Monro was a good match for the Phoenix Library, which issued cheap but attractive reprints of writers viewed as ‘modern’: its first issue was an edition of Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria; translations of Proust, essays and fiction by Aldous Huxley, Wyndham Lewis’s Tarr and art criticism by Clive Bell also preceded Monro’s anthology. Chatto & Windus also had an inclusive understanding of the modern that squared with Monro’s, and thus the list also included such increasingly passé authors as Arnold Bennett, Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton. Chatto & Windus was a commercial publisher that nonetheless defined itself as a purveyor of quality in both content and book design. Indeed, the publisher’s stated mission for the Phoenix Library – to reprint the best contemporary work in attractive, affordable form – squares perfectly with Monro’s popularising agenda and eye for cheap, attractive material texts. As artefacts, the Phoenix Library books plainly declared both their status as mass-produced, modern print commodities and their attractive design and materials. C. H. C. Prentice, a partner at Chatto & Windus with experience in typography and book design, had conceived the series, and Thomas Derrick, who also worked for the artisanal Shakespeare Head imprint, designed the books. Costing an inexpensive 3/6 (new novels and poetry volumes typically cost 7/6), the volumes were slim and almost uniformly sized, fitted comfortably into a large pocket and had a tasteful if not austere design. The books’ 212

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design exemplified Prentice’s aesthetic, as described by design historian Ruari McLean: ‘[T]hey have a quiet and unpretentious excellence . . . they feel just right in the hand even before they are opened.’77 The series used covers of a number of different colours. Gilt impressions on the spine included the name of author and text, three identical floral devices, and zig-zag boundaries at top and bottom. The centre of the front cover was embossed with the series logo – a slightly modernist rendering of a phoenix rising from flames. (Both phoenix and flames tend gently towards geometric abstraction – the flames consisting of eight distinct narrow curving tongues, the feathers on the phoenix’s breast rendered in a series of regular V-shaped markings: not Futurist, but somewhat severe nonetheless.) In addition to the insignia on its moss-green front cover, Monro’s volume is marked extensively with reminders of its commercial status, including a red dustcover decorated with alternating images of the Phoenix insignia and the flower motif, its back cover and outside and inside flaps containing a list of other titles in the series (Plate 7). This list of titles also appears in the book’s back matter, and is advertised in italic – ‘A list of other titles in the Phoenix Library will be found at the end of this book’ – on the page facing the book’s main title. In the back matter, the list of Phoenix titles follows indexes of poets by name and poems by title, thus blurring the line between the contents of the anthology proper and this marketing material for the series. The title-list begins with a publisher’s note emphasising the series’ commercial appeal and physical attractiveness, in terms that would have spoken to Monro’s desire to move poetry onto the street and out of the private study: It has been the aim of Messrs Chatto & Windus in this series . . . to design a book which will be suitable alike for the pocket and the shelf, as travelling companion and household friend. The volumes are printed on choice paper and are of equal bulk, about half an inch. They measure 4½ inches by 7. They are stoutly bound, and are marked by this innovation, that the works of particular authors are all bound in one colour. The Phoenix Library is thus assertively branded – its name associated with an ethos (quality, portability), a relatively uniform product and a set of recurring insignias. As the authors and titles in the list speak to the brand’s modernity, the publisher’s headnote insists on the ‘innovation’ of the material text. A printed advertising flyer in the Chatto & Windus papers at the University of Reading goes further, calling the series ‘The Aristocrat among pocket libraries’, its books ‘sound in construction and workmanship’, offering a ‘lively presentation of the modern attitude to life’.78 This strategy speaks to the increased awareness of textual materiality which, I argue, characterised the print culture of the period. But the Phoenix’s pride in the material text differs from the rare book enthusiasm embraced by the London Mercury in that, instead of 213

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evoking early-modern artisanship, its attractive materiality is associated with modern production, marketing and packaging. Yet if the Phoenix’s embrace of modernity (‘innovation’) celebrates novelty, it rejects the sense of modern print as impermanent and disposable. The name and insignia of the phoenix itself suggests not disposability but cyclical rebirth: the Phoenix Library reprints valuable, contemporary works, saving them from the instant obsolescence of contemporary print; quality titles that might otherwise fall out of use are ‘reborn’ from the ashes of disposable print culture. This imagined alliance between ‘quality’ or prestige and commercial motives is evident in the correspondence between Monro and Prentice. The series had included no poetry to date. Both men saw the book more as a contribution to literature than a promising commercial property, but were optimistic that it wouldn’t run a loss. They planned for a first edition of 10,000 copies, but Prentice noted that it would take 30,000 in sales to make the anthology profitable. ‘I am afraid there is not much money in this idea for either of us,’ he wrote to Monro on 23 November 1927. ‘However, we are keen on the idea and think it is worth following through. I believe the book would do some good.’79 Monro agreed, adding with tempered optimism that ‘it is possible for an anthology to be a good one and yet a marketable proposition’. He described the anthology as an effort to extend modern poetry beyond its exclusive, core audiences. ‘[W]e should be perhaps tapping a new public,’ he wrote. ‘It would be experimental whether this public would rise to the occasion.’80 Prentice targeted the anthology specifically to the Phoenix Library – arguing that an imprint known for its modernity needed to issue an important anthology – and rejected Monro’s proposal to sell it for a higher price under a different imprint.81 The anthology was thus a case of two players in the print marketplace – Chatto & Windus (in the person of Prentice) and Monro – hoping to draw on each other’s actual and cultural capital: Prentice wanted the prestige of an anthology of modern poetry selected by a known figure in that world; Monro wanted the backing of an economically sound and relatively well-respected press before he began to approach poets and negotiate the delicate matter of permissions. In dealing with poets, he took pains to make it clear that Chatto & Windus was squarely behind the project. He agreed to a £250 pound line-item for permissions, and speculated that he might be able to keep it under £200. But he also insisted that correspondence to potential contributors be sent out on Chatto & Windus letterhead and worded to emphasise that the anthology was the publishing house’s idea.82 In the event, by the publication date permissions had run just over – £253/6/0 – and Prentice honoured Monro’s request: the letter sent out soliciting permissions began, ‘We have asked Mr Harold Monro to prepare an anthology of the poetry of this century.’83 Prentice and Monro executed a contract on 23 January 1928, promising Monro a £50 advance on 214

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royalties of 5 per cent. The uniform price of 3/6, with a small deluxe edition at 5 shillings, gave Chatto & Windus a margin of 1/2 on each copy.84 Monro worked hard for that £50 advance. He would later emphasise, in his introduction, that he was not cannibalising from previous anthologies: Twentieth Century Poetry was not ‘compiled, according to frequent custom, from the multitudinous others of the past twenty years’. He claimed to have ‘re-read or newly read’ six hundred books of verse in preparing the anthology.85 Monro’s notes in the British Library’s Poetry Bookshop papers, while not detailed enough to document his numerical claims, testify to his industry: handwritten sheets prepared between April and June of 1929 list authors ‘Examined (and found wanting)’, ‘Examined and to be included’, ‘Examined (one or two possible)’, and ‘Not Yet Examined’. Like the final anthology itself, the lists demonstrate the catholicity of Monro’s vision of modern poetry, as well as a verifiable desire to follow his own sense of things in defiance of existing tastes and categories: he stewed a good bit about ‘Inisfree’ before finally leaving it out; well-known contemporary names such as William Watson and John Galsworthy were ‘found wanting’; Georgians and high modernists got equally fair hearings and were equally liable to be discarded (Mercury stalwart Clifford Bax and Douglas Goldring, a protégé of Ford Madox Ford and Wyndham Lewis, are both on the ‘found wanting’ list). By May 1929 he had devised a final list. In July Monro was incapacitated, undergoing painful treatments for eye problems, but once back at his desk he got the manuscript to Chatto & Windus in time for the book to appear for the Christmas season. The book was an instant success, and plans were afoot for a second impression of 10,000 before the end of December. Company ledgers show a publisher profit by mid-1930 of £113/10/7 on revenues of £820/1/8 with £66/4/9 disbursed to Monro in royalties. (By far the largest outlay on the first impression went to permission fees: £270, more than double the cost of binding and printing combined.) By late 1932, when the company ceased promoting the book in anticipation of the revised edition (completed by Alida Monro after Harold’s death), more than 25,000 copies were in circulation.86 These are not lavish numbers, but they represent impressive sales for poetry in any form – except that of the Golden Treasury or Oxford Book – in these years. As a literary text, Monro’s anthology goes considerably beyond Davies’s in juxtaposing poems thematically to achieve dialogic effects. Monro also goes further to emphasise his anthology’s status as an ‘authored work’. Like Shorter Lyrics, Twentieth Century Poetry’s organisation encourages reading from front to back rather than cherry-picking or selectively browsing: there is no table of contents, and the book’s only paratextual aids – an alphabetical index of poets (with titles arrayed underneath) and an alphabetical list of titles – are shunted to the back matter. The correspondence makes clear that Monro was involved in these decisions.87 Monro’s notes show that he also lavished care on 215

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the ordering of poems, and the preface calls attention to this labour: a headnote on the page facing the anthology’s first poem, J. E. Flecker’s ‘The Bridge of Fire’, notes: ‘The order of the poems has been arranged by the editor.’88 The preface similarly emphasises the anthologist’s craft, asserting that careful readers will notice a ‘loose chronological tendency’ in which poets who straddle the turn of the century (Bridges, Yeats, Hardy, Flecker) appear more often in the first half and poets identified with the late teens and twenties (Eliot, Pound, Aldington) show up more often in the second, but with frequent ‘dovetails’ through which ‘certain tendencies [are] allowed to appear too early and others apparently . . . persist too late’.89 The term ‘dovetail’ likens the anthology to a built object, foregrounding the anthologist’s craft and the volume’s status as an integral text. Monro reactivates this metaphor later in the preface, as he anticipates complaints about the absence of many anthology favourites (he names ‘Inisfree’, ‘Cargoes’ and others): ‘Lastly, reader, do not base your judgment too dogmatically upon inclusions and exclusions. I have thought of the book as a building. You are left to judge its main proportions’ (p. 11). Page layouts likewise emphasise the book’s status as a single work rather than the integrity of individual poems. Unlike Davies, Monro did not have the luxury of one poem per page, and many poems extend over multiple pages, in what we might view as the typographical equivalent of enjambment: poems that bleed onto subsequent pages keep the reader moving through the book and resist the seemingly static contemplation of single, isolated poems that Davies’s anthology invited. This aspect of the book’s organisation also coincides with the populist, respectably commercial impulses shared by Monro and the Phoenix Library: the pages of Twentieth Century Poetry, still clean and readable though considerably busier, more varied and less symmetrical than those in Davies’s anthology or the Oxford Book of English Verse, offer a visual analogue to the vigour, variety and contest of poetic modes, styles and attitudes that takes place in Monro’s volume (Figures 4.2 and 4.3). With these material trappings, Monro succeeded in an act of creative and interpretive curation by which he conveyed a personal, though complexly dialogic, meditation on modern poetry’s methods, meanings and social function amid the complications and horrors of contemporary history (a ‘war-like and tragical age’, as he described it in his preface) (p. 7). Joy Grant has accurately described Monro’s anthology as offering a sombre, wintry and elegiac version of modern poetry.90 Paying heed to the individual notes and phrases in this larger symphony in a minor key, however, one finds a rich, multi-voiced dialogue taking place between not only various and often opposing strains of modern poetry (Georgian, Imagist, budding high-modern), but also conflicting social and political viewpoints. Monro clearly sought to represent the period accurately – his arduous work of selection was necessary, in the preface’s words, to ‘ensure that our intrinsic period might be fully 216

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Figure 4.2 and Figure 4.3  Contrasting page layouts, with Monro’s (above) embracing the jolting vigour of modern print culture. Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology (1929) and The Oxford Book of English Verse (1901)

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­ ortrayed’ – but Monro’s fastidiousness also bespeaks a desire to construct p that literary history according to his own lights.91 The resulting vision is a meditation on poetic form and poetic function darkly inflected by the history of the years it covers, an impressionistic, non-chronological literary history in the key of history proper. These histories are bounded – tonally if not temporally (the book stretches back to G. M. Hopkins and early Yeats and Hardy) – by the Utopian moment of the 1911–14 poetry revival and the surrounding aesthetic ferment in London and what seemed to Monro a darkening political landscape in the late twenties. Between these two temporal poles lay what Monro called the ‘central pivot to the period’ – the Great War and the young poets who ‘suddenly (as it were) burst out into flame through a fierce indignation’ against it (8). Thematically, the anthology orchestrates conventional poetic themes (love, mortality and mutability, rebirth) and inflects them with the history and literary history of this pre-war/Great War/post-war arc. In the reading that follows, I explicate this orchestration of themes by locating points of resonance, dialogue and conflict created by Monro’s arrangement and juxtaposition of poems. Some of these effects are surely intentional on Monro’s part, while others are the product of a reading strategy that emphasises juxtapositions and thematic links. But even when we identify points of connection that Monro did not envision (he could not have envisioned them all), we are reading in a way that his book invites. Working in and adapting the generic conventions of Palgrave (but with a lighter hand: no thematic headings and no unidentified excisions), Monro constructed an anthology that seeks both coherence and diversity, one that creates an atmosphere for the reader to imaginatively construct dialogue among poets about poetic practice, traditional themes and the nightmare of contemporary history. Clusters of poems conduct dialogue on a theme or set of themes, approaching them from a range of contemporary modes. In the interest of brevity I focus mainly on the anthology’s ending; but my aims are to identify the dialogic coherence of the volume – the way its multiplicity produces a single, complex conversation – and to build a reading of it that does justice to the expressive capacities of the anthology form as Monro understood them. Take for instance a cluster of twelve poems that occurs across eight pages near the anthology’s conclusion. By far the dominant theme of the anthology is mortality, and many poems leading up to this cluster sound this note heavily. Take for instance ‘Journey’s End’, an especially brittle ditty from Humbert Wolfe and a seeming riposte to Christina Rosetti’s Christian mini-allegory, ‘Up-hill’. What will they give me, when journey’s done? Your own room to be quiet in, Son! Who shares it with me? There is none Shares that cool dormitory, Son. 218

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Who turns the sheets? There is but one And no one needs to turn it, Son. Who lights the candle? Everyone Sleeps without candle all night, Son. Who calls me after sleeping? Son, You are not called when journey’s done. (p. 223) But once this tonal nadir has been touched, a counterpoint of rebirth comes forward over the next eight pages. That is not to say that the poems become consistently optimistic but rather that a dialogue about rebirth – its possibilities, its ancient and contemporary idioms – causes these poems to gather into a thematic unit. The poems also engage with questions of gender and class conflict and poetry’s implication within them. Characteristically (for Monro and for the anthology), this dialogue cuts across the loose but concretising borders between high modern, Georgian, ‘traditional’ and ‘popular’ idioms. The rebirth theme emerges in an extract from Herbert Read’s sequence ‘Mutations of the Phoenix’. Read was a self-identified modernist whose work appeared in Coterie and the Egoist, and the passage Monro selected achieves tension by speaking in a darkly oratorical, apocalyptic voice in short lines of free verse. Its four verse paragraphs conclude by calling on the Phoenix to Utter shrill warnings in the cold dawn sky; let them descend into the shuttered minds below you. Inhabit our withered nerves. (p. 223) Rebirth, yes, but of the frightening, Nietszchean variety familiar from Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming’. One turns the page to find ‘Daphne – An Adaptation from John Milton’ by Sacheverell Sitwell – the most formally conventional of the Sitwell siblings – which recounts Daphne’s metamorphosis from her point of view, picking up the theme of violent and radical transformation and giving it a feminist slant (‘. . . he cruelly chased and slew me; embalming me in living death. . . . Now, as a tree, I’m safe at last’ (p. 224)). Next we see the same theme worked from the Georgian side of the modernist/Georgian divide, in Robert Nichols’s ‘The Tower’. Nichols’s poem occupies and runs beyond the page facing ‘Daphne’, picking up its themes of transformation and rebirth in stuffy verse paragraphs of rhyming alexandrines that narrate the story of Christ’s Last Supper and Judas’s ignominious exit. Nichols’s lyric echoes Read’s in unifying rebirth with destruction and dread. It concludes with an image of the apostles seeing Christ’s head framed by the full moon rising in a window, at which they stare, ‘between love and dread/Seeing the torrid moon a ruddy halo behind his head’ (p. 226). Next comes Padraic Colum, an Irish poet 219

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without commitments to the partisan, poetic alliances of the late 1910s, whose oeuvre includes conventional and improvised forms. His ‘Reminiscence’ offers a free-verse vision of rebirth and transformation with a sharp edge of class differentiation. In repeated phrases, moved around in irregular verse paragraphs, the poem offers and reflects on an image of bright red flowers growing out of decaying vegetation in wealthy people’s gardens: Over old walls the Laburnums hang cones of fire; Laburnums that grow out of old mould in old gardens; Old men and old maids who have money or pensions Have shutted themselves in the pales of old gardens. The gardens grow wild; out of their mould the Laburnums Draw cones of fire. And we, who’ve no lindens, no palms, no cedars of Lebanon, Rejoice you have gardens with mould, old men and old maids: The bare and dusty streets have now the Laburnums, Have now cones of fire! (p. 227) Following on Nichols’s narrative of the last supper, the theme of rebirth out of death is emphasised, with Colum injecting class difference as Sitwell had injected gender dynamics. The tone is ambiguous – are we to take with irony the ‘rejoicing’ of the poem’s first-person plural ‘we’, the poor? Or is the poem a celebration of the life that takes root in the dying space of the pensioners/ old maids’ mouldering garden but grows upward and out, in a burst of colour, hanging into the vigorous, living space outside the walls? Is the Laburnum a vitalist image of a unification of antagonistic classes? These four poems have covered a range of contemporary modes, from Nichols’s backward-looking alexandrine couplets to Colum’s plain-spoken but suggestive free verse to Read’s erudite high modernism. Constitutionally, they have also ranged from Read’s anti-modern, mythic and dystopian rebirth to the humble, perhaps populist renewal of Colum’s ‘Reminiscence’. The movement does not stop there. Next we get T. S. Eliot, in his early, urban-alienation mode. As in Colum’s lyric, an image of transient beauty amid urban streets emerges, then moves upwards in space. But here the ascension is ironised – is ghostly, more evanescent even than a flower, overmatched by its surroundings. The viewer, rather than engaging it at eye level, looks down from above. This is Eliot’s ‘Morning at the Window’, from the ‘Preludes’ period. Where Colum finds flowers sprouting from decay, Eliot’s alienated, urban consciousness sees ‘damp souls of housemaids/Sprouting despond220

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ently at area gates’. Images of pedestrian faces rise from below to confront the speaker and swiftly evaporate, carried on ‘brown waves of fog’, ending with ‘An aimless smile that hovers in the air/And vanishes along the level of the roofs’ (227). Monro saw Eliot as a major touchstone: his most sweeping critical gesture in the Twentieth Century Poetry preface was to name A. E. Housman the dominant influence up to 1920 and Eliot the leading force thereafter. He wanted excerpts from The Waste Land for the anthology, but Eliot demurred, so ‘The Hollow Men’ and ‘Whispers of Immortality’ had to represent Eliot’s mature, high modernist modes.92 While ‘Morning at the Window’ represents the earlier, Baudelarian Eliot, its appearance at this location in the anthology concludes a thematic cluster in which a range of poetic modes are circumscribed by the high modernist figures Read and Eliot. This sequencing enacts Monro’s sense that modernist experiments characterised the years since 1920 and should gain emphasis in the second half of the anthology, but without drowning out other voices. This theme of rebirth and transformation recedes somewhat after ‘Morning at the Window’, and what I read as the book’s final movement begins. This movement, something of a reverse overture, re-invokes the collection’s major themes – love, poetic craft and its social and human functions, and the (tenuous) possibilities of transformation and rebirth – and allows them to resonate, amplify and qualify each other. The overall tone is powerfully modulated back into the volume’s dominant minor key. Indeed, the dominant note in this last movement is entropy. In the last eighteen poems, romantic love disappears or flags; historical, social and aesthetic conflicts emerge and stand in unresolved stasis; transformations, some of which could even be described as rebirths, occur, but are viewed from a disillusioned standpoint (‘There was a Birth, certainly. . . . But . . . this Birth was/Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death’ we hear from Eliot, two pages from the conclusion.)93 And the utopian energies around culture and poetry before the Great War – ‘We stand on that summit’, Monro wrote to Flint about the flowering of poetry he perceived in 1912 – are subsumed under a sense of the futility of human endeavour.94 The note of futility is so strong and repetitious in the last poems that it seems intentional (Eliot’s ‘The Journey of the Magi’, Wilfred Owen’s ‘Futility’, and J. D. C. Pellow’s ‘When All is Said’ constitute three of the last four poems). Most striking is the unlikely selection of the little-known Pellow to end the volume. Even in his day Pellow was comparatively obscure. He appeared in Georgian Poetry volumes IV and V and seems to have peaked in 1923 with a volume from Oxford University Press. (Sixteen years elapsed before his second volume, from a more obscure publisher.) That the anthology concludes with Pellow rather than any of the volume’s acknowledged heavyweights (Yeats, Eliot, Sturge Moore, Bridges, de la Mare, Hardy) underscores the p ­ articularlity 221

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– even peculiarity – of Monro’s arrangement. Twentieth Century Poetry is an act of commentary, interpretation and expression – a decidedly ‘authored text’ in Braddock’s terms – not a container of the ‘best poetry’. An astringent and unfamiliar voice concludes this volume, which celebrates the diversity of modern poetry but laments the failure of the ‘New Age’ it once seemed to herald. Once the song of utopian dreams, the anthology suggests, modern poetry has become a sceptical, observing voice amidst a darkened political landscape. The anthology tells this story impressionistically – giving voice to modern poetry’s vast range, from fusty formality to loose and spontaneous free verse to steely, eccentric formalism, and from its utopian moments and modes to its darkest expressions of cynicism and hopelessness. All concluding with Pellow, who sounds the note of disappointed utopianism at the book’s heart. Envisioning the Earth’s demise, the ‘cooling sun/And stone-cold world’, Pellow asks: When all is fire And flaming air, What of your rare And high desire To turn the clod To a thing divine, The earth a shrine, And man the God?95 Before we reach this point, though, Monro has threaded the volume’s major themes through this last movement. Most interestingly, given Monro’s engagement with poetry’s material forms and their consequences for its social functions, several of these last poems yoke poetry’s relation to everyday reality to images of textual materiality. Pound’s ‘The Eyes’ is framed as the speech of a writer’s or scholar’s eyes, asking for relief from ‘this ever-flowing monotony/ Of ugly print marks, black/Upon white parchment.’ Here ‘parchment’ sets the scene in an early or pre-modern setting, and the contest is between the pleasures and values of textuality and more vital, physical pleasures. The poem expresses weariness with the knowledge-labour of the writer, the desire to set it aside in the pursuit of love and sex, of ‘one/Whose smile more availeth/Than all the age-old knowledge of thy books’ (p. 230). If Pound’s poem sets a sort of universal labourer’s lament in concrete, material conditions, W. J. Turner’s ‘Reflection’, which begins on the facing page, conducts a more searching and abstract inquiry into the relations between the imagination and reality, the poet’s images and metaphors and their relations to the things they may (or may not) represent. Turner is often linked with Squire and the Mercury, and the epistemological depth and indexical difficulty of ‘Reflection’ pressures our 222

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distinctions between Georgian and modernist. The poem describes a reader who is reading about the mythical story of Jason, and it suggests that such imaginative absorption constructs a fragile and perhaps detrimental, secondhand world that distracts us from the actual world. As with ‘The Eyes’, the poem enacts a scene of textual encounter – ‘It is a symbol of the life we have known’/ – Thus he spake, lifting eyes from the book,’ it begins (p. 231). In the lines that follow, metaphors of wind (imaginative activity and intellectual tumult) and glass (reflecting surface, broken vessel) wind their way through six stanzas of firm but improvised form (just seven end rhymes account for all forty-two lines, and the words ‘ship’, ‘lip’, ‘stone’, ‘book’, ‘alone’ and ‘glass’ recur, giving the work the feeling of a sestina). The relation between metaphor and world becomes unmoored, and the ideal images evoked in the reader’s mind fall apart. The work of literature may be a sham that distracts us from reality: in the poem, the fictional sailors on the Argos render actual, flesh-andblood fishermen within the reader’s view ‘marooned on the margin’ (textual margin and margin of consciousness), obscured by the ‘shadow of the reader in the book’ (232). Literary consolation diverts us from the actual, replacing it with phantoms that pass as soon as they are realised: In imagination no longer entwined They whom perfection forsook Shattered in the mind; Passionlessly lip fell from lip As wind falls in billow behind The onward – vanishing ship. (p. 232) The stanza invokes both the parting of the ill-fated lovers, Jason and Medea – the story the reader has been reading – and the abrupt end of an fleeting, illusory consummation between reader and text, which passes ‘passionlessly’; the same imaginative processes that brought the ship to vision push it out of sight. The speaker of Pound’s poem wants to escape from his textual engagement; the reader invoked in Turner’s finds that his has alienated him from the flesh-and-blood world that Pound’s writer or scrivener craves. Two out of the next four poems continue this imagination/reality theme. Squire’s ‘Under’ tells of a man whose interactions with a magical, parallel reality leave him unable to function in the mundanity of the real. Sacheverell Sitwell’s ‘The Gardener’ strikes an opposite note to these wistful or gloomy meditations, celebrating poetry for its ability to lift the materials of the everyday to an elevated aesthetic realm. Sitwell’s speaker, who is a poet, succeeds in capturing (in his verse) a gardener at work, arresting him ‘alive with words as in a web’ (p. 236). This web ‘holds him prisoner’ but ultimately makes possible a kind of ascension or idealisation, in which the gardener can ‘float among boughs where birds are singing/As light as wind who sighs in the 223

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cornfield’ (237). But the context – locating the poem both among sceptical portrayals of imaginative and textual creation, and among poems that invoke the broader horrors and futilities of contemporary history – makes Sitwell’s airy images, loose free verse and paratactic jumps seem comparatively juvenile. It is in two poems surrounding ‘The Gardener’ that contemporary history most directly informs the final pages of the anthology, bracketing his idealism with meditations on the pervasive, psychic costs of war. Sitwell’s poem appears between Mary Morison Webster’s sonnet ‘Gallipoli (Anniversary)’, which envisions the site of the infamous battle haunted by the ghosts of those who died there, and number XXXVI of James Joyce’s ‘Chamber Music’, in which a sleeper is troubled by portentous dreams of attacking armies, then wakes and grapples with the vision’s ephemerality. The two poems take complementary views of the psyche in a time wracked by war – one looking backwards at a historical moment, critically recognising that post-war politics have not redeemed the war’s futility, the other looking darkly forward, encountering portentous, archetypal dream images of war. Webster’s speaker is consciously haunted by concrete images of brutality – . . . Dim rows Bleeding, insensate, mark the waiting sand, Heedless they rush, blanched, frenzied, staring, stark, Dead men,– eternally, they land! They land! (p. 236) – suggesting that the Great War’s dead have found no rest because post-war political developments have failed to make their deaths meaningful: Webster’s ships carry ‘freight of unkept vows’. The looming consciousness of these failures haunts a contemporary, waking consciousness, warning that the unfinished business of the Great War portends a repetition of such scenes, where ‘once more,/the boats are lowered and filled’ (p. 236). Placed on a facing page, Joyce’s more archetypal images, in context, evoke the Great War despite the poem’s 1907 initial publication. For Joyce’s similarly portent-wracked speaker, the threat of war’s eternal recurrence literally becomes the ‘nightmare of history’, in which charioteers . . . cry unto the night their battlename: I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter. They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame, Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil. (p. 237) At the poem’s conclusion, the speaker is left with despairing and ambiguously stated questions: ‘My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?/My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?’ The speaker may be faulting his unwise heart for despairing so at these images, or he may be faulting it for not despairing at them. The speaking consciousness abruptly deflects this 224

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archetypal soul-questioning, focusing on his aloneness, as though the presence of a lover could quiet it. We’re left with a desperate reaching out for comfort reminiscent of Matthew Arnold’s closing to ‘Dover Beach’: ‘Ah love, let us be true to one another . . . ’ The despairing awakening that concludes Joyce’s poem links it to the false or despairing dawns, aborted or ironised re-births, that immediately follow. Indeed, the three poems that follow Joyce’s are D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Street Walkers’, which likens prostitutes to sick, nocturnal flowers perversely awakened by the moon rather than the sun; Wilfred Owen’s ‘Futility’, which has the morning sun failing to wake a mortally wounded soldier; and Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’, with its famously ambivalent birth. ‘Street Walkers’ finds an attenuated vitalism in the prostitutes who walk the urban night but pathos in their nocturnal ways, which he figures as the perverse awakening of flowers at the call of the mist-covered moon. The prostitutes are Daisies that waken all mistaken white-spread in expectancy to meet The luminous mist which the poor things wist was dawn arriving across the sky, When dawn is far behind the star the dust-lit town has driven so high. (p. 238) Owen’s ‘Futility’ follows Lawrence’s loose, improvised musicality and florid vitalism with a pinched, deliberately awkward formalism of half-rhymes, flat and inexact iambic pentameter and arch disillusionment. ‘Move him into the sun’, the speaker commands, hoping that exposing a mortally wounded comrade to the sun will revive him. Think how it wakes the seeds – Woke, once, the clays of a cold star. Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides Full-nerved,– still warm, –too hard to stir? Was it for this the clay grew tall? – O what made fatuous sunbeams toil To break earth’s sleep at all? (p. 239) Here, clearly located in the context of the war – readers knew Owen as a war poet, and the first stanza notes that the sun has woken the soldier before, ‘even in France’ – is the same note of futility that will end the book, three pages later, in Pellow’s ‘When all is said’. In between falls Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’, in which the renewal brought with the birth of Christ means alienation and historical rupture for the eastern kings who travelled to witness it.96 . . . this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. 225

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We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death. (p. 240) As in the case of the Joyce poem, the contextual framing of ‘The Journey of the Magi’ creates new resonances and emphases. The poem first appeared as a stand-alone pamphlet in Faber and Faber’s ‘Ariel’ series, decorated with slightly abstracted images of the three kings and released specifically for the Christmas market; Faber believed it might be used as a Christmas card. In that setting, what most likely came to the fore for readers was the poem’s language of birth and generation – ‘Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley/ Wet, below the snow-line, smelling of vegetation’ – which countervails the alienation of the speaker. In Monro’s anthology, the poem takes its place as the last working out of the theme of ironised renewal, leaving the emphasis to fall resoundingly on the poem’s closing wish for ‘another death’. Thus, while the rebirth in Eliot’s poem is not false or futile like the dawns in ‘The Streetwalkers’ or ‘Futility’, it shares the equivocal or ambiguous nature of those in Read’s ‘Mutations of the Phoenix’ or Nichols’s ‘The Tower’ – fated rebirths that bring drastic disruption along with renewal. The abjection of the three kings resonates in Monro’s collection, where the pain of transformation and the futility of cyclical phenomena predominates, especially at the volume’s conclusion and in spite of – or in direct tension with – the embossed image of a Phoenix on its cloth cover. Something poignant, and rather dissonant, happens in the last moments of a front-to-back reading of Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology by Harold Monro. The ideology of reading that has informed us as early twenty-firstcentury readers would seem to call for quiet contemplation of the rhetorical question in Pellow’s closing words: When all is fire And flaming air, What of your rare And high desire To turn the clod To a thing divine, The earth a shrine And Man the God? One would expect a bibliographic setting – i.e. an empty facing page – that matches the tone, giving us some physical blank space to figuratively fill with our thoughts, or on which to let these unsettling words reverberate. What we are faced with, instead, is the typographically busiest and least aesthetically 226

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Figure 4.4  The plenitude of print culture. Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology (1929) structured page in the book thus far: the densely printed first page of the ‘Index of Authors’ (Figure 4.4). This jarring juxtaposition creates, I think, several effects. Having been absorbed in these closing poems, we are not allowed the luxury of re-emerging gradually to consciousness of the physical world: having this dense paratext before us immediately invokes the materiality of the book and, what is more, the material pragmatics of providing a rich anthology in a portable and inexpensive form. We lack the luxury of blank pages, it seems, and so we are pulled back immediately into the actual – the realm from which Turner’s ‘Reflection’ fears poetic images will sequester us. At the same time, the density of printing on the page, naming fourteen poets and forty-three poems – and these getting us just halfway through the letter C – also seems to offer an immediate consolation to the ‘What availeth?’ tone of Pellow’s poem. Yes, human endeavour may prove cosmically irrelevant, but in the face of this emptiness, human inspiration continues to express itself, amply, as the density of the list proclaims. The index goes on for six pages, followed by a six-page index of titles, then the back pages advertising all the titles in the Phoenix series, which cover eight unnumbered pages at the very back. Plenitude merges with commerce – specifically with commerce in modern literature, deemed worthy of at least temporary survival through the agency of the Phoenix Library’s editions. Thus if we read the anthology in full – reading it not just as 227

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a unified literary text but also reading its full materiality – the sheer plenitude of contemporary human expression emerges as a note of defiance to balance the theme of futility that closes the ‘proper’ text of the anthology. This is a radical position amidst the literary culture of the 1920s, where both plenitude and commerce (indeed, commerce’s plenitude) are more typically thought of as engines of cultural decline, symptoms of modernity’s discontents. But it is a uniquely appropriate setting for an anthology edited by Harold Monro, perhaps the strongest voice for both catholicity of taste and the integration of poetry into the modern everyday via the resources of modern print culture. Notes  1. JOLW, 5 December 1925, p. 390.   2. Based on a review of the Bookseller’s weekly inventory of new book titles.   3. Anne Ferry notes that anthologists began issuing such apologies in their introductions in the nineteenth century (Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, 39).  4. Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry, p. 9.   5. Graves and Riding, Pamphlet Against Anthologies, pp. 166, 164, 160.   6. The usefulness of anthologies is the premise of one of the best scholarly undertakings on modern anthologies, Barbara Korte et al.’s edited volume Anthologies of British Poetry from Literary and Cultural Studies.   7. Korte, ‘Flowers for the Picking’, p. 4, subsequent citations in text.  8. JOLW, Anon., ‘Books Worth Reading’, 22 September 1928.   9. Ibid.; ‘Poetry of To-Day’, The Labour Woman. 10. One of the few previous critics to pay heed to such important mundanities as permission fees is Daniel Göske, who pithily remarks: ‘In order to be commercially successful, anthologies must not acknowledge what in fact they always are: highly compromised results of complex negotiations where literary, political, financial, and legal interests of diverse parties clash and are only rarely adequately resolved’ (Göske, ‘Joint Ventures’, 152). 11. Monro, letter to Prentice, 16 February 1928. 12. Graves and Riding, Pamphlet Against Anthologies, p. 176. 13. Michael Roberts, author of the Faber Book, wrote to T. S. Eliot in 1935 that Riding and Graves had agreed to appear in the anthology ‘not because their feelings about anthologies have changed, but because they believe the book is exceptional’. Quoted in Smith, ‘Eliot’s Proposal’. 14. Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 4. 15. Bornstein, Material Modernism, pp. 13–14. 16. Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, p. 6. 17. Quiller-Couch, Oxford Book of English Verse (1900), xi. 18. Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, p. 6. 19. Anon., ‘Art of the Anthology’. 20. Sutcliffe, The Oxford University Press, pp. 122–3. 21. Yeats, letter to Matthews. 22. These notations appear in a memo marked ‘Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century/Extracts from letters of contributors’ in the Poetry Bookshop papers, British Library. 23. Davies, Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, p. 10. 24. See Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, Chapter 8, for a thorough reading

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and contextualisation of the Oxford Book of Modern Verse alongside a set of other important mid-to-late-thirties anthologies. 25. Yeats, ‘Introduction’, xlii. 26. Milford, letter to Watt. 27. Watt, letter to Milford. 28. Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, p. 18. 29. Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 2. 30. Bridges, The Spirit of Man, p. 1. 31. Graves and Riding, Pamphlet Against Anthologies, p. 174. 32. Palgrave, Golden Treasury, p. 7. 33. Graves and Riding, Pamphlet Against Anthologies, p. 174, subsequent citations in text. 34. Ricks, ‘The Making of the Golden Treasury’, pp. 441–4. 35. Palgrave, Golden Treasury, p. 432, subsequent citations in text. 36. Ricks, ‘The Making of the Golden Treasury’, p. 437, subsequent citations in text. 37. Palgrave, Golden Treasury, pp. 7–8, subsequent citations in text. 38. Quoted in Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 50, subsequent citations in text. 39. See Ferry for a discussion of lines of influence between Palgrave and QuillerCouch. She cites the Oxford Book’s uncrowded physical layout, the lack of a table of contents, the minimal editorial apparatus and the similarity of the books’ covers as conveying the same ‘seriousness untainted by pedantry’ that Palgrave achieved (Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 62). See also Korte, ‘Flowers for the Picking’, p. 18. 40. Quiller-Couch, letter to Lyttleton Gell. 41. Ibid. 42. Quoted in Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 62. 43. Sisam, letter to Dowling. 44. Canaan’s comments are referenced in a memo marked ‘Summary of 1900 correspondence’, Oxford University Press Archive. 45. Quiller-Couch, Oxford Book of English Verse (1900), vii–viii. 46. Quiller-Couch, letter to Sisam. 47. Quiller-Couch, Oxford Book of English Verse (1900), x, subsequent citations in text. 48. Sutcliffe, The Oxford University Press, p. 124. All the same, Ferry suggests that Quiller-Couch’s volume ‘enhanced the status of The Golden Treasury, which he had meant to supersede, by being so recognizably an imitation of it’ (p. 62). There was even fleeting talk, in the late thirties, of merging the two books, as seen in a letter of 16 January 1936 from Tom Jones to Press secretary R. W. Chapman. 49. Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 21. 50. Quiller-Couch, letter to Lyttleton Gell. 51. Sisam, letter to Milford, 8 November 1939. 52. Quoted in Sutcliffe, The Oxford University Press, p. 124. 53. Frowde, letter to Canaan. 54. Morrisson, The Public Face of Modernism, pp. 54, 69–83. See also Grant, Harold Monro and the Poetry Bookshop, especially pp. 31–131. 55. Harold Monro letters, Chatto & Windus papers, University of Reading Special Collections, CW 39/, S. 56. Hibberd, Harold Monro, pp. 179–85. 57. Quoted in Grant, Harold Monro and the Poetry Bookshop, p. 42. 58. Morrisson, The Public Face of Modernism, p. 76, subsequent citations in text. 59. Aaron Jaffe notes that the Georgian Poetry series represented Monro’s success in

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‘linking cheap, mass-produced commodity obsolescence with elite literary authorship’, a dynamic Monro also noted in the practices of Marinetti and adapted to ‘promotion of Poetry Bookshop titles and events’ (Jaffe, Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity, p. 150). 60. Quoted in Morrisson, The Public Face of Modernism, p. 80. 61. See also Hibberd, Harold Monro, p. 191. 62. Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, p. 22. 63. Braddock, Collecting as Modernist Practice, p. 3. 64. Former New Voices editor Thomas Moult virtually made his living as an anthologist in the 1920s; literary jack-of-all trades R. L. Megroz issued three anthologies in the 1930s. 65. Monro, ‘Editorial Notes’, pp. 2­–3. 66. Monro, letter to Palmer. 67. Ferry, Tradition and the Individual Poem, pp. 15–18. 68. Birmingham Post, 9 September 1919. 69. Morrisson, ‘The Cause of Poetry’, pp. 406, 421–2. 70. Quoted in Grant, Harold Monro and the Poetry Bookshop, pp. 108–9. 71. The contract between Davies and the Poetry Bookshop as well as the estimated sales are referenced in documents in the Poetry Bookshop papers, British Library. 72. Davies, Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, p. 7, subsequent citations in text. 73. Bornstein, Material Modernism, p. 61. 74. Davies, Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, p. 8, subsequent citations in text. 75. Anon., ‘Art of the Anthology’, p. 66. 76. Davies, Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, p. 128, subsequent citations in text. 77. McLean, Modern Book Design, pp. 84–5. McLean goes on to praise the Phoenix Library as ‘a series of excellently designed cheap reprints’. 78. Phoenix Library series flyer. 79. Prentice, letter to Monro. 80. Monro, letter to Prentice, 20 December 1927. 81. On the copy of the letter quoted above in the Chatto & Windus archives at the University of Reading Special Collections, Prentice has penned the word ‘no’ in the margin next to Monro’s suggestion that the publisher issue the anthology under another imprint. 82. Monro, letter to Prentice, 20 December 1927. 83. Chatto & Windus papers, University of Reading Special Collections. 84. Monro’s contract with Chatto & Windus is in the British Library’s Poetry Bookshop papers. Ledger books indicating revenues and expenditures on the volume, including permission fees, are in the Chatto & Windus collection, University of Reading Special Collections. 85. Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry, p. 7. 86. Harold Monro letters, Chatto & Windus Papers, University of Reading Special Collections; Chatto & Windus ledger books, 1929–32, University of Reading Special Collections. 87. Monro writes to Prentice on 3 September 1929 to check that placing the two indexes in the back is still possible. 88. The Poetry Bookshop papers at the British Library contain worksheets on which Monro can be seen devising the order; sheets list pages to which poems had not yet been assigned and poems for which locations still had to be found. 89. Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry, p. 10, subsequent citations in text. 90. Grant, Harold Monro and the Poetry Bookshop, pp. 161–2. 91. Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry, p. 107, subsequent citations in text.

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92. Eliot, letter to Monro, 4 June 1929. 93. Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry, p. 240. 94. Monro, letter to Flint. 95. Monro, Twentieth Century Poetry, p. 242, subsequent citations in text. 96. Monro wrote to Eliot that of all the latter’s poems he wanted for the anthology, he was most keen on ‘The Journey of the Magi’, since it had not appeared in any other anthology. Monro expressed interest in ‘Preludes (1)’, ‘Morning at the Window’, ‘Whispers of Immortality’, ‘The Hollow Men’, ‘Gerontion’ and an excerpt of nine lines from The Waste Land. Eliot balked at the Waste Land excerpt and indicated Faber’s objection to ‘The Journey of the Magi’, as the Ariel edition was still selling. Though the correspondence doesn’t document why, ‘The Journey’ made it into the anthology, along with all of the above except for ‘Gerontion’ and the excerpt (Monro, letter to Eliot; Eliot, letter to Monro).

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POSTSCRIPT: AGAINST ‘MODERNIST STUDIES’

Monro’s anthology is an especially resonant artefact on which to conclude this inquiry. In an attitude common in his time but relatively rare in ours, Monro valued the materiality of texts, with their stunningly various ways of making meaning and asserting value. If, for us, a kind of sceptical humanism informs our continuing investments in imaginative literature, few of us would assert that the early twentieth century’s highly segmented, commercial print culture is a monument of that humanism, or celebrate its variegated residue of cheap, material texts as one of the great achievements in human history. And yet this commercial culture made literature available to virtually everyone in the west in the years covered in this study. (I define ‘literature’ as writing of value – value asserted, contested, argued over.) Indeed, at the turn of the twentieth century, modern print artefacts not only gave virtually everyone who wanted it access to literature: they gave virtually everyone who wanted one a voice in arguments about literature, as we have seen in the dialogue over Tess of the D’Urbervilles in John O’London’s Weekly. They also gave thousands the ability to publish, even if there were cultural authorities at the ready to police the boundaries of ‘literature’ from the likes of writers drawn from the new reading public. As we have seen, this created a landscape of anxiety about value, but it also validated – in local but meaningful ways – the value-making gestures of previously silent people, providing a new way for the newly literate to make their lives meaningful, as David Graeber would have it. As I suggested in the Introduction, it was modernism that scorned and ulti232

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mately rendered invisible the work of these newly literate knowledge workers and the professionals who served them. This book has been in large part an effort to understand how value and meaning took material form in the local ecosystems they worked, and how those spheres functioned within the larger ecosystem of early twentieth-century print culture. In the course of this effort I have also been discovering my beliefs concerning the best ways forward in what is (unfortunately, I think) known as ‘modernist studies’. These beliefs are neither new nor unique to me, though they do place me in a decidedly minority position within the field.1 In their simplest form, they come to this: the concept of ‘modernism’ inadequately and inaccurately frames the literary production of Great Britain and the United States in the early twentieth century. ‘Modernism’ serves well enough to identify and describe the following: aesthetic production in this period that emphasised radical aesthetic experimentation as a means of critiquing modernity or envisioning a radically new future beyond the limits of Enlightenment epistemology; the set of smaller movements that initiated such experimentation; and the later, more widely dispersed creative work that emulated or derived from the experiments of those early movements. But as modernist scholars acknowledged from the start, identifiably modernist writing at all times constituted a minority of all aesthetic production. (How small a minority? Perhaps the practitioners of Morettian ‘distant reading’ will one day tell us – if they are capable of purging their own schemata and search terms of modernist parameters). And no amount of redefinition or vertical and horizontal expansion of ‘modernism’, or pluralisation of ‘modernisms’, will ever make the term capable of comprehending the half-century or so of aesthetic production it has come to represent.2 Faced with an apparently nonmodernist artefact – a realist novel, a nature poem in rhyming quatrains, a prose satire with undisguised didactic aims – the new modernist studies offers the typical scholar three paths: (1) ignore it; (2) resign yourself to dissemination in a second-tier journal or the meetings of an ancillary scholarly society; or (3) (most promising, in terms of scholarly prestige) find a way to posit it as representing an unacknowledged modernism, or exemplifying modernism in previously unrecognised ways.3 I suspect the most common reaction is the first. This is clearly inadequate, unless we are content to write off the majority of literary production as beneath our notice or to relegate it to the status of ‘context’. As Raymond Williams wrote in 1961 (just as the hegemony of modernism in literary studies was becoming clear), an unrelenting emphasis on the new in art trivialises all aesthetic production whose purpose is not to envision or represent new experiences but to reiterate and refresh our sense of familiar ones – work whose pleasure lies not in offering a ‘new way of seeing’ but in providing ‘recognition’, literally the re-thinking and re-sensing of established meanings and insights. ‘There is great danger in the assumption that art serves only on the frontiers of knowledge,’ Williams writes, not least because 233

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it ignores production ‘at the very centre of societies’.4 Thus the belief that ‘the work of the artist is to make new discoveries about the world’ is ‘a really disabling idea, in that it forces the exclusion of a large amount of art, which it is clearly our business to understand’ (p. 45). Is it ‘clearly our business’ to understand all or most of the aesthetic production of the era we study? I believe so, though I pause to emphasise the plural our in that formulation. We study an era of textual plenitude, and we necessarily master relatively small portions of it. And there remains room for individual studies, even individual careers, that work to construct and refine, as one recent agenda statement put it, ‘an adequate history of modernism’.5 But as a collective of scholars working a temporally defined field, I believe it is imperative that we do a great deal more reading of artefacts that cannot reasonably be defined as modernist: the comic, satirical novels of Rose Macaulay, for instance, or the memoirs of Vera Brittain, or the relatively traditionalist verse of Edward Thomas, Humbert Wolfe or Anna Wickham. Robert Scholes opened his graduate seminars at Brown to such work, and attempted to open up avenues to them for scholars in the book Paradoxy of Modernism. The problem is that he did so by defining the works he recovered as (previously unacknowledged, ingeniously delineated) kinds of modernism, at once stretching the umbrella of modernism beyond what many scholars would recognise and reiterating the term’s status as the rubric for the period. I am not certain that what I am proposing – an opening up of the entire range of print culture in the early twentieth century to scholarly interest and inquiry – is possible, in a relatively small intellectual world dominated by institutions entitled the Modernist Studies Association, the British Association for Modernist Studies and Modernism/Modernity. And the reason why lies once again in the question of value: ‘Modernism’ is both the marker and the spring of value for scholarship on this period in the print cultures of the west. This explains why a critic would want to posit something seemingly conventional as a modernist text (as Brooks E. Hefner does for Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), and why a majority of scholars who work on the period are satisfied to search out new insights or bring new contexts to the old topics (Vorticism: New Perspectives, ‘Anarchism’s Modernisms’), leaving the rest to ‘cultural studies’.6 Undoubtedly, the ‘new modernisms’ began with a resolve to expand both the canon of texts and the range of contexts brought into discussions of early twentieth-century literature and culture – and undoubtedly it has done so: Jean Rhys, Katherine Mansfield, Jean Toomer, H.D. and many other once-marginal modernists have undergone flowerings of scholarly interest, while studies that productively juxtapose modernism with such extra-literary phenomena as fashion, media and new technologies proliferate, but a large majority of this work comes back to modernism as a primary touchstone.7 Charles Altieri recently complained that the ‘new Modernisms’ have expanded 234

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the field by finding analogies between modernist writing and larger social, cultural and political discourses and thus relying on ‘organizing concepts’ that are drawn from outside the literature itself. In one especially revealing moment, he argues: ‘Neither these data nor these governing concepts are likely to track effectively the contours of the best thinking in the period or participate in their efforts to find imaginative means for projecting possible ways of engaging these historical situations.’8 Not many people would so explicitly describe literary scholarship as an effort to follow ‘the best thinking in the period’, but I suspect that a good deal of work operates silently, perhaps unconsciously, out of similar imperatives, which are practically conservative in the most literal sense. Even if we are willing to stipulate that tracking, preserving or advancing ‘the best thinking’ of the period are shared goals (and I am open to this, with a nod to the problematic nature of that rather complacent ‘best’), it remains questionable that we are assured of ‘tracking the best thinking’ if we assent to the usually unspoken maxim that modernism is where such thinking is to be found. Altieri’s polemic is entitled, ‘How the “New Modernist Studies” Fails the Old Modernism.’ I am more interested in how modernist studies, old and new, have failed the early twentieth century. The dominance of modernism is a problem not only because it renders marginal a majority of the period’s aesthetic production. Such would be the case under any critical regime that favours work ‘at the frontiers of knowledge’ rather than at ‘the very centre’, in Williams’s terms. Making matters worse in this case is the outright hostility of many prominent modernists and their supporters towards ordinary print culture: the world of popular periodicals, mainstream publishing houses, libraries, booksellers and other locations where a vast majority of the reading and writing in the period got done. (Never outdone on this matter, Pound posited the ‘gagged reviewers’ of the Times as ‘slut-bellied obstructionist[s]’, ‘sworn foe[s] to good speech and good letters’.9) While we have come to see snobbery and self-promotion in such statements and would never reproduce it in our scholarship, our continued ignorance of the mainstream print culture of the period reproduces as neglect what the modernists started as hostility. But do we really think there is nothing for us to learn in what ordinary people were reading in the years we study? This book has been an effort to seek meaning and value in print artefacts of this period regardless of their relation to modernism. All the artefacts I have discussed here were commercially successful on their own terms: while Harold Monro’s Twentieth Century Poetry anthology came nowhere near the cultural centrality of the Illustrated London News, it sold well for a book of poetry in its period and made money for its publisher and for Monro. The London Mercury ran for fifteen years in its initial form and reached 10,000 circulation – again, not putting it at ‘the very centre’ of culture but placing it in a very narrow, top percentile when compared with periodicals generally (whose 235

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failure rate is famously astronomical) and putting its contemporary cultural reach far beyond that of most modernist magazines. More people – many times more – got access to information and debates about literature and art in John O’London’s Weekly than in the Egoist or the Criterion, though without doubt that information and those debates were quite different. In short, all of these artefacts had value in their own time. An ethical relation to the people who lived and read in the decades we study requires that we take seriously their judgements, even when we cannot share them, and that we refuse to follow the modernists in insulting or dismissing them. And so I view these artefacts as valuable to scholarship for the simple reason that they were valued by their readers. These objects each provided readers with something that they valued. Though the chapters in this book ultimately moved in widely varied directions, they all began with the question of what that something was, and how the artefacts’ materiality helped to provide it. Spending time with these artefacts also provided me with the theoretical understanding outlined in the Introduction – in simplified form, the sense that print artefacts constitute representations of the world that help readers make sense of that world; and that their textual materiality – the paper on which they are printed, their organisation, the many elements of their physical appearance, their price, their interaction with the conventions of various print genres and more – is no small part of this sense-making, value-creating process. Again, these insights are neither new nor original to me, though in modernist studies the work that popular print artefacts (as distinct from modernist artefacts) did to give order and meaning to the world, to embody and assign value, is seldom remarked. Other scholars (a lot of them, I hope) will follow the lead of such writers as Peter Howarth, Faye Hammill, Catherine Keyser, Laura Frost, Margaret Stetz and others in reading fiction, poetry and criticism that exists beyond the modernist pale.10 It has been the work of this book to foreground the creative work of conceiving, designing, nurturing and sustaining not ‘literary texts’ but print artefacts. My story’s protagonists include the nowmarginal literary figures Harold Monro and J. C. Squire as well as the then well-known but now virtually invisible Wilfred Whitten (‘John O’London’); they also include scores of people I cannot name – subeditors, printers’ assistants, typesetters, staff artists and others who did the literally creative work of making print artefacts. In foregrounding their work I find myself once again aligned with Raymond Williams, who laments the so-called autonomy of art – its elevation to a unique and elevated sphere – for two reasons: because it denies the creative nature of all work, indeed the creative nature of human life, and because it severs art from connection to everyday life. For Williams all perceptual activity is creative, in that all seeing and understanding depend on ‘an effort of learning, description, and communication’.11 If, with Williams, we understand art as 236

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‘the organization of experience’, it is evident that the creation of print artefacts serves this function: newspapers reduce the heterogeneous world to a legible order; literary journals and poetry anthologies do the same for literature and the arts themselves (p. 47). Such efforts, like all art, represent what Williams sees as high-order instances of the basic human process by which we interact with the perceptual world. This is the sense in which, in a famous phrase, Williams declared that ‘art and culture are ordinary’, a claim that – in a way that will resonate with modernist scholars – provokes ‘quite hysterical denials’: The solution is not to pull art down to the level of other social activity as this is habitually conceived. The emphasis that matters is that there are, essentially, no ‘ordinary’ activities if by ‘ordinary’ we mean the absence of creative interpretation and effort. Art is ratified, in the end, by the fact of creativity in all our living. Everything we see and do, the whole structure of our relationships and institutions, depends, finally, on an effort of learning, description, and communication. We create our human world as we have thought of art being created. (p. 54) This takes me back finally to Monro, whose mission in his mature years could be described as an effort to make poetry ordinary: making it ring in people’s ears in frequent public readings, putting it into people’s hands in cheap broadsides and rhyme-sheets, ultimately making it accessible in inexpensive trade anthologies. In all of these efforts he used the textual materiality of his artefacts, with considerable creative aplomb, to convey his populist mission for poetry, culminating in Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology. Monro knew – and his anthology, his final contribution, subtly asserted – that modern print artefacts, in all their multiplicity, impurity and vitality, are among the great achievements of human creativity. Notes   1. For other scholars interested in investigating print culture in ways that look beyond identifiably modernist work, or that actively problematise modernism as a rubric for the period, see Ann Ardis, Modernism and Cultural Conflict (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Kristen Bluemel, Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009); Catherine Keyser, Playing Smart: New York Women Writers and Modern Magazine Culture (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010); Peter Howarth, British Poetry in the Age of Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Lise Jallant, Modernism, Middlebrow, and the Literary Canon: the Modern Library Series, 1917–55 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014); and much of the work from the scholars affiliated with the Middlebrow Studies Network in the UK, including Faye Hammill, Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture Between the Wars (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010) and Brown and Grover’s Middlebrow Literary Cultures, referenced in this book’s bibliography. For a theoretical inquiry that problematises modernism’s definitions while remaining, ultimately, committed to radical aesthetics, see

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Susan Stanford Freidman, ‘Definitional Excursions: The Meanings of Modern/ Modernity/Modernism’, Modernism/Modernity, 8.3 (September 2001), 493–513. On the deformations to historical memory created by ‘modernist studies’, see Maria DiCenzo and Lucy Delap, ‘Transatlantic Print Culture: The AngloAmerican Feminist Press and Emerging “Modernities”’ in Ann L. Ardis and Patrick C. Collier, Transatlantic Print Culture 1880–1940: Emerging Media, Emerging Modernisms (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 48–66.   2. For discussion of horizontal and vertical expansion, see Mao and Walkowitz, ‘The New Modernist Studies’.   3. The number of studies that validate their subject matter – whether non-canonical literary text or extra-literary ‘context’ – by claiming it as a kind of modernism is too great to delineate here. Studies particularly relevant to my emphasis on periodicals and textual materiality that do so include David Earle, Re-Covering Modernism: Pulps, Paperbacks, and the Prejudice of Form (Burlington and Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009); Robert Scholes, Paradoxy of Modernism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006); Scholes and Clifford Wulfman, Modernism in the Magazines: An Introduction (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).  4. Williams, The Long Revolution, pp. 46–7, subsequent citations in text.   5. Murphy, ‘Introduction: Visualizing Periodical Networks’, iv.   6. Brooks E. Hefner, ‘Any Chance to Be Unrefined’, PMLA, 125.1 (January 2010), 107–20; Mark Antliff and Scott W. Klein (eds), Vorticism: New Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). ‘Anarchism’s Modernisms’ is a special issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies – 4.2 (2013).   7. The CFP for the inaugural MSA convention in 1999 promised sessions on ‘the expansion of the modernist canon, particularly in light of recent concerns with race, class, gender, region, and ethnicity . . . the new interest in modernism, science, and technology; the reassessment of socio-political contexts of modernism; issues of nationalism, imperialism, and colonialism; the marketing of modernism’.   8. Altieri, ‘Afterword’, pp. 768-77.  9. Pound, Personae, p. 75. 10. For Howarth, Hammill and Keyser, see footnote 1 of this chapter. Frost dicsusses Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in The Problem with Pleasure: Modernism and Its Discontents (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013). See Margaret Stetz, ‘Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle: Em(bed)ded in Print’, in Ardis and Collier, Transatlantic Print Culture, pp. 134–48. The most prominent single work to posit a broader canon of works for the period is Chris Baldick’s volume 10 of the Oxford English Literary History, ‘The Modern Movement’ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). 11. Williams, The Long Revolution, p. 54, subsequent citations in text.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Richards, Thomas, Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle, 1851–1914 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991). Robson, M. M., ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’, 22 May, 29 May, and 5 June 1926, p. 285. ‘A Scots Country-Woman’, ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’, 8 May 1926, p. 209. Strong, L. A. G., ‘This New Poetry’, 3 February 1934, p. 688. Tomlinson, H. M., ‘Mr Polly and the World State’, 15 April 1922, p. 48. Waddington, B., ‘John O’London’s Letter Box’, 19 June 1926, pp. 345–6. Walpole, Hugh, ‘The New Spirit in English Literature’, 24 October 1931, pp. 100, 110. Walpole, Hugh, ‘The Novels of 1925’, 5 December 1925, pp. 373–4. Whitten, Wilfred, ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, 10 January 1920, p. 403. Whitten, Wilfred, ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, 17 October 1925, p. 105. Whitten, Wilfred, ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, 16 January 1926, p. 597. Whitten, Wilfred, ‘Letters to Gog and Magog: Have We a Great Essayist?’ 16 April 1927, p. 291. Whitten, Wilfred, ‘Passing Remarks’, 21 May 1927, p. 186. Wolfe, Humbert, ‘The Making of a Poet’, 7 July 1928, p. 416.

The London Mercury (abbreviation: LM) ‘A.L.H.’, ‘Bibliographical Notes and News’, November 1919, pp. 73–6. ‘A.L.H.’, ‘Bibliographical Notes and News’, January 1920, pp. 325–8. The Bookman (advertisement), May 1923, xv. Cambridge University Press (advertisement), March 1931, ii, v. Caslon (advertisement), May 1923, ii. Caslon (advertisement), June 1923, ii. Correspondence College Ltd. (advertisement), January 1920, v. Directory, November 1927, x. Dobell (advertisement), January 1920, xvi. Eveleigh Nash & Grayson (advertisement), January 1922, ii. Foyles (advertisement), January 1924, ii. Funk and Wagnall’s ‘Basic Reading Course in Applied Psychology’ (advertisement), January 1920, iv. Hollings (advertisement), October 1919, xviii. James F. Drake Inc. (advertisement), May 1923, xii. Jones (advertisement), January 1922, i. Jones-Evans (advertisement), June 1923, viii. Lamley & Co. (advertisement), May 1923, xii. Lynch, Bohun, ‘Collecting and Antiques’, January 1922, pp. 334–6. Mason, J. H., ‘Book Production Notes’, February 1920, p. 359. Mercury (advertisement), October 1923, xxvi. 252

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INDEX

Plates are shown by the page reference Pl. and then the plate number. Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations in the text. advertising for book collectors, London Mercury, 36, 156–7, 159, 164, 169–70 The Bookman, 156–8 Calson & Co. adverts, 163–4 in The Chapbook, 203 Corona typewriters, 35, 106, 111–13, 112, 118 correspondence schools, Pl.1, 28, 100, 102, 104–5, 110, 111–12, 119, 157 in the Illustrated London News, 48, 77 as juxtaposed against Tess of the D’Urbervilles, 118–19 lifestyle advertisements, JOLW, 106 Lipton’s Tea advertisement, 74, 77–9, 78 printing houses, London Mercury, 161 ‘Special Printing’ issue, London Mercury, 165–7 aesthetic artefacts commodity status of, 6–7 disassociation from the market, 21 disinterested production of, 22–3, 24, 179 middle-class subjectivity and, 6–7 systematisation of, 147 aesthetic experiences, 21–2 A.L.H., 158, 160, 172–4 Allen, Grant, 43, 64, 65–6, 87 Altick, Richard, 27, 46–7 Altieri, Charles, 234–5

254

Anderson, Benedict, 44 anthologies see poetry anthologies Armour, G. A., 42 authors adverts for aspiring writers, 157–8 author-as-celebrity, 7–8, 10, 11, 51, 52–3, 55, 62–4, 102 authorship, craft and literary commerce in ‘Greville Fane’, 51–2, 53–5, 56–7, 60–4 author/writer distinction, 27–8, 31–2, 51, 53–4, 60–1, 99, 102, 106–10, 111 discourses of professionalism and, 31–2, 53–4, 55, 107, 109 the ‘ideal’ novelist, 108–10, 111 increased numbers of, 27–8, 31 literary commercialism, 107 literary fads and social pressure, 142, 146–8 models of authorship, JOLW, 34, 88, 99, 101–2, 106–10, 113 modernist conceptions of the literary author, 7–8 readers as the new writers, 27–8, 31, 99 signed editions, 10, 11 training in, 27, 51–2, 55, 105 Beegan, Gerry, 48, 49, 52, 73 Beetham, Margaret, 43–4, 134–5 Benjamin, Walter, 10, 16–17, 27, 31–2, 175–7 Benson, A. C., 211–12

index

Besant, Walter, 54 Blake, George, 104, 118, 120, 127–8 Blast, 20, 21 The Bookman advertising, 156–8 art-vs-commerce binary, 153–4 ‘Bookman’s Diary’, 152–3, 158–9 contrasted with the London Mercury, 151, 153–4 cultural positioning, 153 illustrations in, 155 literary celebrity in, 152, 155 market position of, 151–4 books within hierarchy of written formats, 15–16 permanence of, 14–15 see also fine book collecting Bornstein, George, 11, 12, 13, 14, 187–9, 207 Bourdieu, Pierre, 2, 24–5, 153, 172–3 Braddock, Jeremy, 18, 30, 188, 189, 201 Brake, Laurel, 52 Bridges, Robert, 193, 206, 209 broadsides, poetry, 200, 201 Brown, Bill, 2, 11, 16 Brown, Bob, 16 Browne, Gordon, 84 Bullett, Gerald, 130 Calson & Co., 161, 163–4 Campbell, Roy, 148 capitalism bespoke literary production as opposition to, 12–13 subversion of by book collecting tradition, 175–6 Casanova, Pascale, 23 celebrity in The Bookman, 152, 155 of Conrad, Joseph, 111, 125 culture of literary celebrity, 7–8, 10, 11, 51, 52–3, 55, 62–4, 102 facsimile autographs, 118 of Hardy, Thomas, 110–11, 114, 125 in the Illustrated London News, 51, 52–3 literary celebrity and the signed edition, 10, 11 literary celebrity pieces, JOLW, 104, 110–11, 124–5 in the London Mercury, 154–5 of Wells, H. G., 110–11, 125 The Chapbook, 1, 4–5, 10, 37–8, 125, 190, 202–3 Chatto & Windus, 5, 190, 203, 206–7, 212–15 Churchill, Winston, 114 class leisured middle-classes, 45, 49, 73, 172–3 literary texts as middle-class aesthetic artefacts, 6–7 middle-class readership, ILN, 45, 48–9, 73

colonialism the colonial gaze and the imposition of order, 49–50, 67–72, 68, 70–1, 78–9 imperial adventure fiction, 72–3 value-potential of colonies, 65–6 see also imperialism Colum, Padraic, 219–20 commodification of aesthetic artefacts, 6–7 aesthetic/commodity opposition, 3–4, 6, 53–4 of The Chapbook, 1, 4 and consumption within the literary hierarchy, 15–16 imperial textual commodities, 74–6, 78–9 specialist commodification of modernist literature, 10, 23–4 Conrad, Joseph celebrity status of, 111, 125 commodification of, 10 Heart of Darkness, 83 JOLW’s stance on, 123, 124 literary value of, 122–4 Suspense, 122 Corelli, Marie, 150, 153 correspondence schools advertising, Pl.1, 28, 100, 102, 104–5, 110, 111–12, 119, 157 growth in, 27 Criterion circulation of, 136, 148 as new literary periodical, 141–2 on standards of criticism, 21, 141, 178 Criterion Miscellany Series, 127, 128 Cuala Press, 9, 13 cultural processes American cultural imperialism, 172–3, 174–5 cultural guidance for new reading public, JLW, 96–9, 108 cultural pluralism, 30–1 and the expansion of popular writing, 30–1 high/low culture divide, 51, 99, 127 mass literacy and levelling down of culture, 98–9, 114–15 print-culture ecosystem, 5, 25–6 rejection of mass culture, London Mercury, 149–50 value-creation and cultural capital, 29–30 Curtis, Gerard, 155 Daly, Nicholas, 46, 72, 81 Dark, Sidney, 97, 98, 109, 111, 126 DaRosa, Marc, 53, 115 Davies, W. H. as an anthologist, 37, 189, 204, 210 introduction to Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, 205–6 as a poet, 154 see also Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century

255

modern print artefacts

de la Mare, Walter, 129, 154, 158–9, 192, 203 Dell, Ethel M., 29, 150 Derek, Thomas, 165 Diepeveen, Leonard, 20, 31, 131, 147 disinterest and aesthetics, 21–2, 179 interest/disinterest binary, 24 in the public sphere, 22–4, 200 Dyson, Will, 154, 155–6 Eagleton, Terry, 6, 21–2 Eliot, T. S. bank salary, 192 Eliot-Pound modernism, 31, 124, 142, 143, 203 ‘Hollow Men’, 122 Hugh Walpole on, 131, 133 JOLW and, 135 ‘Journey of the Magi’, 221, 225–6 material textuality, 13 ‘Miss Precocia Pondoeuf’ satire, 125 ‘Morning at the Window’, 220–1 on Squire, J. C., 148 Squire’s review of The Wasteland, 142 ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, 8–9, 167 on Wells, H. G., 114 see also Criterion Euan-Smith, Sir Charles, 74–5, 78, 79 Evans, Powys, 76, 155 Faber and Faber ‘Ariel’ series, 13, 226 Criterion Miscellany Series, 127–8 Faber Book of Modern Verse, 187, 193 Ferry, Anne, 187, 193, 195, 196, 202 fine book collecting and books-not-to-be-read, 16, 145, 169, 176 as conservation, 170–2 focus in the London Mercury, 36, 144, 158, 160–1 and linguistic pleasure, 169–70 popularity of, 7, 9 as pre-modern activity, 11, 15, 16–17 price inflation of, 172–3, 174–5 reactionary potential of, 175–6 as subject-object relationship, 177 Fitzgerald, Penelope, 201 Flecker, J. Elroy, 209–10, 216 Flint, F. S., 5, 146, 203, 221 Ford, Ford Madox, 4, 5, 120, 203, 215 Frow, John, 29, 32 Galsworthy, John, 131, 150, 215 Georgian Poetry 1918–19, 130, 186, 201, 202, 204 Georgian poets anthologies of, 185–6 early experimental image of, 142

256

Georgian–Imagist split, 142, 202 Georgian–Vorticist split, 10 Gissing, George, 51 Golden Treasury arrangement of, 195–6 cannonical influence of, 194 as educational text, 195 imperial function of, 194, 195 light ‘authorial’ hand, 190, 195–6, 197–8 sales of, 194 selection criteria for, 194–5 see also Palgrave, Francis Goldman, Jonathan, 8, 155 Gosse, Edmund, 42, 52, 148–9 Graeber, David, 25, 28, 31, 232 Grant, Joy, 216 Graves, Robert, 129, 186, 187, 194, 196 ‘Greville Fane’ (James) authorship, craft and literary commerce, 51–2, 53–5, 56–7, 60–4 in the Illustrated London News, 1, 3–4, 51–2, 60 illustrations, 60, 61, 62–3, 64 spatial demarcation of London in, 52, 57–8 Habermas, Jürgen, 22, 23, 24, 26, 179 Haggard, H. Rider, 52, 72 Hampton, Mark, 97 Hardy, Thomas celebrity status of, 110–11, 114, 125 ‘The Darkling Thrush’, 98, 206 mass literacy and levelling down of culture, 114–15 materiality of the text and, 5 ‘Message to our Readers’ JOLW, 35, 116–18, 117 multiple instantiations of a text, 5, 10 as personification of literary mastery, JOLW, 35, 114–15, 116, 118, 119–21 The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved, 53 see also Tess of the D’Urbervilles Harris, Walter H., 75–6, 77 Henkin, David, 50 Herrnstein-Smith, Barbara, 6, 18–20, 21, 25, 125, 177–8 Heseltine, Philip, 150 hierarchy of written formats, 15–16 Hilliard, Christopher, 27, 30 Hinds, Lewis, 106–7 Hoggart, Richard, 96 Howarth, Peter, 142, 143 Hume, Fergus, 153 Illustrated London News (ILN) advertising, 48, 77 author-as-celebrity, 51, 52–3 Costermongers on the Farringdon Road, 58–9, 59 front page illustrations, 62, 63, 74, 76 geographical imagination of, 44, 45 as a guide to literature, 52

index

illustrators’ expert mobility and skill, 62, 76–7, 78–9 imperial adventure fiction, 73 intrepid journalistic mobility, 62, 63 Lipton’s Tea advertisement, 74, 77–9, 78 literature as news, 45, 52 London/literature/empire remit of, 44–6, 47, 48, 74, 95, 96 mapping of social spaces, 49–50, 52, 58–9 market understanding of literary production, 51, 53 middle-class readership, 45, 48–9, 73 Morocco illustration, 74–6, 76 news coverage, 47 ordering of the imperial world, 18, 43, 44–5, 67–72 ‘Our Illustrations’ page, 47, 50, 58–9, 74, 75–6, 77, 95 ‘Our Notebook’ (Payne), 51, 53, 55–6, 59–60, 62, 95 as print artefact, 48 spatial hierarchy of value, 46, 74, 76, 95 spatial organisation of, 49–50, 58–9, 73 Squire, J. C.’s discovery of, 15 and understandings of literary value, 51, 80 use of collage illustrations, 67–72, 68, 70–1 use of illustration, 46–7, 48, 58–9, 59, 60–4, 61, 63, 64, 74 see also ‘Greville Fane’ (James); ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ (Stevenson) illustrations in The Bookman, 155 collage illustrations, ILN, 67–72, 68, 70–1 in ‘Greville Fane’, 60, 61, 62–3, 64 in the Illustrated London News, 46–7, 48, 58–9, 59, 60–4, 61, 62, 63, 64, 74, 76 illustrators’ skills, ILN, 62, 76–7, 78–9 in London Mercury, 154–6, 156, 165 in ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, 84–6, 85 Imagism, 146, 154, 163, 202 Imagist poetry, 142, 143 imperial adventure fiction, 72–3 imperialism American cultural imperialism, 172–3, 174–5 geographical imagination of, 42–3 imperial categories mapped on literary values, 46 imperial textual commodities, 74–6, 78–9 ordering of the imperial world, ILN, 18, 43, 44–5, 67–72 value of empire, 61 see also colonialism Ingram, Herbert, 47 Jackson, Holbrook, 101 Jaffe, Aaron, 7, 124, 155 James, Henry artists tales, 51, 53 the craft of fiction, 28, 102

journalism/literature distinctions, 51, 54–5, 127 London suburban settings, 45 see also ‘Greville Fane’ (James) James F. Drake Inc., 169–70 Jameson, Fredric, 2 John O’London’s Weekly (JOLW) ‘Book World’ column, 104, 129 commercial success of, 102–3, 135 Conrad, paper’s identification with, 123, 124 Corona typewriter adverts, 35, 111–13, 112, 118 dialogic nature of, 121–2 engagement with modernism, 128–34 figure of John o’ London, 94–5, 101 H. G. Wells in, 35, 111, 113–14 Hardy as personification of literary mastery, 35, 114–15, 116, 118, 119–21 Hardy’s ‘Message to our Readers’, 11, 35, 116–18, 117 high/low culture divide and, 99, 127 imaginative travel through, 94–5 ‘Letters to Gog and Magog’, 97, 98, 115 lifestyle advertisements, 106 literary celebrity, use of, 104, 110–11, 124–5 literary value of, 34, 99, 125–6, 127–8, 134–6 Lord Riddle’s association with, 126–7 ‘The Making of a Novelist’ series, 108–9, 114 models of authorship, variety of, 34, 88, 99, 101–2, 106–10, 113 ‘Novels of 1925’ column, 120, 122 on poetry anthologies, 185, 186 poetry reviews, 128, 129 ‘Questions and Answers’ feature, 97 reading and writing lifestyle focus, 96, 99, 104, 106 serialisation of Victory, 123–4 spatial hierarchy of value, 95 spatial organisation of, 95 tension between reader/writers and literary value, 34, 99, 101–3, 106–10, 114 title image, 94 tutorial relationship with readers, 95, 96–9, 100, 102, 105, 107–8, 110, 114, 115–16, 120, 121–2, 123, 134, 135 ‘What I Hear’ column, 104, 120 see also Tess of the D’Urbervilles Jolly, Roslyn, 81, 83, 87 journalism and command of space, 58 intrepid journalistic mobility, 62, 63 journalism schools, Pl.1, 104–5, 111–12, 119 journalism/literature distinctions, 51, 54–5, 127 literary/journalistic language distinction, 108

257

modern print artefacts

journalism (cont.) News of the World, 126 Stevenson’s journalistic letters, 42 technical education for, 56 training in, correspondence schools, Pl.1, 104–5 Joyce, James ‘Chamber Music’, 224–5 Ulysses, editions of, 10, 23, 178 Kant, Immanuel, 6, 21, 22 Kendon, Frank, 130 Kipling, Rudyard, 111, 170, 186, 191–2 Korte, Barbara, 186 The Labour Woman, 186 Lawrence, D. H., 225 Leavis, F. R., 21, 30, 145 Leavis, Q. D., 28–9, 99, 135 Leick, Karen, 133 Lipton’s Tea (advert), 34, 53, 74, 77, 78, 79, 80, 84, 86 Litchfield, Frederick, 169 literary criticism critical crisis (Squire), 142–3 critical evaluation role of journals, 20–1, 26 and the expansion of popular writing, 28–9 lack of critical evaluation, 141 literary texts de-materialisation of, 8 Eliot’s ‘Miss Precocia Pondoeuf’ satire, 125 evaluation of, 18–19 fetishization of textual object, 9 lack of critical evaluation of, 141 literary value vs. exchange values, 3–4, 6, 53–4 mapping of imperial categories onto, 46 as middle-class artefacts, 6, 7 need for social/political contexts of, 187–8 as news, 45, 52 as solid objects, 8–9 and spheres of value, 32–3, 124–5, 128 literary value changing assumptions of, 20–1, 177–80 conflict with John O’London’s educational remit, 98–9 of Conrad, Joseph, 122–4 and imperial values, 46 of John O’London’s Weekly, 99, 125–6, 127–8, 134–6 labour of literary value creation, 54, 60–1 literary fads and social pressure, 142, 146–8 literary value vs. exchange values, 3–4, 6, 53–4 and models of authorship, JOLW, 34, 88, 99, 101–2, 106–10, 113 modernism, 178 and the new writers, 27–8 rhetoric of, London Mercury, 35, 149–50, 179

258

of Stevenson, Robert Louis, 65, 87–8 understandings of, ILN, 51, 80 universality of literary value, Squire, 145–6 see also Herrnstein-Smith, Barbara Little Review, 142 London Costermongers on the Farringdon Road, 58–9, 59 coverage in John O’London’s Weekly, 94 links with global periphery, 74, 78–9 London/literature/empire remit of ILN, 44–6, 47, 48, 74, 95, 96 spatial demarcation of, ‘Greville Fane’, 52, 57–8 suburban settings, Henry James, 45 London College of Authorship, 105 London Mercury adverts addressing aspiring writers, 157–8 adverts for book collectors, 36, 156–7, 159, 164, 169–70 anti-modernist rhetoric, 35–6, 136, 142–3 ‘Bibliographical News and Notes’, 158, 160, 163, 168, 172 book collecting focus, 36, 144, 158, 159, 160–1 ‘Book Production’ issue, Pl.3, Pl.4, 161, 165–6 ‘Book Production Notes’ column, 162, 163, 168 Calson & Co. adverts, 163–4 contrasted with The Bookman, 151, 153–4 cultivation of bibliophile public, 160–1 on Ethel M. Dell, 29–30, 150 illustrations in, 154–6, 156, 165 linguistic pleasure and book collecting, 169–70 literary celebrity in, 154–5 longevity of, 143 on Marie Corelli, 150 material value vs. exchange value of books, 167–9 materiality, object-awareness and printing synergies, 161–3 on popular fiction, 149–50 price inflation of rare book market, 172–3, 174–5 printing house advertisements, 161 quality materiality of, Pl.2, 36, 144–5, 150–1, 152, 163, 166–7 rare book collecting as conservation, 170–2 rejection of mass culture, 149–50 rhetoric of literary value, 35, 149–50, 179 sales of, 235–6 Scott-James’s editorship, 178 ‘Special Printing’ issue, 150, 161, 164–7 validation of the print artefact, 13, 167–8 valuation of the physical object, 143–5, 150 London School of Journalism, 104–5, 111–12, 119 Lynch, Bohun, 168–9

index

McEwan, John, 126 McGann, Jerome, 4, 9, 11–12, 13, 14, 16 McLean, Ruari, 213 Macmillan, Maurice, 126 Mais, S. P. B., 128 Mansfield, Katherine, 129 Mao, Douglas, 8, 16, 167 marketing multiple instantiations of a text, 4–5, 9 repackaging of The Chapbook, 4–5 see also advertising Masefield, John, 10, 104, 205, 206, 207, 209 Mason, J. H., 163 materiality of books, 158–60 commodification of, 4 and meaning-making, 5 object-awareness and printing synergies, 161–2 quality materiality of the London Mercury, Pl.2, 36, 144–5, 150–1, 152, 163, 166–7 of the text, 5, 6–7 see also textual materiality meaning-making function of objects and, 2–3 function of periodicals, 43–4 materiality and, 5 of the modern world by periodicals, 17–18 Menikoff, Barry, 64–5 Millgate, Michael, 120 Milne, James, 100, 104 miscellanies, 202 mobility imaginative mobility, 49, 67 intrepid journalistic mobility, 58, 62, 63 through imperial adventure fiction, 67, 72–3 modernism as applied to early twentieth century print culture, 233–5 co-option of multiple edition publishing, 9–10 Eliot-Pound modernism, 31, 124, 142, 143, 203 genre of, 233 and the image, 155, 163 John O’London’s Weekly engagement with, 128–34 literary value, 178 London Mercury’s anti-modernist rhetoric, 35–6, 136, 142–3 modernist conceptions of the literary author, 7–8 modernist group anthologies, 199, 201 modernist unreadable texts, 16 new Modernisms, 234–5 and the object, 8, 167 as resistance to mass markets, 15–16 specialist commodification of modernist literature, 10, 23–4 Squire’s anti-modernist editorials, 142–3 and textual materiality, 9–10, 12–14, 145

modernist form, 1–2, 3–4 Monro, Harold adjudication of poetic value, 200 alliance with Phoenix Library Series, 214–15 as an anthologist, 215–18 The Chapbook, 1, 4, 125, 190, 202–3 contemporary role of poetry, 199–201, 237 marketing savvy, 4–5, 9 permission fees (payment of), 191 permission fees (receipts), 186 physical forms of poetry, 5 Poetry and Drama, 21, 200 Poetry Bookshop, 129, 190, 199–200 poetry broadsides, 200, 201 Poetry Review (editor), 200 products of, 37 promotion of anthology form, 189–90 research for Twentieth Century Poetry, 215 value of materiality of texts, 227–8 see also Twentieth Century Poetry Morocco, 74–6, 76 Morris, William, 9 Morrisson, Mark, 22, 199, 200, 203 Mussell, James, 5, 17–18, 44, 50, 58 New Age, 101, 147 New Criticism, 7, 8 New Grub Street, 51 New Journalism, 47 New Statesman, 135, 146, 147 Newdigate, B. H., 162, 168 News of the World, 126 Nichol, Robert, 219, 226 Nicoll, William Robertson, 151 Nicolson, Harold, 131, 132 Norquay, Glenda, 87 objects book collecting as subject-object relationship, 177 exchange value of print artefacts, 4 fetishization of textual objects, 9 meaning-making function of, 2–3 and modernism, 8, 167 objectification of literary texts, 8–9 print artefacts, 2–20, 25–6 value-creation of, 25 O’Connor, T. P., 97–8, 100 Orage, A. R., 101 Owen, Wilfrid, 221 The Oxford Book of English Verse arrangement of, 196, 197, 217 contrasted with the Golden Treasury, 196 light ‘authorial’ hand, 188, 196–8 overview of, 37 permission fees for, 191–2 sales of, 187, 198, 199 textual materiality, Pl.5, 198–9 see also Quiller-Couch, Arthur

259

modern print artefacts

Palgrave, Francis as anthologist, 189, 190, 195–6, 197–8, 199, 201, 204, 208, 218 as educationalist, 194, 195 see also Golden Treasury Palmer, H. E., 148, 202 Payn, James, 51, 53, 55–6, 59–60, 62, 95 Pellow, J. D. C., 221–2, 225, 226, 227 periodicals bound collections of, 15, 47 as constructors of value, 26, 33–4 critical evaluation role of, 20–1, 26 discussions of popular writing, 29–30 as disposable objects, 14–15 within hierarchy of written formats, 15–16 mass consumption of, 43 material properties of, 5 meaning-making function of, 18, 43–4 mediating role of, 18 and modern working routines, 17 new literary periodicals, 141 non-controversial news of illustrated weeklies, 47–8 ordered form of and meaning-making, 17–18, 49–50, 58 suffrage periodicals, 106 see also individual periodicals Phoenix Library Series (Chatto & Windus) alliance with Harold Monro, 37, 190, 214–15 textual materialty, Pl.7, 207, 212–14, 216, 227 see also Twentieth Century Poetry poetry anthologies aura of exclusivity, 201 as authored works, 188, 190 contrasted to miscellanies, 202 formats, conventionalisation of, 36–7, 189, 192–3 Georgian Poetry 1918–19, 130, 185–6, 201, 202, 204 ideologies of, 188 impact on poetic field, 187 market demand for, 186, 187 modernist group anthologies, 199, 201 oversupply of, 36, 185–7, 201 A Pamphlet Against Anthologies, 186, 187 permission fees for, 186, 190–2 poets’ relationships with anthologies, 186–7, 201 Pound, Ezra in, 36, 189, 201 and social/political contexts of, 187–8 textual materiality of, 189 value creation function of, 26, 36 see also Golden Treasury; The Oxford Book of English Verse; Twentieth Century Poetry Poetry Review, Poetry Society, 200 poets permission fees for anthologies, 186, 190–2

260

relationship with anthologies, 186–7, 201 popular writing advertising for aspiring writers, 157–8 author/writer distinction, 31–2, 51, 53–4, 60–1 and cultural pluralism, 30–1 evaluation of, 28–9 Pound, Ezra The Catholic Anthology, 189, 201 Des Imagistes, 4, 189, 201 Eliot-Pound modernism, 31, 124, 142, 143, 203 ‘The Eyes’, 222 individual experimentation, 12 permission fees of, 192 poetry anthologies, 36, 189, 201 professionalism discourse, 31 self-education of poets, 28 textual materiality, 11–12 on TLS reviewers, 235 Premier School of Journalism, Pl.1, 104–5 Prentice, C. H. C., 212, 213, 214 Priestly, J. B., 16, 131, 136, 145, 153, 169, 170 print-culture ecosystem materiality and, 5, 46 value-creation as process, 6, 14, 25–6, 28–9, 233 printing ‘Book Production’ issue, London Mercury, Pl.3, Pl.4, 165–6 craft of, 161–2 deluxe editions, 4, 10, 159, 162, 169 diversification of print culture, 10, 11, 13, 20, 22 fine printing, 9–11 hand-produced texts, 9 market-focused materiality of books, 159–60 multiple instantiations of a text, 1, 4–5, 9–10 signed editions, 10, 11 ‘Special Printing’ issue, London Mercury, 150, 161, 164–7 typography, 162, 163–5, 166 public spheres, 22–3, 24, 26, 179, 200 Quiller-Couch, Arthur, 37, 188, 196–8, 205; see also The Oxford Book of English Verse Rainey, Lawrence, 9, 10, 23, 24, 133, 144, 145, 178–9 Raymond, Ernest, 108–10, 111, 114, 120, 134 Read, Herbert, 219, 220, 221, 226 reading public cultural guidance for new sectors of, 96–9, 108 desire for anthologies, 186

index

mass literacy and levelling down of culture, 98–9, 114–15 print artefacts, accessibility of, 232 readers as the new writers, 27–8, 31, 99 Richards, I. A., 145 Richardson, Dorothy, 128–9 Richter, David, 20 Riddell, George Allardice, Lord, 126–8 Riding, Laura, 12, 13, 186, 187, 194, 195 Rose, Jonathan, 97, 99

South Seas residency, 42–3, 45, 64–5, 87 see also ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ Strong, L. A. G., 130, 131 subjectivities and aesthetic experiences, 21–2 contrasted to objectivity, 8 of the literary author, 7–8 middle class and the aesthetic artefact, 6, 7 suffrage periodicals, 106 Symonds, R. W., 168

St John Adcock, Arthur, 151 Salmon, Richard, 118 Samoa devalued marginality of, 65 Stevenson’s residency in, 42–3, 45, 64–5, 66, 87 Scholes, Robert, 234 Scott-James, R. A., 145, 178 Scrutiny, 141 Shanks, Edward, 149–50, 185 Shorter, Clement, 47, 48, 86–7 Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century arrangement of, 204–5, 208–10 introduction to, 205–6 pastoral/anti-pastoralism of, 210–12 past/present mediating role of, 208–10 permission fees, 191 textual materiality, Pl.6, 190, 204, 206–8, 207 TLS review of, 206, 209, 210 see also Davies, W. H. Sinnema, Peter, 48 Sisam, Kenneth, 196, 198, 199 Sitwell, Sacheverell, 219, 223–5 Snaith, Stanley, 185 Spurr, David, 49, 67, 69, 72, 84 Squire, J. C. anti-modernist editorials, 35, 128, 142–3 conservation interests, 170–2, 175 ‘Editorial Notes’ columns, 142–3, 144, 146–7, 150, 151, 152, 154, 163, 165, 166, 171–2 editorship of New Statesman, 147, 148 Eliot, T. S. on, 128, 135, 148 on Ethel M. Dell, 29 The Grub Street Nights, 154, 173–5 JOLW’s stance on, 129 as the leader of a coterie (Squirearchy), 148 literary fads and social pressure, 142, 146–8 within literary intelligentsia, 148–9 love of literature and ILN, 15 on not-to-read editions, 16 post-London Mercury, 178 review of The Wasteland, 142 universality of literary value, 145–6 see also London Mercury Stevenson, Robert Louis A Footnote to History, 64, 65–6 as literary celebrity, 34, 87–8 literary value of, 65, 66, 87–8

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Hardy) as a classic, 120 fit with the JOLW readership, 115–16, 119 and Hardy’s ‘Message to our Readers’, 11, 35, 116–18, 117 juxtaposition with advertising, 118–19 readers’ reception of, 121 reprint of, 5 serialisation in JOLW, 5, 11, 20, 35, 115–16, 125–6 textual materiality Bornstein, George on, 11, 207 of the literary text, 8–9, 11–12 McGann, Jerome on, 11–12 and modernism, 9–10, 12–14, 145 The Oxford Book of English Verse, Pl.5, 198–9 Phoenix Library Series (Chatto & Windus), Pl.7, 212–14 of poetry anthologies, 189 Pound, Ezra, 11–12 Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, Pl.6, 190, 204, 206–8, 207 Twentieth Century Poetry, 206–7, 227–8 Yeats, W. B., 9, 11–12, 13 see also materiality Times Literary Supplement (TLS), 29, 97, 135, 151, 178, 189, 206, 208, 210 To-Day, 101 Tomlinson, H. M., 111, 113 T.P.’s Weekly, 97–8, 100–1, 113 Turner, W. J., 222–3 Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology by Harold Monro arrangement of, 190, 204–5, 215–18, 217 as authored text, 215–18 closing page, 226–7, 227 entropy, theme of, 221–2 imagination/reality theme, 223–4 introduction to, 215 Monro’s editorship of, 185–6, 203–4, 215 mortality, theme of, 218–19 permission fees, 214 rebirth, theme of, 219–21, 225–6 sales of, 215, 235 textual encounters, 222, 223 textual materiality, 37, 206–7, 227–8 see also Monro, Harold

261

modern print artefacts

‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’ (Stevenson) character of Wiltshire, 80–1 critique of imperial ideology, 83–4 in the Illustrated London News, 86–7 illustrations of, ILN, 84–6, 85 image of England, 82–3, 86 as imperial adventure fiction, 72 missionaries in, 80–1 native women in, 81–2, 84–6, 85 racial categorisations in, 80, 81, 82 value-creation of the colonies, 65–6 and cultural capital, 29–30 and interest/disinterest, 24–5 labour of literary value creation, 54, 60–1 literary vs. exchange values, 3–4, 6, 53–4 meaning-making and, 2–3 newspapers’ value-based allocations of space, 46, 50, 59, 74 and the periodicals’ ordered layout, 18 or popular writing, 28–9 as process, 25–6 and spheres of value, 32–3, 124–5, 128 Van Laar, Tim, 20, 31 Waller, Philip, 100 Walpole, Horace, 163 Walpole, Hugh, 149 criticism of Squire, J. C., 146 ‘The New Spirit in Literature’, 129, 131–3, 132 ‘Novels of 1925’ column, 120, 122 Walpole Society, 171 Webster, Mary Morison, 224 Wells, H. G. celebrity status of, 110–11, 125 Corona typewriter adverts, 35, 111–13, 112, 118 in John O’London’s Weekly (JOLW), 35, 94, 103, 111, 113–14, 116, 122, 123–5, 135 The Outline of History, 111, 113, 114 as self-taught, 35

262

Westminster Press, 161 Wexler, Joyce, 102, 107 Whitten, Wilfred as John o’London, 94, 96, 101, 119 Jonathan Wild on, 134 on the role of John O’London’s Weekly, 97, 98, 99, 110, 120, 134 separation of literary work from commerce, 106–8 on serialisation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, 115–16 Wild, Jonathan, 96, 122, 134 Wilde, Oscar, 48, 55 Williams, Iolo, 158, 168, 173, 183 Williams, Raymond, 2, 18, 31, 98, 233–4, 235, 236–7 Wolfe, Humbert, 130, 136, 203, 218–19, 234 women depictions of, 77–8, 78, 84–6, 85 Lipton’s Tea advertisement, 78 native women, ‘Uma, or the Beach of Falesá’, 81–2, 84–6, 85 Woolf, Virginia ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’, 22, 122 Mrs Dalloway, 120, 122 praise for, JOLW, 129–30, 133 on reader/writers, 27 The Waves, 130, 133 Yeats, W. B. editorship of The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 191–2, 193 individual experimentation, 12 and J. C. Squire, 148 ‘Lake Isle of Inisfree’, 187, 205, 211–12, 215, 216 on permission fees, 191 selection for poetry anthologies, 205 in Shorter Lyrics of the Twentieth Century, 209, 211 and textual materiality, 9, 11–12, 13 in Twentieth Century Poetry, 209, 218, 221 Yellow Book, 21, 48