WHAT LITTLE MAGAZINES SHOULD BE

The London Lion – Opinion Pages- [April 26, 1897]
Ms. Jane Ruskin

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.05.43 AMhe 1890s will soon come to a close, and its time for a drastic rethinking of our printed publications. I believe our modern “little magazines” have popularized immorality, reform, and crude experimentation.

In theory, these little magazines have made a great stand against the cumbersome heterodoxy of London’s more popular publications; they supposedly offer alternatives

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to the ephemeral “view from a train” creation and distribution of art. Yet, they have managed to make a mockery of both literary and artistic traditions.

 Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.07.42 AMditors of The Yellow Book,  Mr. Henry Harland and Mr. Aubrey Beardsley cleverly separated text and illustrations, but it soon became clear to me they were more focused on Decadence than merit. Beardsley’s bumblebee-coloured covers flamboyantly attracted a certain crowd, while inside, his black and white obscenities corrupted the literature that followed.

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 My niece, an artist who likes to call herself a “New Woman,” has collected all thirteen volumes for her shelf. At her last dinner party, she passed around some volumes, and eagerly showed the guests some particularly provocative pieces. While Laurence Housman emulates respectable Pre-Raphaelite abilities, his content often signals inappropriate Wildean sensibilities.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.22.40 AMo better is The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal. Although I admired its emphasis on nature, the overwhelming abundance of what its table of contents deems “Decorations” distracted me from the prose.  A strange mix of medieval-looking Celtic swirls and Japonese figures made me wonder: were John Duncan and his colleagues unaware of the journal’s vision of the Scots Renascence?

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Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.09.13 AMinally, Le Petit Journal des Refusées. I could have gladly never set eyes on this experimental rubbish if not for my cousin who forgot it on our parlour table when visiting from San Francisco. Unintelligible and grotesque – skeletons line both sides of the cover – I’m not surprised these articles were initially refused, as they are now endorsed by an eccentric “Rédacteur-en-Chef”.  Why, the only thing legible in Lulu Lamb’s poem ‘Spring” is

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her signature, and even that is overshadowed by the cats meandering around the page. More atrocious than avant-garde, I was glad to hear this magazine remained at only one volume.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.21.10 AMersonally, I wonder when this decade will finally see a wholesome, aesthetically pleasing magazine available for learned readers. Modernity calls for change, but perhaps we should look back at the pure ideologies and printing techniques of our predecessors before moving forward.

 

 

 


*The London Lion and its affiliates assume no liability for any inaccurate, delayed or incomplete information, nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon. The opinions expressed are not those of our editors, staff, or firm.
**The editor of The London Lion Online (Colleen McDonell) has digitally remediated the author’s article into exactly what Ms. Ruskin objected to in little magazines.Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.50.21 PM