“Letterpress and Picture in the Literary Periodicals of the 1890s,” by Linda Dowling

Wikis > "Letterpress and Picture in the Literary Periodicals of the 1890s," by Linda Dowling

Dowling, Linda. “Letterpress and Picture in the Literary Periodicals of the 1890s.” The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 16, 1986, p. 117., doi:10.2307/3507769.

Linda Dowling explores the importance of the relationship between image and text, or art and literature, in periodicals. The Yellow Book is especially important here because it was ambitious in its typography and achieved a lot of commercial success and recognition. The relationship of pictures to text expresses a double struggle for autonomy: the resistance of graphic artists to being subordinated as mere illustrators, and the larger resistance of both graphic and literary artists to the incursion of commerce. Aubrey Beardsley’s role was to support the effort to display the independence of artwork from prose and poetry, but he also at times did represent accompanying texts pictorially. Beardsley’s designs occupy a middle ground between art and commerce, often representing the compromising of beauty by commerce. The expanded white space of margins and leadings in 1890s periodicals represents, in part, an audience of the democratic masses. The Yellow Book had to become an aggressively-managed advertisement for itself to avoid having non-literary advertisements in the magazine and alienating its non-literary readers. This article will be useful in identifying the particular eccentricities and editorial decisions of The Yellow Book, and in analyzing the images “Portrait of Mme Réjane” and the front cover of volume 2.