Literary Magazines and British Romanticism

Literary Magazines and British Romanticism

Literary Magazines and British Romanticism

Literary Magazines and British Romanticism

Synopsis

In this study, Mark Parker argues that magazines such as the London Magazine and Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine offered an innovative and collaborative space for writers and their work--indeed, magazines became one of the preeminent literary forms of the 1820s and 1830s. Examining the dynamic relationship between literature and culture that evolved within this context, Literary Magazines and British Romanticism claims that writing in such a setting enters into a variety of alliances with other contributions and with ongoing institutional concerns that give subtle inflection to its meaning.

Excerpt

This book seeks to do three things: to demonstrate that literary magazines should be an object of study in their own right, to argue that they are the preeminent literary form of the 1820s and 1830s in Britain, and to explore the ways in which literary magazines begin to frame a discussion of Romanticism. To do so, I have taken five instances from the four most prominent magazines of the time: the London Magazine from 1820 to 1821, the New Monthly from 1821 to 1825, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine from 1822 to 1825, and Fraser's Magazine from 1833 to 1834. the first two of these instances are more traditionally author-centered, treating Charles Lamb's Elia essays and William Hazlitt's Table-Talk essays in the London. the third comes from the pages of Blackwood's, whose “Noctes Ambrosianae” constitutes one of the great experiments within the form of the magazine. the fourth takes up the New Monthly, perhaps the most consciously and purposefully homogeneous of the great magazines. the final instance, the run of Fraser's containing Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, signals the limit to this period of intense creativity in magazine production and writing. in most considerations of this literature, the essay or poem is to the magazine as figure is to ground in the plastic arts; it is my hope that by dissolving the figures of Elia and the author of Table-Talk into the ground of Scott's London, by examining the shifting relation of figure to ground in the New Monthly and the playful reversals of such notions in “Noctes, ” and by observing the emergence of Carlyle's Sartor from the ground of magazine writing generally, we can begin to appreciate the importance of the magazine in the literary history of the period we have come to call Romantic.

Such an analysis requires the development of two key terms, context and politics. Context is the more difficult term, as it can mean the immediate environment of the other contributions in a given number of a magazine, the tenor or feel of a particular magazine, magazines and periodical literature more generally, or the wider social world within which . . .

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