Modernist Journals Project.

The Modernist Journals Project “digitizes English-language literary magazines from the 1890s to the 1920s. We also offer essays and other supporting materials from the period.” From the About page:

We end at 1922 for two reasons: first, that year has until recently been the public domain cutoff in the United States; second, most scholars consider modernism to be fully fledged in 1922 with the publication of Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. We believe the materials in the MJP will show how essential magazines were to the rise and maturation of modernism.

Via this MeFi post, where you will find links to some of the more important journals, with descriptions.

This is a Good Thing.


  1. On modernism, I recommend Weir’s “Decadence and the Making of Modernism”. For me it gave me a way of understanding a large number of pre-modernist authors who I knew from secondary literature had once been thought important, but who no one seemed to be reading any more, e.g. Symons,. .Beerbohm, ,Dowson, Richard le Gallienne, Arthur Machen, Swinburne, George Moore, Léon Bloy, Remy de Gourmont, Joris-Karl Huysmans . Catulle Mendès, Octave Mirbeau, Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam (list cribbed from Wiki).

    The prosecution of Wilde put the fear in a lot of them, and the two world wars made their detached aestheticism seem inappropriate and they were erased.

    At the link is my piece treating F Scott Fitzgerald’s widely scorned beut best-selling first novel “This Side of Paradise” as post-decadent,

  2. There is a very long (and negative) review of Decadence and the Making of Modernism at Goodreads.

  3. Eh, anyone who says “Weir clearly overemphasizes the canonical importance of the high modern writers” is coming from a very different place than me.

  4. Weir’s book is of course archaic, and the progress of literary studies has left him in the dust, but I feel that the book stiil has an antiquarian interest. And what could he have been thinking when he essentialistically called decadence “oppositional” instead of “perverse”? Weir’s sin was probably a failure or refusal to see decadence through the lens of queer theory.

    I don’t see that he made a villain out of Hecht. He led me to read several of Hecht’s books, and to think about the influence of European decadence on American journalism and film. The urban vignettes in Hecht’s “1001 Afternoons in Chicago” founded a genre (Jimmy Breslin, Mike Royko et al) and once I knew that Hecht was a decadent (even though he was from Wisconsin, but then so was Lorine Niedecker) it seemed obvious that he had read Baudelaire’s “Paris Spleen”. Hecht was at the same time a high literary decadent, a trashy opportunist (he thought films were crap), and a good old boy raconteur, quite a unique mix. Transgressive decadents presumably had less resistance to trash, like the Warhol crowd– as I remember from the book, Werfel ended up writing trash too (“The Song of Bernadette”). At the same time, Hecht kept reminding himself that he was a serious author and not just a Hollywood vulgarian — for him the decadent authors stood in for Serious Literature, and film was vernacular while decadent novels were Latin.

    Hecht was the final scriptwriter for “Gone With the Wind” but never read the book. He just took what he wanted from the book, based on his friends’ summaries, and put together his own story. (And a good thing too).

    In Huysman’s “A Rebours”, des Esseintes’ exquisite taste is shown by the exotic liqueurs in his cabinet. I checked and all but one or two of the ten or fifteen liqueurs he showed off to his friend are available at the liquor store down the street. So the decadents invented the consumer economy and the Playboy lifestyle too.

  5. I have been aware of this site for a while and if you’d asked me how I initially became aware of it I would have guessed probably a mention on languagehat, but apparently not?

  6. I could well have mentioned it somewhere and forgotten all about it!

  7. Stu Clayton says

    Werfel ended up writing trash too (“The Song of Bernadette”)

    In German at least, it’s no worse than having to share a compartment with a well-spoken drag queen in a cross-country train. One is sometimes in a mood receptive to this kind of thing. I wouldn’t read it again, though.

  8. David Eddyshaw says

    I once had to share a train compartment (in Germany) with a nun and a professor of philosophy. It sounds very similar.

  9. Are you quite sure the nun wasn’t a well-spoken drag queen?

  10. David Eddyshaw says

    Not any more …

  11. John Emerson says

    My mother’s lifelong best friend was a nun with eleven children. Fact.

  12. David Eddyshaw says

    Eleven! Truly a superior mother.

  13. J.W. Brewer:
    > I have been aware of this site for a while and if you’d asked me how I initially became aware of it I would have guessed probably a mention on languagehat, but apparently not?

    I’m pretty sure I first came about it from a link at a culinary blog, maybe one hosted at Serious Eats?

  14. without having yet had a chance to follow these links down their various rabbitholes:

    i think it’s hard to overestimate how deep the Decadent strain of modernism runs in 20th (& 21st) century u.s. culture! in some ways, all the deeper for being so thoroughly written out of the usual narratives, since it means it doesn’t get directly attacked, and isn’t restrained by the pose of detachment (which wasn’t a thing for wilde, among others, in any case).

    for the post-WWI generation, there’s an obvious list starting with carl van vechten (as a novelist, critic, photographer, & social engineer), bruce nugent (and others in the Fire!!! circle), george herriman (krazy kat is the very model of a Decadent hero/ine), and so on, but it’s really everywhere once you start thinking about it. for the post-WWII generation, i could make a pretty strong case for the capital-D Decadence of poets in practically every named “school”: frank o’hara, bob kaufman, essex hemphill, diane di prima, james merrill, even marilyn hacker (at least in Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons), to name a few off the top of my head.

    (i think this is true in the u.s. beyond english, too – of the earlier generation, in yiddish: celia dropkin, anna margolin, yankev glatshteyn, and more)

  15. I missed almost all of your references beside Marilyn Hacker, being not American; I am sorry, but I would be delighted to explore them in the future. Thank you. This gives me more to explore, now.

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