“Scrappy and Unselective”: Rising Wartime Paper Costs and the Little Review
- American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism
- The Ohio State University Press
- Volume 26, Number 2, 2016
- pp. 208-221
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During World War I, editors of modernist little magazines frequently commented on rising paper costs, yet few studies have evaluated how paper influenced the production, reception, and development of literary modernism. This essay explores several trade journals to recover how the American and British paper industries created unique material and economic conditions. The relatively lower production costs in America partly explains Ezra Pound’s decision to partner with Margaret Anderson and what he considered her “scrappy and unselective” thirty-two-page “rag,” the Little Review. Patronage enabled Pound to help transform the Little Review from a local and politically radical magazine into one that delivered coterie modernism to highbrow, cosmopolitan readers. Although the magazine was produced in New York, the editorial staff alienated its remaining subscribers and expanded circulation abroad thanks to Pound’s suggested material improvements and his transnational distribution list. Photographs of archival issues show the contrast between poor-quality paper used in most of its issues and the expensive material used to produce a deluxe edition that would have stood out in a European print market and appealed to a new type of readership.