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MARK PARKER Repurposing and the Literary Magazine W ILLIAM MAGINN, WRITING AS ENSIGN O’DOHERTY IN ONE OF THE FINEST of the Nodes Ambrosianae, offers this assessment of the success of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine: People have learnt the great lesson, that Reviews, and indeed all peri­ odicals, merely qua such, are nothing. They take in his book not as a Review, to pick up opinions ofnew books from it, nor as a periodical, to read themselves asleep upon, but as a classical work, which happens to be continued from month to month.1 The implication here—that literary magazines such as Blackwood’s should be objects of study in their own right, and that they constitute something of a genre in themselves—is a suggestive one.2 In this essay I would like to extend this argument by examining the relation between literary magazines and the literary work they consider. More specifically I will take up the question of how such magazines refashion the novel, poetry, drama, and the essay.3 Put another way, I argue that Blackwood’s continual (and admittedly selfserving ) assertions of primacy in the literary world are worth serious con­ sideration, and that more neutral and conventional claims about the rela­ tion of the magazine to literature—such as those articulated (but, as we I. Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 12 Quly 1822): 106; hereafter BEM. 2. See my Literary Magazines and British Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) for a discussion of this methodological move. 3. The study of Romantic periodicals has grown rapidly since Jon Klancher published his 1987 study of the reading audiences formed by magazines. His approach—largely classificatory—has been extended by studies that examine the rhetoric ofthe magazine. Mark Schoenfield has asked us to consider the play of voices within magazines; Kim Wheatley taught us to parse the politics ofsuch magazines, whether “paranoid” or gothic, closely; Pe­ ter Murphy urged us to reflect on the intense self-consciousness implied by the proliferation ofmagazine personae. To draw a loose analogy from the sciences, there is a recognizable and sturdy “standard model” for the study of magazines, and more recent books (by David Hig­ gins, Karen Fang, Schoenfield, Simon Hull, Richard Cronin, and David Stewart) have de­ veloped this model in ways both useful and edifying. SiR, 56 (Winter 2017) 479 480 MARK PARKER shall see, not always followed) in the London Magazine by its editor John Scott—are inadequate. Scott’s careful insistence on tracing in his magazine what he calls, quoting Hamlet, the “form and pressure” of the time does not do justice to the force and influence of literary magazines on literary production.4 In fact, the overstatement characteristic of Blackwood’s points to a deeper truth: that the relation between the magazine and other literary forms is dialectical, not simply mimetic. Magazines like Blackwood’s, to bor­ row a phrase from media studies, remediate material from these genres.5 In their cogent account of new media, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin define remediation as “the representation of one medium in an­ other.”6 Although their focus is on the relation of digital media to earlier forms, they note their debt to the intense interest of literary critics in the refashioning of material within literature—to what we might now term “old-fashioned” studies of influence. In adapting their terminology and analysis to the borderline case of literature and the literary magazine, we can recognize some of our “rejected thoughts” returning to us with the “alienated majesty” that Emerson speaks ofin “Self-Reliance.” For in con­ sidering periodicals as a medium distinct from novels or collections of poems, we need only consider their differing cultural, social, and economic relationships, and especially the relations they cultivate with their audience. As Bolter and Grusin put it: “A medium is that which remediates. It is that which appropriates the techniques, forms and social significance of other media and attempts to rival them or refashion them in the name of the real”—the “real” here being the rapidly growing middle-class reading pub­ lic ofthe first quarter ofthe nineteenth century in Britain and the concom­ itant expansion of the market for books...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-118X
Print ISSN
0039-3762
Pages
pp. 479-497
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-06
Open Access
No
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