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For many years young writers experimenting with forms and aesthetics in the early decades of this century, small journals known collectively as “little” magazines were the key to recognition. Joyce, Stein, Eliot, Pound, Hemingway, and scores of other iconoclastic writers now considered central to modernism received little encouragement from the established publishers. It was the avant-garde magazines, many of them headed by women, that fostered new talent and found a readership for it. Jayne Marek examines the work of seven women editors—Harriet Monroe, Alice Corbin Henderson, Margaret Anderson, Jane Heap, H.D., Bryher (Winifred Ellerman), and Marianne Moore—whose varied activities, often behind the scenes and in collaboration with other women, contributed substantially to the development of modernist literature. Through such publications as Poetry , The Little Review , The Dial , and Close Up , these women had a profound influence that has been largely overlooked by literary historians. Marek devotes a chapter as well to the interactions of these editors with Ezra Pound, who depended upon but also derided their literary tastes and accomplishments. Pound’s opinions have had lasting influence in shaping critical responses to women editors of the early twentieth century. In the current reevaluation of modernism, this important book, long overdue, offers an indispensable introduction to the formative influence of women editors, both individually and in their collaborative efforts.
Jayne Marek is associate professor of English at Franklin College.
"A well-researched, fully documented revisionist study. The study does impressive double duty in its recovery of archival material and the construction of 'Conversation' as a paradigm for examining women's editorial activity in the modernist period."—American Literature
"The first of its kind. An invaluable contribution."—Annotated Bibliography for English Studies
"Marek singles out the contributions of a fascinating contingent of literary figures."—Booklist
"Marek's focus is unique, and she includes a significant amount of previously unpublished material."—Choice
"An extremely interesting and informative history of seven modernist women editors."—English Literature in Transition
"A serious book and enjoyable reading. Only Marek's illuminating study has proved that women's contribution as editors of literary magazines of Anglo-American modernism was overwhelming. The whole book speaks eloquently and convincingly: women editors were catalysts and shapers of literary modernism."—Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies
"The new archival research here should prove useful for future scholarship."—Journal of American History
"An important study. . . . The overall evidence that women editors played an important role in promoting critical dialog, new ideas, and new literature cannot be denied."—Library Journal
"Marek's book renders visible through its overview the female networks and underpinnings of modernism; in that respect it is invaluable."—Media History
"A useful, highly readable guide to the achievements of the women under examination."—Modernism
"An informed and nuanced study of women catalyzing modernism by their work as editors. A serious addition to the new narratives of modernism, making a notable contribution to an evolving feminist scholarship."—Rachel Blau DuPlessis
"For readers interested not only in women's studies, but also publishing history and modern literature."—Small Press Book Review
"Marek constructs a powerful, alternative account of seven women who, in primary ways, shaped the aesthetics of modernism and the modernist canon. She brings them alive—not as personalities or psyches, but as critical intelligences who had independent views about literature and used their magazines to express and test them."—South Atlantic Review
"Sticks a further and very substantial puncture in the rapidly deflating balloon of male modernist supremacy. . . A thoughtful and scrupulously researched study."—The Review of English Studies
"Offers detailed, carefully-documented, and absorbing accounts of behind-the-scenes dealings both with texts and their authors."—Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
"Make[s] a very effective case both for the shaping influence of these women and for the continued study of the little magazine as a forcefield of literary modernism."—Yearbook of English Studies
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Modernism, Women editors, Little magazines, Publishing, Avant-garde
Literature in English, North America
Marek, Jayne, "Women Editing Modernism: "Little" Magazines and Literary History" (1995). Literature in English, North America. 13.