The early years of the twentieth century saw a plethora of literary and cultural magazines, or ‘little reviews’ published in Europe and America. Some were well established and regarded, like T.S. Eliot’s The Criterion which ran for more than twenty years or the Chicago based Little Review credited with first publishing extracts from Joyce’s Ulysses, while many others were more short lived, often publishing for just a few months or years and reaching only a small community of readers. However, even the smallest and least remembered of the little magazines was part of a collective effort on the part of intellectually minded people the world over to connect with each other, to dialogue in print and to communicate their ideas and art to their readers. All this was happening at a time when western society was in flux – technology, industry, the growth of cities and war all conspired to change the nature of modern life for good.
The modernist movement was the artistic response to the challenges of the new century. It was also clear though, that the ways in which intellectuals and artists communicated with the public was changing; while technology made it possible to reach bigger numbers through newspapers, books and magazines, the sense of connection between readers and public was diminishing. The little reviews made a valiant attempt to keep an older kind of intellectual exchange alive in this new climate, creating networks of readers and writers across magazines and even national boundaries. Many editors were especially concerned with fostering links across the continent, with Italian intellectuals talking excitedly of the ‘Europeismo’ of their projects. It was also in these decades that some of Ireland’s best writers went abroad, tapping into the intellectual networks of the little reviews in London, Paris, Vienna and Trieste.
Fast forward almost a century later and technology is changing the way we communicate once again. There are not too many print based little magazines left, but the blogosphere offers a chance to recreate the kind of exchange of ideas that the reviews fostered among their readers and writers. This Irish based ‘little review’ – which doesn’t aim to be anything more that its title suggests – aims to provide a space for all those interested in culture, defined in its broadest sense, to contribute their ideas. In the spirit of the original magazines, this magazine will see Ireland as part of a wider European cultural stage, and the primary interest of the ‘little review’ will be in themes and subjects that uncover Ireland’s connections with Europe and the wider world.
As the Italian antifascist intellectual Piero Gobetti, founder of three cultural magazines which he relentlessly used to attempt to educate Italians against the evils of fascism, wrote in 1924, ‘We are looking not for readers, but for collaborators’. Little magazines are about dialogue between readers and writers, and about readers becoming writers and writers being readers too. Don’t just read the articles, please comment, and if you have an idea, contribute a piece!