Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 February 2020
The vibrant periodical culture of the nineteenth century was significantly formed by writers and publishers from Ireland and Scotland. These journalists were often athwart what we now regard as canonical Romantic and Victorian writing, and in their work crafted a satiric, parodic counterpoint to new valorisations of poetic insight, imaginative originality and aesthetic disinterestedness. The work of William Maginn and Francis Sylvester Mahony demonstrates the transnational, polyglossic and multifaceted authorial games that periodical culture enabled. Whether remembered as proto-postmodern critics of poetic afflatus, or embittered hacks squandering their potential for a pay cheque, periodical writers created a literature teetering between brilliant comedy and tedious sniping. Undermining ideas of authenticity and authorial originality, periodical literature brought to the fore tensions inherent in nineteenth-century celebrations of national culture and aesthetic idealism.