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Popular Modernism: Little Magazines and the American Daily Press

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


This essay looks at the American popular reception of modernist little magazines and of writers who were regularly published there, including James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. In the 1920s, book reviewers, syndicated daily book columnists who reached millions, and celebrity columnists took notice of authors or books that were considered news. Experimental modernist writing was frequently discussed, even when it had appeared in obscure little magazines. Even editorials in major newspapers debated literary trends. This national conversation about modernist writing has been largely ignored by critics, although it dramatically affected the canonization of writers in this period. Examining the popular understanding of modernism rather than the ways modernists understood popular culture reveals that there was an intimate exchange between literary modernism and mainstream culture and that modernist writers and texts were better known and, indeed, more popular than has been previously acknowledged.

Research Article
Copyright © 2008 by The Modern Language Association of America

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