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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.
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