ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Little Magazines in Bengal

The Voices of Creative Independence

Little magazines have played a vital role in cultivating literary taste, enabling counterculture movements and nurturing young writers and poets.


From the 20th century, little magazines in the United States, England, and India, among other countries, have played a vital role in the cultivation of literary and artistic taste as well as being the stage for significant literary and social movements. A little magazine is a periodical run with little capital and resources, driven by artistic expression rather than commercial gain. Although the Dial (1840) is recognised as the first little magazine, the trend became popular in the beginning of the 20th century with little magazines such as Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (1912), Little Review (1914), and the Egoist (1914).

Two factors set little magazines apart from other literary publications. First, they are not driven by commercial interest. Second, little magazines symbolise protest and change. However, lacking financial resources, little magazines run perennially short of funds, are often irregular, and most do not survive long. Their circulation rarely exceeds 1,000 copies. Historically, little magazine editors have been less bothered by concern for profits and have prioritised editorial independence. This independence enabled them to highlight issues and concerns generally not addressed by the mainstream media and, in the process, challenge the dominant narratives. In his article “The Little Magazines” (1942), Alan Swallow, who accomplished one of the earliest scholarly works on little magazines, mentions three fundamental functions of these magazines: “to provide a market for the ‘great’ writing of our time; to sponsor experiments, controversy, and new movements; and to give a hearing to unpopular ideas.” Little magazines also provided a much-needed platform for talented, budding writers, and poets, many of whom later became acclaimed literary personalities. American little magazines like the Double Dealer (1921–26) and the Fugitive (1922–25) printed some of the early work of famous writers such as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, poets like Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, apart from producing brilliant editors and literary figures.

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Updated On : 20th Mar, 2022
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