<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Though graphically manic, and visually wild (witness the sexy little devils surrounding another poem, “Any Old Thing,” attributed to Howardine de Pel and “refused by The Philistine, the Bookman, The Bachelor of Arts and the Boys of New York ”) Le Petit Journal remains conceptually tame, quite polite. The Philistine was a publication of The Society, edited by Elbert Hubbard, and produced in Aurora, Illinois, from 1895 until 1915. It had national circulation and adopted black letter-inspired type and art nouveau decorative styles of the Arts and Crafts design. No trace of the other titles in this list, but Burgess seems to have mostly relied on existing journals in these references. “Spring,” the final poem in the journal, though bordered by psychedelic cats and set in a meandering experimental non-linear typography, is a good example. Its verses read, “Oh venial Spring! lock Winter’s door / And walk the blooming fields once more, / Just like you often done before.” It finishes “Ah, life is sweet when Spring has Sprung,” and is signed by “Lulu Lamb.” The poem, it seems, has been rejected by The Lark , Babyland , and The Butcher’s Advocate (also a genuine reference). Babyland , identified in The Publishers Weekly , R.R. Bowker Company, November 8, 1890, as “ed. by the editors of ‘Wide Awake.’ Boston., D. Lothrop Co., [1890], c. 7-104, p. il.O.cl.$1; bds., 75 c.” The Butcher’s Advocate is identified as a trade publication with advertisements. Such work tweaks the amour-propre of Burgess’s contemporaries and peers, his patronesses and their circle, rather than questioning the ground on which such persons and their presumptions operate. The advertisement on its final outside cover shows a cycling skeleton on a bike whose tires are made of coins. “A catchy ad,” says the copy, “will turn a dollar quickly.” The Union Photo Engraving Company identified therein was most likely the place where Burgess had his inky drawings turned into plates for printing. Burgess saw commerce, as well as artistic and social fashion, as part and partner in his undertakings. The wreath of nude figures on the cover of Le Petit Journal , for instance, are labeled with identifying tags: Yachting, Dress Reform, Art, Literature, Counterpoint, and Vulgar Factions. This is the language of the Cliff House crowd, the Mark Hotel scene, and Nob Hill sets—as well as the Bohemian Club, an environment where wealthy businessmen and prominent civic leaders met to strategize and consolidate their power.

After all, Le Petit Journal was formed in the milieu of San Francisco Bohemianism, an atmosphere late and very much altered from its original scenes. The term Bohemian had been spread through the popular reception of Henri Murger’s 1851 Scènes de la Vie en Bohème . Larzer Ziff, The American 1890s: Life and Times of a Lost Generation (London: Chatto and Windus) and Albert Parry, Garrets and Pretenders, A History of Bohemianism in America (NY: Dover, 1960). Small artistic groups took on the identity in Europe and the United States, modeling themselves on Murger’s images of the Latin Quarter. In the 1850s, a group of artists in New York City gathered at Pfaff’s beerhall. Parry, op. cit. At its center were the luminaries Walt Whitman and the so-called Queen of Bohemia, Ada Clare. Similar scenes were enacted in Chicago, Boston, and other cities in the United States and Europe. The Bohemian vogue lasted well into the end of the nineteenth century, by which time it had become, as it was in San Francisco, a conventional posture rather than a cutting-edge stance. The appearance of George du Maurier’s Trilby in 1894 almost marks its demise, with its exaggerated depiction of an artistic set. George du Maurier, Trilby (London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1894). That novel had its own huge impact on the times, spawning imitators and Trilby fashions of all kinds in the decade just before cinema would launch an entirely new medium for celebrity stardom.

The coming of early twentieth-century modernism, and the break with the historicist sensibility and organic motifs that had characterized arts and crafts and then art nouveau, finally served to put the final bracket on an era in which “Bohemian” could be pronounced with any seriousness in relation to vital artistic activity. The term is apt, however, for Burgess’s self-conscious reprise of artistic posturing, and for the at once engaged and deliberately derivative works he created. For by associating himself with the term, he shows his alliance with the middle class who enjoyed being piqued by the almost-risqué—though they lived happily settled lives that conformed to convention. In one of Burgess’s reviews of a performing vaudeville family, he describes precisely such a contrast—the image of the cavorting theatrical troupe onstage transformed an hour later into a decorous papa and mama walking their two children back home in the most ordinary way. Their costumes are hung neatly at the theater, make-up has been removed, and hair ribbons and bonnets replace spangles and tights. That image seems quite appropriate for Burgess, steeped as he was in a more realistic relation of art to propriety than most who took their Trilby-esque Bohemian poses and imagined themselves living a life they would never have adopted, let alone invented. That complicit relation between bourgeois milieu and creative art is at the center of Burgess’s own work. That is the insight his critical play and parodies provide.

Le Petit Journal des Refusées is thus a paradoxical object—at once created in parodic imitation of contemporary journals, exposing their dependence on a social milieu for which they pretended to flaunt their disdain, and at the same time an utterly sui generis piece of artifice, without any regard for the good taste and decorum that governed many art nouveau publications. Burgess was neither aesthete nor dandy, neither a decadent nor a self-inflated self-promoter putting his talents on parade. His spoofing sensibility had accuracy without harsh bite, and his “art for fun’s sake” disposition was at quite a playful remove from the “art for art’s sake” stance of even the flamboyant Wilde. A healthy sense of good humor, rather than an antagonism towards his bourgeois condition, characterizes Burgess’s work. He knows that the very ladies whose rejected works he parodies are those whose patronage sustains his enterprises. He is not a radical avant-garde artist but rather a wit whose artistry upsets the seriousness of the avant-garde, showing its dependence on a relation that Clement Greenberg, writing in the 1930s in his famous “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” characterized as an “umbilical cord of gold.” Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” The Partisan Review , 6:5 (1939) 34-49. Burgess, with high spirit and play, reveals the complicity of editor and scene, publication and audience, literary expression with artistic milieu. These ideas would become more explicitly part of critical conversation when the theoretical formulations of social art history later made similar claims and arguments in rather a more pedantic mode.

But like any sleight of artistry, Burgess’s deft soufflé should not be asked to bear more weight than its airy gestures can sustain. Too ardent a critical reading of Le Petit Journal will only lessen its delight, which remains fresh and engaging in part because we still recognize its references and share in its jests. It winks and plays at the expense of the posturing Bohemians, the artists and their bourgeois set, but makes evident the deep connections that bind Burgess to his circle and circumstance.

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Le petit journal des refusées. OpenStax CNX. Jun 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10709/1.1
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Le petit journal des refusées' conversation and receive update notifications?