Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 1. The Importance of the American Magazine

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIX. Later Magazines

§ 1. The Importance of the American Magazine

IN an earlier volume of this history will be found a record of the beginnings of periodical literature in America, and some account of the many ambitious attempts made by magazine editors and publishers before the middle of the nineteenth century. Since 1850 individual mistakes and failures have been more numerous than before, but there have been a few successes, and magazines as a class have attained a position of great importance. In fact, it is hardly an overstatement to say that the rise of the magazine has been the most significant phenomenon in the development of American publishing. The reading of magazines has come to be far more common than the reading of books. Thousands of persons who would resent the imputation that they are lacking in culture read almost no books at all; and thousands more read only those which they obtain at a public library. No home, however, in which there is pretence of intellectual interest is without magazines, which are usually read by all members of the family. This gain in the prestige of the magazine is due in part to the desire of many readers to be strictly up–to–date, in part to clubbing rates and special offers which are presented with an assiduity that book publishers rarely equal, but chiefly to the better reason that the magazines offer the writings of the best authors, artistically printed and often admirably illustrated, far cheaper than such work can be purchased elsewhere.