The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XIX. Later Magazines
§ 18. Recent Developments
Most of the magazines named above are still issued though in most instances with change of format, and at an increased price; but they no longer exert so great an influence. It is too early to comment with certainty on their significance; yet they cannot be ignored in a study of nineteenth century literature, even if they reached their culmination just after 1900. Indeed, it may appear that many of the literary tendencies that developed during the nineteenth century were concentrated and delivered to the twentieth century through this peculiar development of periodical literature. If irresistible forces are making toward the democratization of literature, then the rise of these magazines marks an important step in the movement. They brought writers who were unquestionably the best of their time to a great number of readers who might not otherwise have known them. On the other hand, they brought into magazine writing some of the qualities that had been developed by the modern journalist. Bad as the muck-raking articles were in content and temper, they showed forth methods of popular exposition that later essayists, even the most conservative, are now adopting. Nor have the older magazines escaped the influence of their younger rivals. The Atlantic Monthly, long the exponent of the most reserved and bookish tradition, has for its present editor a man who received his training with Frank Leslie’s Monthly, The American Magazine, and McClure’s; and while old-fashioned readers may now and then regret the resulting change of tone, it would be rash to say that the change was all for the worse, or to feel that the outlook for periodical literature today was not as bright as it has been at any period of our national life.