There are few barriers for authors who possess these [lightness of touch and generally in humor] in addition to genuine literary merit. Nor does the average periodical aim at mere entertainment. It must interest the reader, but it may also benefit him. It may even, to some extent, improve his taste. And there are gradations of taste by which the callow reader may ascend from one periodical to another. Some editors are men of unquestioned culture; and they are willing to experiment somewhat with specimens of what promises to be a new order of literature.I'd love to make you guess when this was written -- but you'd cheat & Google it. *wink* Plus, I'm too excited by it not to share it right away.
More than half of our successful American editors have been innocent of a college degree; but this can hardly be said to be in every case a misfortune, since it would be difficult to show that a college education is indispensable to either authorship or editorship. One of the most intellectual of English poets, Browning, obtained his culture chiefly outside a university; and, among our Americans, Whittier, Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Whitman and O. Henry owe something to their sturdy individuality to an escape from the conventionalizing influence of the college. They were not men cut out on a pattern; and in literature this is of the highest importance. Magazines generally encourage individuality--even though they frown upon too much boldness. Within reasonable limits, therefore, periodicals may be said to have fostered the growth of permanent literature.
It's an excerpt from "Periodicals and Permanent Literature" from the North American Review, December 1920, by Harry T. Baker. Does that surprise you at all?
(There's a comment section there below even!)
The entire article has been painstakingly typed onto the internets by my friend Cliff Aliperti, who says, "'Periodicals and Permanent Literature' struck me as an article extolling the virtues of magazine collecting in an age long before they were seriously collected. Published in one helping by the North American Review, I've split it into 8 serialized parts for the VintageMeld, each of which I hope both takes you back in time and presents you with a desire to hunt down some of the old issues for yourself."
The Eight Parts:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: 18th Century Pioneers
Part 3: Lamb and Hazlitt
Part 4: Matthew Arnold
Part 5: Thackaray
Part 6: Kipling
Part 7: No Distinction in Quality Between Books and the Best Periodicals
Part 8: Conclusion