Monday, August 19, 2013
The New Age, August 7 1913
This issue of The New Age has some cool stuff in it. The anger over the attack on the South African miners continues. The colonies are on everyone's mind these days: India, the St. Gilbert Islands, Australia, but most of all South Africa.
That said, I'm not going to dwell on colonial issues--instead I want to examine the strong strain of ecological apocalyptic thinking in this issue, in two science fiction short stories. Then I'm going to move to cover a few less important things that are notable for the purposes of my research.
First, "The Wild Rabbit" by Mouche, on page 427 (a pseudonym, French for fly) : it is set in the not-to-distant future, as two young women go on holiday from London. They take the trains out to the country, notable for houses with yards and sparrows (the other birds are all gone, and all birds are gone from the city core). They are overcome with the desire to see the last living wild rabbit in England, and go to the national park to do so--I won't ruin the punch line here, but it's a pretty amazing ecological story for 1913. I think the war will squash ecological concerns when it turns up. "The Wild Rabbit" is in part a scathing satire of the "touristization" of nature, calling out Yellowstone by name as a sort of fraud.
Second, "Speculative Philosophy" by E. H. Davenport, who I cannot trace. It's much more heavy-handed than "The Wild Rabbit:" through eugenics, humanity has finally perfected itself, and determines to commit mass suicide. The protagonist reveals that it was all just an attempt to beat God. At the end, the world breathes a sigh of relief to be through with humanity. That ecological note again! Also: the speculative philosophy could refer to the young man's, or the story itself. Speculative fiction, almost by name, 1913.
Third, "Two Memories" by Beatrice Hastings. This is an autobiographical diptych, one which makes me suspect BH may be Mouche. The first is about finding a hidden and perfectly beautiful glen in Sussex. The second is about climbing Table Mountain over Cape Town, South Africa. It fits with the other stories because it ends by describing how the same spot is now being developed into crappy suburbs and a prison.
To more mundane issue-tracking:
"Journals Insurgent" is useful as showing "The New Age"'s self-image as a guerilla journal that refuses to be assimilated.
"Readers and Writers" contains a relatively mean review of John Gould Fletcher's latest book, Fire and Wine. As Fletcher was in outer orbit of the Imagists, I was surprised to read that he's still publishing heavy rhyming love poems.
Of course, my sympathy for Beatrice Hastings is always strained when she get to feminism. Last issue contained a letter that called her out for inconsistency in her series of editorials, "Feminism and Common Sense." This week's edition claims to respond to Morley' criticism, but instead explains that women should be happy with power in the domestic sphere and being pretty etc. I do not understand how she can write so much so well, while also declaring that she wouldn't study with a man, "no not for his immortality."
Last, there's a nice caricature of Madame Pavlova.