• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by Mark Gaipa 13 years, 4 months ago

Periodicals in Literature: An Annotated List


Students of periodicals can find hard data about magazines in a host of reference works and indexes devoted to the medium. But where do you go to measure the cultural value of a periodical--the way it was regarded and talked about in the day, as a cultural artifact? One place to look is in literature itself*: magazines of all sorts are mentioned regularly in novels, stories, and other literary forms where they may play all sorts of roles--as plot devices, as markers of a character's background and identity, as metafictional moments when authors briefly reflect on their own medium (if the piece of literature happened to be published originally in a magazine).


This page is an attempt to survey the world of periodicals from this angle. In the space below, let's begin listing novels and other literary works that invoke magazines in some way. We think it would be useful to structure each entry the following way:

  • the author (listed alphabetically, by last name) and title of the literary work
  • the names of any magazine(s) mentioned in that work (or, if they're unnamed, a short description of the kind of magazines mentioned, if possible), and where in the work each mention appears
  • a quick account of the fictional situation in which the magazine makes an appearance in the work

If you like, you can also reflect on the possible significance of the mention--but that's keep that optional. If we succeed in building a sizable list, we'll consider indexing the entries additionally by the journals mentioned.


* The idea for this catalogue came from Eurie Dahn, College of Saint Rose. For more on this topic, see Eurie's posting, "Magazines in Literature," on the MagMod blog.

Capote, Truman.  In Cold Blood (1965). [contr. Eurie Dahn]

  • The American Journal of Psychiatry (Vintage 298): Capote provides excerpts from this journal.  
  • Doc Savage pulp magazines (Vintage 306): Reverend Post makes a connection between Perry and Doc Savage (who is described as a "fiction hero popular among adolescent readers of pulp magazines a generation ago." 
  • Good Housekeeping and McCall's (Vintage 254): Perry is described as being bored of the magazines that the sheriff's wife gives him while he is in a holding cell.
  • Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, Reader's Digest, and Together: Midmonth Magazine for Methodist Families (Vintage 30).
  • Sports magazines (Vintage 262): Hickock reads these magazines (and "paperback thrillers") as he waits in his cell.   


Chopin, Kate. "A Pair of Silk Stockings" (Vogue: Sept. 16, 1897). [contr. Adam McKible]

  • The protagonist of this short story, Mrs. Sommers, includes a magazine in her list of self-indulgent purchases. This seems like a concrete example of print culture just before the explosion of modern advertising and the production of inexpensive periodicals.


Faulkner, William. Light in August (1932). [contr. David Earle]

  • Joe Christmas reads a pulp magazine before murdering Miss Burden (in a scene that replicates the cover of the pulp).


Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925). [D. Earle]

  • There is a reference to Town Tattler, which was Town Topics, a society gossip mag started by Col. D'Alton Mann, who also started The Smart Set.

Hemingway, Ernest. To Have and Have Not (1937). [D. Earle]

  • One of the drunken vets asks Richard Gordon, the writer character, if he ever published in "Western Stories, or War Aces? I could read that War Aces every day."


Toomer, Jean. Cane (1923).  [E. Dahn]

  • Literary Digest (University Place Press 222): In the "Kabnis" section, Halsey talks about having read this magazine.   


Wright, Richard. Black Boy (1945). [D. Earle]

  • Wright confesses, "I read tattered, second hand copies of Flynn's Detective Weekly or the Argosy All-Story," and later he gets caught reading American Mercury at work as a dishwater.

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.