Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
a magazine; and who shall blame him if he goes on the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune.  When he starts in he not infrequently begins by entrusting his magazine to some young man with real editorial ability and ambition to make a really good thing.  This young man gathers about him a group of kindred spirits, and the result is that after the publication of the second number Mr. Snooks decides to edit the magazine himself, with the aid of a secretary and a few typewriters.  His bright young men hadn’t understood “what the public wants” at all.  They were too high-toned, too “literary.”  What the public wants is short stories and pictures of actresses; and the short stories, like the actresses, must be no better than they should be.  Even short stories when they are masterpieces are not “what the public wants.”  So the bright young men go into outer darkness, sadly looking for new jobs, and with its third number Snooks’s Monthly has fallen into line with the indistinguishable ruck of monthly magazines, only indeed distinguishable one from the other by the euphonious names of their proprietors.

Now, a proprietor’s right to have his property managed according to his own ideas needs no emphasizing.  The sad thing is that such proprietors should get hold of such property.  It all comes, of course, of the modern vulgarization of wealth.  Time was when even mere wealth was aristocratic, and its possession, more or less implied in its possessors the possession, too, of refinement and culture.  The rich men of the past knew enough to encourage and support the finer arts of life, and were interested in maintaining high standards of public taste and feeling.  Thus they were capable of sparing some of their wealth for investment in objects which brought them a finer kind of reward than the financial.  Among other things, they understood and respected the dignity of literature, and would not have expected an editor to run a literary venture in the interests of the illiterate.  The further degradation of the public taste was not then the avowed object of popular magazines.  Indeed—­strange as it sounds nowadays—­it was rather the education than the degradation of the public taste at which the editor aimed, and in that aim he found the support of intelligent proprietors.

Today, however, all this is changed.  Wealth has become democratic, and it is only here and there, in its traditional possessors, that it retains its traditional aristocracy of taste.  As the commonest man can be a multi-millionaire, so the commonest man can own a magazine, and have it edited in the commonest fashion for the common good.

As a result, the editor’s occupation, in the true sense, will soon be gone.  There is, need one say, no lack today of men with real editorial individuality—­but editorial individuality is the last thing the capitalist proprietors want.  It is just that they are determined to stamp out.  Therefore, your real editor must either swallow his pride and submit to ignorant dictation, or make way for the little band of automatic sorters of manuscript, which, as nine tailors make a man, nowadays constitute a sort of composite editor under the direction of the proprietor.

Project Gutenberg
Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook