19th century newspapers and blogs
Stephen Shimanek is talking about creating a digital version of Alexandre Dumas’ journal Le Mousquetaire (work he’s doing with Sarah Mombert), and I’m struck by how much these early newspapers or journals might have had in common with blogs. Funny how many things seem related to blogs if you’re used to thinking about blogs… Anyway, this is a phenomenon I didn’t really know about, here’s a digital version of some of Le Mousquetaire (the link just leads to a description of the journal.)
Newspapers were very widely read in the 19th century, and they were collectively read and so reached many more people than actually bought copies of their own. They were often read aloud in groups, and it was even possible to rent newspapers by the half-hour from libraries. Because most newspapers were published collectively, with most articles being written anonymously, they never received the patina of “noble literature” given to noble works by lauded poets and authors, and there are few if any reprints or critical editions of these texts. Some literary figures published their own newspapers, and MallarmÈ’s La mode derniere is an example of a newspaper that actually has been reprinted, largely because of the famous author. Dumas’ Le Mousquetaire:
The top left of the page is the most important from the editor’s point of view – the editorial – but the bottom of the page, which is where the serial novels were printed, were the most read.