by Wood, John
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This is the last full Volume of the New Age under Orage's editorship. It is now called “A Weekly Review of Politics, Literature, and Art”, having re-instated “Politics” and “Literature” for “Religion” and “Science” in its title in the penultimate number of the previous Volume. In comparison with the earlier Volumes, the Journal appears more concentrated and less eclectic. The first nine Numbers run to twelve pages each. The last seventeen fluctuate between ten to fifteen pages. This is explained by a notice in Number 10, at the start of January 1922, which states that
On the world stage the Great War continued to cast a long shadow.
- The Washington Conference on the Limitation of Naval Armaments was held in Washington DC from 12 November 1921 to 6 February 1922 . The US considered that naval armaments constituted the greatest threat to world peace. The purpose of the Conference was to negotiate reciprocal reductions in naval tonnage with other naval powers. The Conference resulted in treaties between the US, Britain, France, Italy and Japan agreeing to limit naval armaments. There were also treaties restricting submarine warfare and the use of poison gas. The US, Britain and Japan signed a treaty agreeing to respect each other's possessions in the Pacific.
- In December 1921 , Germany asked for a moratorium on its War Reparations because of its financial weakness. Initially, at the Cannes Conference in early 1922, Britain and France agreed subject to safeguards. However, following a change of government in France, the Poincare administration obtained Germany's agreement to discharge its obligations in raw materials.
- Generally, there was considered to be an overall need to re-stimulate the European economies after the war and, following the Cannes Conference, an economic conference of European powers was held at Genoa in Italy running from April to May 1922 . This was attended by both Germany and Russia. A principle issue was the repayment by Russia of the Czarist debt.
- In April 1922 while the Genoa Conference was still proceeding, Germany and Russia independently signed the Rapallo Treaty. Both countries cancelled pre-war debts and waived war reparations and Germany recognised the Russian government. This brought the Genoa Conference to an end.
Other world events included the imprisonment in March 1922 of Mahatma Ghandi, the leader of the Indian Home Rule movement, for “civil disobedience” in conducting a campaign of non co-operation against British interests in India.
In the UK the political scene was dominated by unemployment, post-war depression and the Irish question.
- David Lloyd-George, the last Liberal Prime Minister, was head of a Liberal/Conservative coalition. He was to resign as Prime Minister in October 1922 following a break with the Conservatives. This led to a General Election in November 1922 which was won by the Conservatives under Bonar Law, with the Labour Party under John Clynes coming second in the poll and the Liberals third.
- In December 1921 , the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed granting Southern Ireland Dominion status within the British Empire. Although he had signed it Eamon de Valera, the nationalist leader, subsequently repudiated it demanding full independence.
- The Treaty was ratified by the Irish Dail in January 1922 , and Michael Collins became the first Prime Minister of the Irish Free State.
- In February 1922 , the Geddes Committee reported to the government with proposals to reduce government expenditure.
- Dr Marie Stopes had founded the Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress in 1921 and had opened the first birth control clinic in London.
The Journal itself
It is interesting, in reviewing the last full volume of Orage's editorship, to see how loyal many of the contributors had been. MB Oxon - Dr Lewis Wallace, the Theosophist who had, with Bernard Shaw, provided the finance for the original acquisition of the New Age in 1907 , was still writing. A E Randall, as A E R, had first contributed to Volume 5, and, as John Francis Hope, had contributed drama reviews since Volume 11. Huntly Carter had also contributed since Volume 5. Carl Eric Bechhofer had first written in Volume 9. Despite his other associations Hilaire Belloc contributed material thought the life of the New Age. Other regular contributors were Marmaduke Pickthall, since Volume 7, and Rowland Kenney, since Volume 14. Ezra Pound had written regularly since Volume 10 and Edwin Muir, writing as Edward Moore (or EM when reviewing poetry), had contributed since Volume 14.
Notes of the Week
For the New Age the major issues of the day, whether domestic or foreign, had an economic cause and solution. Accordingly in “Notes of the Week”, substantially written by Orage in this Volume, the opportunity was repeatedly taken to examine the application of Social Credit principles to those issues and to set out a vision as to how a state based on Social Credit principles might operate.
The “Notes of the Week” in the opening Number of this Volume set the scene for what is to come:
- A General Election was anticipated in the New Year and, in the post war depression, unemployment was the major domestic problem. However, the Labour Party is not seen as likely to provide a satisfactory solution - “they carefully confine their serious efforts to securing for the workers small advantages within the recognised lines of the plutocratic system. They never debate the basis of that system.” While its roots had been essentially socialist, Orage and the New Age had almost from the start disputed the approach of the Labour Party and its allegiance to the trade union movement. “What possible advantage” would there be, it is suggested, “in substituting a Labour Government for our present rulers, in order to do the same thing 'in principle and essence'?”(01:01).
- The current basis of national financial credit is seen as fundamentally flawed, controlled to a significant extent by the banks in their own interest, and “a policy of despair.” There is a call, repeated more than once, for a full “public enquiry” to be held to consider the issues (01:02). This was not to be achieved. The report of the Geddes Committee on Government expenditure was published in early 1922 and roundly condemned by the New Age(16:201).
- Against the background of the war debt owed to the US, the New Age advocates against the handover of territory to discharge the liability. “The British Empire should hold together until the whole civilised world has become a co-operative association of national co-operative commonwealths. Our policy involves each country's making itself as nearly self-contained as possible; the ideal is a completely self-dependent nation”(01:03). In this context, the British Empire is seen as being able to become “a single credit area for the carrying out of the Social Credit policy.”
- Generally, there was scepticism as to the likely outcome of the Washington Conference - “The omens are none too propitious”(01:03).
- Closer to home, “clouds are again [seen] gathering over the Irish situation”(01:03).
One way or another, these themes dominate the subsequent Notes of the Week throughout this Volume.
Social Credit Articles on Social Credit had been appearing in the New Age since January 1919 (Martin 270). It was an essential part of the Social Credit philosophy that a nation's income stream, supported by a national dividend, should be balanced by the regulation of prices to produce “a just price” for the goods a nation produced (02:13). Some of the principles of Social Credit are outlined in the second number - “The methods of State finance cannot be separated from the question of the credit facilities for industry. [...] all expenditure, public or private, has [...] to come out of production. The key to production lies in consumption. Consumption is governed by the method of price-fixing and by the conditions on which purchasing power is issued to the people”(02:13). The perceived emergence of a “definite Social Credit Movement on a national scale” is also recorded in the second Number (02:14).
The Washington Conference It was thought that the Conference might result in some arms limitation but that this would not itself reduce the risk of war - “It will be very convenient for all the Governments to prepare for the next war on the cheap”(02:15). This theme is continued and the participating Governments are accused of“merely [...] clearing the ground and freeing their purse strings for the real competition in the armaments that will matter for the future”(04:37). Japan's motives, in particular so far as China was concerned, were mistrusted -“Japan undoubtedly wants full economic control of the whole of China”(02:15). The tension in the Pacific area is seen generally as a product of economic imperialism (04:37). Overall, the Treaty resulting from the Conference was seen as a “sham [...], an instrument, in the first place, not of peace but of economy, and, in the second place, not of agreement but of submission.” It was“the first act of the new American world-hegemony - we might almost say of American world-dictatorship”(15:185).
Europe That Britain attended the Washington Conference as an independent power rather than a European power is considered “lamentable” as leading to divisions with France, missing the opportunity to present a “European unity”, and prejudicing the possibility of an “European-American union” in place of “American dictatorship”(10:109). The opening of the Cannes Conference is seen as a chance to redeem the position and develop a Europe wide economic strategy -“it would cost as little trouble to make Europe a single-credit area and to distribute the resulting credit proportionately to the contributions as to effect a working settlement of the comparatively trifling question of Reparations. All that would be needed would be the creation of a European Credit Account [...]”(10:110). Despite its best hopes, the New Age anticipated that both France and Britain would “sacrifice themselves” to the “money-fetish” with“the great Mr Keynes as its high-priest and casuist”(13:158). The journal saw Maynard Keynes and his economics, in particular as expressed in his The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) , being as opposed to its ambition for Europe (11:125) and Social Credit policies generally. With regard to the Genoa Conference in March 1922 , which it appears was attended by Major Douglas in an unofficial capacity (24:305), it is again the inter-relationship of Britain and France that is seen as critical, if “German Continental hegemony” is to be opposed (22:281). However, again it is considered that “the economic restoration of the whole of Europe” should be the aim - to be achieved through the“public control of credit”(23:293)and not by the re-opening of trade with Russia (24:305). “It may seem good business to encourage Germany to pull the chestnuts out of the Russian fire and thus enable her to pay the war-indemnities” but an“alliance of Germany with Russia [...] will create the possibility of a new European danger”(26:333).
Peace generally Whatever the outcome of the Washington Conference, it was considered that “Unless or until we put the economic relations of nations on an entirely new footing “preparedness” [for war] is nothing but the bare minimum of prudence”(04:38). Even at this stage the New Age was predicting that the next war might only be “a decade” away (08:85) and that it would be a certainty if“the relation of production to distribution is not radically reformed”(08:86). In such a war, it was predicted:“[...] there will be no distinction of combatant and non-combatant. Women and children will be as freely slaughtered as men, by poison gas, and perhaps by disease germs, as well as by high explosives. It will simply be a question of wiping out, so far as possible an enemy population. And, the war being predominantly aerial, the major area of every belligerent country will be open to attack”(08:86).
The Irish Question A pragmatic approach was adopted with regard to the Irish Home Rule issue. While “Economic Imperialism” remained, it was appreciated that it was necessary for Britain to have absolute guarantees with regard to the “command of Irish waters”(06:61). It also perceived an opportunity and once the political breakthrough had been achieved, the New Age hoped that “the Irish, having attained their Free State, will make a more sensible use of it than enfranchised small nations have usually made.” It was suggested that the new government had it within its power“to create in Ireland a commonwealth such as has never been seen before, based on a community of social credit and eliminating all the horrors of capitalist industrialism before they shall have arisen”(13:157). Despite its hopes and, it appears, some consideration by the new Irish government, the“Douglas-New Age Scheme [...] was rejected”(14:173).
Germany The problems facing Germany with regard to its reparations are also seen as a product of “the insanity of our economic regime” - “In a sane state of things a debt owed by one nation to another would be paid by the simple process of delivering so much goods out of its surplus production”(06:62). The difference of approach between the relevant European nations is considered with France seen as resisting any moratorium on German reparations because“she has her devastated regions to restore”(09:97).
Russia The failure of Russia to fulfil its true communist ideals also receives comment in the “Notes of the Week”, as it does elsewhere in this Volume. The steps being taken by Lenin to industrialise Russia by leasing industrial concessions to foreign organisations are seen as a revival of capitalism and a flawed economic policy - “First, you have you have a revolution, which wipes out capitalism and therewith the indispensable revolutionary instrument; then you recall capitalism in order to restore your cherished idol, 'the proletariat', so that it may, by and by, carry out another revolution”(09:99). Nonetheless, recognition of Russia's “de facto” Government is considered necessary, notwithstanding that the“methodology of the Revolution was fundamentally wrong”(10:110).
- India It was recognised that the example of Ireland - where Great Britain had been forced to submit “to rebellion where reason had failed to move us” - would be likely to be followed in India and Egypt (15:185).
Other writing on Domestic Issues
In each Number of this Volume (other than Numbers 15 and 19) Edwin Muir contributed a column “Our Generation” commenting on topical, largely domestic, issues, in particular as reported by other newspapers. Since August 1921 , Edwin and Willa Muir had been living in Europe, initially in Prague, so his reliance on newspapers as his primary source is not surprising. The columns contain a personal and wide-ranging contemporary commentary on the reporting of the issues of the day. His external perspective is of interest -
Other writing on Foreign Affairs
There are two articles by Rudolph Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophical Movement, a derivative of Theosophy (01:04 and 06:63). These are reprinted from a Swiss publication, as an acknowledgement makes clear (03:36). Like Orage, he sees the concern of the Washington Conference with the Pacific region as being driven by economic considerations. He uses this as a platform to compare the spiritual ideologies of the Western and Asiatic civilisations.
As it had from the start, the journal continued to look outward, as though to derive experience from social and political developments in other countries. Carl Bechhofer and Huntly Carter focus, in particular, on Russia and both highlight the emerging totalitarianism of the communist regime.
- There is a report of an interview in Moscow between Bechhofer and G V Chicherine, the Russian Foreign Minister (02:16) in which, according to Bechhofer, Chicherine admitted “most of the charges I brought against the Bolshevist regime” and also its “mistakes and crimes.” On being questioned about the inherent tension between decentralisation to the soviets and the “rigorously centralised” overall control exerted by the Communist Party and the Cheka, “the notorious Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter Revolution and Speculation”, Chicherine's alleged comment was that “counter-revolution lurks behind every bush, and we dare not relax our vigilance.” A month later (07:84) the journal published a letter from Chicherine himself in which he distances himself from some of Bechhofer's comments. He explains that his talk with Bechhofer was not intended to be an interview - “There was nothing written down by Mr Bechhofer. What he ascribes to me is what he extracted from his memory.” (It seems the New Age was read in the Kremlin). Bechhofer rejects Chicherine's criticisms in a subsequent letter (08:95), in which he suggests that the Foreign Minister's retraction was displaying “his acquiescence in the discipline of the Communist Party.”
- A similar theme was taken up by Huntly Carter in an article on “The New Russia”(03:27) - “Not a day passes but we hear of the iron hand, the system of spying, the deliberate repression of truth and liberty, the almost fanatical control of speech, the fearful operations of the secret police, iron discipline, compromise concessions, rigid factory discipline, rigid army discipline, rigid controls of all sorts, terrorist methods, holding hostages, shooting down conspirators. And a thousand other acts of repression, and suppression, that two-headed servant of Fear.”
What must be one of the most bizarre contributions to the whole of the New Age is a series of four articles entitled “From Sydney to the Golden Mile” (11:130, 12:144, 13:161, and 14:175) by Grant Madison Hervey. His real name was George Henry Cochrane and, as well as being an author, poet of sorts, and a journalist, he was tried several times for blackmail, attempted murder, forgery and other offences, and appears to have served a number of gaol sentences. All this may account for his jaundiced description of Sydney as “a vast, wen-like, immoral growth [...] rotten at the core [...] corruption is rampant everywhere.”Will Dyson, the Australian cartoonist and war artist, wrote to the New Age the week following the last article of the series to expose the “notorious Australian cheap-jack poet” and to accuse him of
A six part review of “The Situation in India” by Marmaduke Pickthall (16:203, 17:215, 18:229, 19:240, 20:255 and 21:271) outlines the impact of Gandhi's Non-co-operation movement. He describes it, with approval, as “an organised and gradual movement led by highly intellectual men of irreproachable conduct, a movement of which the watch-word is non-violence, working for the constitutional redress of certain wrongs from which their country suffers.” He provides a short biography of Mahatma Gandhi and sees a movement towards "unanimity" between Muslims and Hindus in India - a unanimity which was not to be fulfilled with the partition of India in 1947. He concludes with his proposals for a peaceful solution to the Indian problem.
To support the New Age's campaign for Social Credit, there are articles about Social Credit and its underlying economic principles throughout this volume.
- There are four articles (01:05, 02:17, 03:29 and 04:29) by Hugh P Vowles, who like Douglas seems to have had an engineering background. He explains that the articles aim to analyse the present financial system and then to outline the Douglas proposals.
- There are two contributions on “Current Economics” (01:08, and 05:53), examining Social Credit concepts, by a writer signing himself “A B C” (possibly Orage, rather than Ezra Pound despite Pound's subsequent The ABC of Economics published in 1933 . But see also, the use of the same pseudonym in Volume 15). “Reason, imagination, study, argument, all the intellectual powers of man” writes A B C “tell us that a system based on real Credit is likely to prove a far more perfect instrument of human happiness than a system based on gold. Let it be called the faith of the new age.” (There is subsequently a column (09:99) under the same heading which is signed “J W Gibbon”, who also contributed two further articles on Social Credit, “The Revenge Complex”(11:129) and “The Dead Hand”(19:245)).
- Maurice B Reckitt, a Christian socialist, who like Orage had reached Social Credit through Guild Socialism, contributes five articles on “Credit and Society” under the initials “M B R” (10:112, 14:181, 16:209, 20:257 and 22:280). He sees the Douglas proposals as providing an opportunity for a “levelling up” of society and a “cutting down of monopoly, tyranny and organised avarice.”
- Arthur Kitson, an advocate of financial reform, particularly of the banks, in an article “Credit-Reform's Chief Opponent” attacks the concept that “credit is unthinkable without a commodity standard of value”(24:308).
- Amongst all the enthusiasm for Social Credit, a negative note is sounded by Hilaire Belloc(15:188) who suggested that vested interests and the complexity of its possible implementation would be its undoing. His second article “A Query on Credit”(17:216) results in a lengthy editorial response.
- A critical review of Douglas's books Economic Democracy and Credit Power and Democracy in the New Statesman is criticised strongly, presumably by Orage who had no love for the rival journal to which the Fabians had deserted from the New Age in April 1913 - “We have for years been constantly pointing out the errors of the New Statesman, errors so great that only a Fabian journal could survive them”(18:227).
There are also reviews of books by significant economists. The first is of The Fruits of Victory: A Sequel to “The Great Illusion” by Norman Angell (who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933 ) (04:48). He evolved the theory, which was widely respected both before and after the Great War, that “military and political power give a nation no commercial advantage, that it is an economic impossibility for one nation to seize and destroy the wealth of another, or for one nation to enrich itself by subjecting others” and essentially that war is futile. An approach which the New Age reviewer thought overlooked that a nation was capable of fighting for rights or, even, to “be master of the World.”
The second review is of J A Hobson's Problems of a New World(05:59). While both Angell and Hobson were considered Keynesian in their approach, Hobson came closer to the philosophy of the New Age with his view that economic development was bound up with social welfare.
Philosophical, Psychological and similar topics.
Coverage of such subjects in this Volume is provided by individual articles and regular columns, the most significant of which is the publication, from number 12 onwards of T E Hulme's manuscript “Notebooks”, as edited by Herbert Read. Many of the articles are based on reviews of books, indicating that a wide-ranging interest in psychology, metaphysics and spiritualist topics was not, by this stage, a specifically New Age phenomenon, but much more prevalent generally in post-war Britain.
- In his column “Views and Reviews”A E R continues his regular forays into philosophic, psychological and similar fields, largely through book reviews. He starts in this Volume with a review of The False Assumption of Democracy by Anthony Ludovici. Ludovici was a representative of the right wing of New Age contributors (01:10 and 01:22) which A E R was clearly not - “I hold fast to the aristocratic principle of personal value, and deny that his Tory party is representative of aristocracy.” In a later article he describes Ludovici as Nietzsche's “curate”(04:47). When reviewing a work on Spiritualism - The Survival of the Soul, and its Evolution after Death by Pierre Emil Cornillier (12:152, 13:169, and 14:182) - A E R expresses himself as a sceptic in such matters. “I have had my own “psychic experiences”; at various crises (chiefly febrile) of my life since 1907 [...]” and quotes T H Huxley - “the alternative, or spiritualistic, terminology is utterly barren, and leads to nothing but obscurity and confusion of ideas.”
- Possibly as a consequence of the carnage of the Great War, the economic position generally, and the work of family planning pioneers such as Marie Stopes, there are various contributions dealing with family and “birth-rate” issues. Under the heading “The New Humanism”, A E R provides a two part review of Taboo and Genetics, a study of “the biological, sociological and psychological foundation of the family” (03:34 and 04:46). Having developed the proposition that if any society is “to hold its own numerically [against rival/neighbouring societies], its women must have, on the average, two children each, plus about one more for unavoidable waste” the authors maintain that to achieve this it will be required to “demonstrate [...] that the bearing of children is necessary for the full and complete development of the individual woman, physically and mentally.”“A woman” comments A E R“definitely has to choose between the function for which she is biologically specialised and those functions for which she may be socially adapted.” He also reviews Divorce To-day and To-morrow by Mrs Gasquoine Hartley(06:70) and comes to the conclusion, as Shaw does in the preface to Getting Married, that the parties to the marriage contract should be able to determine it as easily as they contracted it - “by simple agreement.” There is an article “The Birth-Rate Question” by A E Baines(07:75) which suggests that statistics show that sterility is a product of “intellectual development or great mental activity and rich and abundant food while the poorly fed and hard worked labouring classes are exceptionally fertile.” The article concludes with the acknowledgement that while “it may not be beyond the powers of the Malthusian League to lighten the burden of the fertile poor”, it may be difficult to find “a remedy for sterility among other classes of the community.”
- Janko Lavrin, who had just become Professor of Slavonic Studies at University College, Nottingham, contributed a series of eight articles, to this Volume, on Nietzsche - “Nietzsche Revisited”- in which he reappraises the philosopher's influence on “modern life and culture” (02:21, 04:42, 06:65, 08:88, 10:114, 15:189, 19:241, and 25:321). He revisits the “relation between “insanity” and genius” debate and attributes much of Nietzsche's philosophy to “a creative projection of his own anti-thesis.” (It appears that the series did not conclude in this Volume and continued into the next).
- Allen Upward, a friend of Ezra Pound, a member of the Imagist group and author of The New Word (1910) writes three articles “The Nebular Origins of Life” (08:90, 09:105, and 10:116). After considering various scientific theories as to the origins of life, he uses an image he had developed in The New Word of the energy inherent in a whirlpool, as opposed to the water of which it is formed, to seek to illustrate that cellular energy may derive not from the constituents of the cell itself but from some external extra-terrestrial origin and resulting from “the arrival on the circumference of our planet, while still in a nebuloid state, of minute cosmic individuals [vorticells] endowed with an energy of their own, similar in origin and character to that manifested in the rotary or vortical motion of the planets.”Upward's conception of the energised whirlpool as expressed in The New Word may have been, at least in part, the source for Pound's Vortex.
- A series of three articles entitled “Metaphysics” (11:131, 25:325, and 26:341) are extracts from a chapter of a book by Otto Weininger, Uber die letzen Dinge (Ultimates or Last Things), translated by Eden and Cedar Paul and published after Weininger's death in 1903 at the age of twenty three. Weininger is better known for his work Geschlecht und Charakter (“Sex and Character”), apparently an influence on Wittgenstein, in which he examined the interrelationship of his perception of the male and female psyche and the nature of genius. In “Metaphysics” he attempts to explain his idea for a “comparative psychology” and in this section considers the “essential nature of the criminal.”
- From 19 January 1922 , “The Note-Books of T E Hulme” edited by Herbert Read begin to be published (12:148, 13:167, 15:193, 16:207, 22:287, 23:301, and 24:310). These comprised Hulme's unpublished manuscripts which had been handed after his death by Dolly Kibblewhite to Janko Lavrin and by him to Orage(Martin 281). Orage had earlier described these manuscripts as “fragments [...] for a cyclopean architecture”(27.17:259). They were subsequently published in 1924 as Speculations. In a short introduction Read describes Hulme as the unfulfilled “germ of an English Renascence.” He describes the extracts from the manuscripts as comprising “certain notes that define Hulme's general philosophic position” - an “early statement” followed by a transitory “period of Bergsonian influence” leading to “more original discoveries.” There are then “some fairly finished essays [...] contending for a resurgence of the classical spirit” with notes on “a general theory of aesthetics.”“Finally will come a selection from the mass of disjointed pensees which constitute the bulk of the manuscripts.” The most complete extracts published in this Volume are “Notes for a Lecture on “Bergson's Theory of Art””.
- In his “Readers and Writers” column (05:58) of 1 December 1921 , Herbert Read referred to the publication of a book Cosmic Anatomy and the Structure of the Ego by "M B Oxon" - Lewis Wallace - being an “expanded exposition” of the articles on “Theology” he had published in the New Age some years earlier. The book was subsequently reviewed, in an unsigned piece, on 19 January 1922 (12:153). “This is a book” writes the reviewer “that will have far more influence than it will achieve of fame.” In fact the book has achieved some lasting fame, but not for its contents. Orage sent a review copy to John Middleton Murry, who gave it to Katherine Mansfield. She was greatly influenced by it and her biographers attribute to the book her acquisition of interest in Gurdjieff(Alpers 353).
- Dr J A M Alcock contributes various pieces on psycho-analytical themes. Like A E R's pieces they are normally in the context of book reviews.
- One of the two articles by Ezra Pound in this Volume is his positive response to a book by Dr Louis Berman concerning the role of the body's glands in regulating personality. Berman had suggested that the unconscious and the subconscious are controlled by the various glands of the body. To the “Prozac generation” this may not seem strange - “The Freudians, according to Berman” writes Pound “try continually to relieve complexes by psychological means before considering whether chemical means would not be simpler”(20:259).
By this stage Orage had relinquished his “Readers and Writers” column and it is continued, in Orage's causerie style, during the earlier part of this volume by Herbert Read and then by Carl Bechhofer. It ceases altogether after Number18.
- Herbert Read's contributions to “Readers and Writers” show one of the pre-eminent twentieth century cultural critics learning his trade under Orage's tutelage (see Martin 52 - 56). He considers a wide ranging selection of works including the Islamic poetry of Abdallah al-Ma'arri(03:31); Janko Lavrin's “Ibsen and his Creation”(04:43) comprising his articles previously published in the New Age; and Stefan Zweig's study of Romain Rolland(06:81).
- Like Read, Bechhofer also learned his writing skills at the New Age and he pays tribute to his debt in his opening contribution to “Readers And Writers”(10:117) in Number 10, where he takes over from Read - possibly because Read was then devoting his attention to the editorship of T E Hulme's Notes that were shortly to appear. Bechhofer complains of a lack of contemporary English writers of promise (10:117). Those of worth he singles out include Hugh Walpole, Compton Mackenzie, Rebecca West, Katherine Mansfield, D H Lawrence, Lytton Strachey, and Aldous Huxley, who had just published his first novel, Chrome Yellow. He then considers (11:135) the American literary scene - “I shall not make the mistake of treating America as part of England”. He mentions Sherwood Anderson, Willa Cather, H L Mencken, Sinclair Lewis and Eugene O'Neill, whose plays “I may claim to have discovered for English readers [but which] are still unpublished on this side”. Bechhofer reviews D H Lawrence's Women in Love (published in England in 1921 ) (15:192). He describes it as a “monumental novel”. He compares him to Dostoevsky but complains that Lawrence“has the desire to formulate the depths of the soul of his characters in the manner of Dostoevsky” but while Dostoevsky“shakes the world of his characters and something happens” with Lawrence“thunderclouds of emotion and passion collect; but they never burst; the rain never falls; the lightening never flashes”. “Readers and Writers” in this Volume concludes with a description of contemporary cinema (18:231) - “I begin to wonder if the cinema has any intellectual foundation worth considering, or if it will ever acquire one”.
In addition there are regular book reviews and on occasions articles devoted to particular works. One such is a piece by Pierre Robert on the French author Francis Carco(18:233) and, in particular, his novel Les Innocents (1916) . This fulsome review of Carco's dramatic love triangle must have caused Orage a wry smile. Two of the characters, Winnie and Beatrice, were based on two former contributors to the New Age, Katherine Mansfield and Beatrice Hastings.
Orage's publication of his own criticism, Readers and Writers (1917-1921), is reviewed (13:170). The reviewer was probably Herbert Read who had announced the publication of the book two months earlier and revealed that he was “permitted to divulge that the R H C of “Readers and Writers” turns out to be the Editor of The New Age himself”. At that stage he had suggested that with “sufficient demand” there might be four further volumes; but in the event there were not.
Under the heading “Credit and the Fine Arts”, Ezra Pound uses Douglas's ideas as a platform for promoting the “Bel Esprit” scheme for supporting aspiring writers (22:284). The scheme would allow a writer a “bare living” which he could supplement from his artistic earnings; “the supposed danger of an individual patron is eliminated”. T S Eliot, he explains, has been selected as the first proposed object of the fund because “some of us consider Eliot's employment in a bank the worst waste in contemporary literature”. (Pound's scheme caused Eliot some embarrassment - Ackroyd 130).
Apart from the poetry, there is very little fictional writing in this Volume. Rowland Kenney contributes a short story “A Girl in It”(07:78).
A E Randall, writing as John Francis Hope, continues his weekly review of London theatre with a column in every issue of this Volume other than Number 22. Throughout Orage's editorship, the New Age had devoted significant resources to its review of contemporary English and European drama; possibly in recognition of Shaw's original support. Many of the plays reviewed in this number are Shakespearean, but there are also reviews of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at the Stage Society produced by Theodore Komisarjevsky(06:66), which is described as “one of the finest [performances] I have ever seen”; Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman(08:92) and Peer Gynt(20:264); A A Milne's The Truth about Blayds(11:134); St John Ervine's Mixed Marriage(14:179); and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author(19:244) which had first been performed in Italy the previous year, again produced at the Stage Society by Komisarjevsky. Revivals of Shaw's Fanny's First Play(17:219) and Getting Married(23:299) were reviewed, having been covered on their original productions by Ashley Dukes (8.26:616) and L Haden Guest (3.4:77) (see http://www.modjourn.brown.edu/bios/Guest.htn) respectively in earlier Volumes. The early performances in London of works by Eugene O'Neill are recorded in a review of one act plays being performed by the Everyman Theatre in Hampstead (26:343).
Poetry is included in the “Pastiche” column, which appears from time to time, as well as being scattered generally throughout this Volume. There are poems by Bertram Higgins (an Australian poet), George Abrams, John Helston (a "war" poet), Elsie Paterson Cranmer (a vice-president of the Empire Poetry League), Dr J A M Alcock (including translations from the Mahabharata), E V Limebeer, T A Collins, Dorothy Ireland, Alexander Gray, John Langdon-Davey, D R Guttery, Egbert Stanford, Jasper Proude (the pseudonym of Brian Howard), and Margaret Sanders. Of these only a few have achieved any recognition - Brian Howard was later described by W H Auden as “a brilliant and dear friend but a lapsed poet” - but the list shows the journal's continuing willingness to encourage potential poetic talent. The principal contributor of poetry is Ruth Pitter continuing her long association with the journal. Edwin Muir, as E M, reviews Lily Dougall and Gilbert Sheldon'sArcades Ambo: Verses, Gerald Gould's The Happy Tree and Other Poems, Richard Aldinton'sImages and Images of Desire and Olive Macnaghten'sVerses by the Wayside(11:136). Aldington had been a regular contributor to the New Age and Gould had a poem in the very first number (1.1:06).
There are no art reviews until Number 10 of this Volume. However, that is made up for in the balance of the Volume, where there is a contribution on art every week.
- The Art correspondent is R A Stephens who had contributed articles on art to Volume 28. The first article in this Volume, on “Three permanent Values in Painting”(10:118), starts with the proposition that “there are equally great works of art in all stages of human evolution in which art has been manifested. The difference in their appearance is the consequence of the race, age, and general conception of life at the period in which they were created”. This is developed further in an article on “The New Expressionism”(20:263). “It is obvious” it is suggested “that different social conditions produce different art”. Accordingly Cubism emerges at a time when “the whole of social life depends on machinery” and Futurism with its cry of “La Guerra e unico hygiena del mondo” as war is approaching. Against this, Expressionism is seen as being influenced by both “contemporary and past currents in art” and as art that does not precede but follows the development of society. Interestingly, while acknowledging Kandinsky's role in the emergence of Expressionism, he also suggests that Kandinsky's abstraction derived, at least in part, from the work of the Russian artists Gontcharova and Larionow.
- Examples of work by Natalia Gontcharova and Mikhail Larionow, who were by then living in Paris where they also designed for Diaghilev's Russian Ballet, had appeared a few weeks earlier (13:165) and had been followed by an article by Larionow himself on “Rayonnism”(15:195). Rayonism was a relatively short-lived style (though this article in 1922 , if it was written contemporaneously, suggests that it survived longer than is generally thought) which Larionow suggested had “for its aim the realisation of the forms created in space by the inter-section of reflected rays from different objects; the artist chooses which forms are to be painted”. “One may suppose” he continued “that the whole real world as well as the whole spiritual world can be translated into pictorial form”. One can see how such an approach could have appealed to Kandinsky, and for that matter Orage, with their theosophical backgrounds.
- In subsequent articles (11:133 and 14:180) Stephens takes issue with D S MacColl, an art critic who had been Keeper of the Tate Gallery from 1906 to 1911 , on his interpretation of Cezanne's work, to which MacColl responds with his own article (13:168) on the artist. In writing about Mark Gertler(16:208), Stephens is full of praise for the London Group as being the “only artists' society in this island which reminds us of the age in which we live”. This is followed with a review of another member of the group, Bernard Mininsky(17:221). Wyndham Lewis is described as “the heir to Marinetti”(19:246)and Walter Sickert as“one of the best impressionists that ever painted”(23:300). There are reviews of exhibitions at the Independent and Whitechapel Galleries of British and French and British Art respectively (22:289).
Throughout this Volume the music critic is Helen Rootham. She is, perhaps, better known as a translator of Serbian epic poetry and the prose poems of the French symbolist Arthur Rimbaud. She was also a close friend of the writer Edith Sitwell, herself a contributor to earlier volumes of the New Age.
- Rootham's reviews include performances by Pablo Casals(05:58), Richard Strauss conducting (13:164), Dhiaglieff's Russian Ballet(16:207) and Bartok(23:300).
- She was also clearly impressed by the work of Schonberg (01:10 and 03:31) and its contemporary relevance - “If there be such a miracle as entering the fourth dimension or the transcendental world by means of musical line, this miracle takes place in relation to the typical and best music of Schonberg”.
Although Volume 30 is the final volume published by the Modernist Journals Project, Orage did not leave the journal until September 1922 . It seems he initially considered taking a sabbatical and asked Herbert Read to think about taking over the editorship for a year, but in the event left completely.
Orage had been introduced, in November 1911 , to P D Ouspensky. Through Ouspensky, Orage had (along with other members of the London literary scene such as Pound and T S Eliot) come into contact with and started to study the mystical teaching of Georgii Ivanovich Gurdjieff.
- On 22 July 1922 , Orage wrote to Gurdjieff asking if he could join the group that Gurdjieff was establishing at “The Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man” at Le Prieure, a chateau at Fontainebleau-Avon, near Paris “to work in the Institute with the high hopes of being allowed to work for the Institute”. He explained that:
- I own and edit the New Age, a weekly I have edited for fifteen years. It is my only source of income, about £250 per annum.
- I have no other capital. Consequently, if I can come to Paris, I should have to sell or otherwise dispose of the New Age.
- I probably should not get more than £100 for it. I am quite willing to give up the NA and to chance the future (Letter from Orage to Gurdjieff - Taylor 24).
- On 28 September 1922 , the New Age announced the departure of its editor “in connection with work of general and special interest” and that Major Arthur Moore (formerly a Times correspondent and subsequently to become editor of the Calcutta daily the Statesman) would take over the editorship (and ownership) of the Journal (Carswell 187).
- In An Editor's Progress, a series of articles he published in the New Age (and in the US publication The Commonweal) in 1926 , reviewing his editorship of the journal, Orage explained that he had left the New Age in 1922 “to find God”. Mairet in his memoir of Orage also suggests that he may have seen study with Gurdjieff as, in some way, being able to provide him with greater power to promulgate a new social order (Mairet 88).
- Orage was not the only New Age contributor to join Gurdjieff at Le Prieure. The doctor James Young, the journalist Rowland Kenney, and, most notably, Katherine Mansfield, by then terminally ill and who died there on 9 January 1923 , also attended.
- After working with Gurdjieff at the Institute for just over a year, Orage left for the US in January 1924 . He lived in New York until 1931 , running a Gurdjieff group, holding literary classes, writing a few articles and, towards the end, deciphering and putting into acceptable English Gurdjieff's All and Everything. In promoting Gurdjieff's work in the US, Orage made wide use of the literary contacts he had made as editor of the New Age. Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap of the Little Review, for example, were both subsequently to join Gurdjieff at Le Prieure. A little ironically, considering the achievements of the New Age, there are probably more works in print relating to this stage of Orage's career, including his own writings, than there are relating to his editorship, as the “new age” - possibly no coincidence - shelves of any large book shop will bear testament. His own teaching of Gurdjieff's work, recorded by C Daly King in The Oragean Version has never been published but can be found in major holding libraries - the British Library has a copy. For anyone interested in pursuing this aspect of Orage's career further, there are works by Margaret Anderson, C S Nott, and Paul Beekman Taylor, for example, which give further detail of Orage's work with Gurdjieff. A good introduction to Gurdjieff's teaching, derived at least in part from Orage's interpretation, is Kathleen Riordan Speeth'sThe Gurdjieff Work. John O'Hara Cosgrave'sThe Academy of Souls, dedicated to Orage, is derived from Orage's “translation” of All and Everything.
Following a break with Gurdjieff, and possibly because of the decline in the US economy, which removed some of the financial patronage his group had received, Orage returned to London in 1931 and re-established himself on the London literary scene with the launch of the New English Weekly on 21 April 1932 . Orage resumed his Readers and Writers column with the words “As I was saying ten years ago when my literary studies were suddenly lifted to a higher plane [...]”.
Orage's editorship of the New English Weekly was brief. Shortly after giving a BBC broadcast on Social Credit, he died on 5 November 1934 .
Works Cited and Consulted
- Ackroyd, Peter, T S Eliot, London: Cardinal (Penguin Books), 1988.
- Alpers, Anthony, The Life of Katherine Mansfield, New York: Viking, 1980.
- Anderson, Margaret, The Unknowable Gurdjieff, London: Arkana, 1991.
- Carswell, John, Lives and Letters, New York: New Directions, 1978.
- Cosgrave, John O'Hara, The Academy for Souls, New York: Farrer & Rinehart, 1931.
- Martin, Wallace, The New Age Under Orage: Chapters in English Cultural History, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press And Barnes & Noble, 1967.
- Mairet, Philip, A R Orage: A Memoir, New York: University Books, 1966.
- Nott, C S, Teachings of Gurdjieff: A Pupil's Journal, London: Arkana, 1990.
- Orage, A R, “An Editor's Progress”, in Commonweal, 3, 376-9, 402-4, 434-5, and 456-7 and in the New Age, 38, 235-6, 246-7, 258,271-2, 283-4, and 295-6.
- Speeth, Kathleen Riordan, The Gurdjieff Work, New York: Tarcher Putnam, 1989.
- Taylor, Paul Beekman, Gurdjieff and Orage: Brothers in Elysium, York Beach: Weiser, 2001.