Agnès Poirier | Excerpt adapted from Left Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50 | Henry Holt and Co. | February 2018 | 20 minutes 5,275 words)
In September 1945, together with their band of students and friends, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were working night and day finalizing the first issue of their journal Les Temps modernes. They had launched the idea at the end of 1944, choosing the title as a tribute to Chaplin’s Modern Times, and, apart from Camus who was too busy editing Combat, they could rely on almost everyone else to write for them — Communists, Catholics, Gaullists, and Socialists: their schoolmate and liberal philosopher friend Raymond Aron, the Marxist phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty, the anthropologist and art critic Michel Leiris, the Gallimard supremo Jean Paulhan, and even Picasso, who had agreed to design the cover and logo, along with a new generation of writers who were submitting articles and ideas such as Jacques-Laurent Bost. The British writer Philip Toynbee would contribute a Letter from London, while novels and essays the committee particularly liked would be serialized prior to their publication or with a view to attracting a potential publisher. Les Temps modernes would be a laboratory of new ideas and a talent scout rolled into one. Simone de Beauvoir had personally approached the minister of information, the Gaullist and résistant Jacques Soustelle, to ask for an allocation of paper.
Gallimard had agreed to finance the journal and to give the team a little office where they could hold their editorial meetings. The first issue was planned for October 1, 1945. Jean-Paul Sartre was made the head of the publication, “Monsieur le Directeur,” and he thought it important to make himself available to everyone. This would be democracy and public debate in action. He committed to receiving anyone who asked to see him at the magazine’s office at 5 rue Sébastien Bottin every Tuesday and Friday afternoon between five thirty and seven thirty. This commitment was printed at the beginning of the magazine, along with the telephone number Littré 28-91, where they could be reached. Sartre had decided to dedicate the first issue of Les Temps modernes “To Dolorès,” in all simplicity. Simone did not blink an eye.
In the first issue, Sartre announced loud and clear what Les Temps modernes stood for. It was to be the megaphone that would carry their thoughts far and wide.
Every writer of bourgeois origin has known the temptation of irresponsibility. I personally hold Flaubert personally responsible for the repression that followed the Commune because he did not write a line to try to stop it. It was not his business, people will perhaps say. Was the Calas trial Voltaire’s business? Was Dreyfus’s condemnation Zola’s business? We at Les Temps modernes do not want to miss a beat on the times we live in. Our intention is to influence the society we live in. Les Temps modernes will take sides.
The tone was set, the thinking promised to be muscular and the writing fearless.
Last month, the City and Regional Magazine Association, a membership-based body of local magazines and alt-weeklies, announced the winners of its annual awards. This year, Texas Monthly, Portland Monthly, and Sarasota Magazine won overall excellence awards in their respective categories.
Local and regional periodicals fill an important space in the media ecosystem; voices rooted in the sights and sounds of a place can reveal the complexity of what’s really happening in an area. We all know by now that our time is one where the press is imperiled and the pursuit of truth is threatened. There is commercial pressure on journalists due to a fragmented marketplace, and mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations that have shorn staff sizes and budgets. As we have said before, it is important to support their work.
In honor of the awards, we compiled a few local and regional deep cuts, including some of the winning pieces from CRMA publications. What do they have in common? A rigorous approach to the truth, a convergence of the of the personal and political, implicit — and some explicit — calls to action, and excellent writing.
As the president sucks up the oxygen from the media atmosphere, it’s easy to forget how important local journalism is right now. The regional press—the holy trinity of newspapers, alt-weeklies, and city magazines—is where we can find true stories of friends and neighbors impacted by immigration raids, fights over funding public education, and the frontline of relaxed environmental standards that will impact the water we drink and the air we breathe. We need to support their work. Read more…
Magazine nerds, here we go: A starter collection of behind-the-scenes stories from some of your most beloved magazines, including The New Yorker, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair and the New York Review of Books, plus now-defunct publications like Might, George, Sassy and Wigwag. Share your favorite behind-the-magazine stories with us on Twitter or Facebook: #longreads. Read more…
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s most recent history, The Bully Pulpit, chronicles the intertwined lives of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, often in excruciating detail, from Roosevelt’s struggles with the bosses of his Republican party to the fungal infections that plagued Taft’s groin. But the most illuminating aspect of Pulpit is the spotlight it shines on the muckraking journalism of the early 20th century, particularly as practiced by a monthly magazine called McClure’s. There, writers such as Ida Tarbell, Ray Baker, and Lincoln Steffens held the feet of the powerful to the fire. In one landmark issue, January 1903, articles by all three were featured, including the third installment of Tarbell’s 12-part exposé of Standard Oil and Baker’s counter-intuitive, sympathetic portrait of coal miners, whose dire circumstances had forced them to cross picket lines. Read more…
Every week, Syracuse University professor Aileen Gallagher helps Longreads highlight the best of college journalism. Here’s this week’s pick:
For readers, summer travel offers a chance to discover a new bookstore or read a magazine you’ve never encountered before. This week’s College Longreads selection takes us to City Newsstand in Chicago, a magazine store that carries many titles you’ve heard of (The Economist) and several thousand you haven’t (RubberStampMadness). Nolan Feeney, a recent graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School, used City Newsstand as a backdrop for a bigger story about changes in the business of magazines. Feeney wrote this story for class last fall, and NewCity Lit, a digital supplement to the Chicago magazine, picked it up in the spring. Today, Feeney covers pop culture and Internet culture for Forbes.com.
Nolan Feeney | NewCity Lit | March 2013 | 12 minutes (2,995 words)
Professors and students: Share your favorite stories by tagging them with #college #longreads on Twitter, or email links to email@example.com.
Poetry magazine started in Chicago in 1912, and during the ensuing century, the magazine’s history and the history of American poetry often were joined at the hip. It published an unknown T.S. Eliot, gave early support to Langston Hughes, discovered Wallace Stevens, James Merrill, Gwendolyn Brooks. What Poetry rarely had was a history of picking fights, rising blood pressures or heated controversies. Until the money arrived.
Chicago Magazine writer Elly Fishman spent several months at Sullivan High School in Chicago, where 40 languages are spoken, 35 countries are represented, nearly half of the students were born outside of the U.S. and 89 of the students accepted this year were refugees. Fishman’s story offers both a snapshot into the experiences of these students at a time when their host country is sharply divided over how to treat them, and a primer on how, after years of decline, a local school reinvented itself by adopting a new mission: becoming a haven for refugee youth.
Preppers are, not surprisingly, a paranoid bunch. Locating people willing to speak with me about their habits was more challenging than finding vegans at a gun range. After emailing a dozen members of Northern Illinois Preppers, a Meetup online community whose membership has grown from about 110 to more than 150 in the past six months, I received two responses. One was from someone who told me to take a hike (“I have no interest in being involved in your article. I also do NOT give you permission to quote me,” he wrote, which was perplexing, considering that no interview had been conducted). The other was delivered via a peer-to-peer encrypted email service:
“Due to OPSEC (operational security) and PERSEC (personal security) you’ll never see my stored materials. Though I personally take no offense at your question due to the nature of this interview the question itself is exceptionally rude in prepping circles. By way of analogy it’s the equivalent of my coming over to your home for the first time and, in front of your wife or girlfriend, telling you I think she’s hot and I’d like to see her without clothes. It’s simply not done. Any prepper who would be willing to show you their stocks, anonymously or otherwise, has violated so many rules they may as well just put their stocks on the curb for all to see and take.”
—Rod O’Connor writing in Chicago Magazine about suburban survivalists.