Wednesday, April 1, 2020

453. The Dial and the Yellow Nineties Online

The Dial was already available in digital form, but last year a scholarly edition was published online under the direction of Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Professor of English, Ryerson University, Toronto. The publication is part of the Yellow Nineties 2.0 website, in the section 'Magazines'. 


Charles Ricketts (design), Charles Shannon (execution):
cover title for The Dial (1889)
The edition is based on the copies at Ryerson University Library Archives and Special Collections that contain the bookplate of Cambell Dodgson. As a flipbook the issues are available through Internet Archive (see, for example, the first issue, 1889). The Yellow Nineties website itself contains the texts (retyped), images, table of contents and scholarly introductions. In 2019, the general introduction, and the introductions to volume 1 and 2 came online (the others will follow).

The introductions are written by Lorrain Janzen Kooistra and highlight different elements of the magazine: the Dial's historical significance as a link between pre-Raphaelites and modernists, the relation between visual and textual elements, the innovative use of wood-engraving, the  appreciation of texts (negative) or lithographs and wood-engravings (positive) by contemporary reviewers. 

The website is an excellent tool for further study, especially through the introductions. It is work in progress - and here and there a typo needs to be corrected, but all in all it is a very readable, well-informed and inspiring website that places The Dial in the vicinity of other small magazines from the 1890s.


Charles Ricketts, initial letter P for 'Puvis de Chavannes' (The Dial, 1889)

What is missing is a description of the object itself. The format is compared with the other fin de si├Ęcle journals, but not exactly described. [The 1889 issue, for example, measures 316 x 257 mm (leaf), 318 x 255 x 6 mm (paper wrapper).]

The printer of the second issue is mentioned; that of the first one is not. The printer of the first 'part' was Hazell, Watson and Viney Ltd.

The print run is mentioned, but not exactly indicated for each issue. The luxury bound copies of the first issue (in fact a few unsold copies) are not mentioned, nor are prospectuses. The date of issue is not further specified than the year. An extensive list of all reviews is also absent.

The name of Whistler is not mentioned, while the choice for the printer, Ballantyne & Co., and the brown paper wrappers, must have been inspired by him. It is suggested that the colophon in the second instalment is designed by Ballantyne - 'The latter may pay tribute to the new partnership with the Ballantyne Press, whose colophon, printed at the back of the volume, featured seven white doves [...]'. The colophon, of course, was designed by Ricketts himself, even the careful lay out of that colophon is his doing - the firm used to print its name and place simply at the bottom of a page without any decorations. 

A problem with websites is that they have a duty to stay up to date, other than a book publication. That's why I would like to see - in the biography about Ricketts (elsewhere on this website) - the reference to his French mother changed to: his Italian mother.

I hope Yellow Nineties 2.0 will make students feel inspired to re-examine The Dial, and to come up with new research methods, new comparisons and interpretations.