Recently I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to do transnational comparative research on periodicals, so I’ve started to compile a series of guides to the study of magazines in various countries. Since they’ll all be in one place, it should be easier the follow up lines of enquiry across countries. I have to say I have found the enterprise really fascinating!
Here’s the first, on French Periodicals.
France, along with Britain and Germany, is one of the points of origin of the magazine form and the history of French magazines runs in parallel and dialogue with its two neighbours. It is distinct, however, in its early phase by its centralisation, domination by just three titles and its generally literary orientation: the learned Journal des Savants (1665-), the literary and more gossipy Mercure galant (1672-1825; Mercure de France after 1724) and the (eventually) government-controlled news magazine the Gazette (de France) (1631-1915). In the eighteenth century, the press began to diversify: the Recueil périodique d’observations de médecine, de chirurgie et de pharmacie (1754-1793 ) is the first medical magazine, Courier de la Mode ou Journal du gout (1768-770) was the first women’s magazine and so on. In the nineteenth century French women’s and satirical magazines like Le Moniteur de la mode (1843-1913) and Le Charivari (1832-1937) especially were global inspirations, though literary journals like the Revue des deux Mondes (1829-) were also extremely influential. The “Golden Age” of magazines is generally considered to occur between the Paris Commune and the First World War (1871-1914), when illustrated news magazines such as the Petit Journal (1863-1944) attained circulations of over a million. Histories of the French press emerged at the same time as in Britain, in the mid-nineteenth century. Hatin’s Histoire politique et littéraire de la presse en France of 1859 is deservedly famous, but it also signals the course of French press historiography even more than its British analogues by focussing on newspapers and high-status literary magazines: the sustained history of popular French magazine has had to wait to be written until the late twentieth century.
Devreux, Lise and Philippe Mezzasalma, eds. 2011. Des sources pour l’histoire de la presse: guide. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale
An authoritative guide to the press holdings of the Bibliothèque Nationale from its earliest journals to the electronic magazines of today, it covers the laws, economy and technology of the (mainly newspaper) press in detail. Of especial value is the very extensive bibliography. Magazine history is much more prominent than in Bellanger (q.v.).
Place, Jean-Michel, and André Vasseur. Bibliographie des revues et journaux littéraires des XIXe et XXe Siècles. 3 vols. Paris: J.M. Place, 1973–77.
Place and Vasseur’s valuable bibliography covers the years 1840–1930 for a select number of both famous and lesser-known French literary periodicals, with facsimiles of cover pages, an introduction to each journal, and full bibliographic descriptions, which include information about the editors, contributors, and physical characteristics of each periodical, along with a table of contents for each issue. It also includes an invaluable index of names.
OVERVIEWS OF PERIODS, GENRES, PLACES
Albert, Pierre. 1970. Histoire de la Presse. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France
This small volume, one of the popular Que-sais-je? series, is useful as a starting point for a press history of France compared with (mainly) England and Germany (the USA has a few pages devoted to it). Though magazines figure hardly at all, and there is little detail, the volume has the virtue of summarising the overarching conditions of the press within which magazines operated.
Bellanger, Claude, Jacques Godechot, Pierre Guiral and Fernand Terrou, eds. 1969. Histoire générale de la presse française. 5 vols. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
The standard history of the French press from its beginning to the 1960s. A monumental undertaking, these volumes all freely mix newspapers and magazines, though the stress is on politics and newspapers. While attention is certainly given to technology, circulation and genre, an emphasis characteristic of French press history, is on the development of press law.
Eveno, Patrick. 2012. Histoire de la presse française de Théophraste Renaudot à la revolution numérique. Paris: Flammarion.
A lavishly illustrated volume, this popular history of the French press from its beginnings with Renaudot’s Gazette in 1631 offers a surprising amount of illuminating material. Most of the volume is spent on the late nineteenth and twentieth century press. Magazines play a part in the narrative, but the main utility of the volume is for high-quality background information.
Forsdick, Charles and Andy Stafford, eds. 2013. La Revue: the Twentieth-Century Periodical in French. Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien Peter Lang.
Acknowledging the dearth of studies of French magazines as magazines, this collection seeks to remedy that with 19 essays, mostly in English but some in French, centred on individual, mainly niche, magazines. Notably, there is a chapter on the history of French-language magazines in Mauritius.
Kalifa, Dominique, Phillipe Régnier, Marie-Ève Thérenty, Allain Vallant, eds. 2011. La Civilisation du journal: Histoire culturelle et littéraire de la presse française au XIXe siècle. Paris: Nouveau Monde.
At almost 1800 pages and with 116 essays (many like long encyclopedia entries) by 60 contributors, this volume is to the study of French periodicals what the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (q.v.) aspired to do for British: push periodical writing to the forefront of nineteenth-century studies. While it is not restricted to magazines, magazines play a very large role here. This is certainly the obvious place to start for a study of the nineteenth-century French magazine, though the emphasis is decidedly literary rather than technological or economic.
Mesche, Rachel. 2013. Having it all in the Belle Epoque: How French Magazines invented the Modern Woman. Stanford, CA: Stanfird University Press.
Despite the sensationalist title, this is a well-researched study of the dialogue between magazines, literary production and feminism, focussing on two photographic magazines aimed at women La Vie Heureuse (The Happy Life, 1902-1917) and Femina (1901-1954)
Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France (BBF), http://bbf.enssib.fr.
The Bulletin provides much useful information on new bibliographies, digital projects, and academic articles about bibliographic issue. The site includes the entire back catalogue of the BBF revue since its beginnings in 1956.
Two related open-access reference sources, the equivalent of the pay-walled Waterloo Indexes to nineteenth-century British and Irish periodicals, these are updates of paper versions published first in 1974 and subsequently. Links to digital facsimiles are provided where these exist, and there are extremely useful and informative welcome pages outlining the scope of the Dictionnaires. This is an essential resource for the study of early magazines in France.
A massive, user-friendly open-access digitization project sponsored by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Gallica includes many periodicals. Usefully, it links up to other digital holdings, such as the Bibliothèque numérique de Roubaix (an online local history archive), and provides brief background information on individual daily newspapers as well as periodical and press history.
Système universitaire de documentation (SUDOC) http://www.sudoc.abes.fr
SUDOC is the online union catalogue of French university libraries. It includes Myriade, a union catalogue of 250,000 periodical titles in French libraries and archive centres, including 2,000 non-university institutions, such as municipal libraries. Not digitized it is invaluable as a finding aid.
Journaux de la Revolution de 1848
This database, available as part of Gale Cengage’s (q.v.) Archives Unbound, and thus available only to subscribing institutions, offers fully text searchable facsimiles of newspaper and magazine titles published in France 1848-1852.
An open-access site, this offers text-searchable access to over 170 collections comprising some 530,000 documents, including facsimiles of numerous learned journals in French such as the Journal des Savants (from 1910 to today) . The earliest material dates from 1840, though the main focus is on twentieth and twenty-first century materials..