In my last post I questioned exactly how my Pet book, The Irish Magazine or Monthly Asylum for Neglected Biographies, all issues from 1810, defined the word “neglected”. This week in class we began to discuss authority within a text whether it be authorial, editorial, or from the printer. I quickly began to realize for my own text, that editorial power far outweighed that of any one author and in truth that what was far more interesting than those things neglected in my Pet Book were the things included, pointed out, and brought attention to.
Most obviously, since my Pet Book is a serialization of a monthly magazine distributed throughout Ireland, many of the articles, poetry, and news reports are submissions; very little of its content seems to have been produced in house by reoccurring or regular authors. Even for those names that continue to reappear they are from specific societies such as the, Harp Society, explaining the pertinent news for those readers who may also subscribe to the society. There are similar instances for clergy appointments, reports from local newspapers and letters to the editor. In these instances a reader cannot be absolutely certain that any one author’s work is presented in full, with its original intent or even in proper formatting. Because the purpose of a magazine is to generate revenue, for all a reader knows the editor, as is the right with a magazine, could have changed the text in some manner. For every issue and every story the editor could have made an executive decision to make slight changes to a number of issues to improve readability, and or sway meaning to procure more subscriptions, more readers and therefore increased profits.
Similarly, what strikes me as peculiar is that throughout the magazine there are footnotes referencing any of the numerous types of writing, a conscious decision by the editor. The magazine itself is making commentary on the work it publishes. So beyond making choices over what is and is not included in an anthology of “neglected biographies”, The Irish Magazine continuously decides what is important for the reader, which sentences or concepts to highlight. Although some of the footnotes only alert the reader to specific time, dates, or events the authors are talking about and may be outside the scope of general knowledge, there were several that made commentary and or manifested specific opinions on the piece. With this influence of the editor, a reader is unable to make an individual opinion on the piece void of suggestion from said editor.
Lastly, and what I believe to be most crucial is that every single edition begins with the “Editor’s Address”, typically a page and a half, expressing some immediate concern of the magazine itself, or outlining those stories presented in any one issue. Before an individual can read any one story, the editor’s address determines the movement of the magazine as a whole. They set the stage for the reader, how they should be viewing the pieces included overall. Specifically, in the first edition, the Editor, unnamed, clears up some rumors that The Irish Magazine is not the “TMZ” of its era, as it tells the stories of numerous persons in the crux of legal troubles. The argument is that since the stories in its magazine are of those already considered guilty by the public, that it itself cannot beat blame for any appearance of being “slanderous”. Not only does this address suggest readers assume the persons in question are immediately guilty, it tries to reinstate its overall innocence and its credibility.
Although the magazine presents itself as a comprehensive entity in its coverage from month to month, there are obvious spatial and time restraints as to what fits into a roughly 45 to 50 page magazine. Inherently then the magazine itself must make those choices of what is and is not “neglected”, inevitably negating their use of the word “neglected” seeing as they only further distinguish between those works that are or are not worthy for publication.