Le Petit Journal des Refusées
Date of Publication:
Jul. 1, 1896
Place of Publication:
San Francisco, CA
Frequency of Publication:
Once (intended quarterly)
Less than 1,000
James Marrion, 2nd; pseudonym for Gelett Burgess
(irregular pages) 7″ x 8 3/4″ x 5″ x 5 1/2.” Sixteen pages of heavily-illustrated satirical fiction, poetry, music, and one essay or letter from the editor.
James Marrion, 2nd; pseudonym for Gelett Burgess
Libraries with Original Issues:
Princeton University Library
Drucker, Johanna. Le Petit Journal. Houston: Rice University Press, 2009.
The cover of Le Petit Journal des Refusées advertises that it will be published quarterly, but the magazine appeared only once. That issue came out in the summer of 1896 in San Francisco, California, a city that was not “attracting the same attention as that of other cosmopolitan centers,” but had a lively Bohemian scene (“Bohemian by Design” np). Le Petit Journal was the creation of Gelett Burgess. The other contributors, if there were any, are unknown.
Le Petit Journal is sixteen pages long, intricately illustrated by hand, printed on wallpaper cut into trapezoids, “and full of parodic references” (“Bohemian by Design” np). The small volume claims to print only “productions that have been ruthlessly rejected” at least three times “by less large-hearted and appreciative editors” (Le Petit Journal 3). All of the pieces in Le Petit Journal are attributed to women whose names, such as Alice Rainbird and Lulu Lamb, signal to the reader that they are fictitious.
While the mysterious and short-lived journal is humorous, it is also seriously well-informed of the trends of American and British magazines. Gelett seems to be poking fun at the quick rise of magazines because of the breadth and specificity of the magazines (real and invented) he names as having refused the “exceptional merit” of “female authoresses.” There is a magazine for everything, Gelett illustrates, yet there is not a place for these refused works. Until, of course, with playful absurdity, Gelett creates one.
Le Petit Journal had a small circulation that did not extend past San Francisco. Nevertheless, it is “important as a precursor of the more ambitious little magazines, offering hints of Dada and Surrealism before these modes of modernism existed” (Scholes np).
In the first and only issue of Le Petit Journal des Refusées, the “redacteur-en-chef,” James Marrion, 2nd (the pseudonym of Gelett Burgess), writes about the motivation for starting this journal:
“From the standpoint of those controversialists whom it is thought by certain parties are quite reliable on matters of Literature but who we constantly find making gratuitous allusions of an uncomplimentary character to the feminine authoresses of the day who most of all others deserve out leniency and in most cases are equally as good as the balance of literary commonly signalized by the infallible ear-marks of the petticoat – women should not write; but it may be pled the exceptional merit of some of their work deserves every praise and condones the commission of errors which even the best of us cannot help. In the P.J.R. some of their productions that have been ruthlessly rejected by less large-hearted and appreciative editors than myself are permitted to witness the light of day for the rest and last time; their extreme beauty is due only to the exceptional ability of their fair makers and I take pleasure in opening to their crushed and despairing spirits this opportunity to get into print.”
Gelett Burgess (Jan. 30, 1866- Sept. 18, 1951)
Gelett Burgess was born in Boston, MA, in 1866 and attended MIT. He moved to the California and held a position teaching technical drawing at the University of California at Berkeley until he was dismissed for “defacing a statue” of an eminent dentist (“Bohemian by Design” np). His literary career began in 1894 when he became the associate editor of the San Francisco entertainment magazine, The Wave. In 1895 he started the humorous monthly magazine, The Lark. He became famous for the nonsensical poetry he published in The Lark, especially “A Purple Cow” (“I never saw a purple cow, / I never hope to see one; / But I can tell you anyhow, / I’d rather see than be one.”). The Lark ran for two years, until 1897 (“Bohemian by Design” np). Burgess edited and published the only issue of Le Petit Journal in 1896, but did it under the name “James Marrion, 2nd.”
James Marrion, 2nd
Editor, “Ghost of a Flea”
Burgess, at the time of Le Petit Journal‘s publication, was the editor of The Lark. The Lark had a group of regular contributors who came to be called “les jeunes.” “Les jeunes” included Willis Polk, Yone Noguchi, Maynard Dixon, Carolyn Wells, Florence Lundborg, Porter Garnett, and others (Drucker “Le Petit Journal”).
Drucker, Johanna. Bohemian by Design: Gelett Burgess and Le Petit Journal des Refusees. Connexions. 1 June 2009.
Drucker, Johanna. “Le Petit Journal des Refusees: A Graphical Reading.” Victorian Poetry 48.1 (2010): 137- 169. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 12 Sept. 2010.
Faxon, Frederick Winthrop. Bibliography of Modern Chap-Books. Boston: The Boston Book Company, 1903.
“Le Petit Journal des Refusées.” Modernist Journals Project. Web. 13 Jun 2016.
Scholes, Robert and Sean Latham. “Modernist Journals Project.” (n.d.): MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 12 Sept. 2010.
“Le Petit Journal des Refusées” compiled by Zoe Balaconis (Class of ‘11, Davidson College)