Literary Journalism

In "The Critic as Artist," Wilde's spokesperson, Gilbert, rejects modern journalism as vapid, mediocre, and the embodiment of convention. Of the New Journalism of the final decades of the nineteenth century, Wilde is dismissive: it is "but the old vulgarity, "writ large." Literature (and art more broadly), stands in opposition to modern journalism, as a repository for the beautiful rather than the sordid in life. The problem with modern English society, however, was that "journalism is unreadable and literature is not read."

Howards End contains a few interesting references to the state of journalism and literature at the turn of the century. In a word, Forster associates journalism with the commercial classes. (The Wilcoxes are "just a wall of newspapers and motor-cars and golf clubs," according to Helen). Still, journalism moves the world, despite its lack of connection to the kind of "inner life" which the Schlegel sisters advocate. Forster's narrator prophetically talks about how war might be made between England and Germany by the patriotism and strong rhetoric of their respective "gutter press[es]." The narrator brings up the extent to which realities are made by words in reference to Margaret's fears that talking about Paul Wilcox will make Helen obsess about him more. Margaret thinks that were they to talk about Paul, "[t]hey were...Journalism" and their father "had been Literature," thus associating journalism with the ruinous effects of commercial capitalism and literature with the salutary effects of a liberalism which still believed in the capacity of the individual to transcend material contingencies.