Conrad First The Joseph Conrad Periodical Archive

Cosmopolis (London, UK)

August 1897

Printed in London between January 1896 and November 1898, Cosmopolis: An International Review offered itself as a forum for European culture and international understanding in a time of escalating nationalism and militarism. The magazine also appeared, with a different cover, in Paris, Berlin, and (from January 1897) St Petersburg, in effect, comprising several local editions. Each issue contained three sections--in English, French, and German, respectively--which combined political commentary, reviews, biography, and new fiction. Of several sections planned in other languages, only the Russian was realized before the journal's untimely demise. Cosmopolis was edited by Fernand Ortmans, Baron de Senechal, described by The New York Times as 'a linguist of note and a member of all the prominent politico-literary clubs of London and Paris'. Its circulation was around 20,000.

During its brief lifetime of thirty-five issues Cosmopolis attracted an extraordinary array of contributors. It published reviews of literature and drama by Andrew Lang, Emile Faguet, Anton Bettelheim, Leo Tolstoy, Edmund Gosse, George Wyndham, Israel Zangwill, Georges Brandes, Max Burckhard, and Hermann Sudermann. It printed essays on history, international politics, the press, and the arts by contributors from a wide range of national and political backgrounds, including Theodor Mommsen, George Moore, T.H.S. Escott, Paul Bourget, Maurus Jokai, W.B. Yeats, Olive Schreiner, George Meredith, Vernon Lee, Anatole France, Frederic Harrison, Justin McCarthy, Arthur Symons, Arthur Schnitzler, Theodor Barth, Pierre de Courbertin, Max Muller, Charles Dilke, George Bernard Shaw, Eduard Bernstein, Henry Hyndman, Maurice Barres, Jean Jaures, Wilhelm Liebknecht, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. The magazine serialized Robert Louis Stevenson's The Weir of Hermiston, Henry James's The Figure in the Carpet, George Gissing's 'A Yorkshire Lass', Pierre Loti's 'Le Mur d'en face', Marcel Schwob's 'L'etoile de Bois', Fiona McLeod's 'The Wayfarer', and Rudyard Kipling's 'Slaves of the Lamp'. And it was in Cosmopolis in May 1897 that Stephane Mallarme chose to publish his landmark poem 'Un coup de des' in a typographically revolutionary layout.

In Britain, Cosmopolis was published by T. Fisher Unwin, Conrad's own publisher at this time. After Ortmans declined Conrad's 'The Idiots' in July 1896, Unwin sought to arrange a personal meeting between the two men, and exerted himself to help Conrad place 'An Outpost of Progress' in the magazine. Although he did not share Unwin's Liberalism, and was scornful of the peace movement and international arbitration, Conrad's satire on the criminal administration of the Congo Free State sat well with the magazine's aims. Of this 'story of the Congo . . . the life in a lonely station on the Kassai', Conrad told a correspondent: 'All the bitterness of those days, all my puzzled wonder as to the meaning of all I saw--all my indignation at masquerading philanthropy--have been with me again, while I wrote' (CL 1:294).

A disagreement over the story's asking price (50 pounds) was smoothed over by Ortmans sending a concilatory letter to Conrad, who told a correspondent in private: 'That Magazine pays me very well . . . and I intend to sell them more of my work' (CL 1:350). Although he opposed the story's division into two parts, complaining that 'The sting of the thing is in its tail--so that the first instalment, by itself will appear utterly meaningless--and by the time the second number comes out people would have forgotten all about it and would wonder at my sudden ferocity', he did not fail to see the publicity value of serialization in this remarkable periodical, observing in June 1897: 'The Sat[urday] Review notices my story in the Cosmo[polis] with great discrimination' (CL 1:335, 363).

Cosmopolis, 1896-1898. Gallica, Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Complete run.
The Cosmopolis Archive. Contains full table of contents for all issues, including supplements in Russian. (NB. Link provided via The Way Back When Engine.)
Davies, Laurence, et al., ed. The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983-2007. 9 vols.
de Saint-Victor, Carol. 'Cosmopolis'. British Literary Magazines: The Victorian and Edwardian Age, 1837-1913. Ed. Alvin Sullivan. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1984. 85-92.
'Mrs P. F. Baring Engaged to be Married to Baron F. Ortmans of Paris by Mayor Van Wyck'. New York Times, 8 October 1900.
Reid, Julia. 'The Academy and Cosmopolis: Evolution and Culture in Robert Louis Stevenson's Periodical Encounters'. Culture and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Media. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. Ed. Louise Henson et al. 263-74.