Heretics and Hellraisers
I WAS FIRST attracted to the feminist socialist magazine called The Masses by its wit, its irreverence, its committed and intelligent treatment of social issues. At the time of this first encounter I was completely ignorant of how the magazine had been represented in subsequent histories; hence I enjoyed the art of Cornelia Barns equally with that of Art Young, Adriana Spadoni's fiction alongside of John Reed's, Helen Marot's articles on labor issues as much as the essays of Floyd Dell, without
... any sense that I was paying disproportionate attention to merely "minor 55 -which is to say, female-contributors. Precisely because I had been so deeply impressed with the work of women of The Masses-as by that of many interesting male contributors-when I began to read the literature about The Masses, I was at once forcibly struck by a sense of something missing. Most of these histories and anthologies-William L. O'Neill's Echoes of Revolt is an admirable exception-deal eloquently and perceptively with the work of Masses men, but (except for occasional allusions to the more colorful excesses of feminine Greenwich Village bohemianism) hardly mention Masses women at all. As for women's intellectual contribution to the magazine, it apparentiy was nonexistent. Where are the pointed, witty, speculative essays of Elsie Clews Parsons? The stories of Helen Hull and Mary Heaton Vorse? The verse of Elizabeth Waddell and Jean Starr Untermeyer? Cornelia Barns' marvelous, original drawings?-so profusely scattered through the Masses' pages that to imagine them removed is immediately to imagine a duller magazine? The present book, then, represents an attempt to accord the women contributors of The Masses, if not justice, at least the kind of attention hitherto devoted only to their male counterparts-to examine not only the work of those contributors whose careers began and ended with The Masses, but the subsequent lives and writings of those, like Helen Hull, Mary Vorse, Dorothy Day, Elsie Parsons, Inez Irwin, who enjoyed productive careers thereafter.