The Dynamiter – first punk mag?

At a revolutionary printing office*

Found - a review in a 'monthly magazine of bibliography' Book Lore (1886) of  a new magazine The Dynamiter : a record of literary bombshells, books old and new, flung into the camp of the orthodox [London : Printed and published for the proprietor by Thomas Shore**, Jun.,] WorldCat shows that it  went to just one issue. The only copy in world libraries is at the British Library in Euston. Amazon list it as 'currently unavailable' assigning it the ASIN number ASIN: B0000EF989. The publisher, and probably the author, seems to have been a minor John Camden Hotten style publisher of the curious, seditious & the scabrous. WorldCat lists another work almost certainly by  by him:

Men V. Machinery. Suggestive Facts and Figures, urging National Control of National Powers of Production. By Thomas Shore. With Preface by H. Halliday Sparling. 20 pp., price 2d. 

This hints at quite advanced, possibly revolutionary, political views and brings to mind the world of Conrad's The Secret Agent and nihilists in blue-tinted glasses... Shore's 1886 periodical was eight pages in length and printed on red paper rendering it hard to read. It may have been a simple bookish curiosity about strange and outlandish books, not uncommon at the time. However the Book Lore review mention of "oatmeal upon which to cultivate literature and revolution" and "blood red paper" suggests a more provocative, contrarian purpose and it may have a place in a completist collection of punk literature (along with Wyndham Lewis's puce monster BLAST also 'flung into the camp of the orthodox' 28 years later.) The review in Book Lore reads thus: [We have left in the news item that follows it suggesting John Ruskin was a graffiti artist.]

No. I of The Dynamiter, which is said to be "a record of Literary Bombshells, books old new, flung into the camp of the orthodox," consists of eight quarto pages, printed on blood-red  paper, and the editor says that since "every man has to pay rent, rates, and taxes, as well as buy food and clothing, it is a farce to talk about working wholly and solely for love of a cause."  The information supplied by this engaging print is not, judging from the solitary number before us, of any value; and when the pamphlets of Mrs. Annie Besant are recommended for careful perusal, it is about time to draw the line. Book-lovers are nearly all Conservative, and there is nothing they detest so much as "bombshells." Hence we prophesy that the Dynamiter will not ruin the eyesight of many, or be productive of much "oatmeal upon which to cultivate literature and revolution."

Mr. Ruskin is generally supposed to have a pious reverence for works of art, and it is hardly to be conceived that he, of all men in the world, would so far forget himself as to carve "J. RUSKIN" on the top of the Shepherd's Tower at Florence. The name, however is there in all its glory cheek by jowl with some score of "Smiths" and " Robinsons." This fact having grieved a distinguished literary correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette, the hideous inscription has been carefully examined, with the result that the legend has been found to have had a  natural growth out of the fact that one of the "Asiatic Horde" named "J. Bruskinsky" or something like that, has cut his barbaric appellation there, and time (or an American humorist) has partly obliterated the beginning and end of the inscription.  This sounds very circumstantial, and we certainly think Mr Ruskin should be written to at once  and asked whether he did or did not commit the enormity laid at his charge. The "characteristic answer," if indeed one were vouchsafed would probably be far away in advance of the American humorists feeble joke.

* Russian government destroying a Nihilist printing-office. Source: James Hunter, Young People's History of the World (Philadelphia: The International Publishing Company, 1897) Copyright © 2004–2015 Florida Center for Instructional Technology. 

**There is some good information on Shore and the whole text of his pamphlet Men V. Machinery at The Luddite Bicentenary blog. The text is not incendiary but very much to the left and against greed and exploitation. Much of it seems acutely prescient as he sees the machine (now electric) eroding jobs and enriching the few. Here is a flavour of his writing:

...conceive of our whole railway system managed by a board of millionaires owning the whole controlling power. The very first result of this would be the equalisation of all fares, and the throwing out of employ of thousands of booking and checking clerks; for just as we to-day buy toffee and almond rock, cigarettes, cigars, matches, postcards, and pocket-books in every railway station, so we should then help ourselves to our railway ticket from an automatic. This may seem to some as mere joking, but it is meant in sober seriousness and in face of the developments in machines during the last thirty years, is not to be lightly set aside. How many “try-your-weight” boys has the automatic machine put out of a job during the last two years? and every day brings forth some new supply box ; and the apprentice of Old London who stood outside his master's shop crying “What d'ye lack?” to-day appears in an automatic machine screwed to the door-step or window-frame.

2 thoughts on “The Dynamiter – first punk mag?

  1. admin Post author

    Many thanks Jim. Yes, the periodical's title was probably suggested by RLS's book, or it was a word that was in the air at the time.


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