L’Esprit was founded in February 2022, the centenary month of the publication of Ulysses. The journal was thus born in celebration of the literary revolution of consciousness represented by High Modernism, and seeks to publish work in that spirit.
L’Esprit searches for fearless, audacious, innovative writing that takes risks at the sentence level and immerses itself in the slippery, wondrous underworld of the mind. Interior-focused, character-driven, language-first work is core to our aesthetic principles, writing that eschews convention and experiments at both the technical and formal levels. From Associate Editor Jessica Denzer’s conversation regarding her essay but all is to be dared: “But I think all those writers, even though they’re doing different things, have perfected something that I’m always trying to do: they work from the flow of the sentence, the poetry of it. Even in the most gut wrenching of moments, it’s their language that roots it onto the page and so into the reader’s mind. It’s the language that comes first to reveal the idea, the experience, and the feeling.”
The rendering of consciousness via advanced literary techniques allows fiction to portray the human experience across disparate cultures and societies, and discuss important realities of the modern world by shedding light on the universal nature of diverse lives. Think Virginia Woolf—both Mrs. Dalloway and “Modern Fiction”—think James Joyce—both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake—and think Rachel Cusk, Lucy Corin, David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith, Renata Adler. Rich prose and vividly rendered scenes, peopled by psychologically complex characters engaged in authentic, verisimilar stories constitute L’Esprit’s raison d’être.
L’Esprit is entirely nonprofit. Any future profits will go towards paying our contributors, which we aim to do. The journal is a labor of literary expression, with a goal of championing the most fearless, unconventional, risk-adept writing we can find.
L’Esprit’s motto, in medium mentem, is borrowed with great admiration from Dorrit Cohn’s seminal study of rendering consciousness in fiction, Transparent Minds.