TRANSITION: The History of a Literary Era 1927-38 by Dougald McMillan

TRANSITION: The History of a Literary Era 1927-38

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McMillan chronicles the short, iffy, brilliant existence of the Paris-based ""little magazine"" transition, brainchild of the American-Alsatian journalist Eugene Jolas, whom he presents as not only a discerning editor but a significant cultural cross-fertilizer. In addition to publishing the work of well-known American expatriates (Gertrude Stein, Kay Boyle), and voices from home (Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams), Jolas opened up some major contemporary European orientations--Dada, surrealism, and German expressionism--to the American public. He himself saw these movements as part of a ""pan-romantic"" attempt to ""expand human consciousness"" most profoundly realized in Joyce's famous ""Work in Progress""--Finnegans Wake, of which large portions appeared in transition. McMillan attributes great significance to transition's espousal of a ""verticalist"" credo emphasizing verbal (as opposed to imagist) structures and the creative faculty of the collective and individual subconscious. Even without the overshadowing presence of Joyce, the range of transition's accomplishment is literally dumbfounding; the title pages (reproduced in their entirety in an appendix) run the gamut from Erwin Panofsky on ""Style and Medium in the Moving Pictures"" to a 1937 ""Poem"" by Dylan Thomas (""Then Was My Neophyte""), Kafka's ""Metamorphosis"" (printed for the first time in English), and photography and graphics by Man Ray, Paul Strand, Max Ernst, George Grosz, Picasso, LÉger, Kandinsky. McMillan's pleasant, conscientious exploration has much of value for both popular and academic audiences.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1976
Publisher: Braziller