Stella Steyn
[ 1907 - 1987 ]

    transition No. 18, 1929

Contributors include Eugene Jolas, Kay Boyle, J. Bronowski, Hart Crane, Harry & Caresse Crosby and Paul Klee. The cover was designed by Kurt Schwitters.

[photo from]

from Paul Bowles to Bruce Morrissette

December 13, 1929, New York City:

   . . . writing with the new transition, out today, in my cap. It is [word missing] the most important review published. It does no good to revile it or to ridicule it; it is like the Mercury was a few years ago: it pops up and goes right on like a wartank. Only now it has become an institution. People are using the word "transitionish" when referring to ultimae thules of any modernism in art. But after all, why not? It deserves its popularity. One recalls the modest "natal number," sage green cover, looking like a thin "roman à 10 fr." now an elephantine thing. 295 pages, red and yellow cover by Schwitters (the man of Hannover about whom I told you, he who gives vocal sonatas at home), with the inscription: transition no. 18. from instinct to new compostion, word lore, totality, magic, synthesism.

Its table of contents is divided into six parts: the Synthesist Universe (or Dreams and the Chthonian Mind), Little Anthology, Explorations, Revolution of the Words, Work in Progress (J. Joyce) and Narrative. The Synthesist Universe uses at least six score words that nobody ever heard of, but which can all be found in the unabridged. The Anthology seems excellent, with such as Kay Boyle, Hart Crane, Bravig Imbs (still my minion) and Edgar Calmer.

Explorations devotes itself in the main to cutting Joyce up into millions of little pieces and tagging them; Asyndeton, Hypotyposis, Chiasmus, Auxis, Paregmenon, and on and on. The Revolution of the Word is engrossing, consisting as it does of lengthy articles and poems in la nouvelle française, cette langue amusante; also of a tale in what Jolas names palaeologisms. The Work in Progress as usual is obscene and guffawing and Narratives are quite good.

In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles
    Jeffrey Miller, Ed., Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1994 p. 17, 18.

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