Friday, June 5, 2009

REPETITION or insistance

Book Expo the annual publishers show settled down in New York City. In the few weeks before it I had been invited to meet some distinguished authors who would reveal to me what goes on in the mind of an automobile dealer, how a former powerful executive deals with bone cancer, the art and practice of dog fighting and how stones and gardens can heal my mind. There would also be famous “literary” writers and politicians on display: Sherman Alexie would be there.

In 1929 Margaret Anderson decided to close THE LITTLE REVIEW, the magazine she and Jean Heap edited with the sometimes help of Ezra Pound. In the course of 15 years it published the early work of among others: T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, Evelyn Scott and Djuana Barnes.

James Joyce serialized “Ulysses” in the magazine.

Anderson wrote in afterword for an anthology of some of the writings that had appeared in the magazine, “In 1929, in Paris, I decided that the time had come to end the Little Review. Our mission was accomplished; contemporary art had “arrived”; and for a hundred years, perhaps, the literary world would produce only: repetition.”

80 years on from the closing of the Little Review can anyone argue with Anderson?

Yes, she missed publishing Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and that is about it, really.

It is known that both Beckett and Faulkner read the Little Review so as to make sure they would not be repeating too much…

20 years from today will there even be books? Will the repetition have come to an end?

Any evidence for that hope is pretty thin, at the moment.

If you doubt the end of the book as we know it today ask yourself the question: when was the last time you used a typewriter?

(homage to G. Stein for those who know the reason)