transition was an interwar literary journal, which featured works by a transnational cadre of surrealists, expressionists, and Dadaists. It was established in 1927 by poet Eugene Jolas, and was published in Paris—the cradle of avant-garde sensibilities.
Jolas (working in conjunction with his wife, Maria McDonald; bookseller and expatriate, Sylvia Beach; and Lost Generation bon vivant, Harry Crosby) imagined the journal as a wellspring for thought-provoking art. He lamented that the market economy urged a simplification of language and literature. And thus, he toiled against the bare-bones zeitgeist, seeking art that was linguistically or visually innovative.
This experimental bent was unapologetically overt—even in the journal’s subtitles. From 1928 to 1930, transition bore the slogan “an international quarterly for creative experiment”; from 1932 to 1933, “an international workshop for orphic creation”; and in the summer of 1935, “an intercontinental workshop for vertigralist transmutation.”
transition ran through the spring of 1938—a mere 11 years. But in its 27 issues, it amassed an astounding pool of works by leading authors and artists, political activists, and critics. Volume 13, pictured above, sports an original illustration by Pablo Picasso. Other contributors included Samuel Beckett, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, William Carlos Williams, Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Paul Bowles, Gertrude Stein, Dylan Thomas, Marcel Duchamp, and Piet Mondrian.
One of the more famous works to appear in transition was James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Segments of the unfinished novel were published as Work in Progress.