Pagany: A Native Quarterly
Date of Publication:
Jan. 1930 – Mar. 1933
Place(s) of Publication:
Boston & New York City
Frequency of Publication:
~1,000 initially printed
Self-published by editor Richard Johns
Roughly 9″ x 6″. Soft cover with a total run of three volumes. Each volume was comprised of four separate “numbers” with roughly 150 pages per number. The cover varied in color but always included the Pagany title in a black text, the titular symbol designed by Virginia Lee Burton (a tree with fruit, surrounded by a fence), followed by a list of all of the contributors in the same, capitalized type and size to symbolize equal importance. Each page allowed for forty-two lines of text with a long running line of type along the margins. There were no illustrations.
Libraries with Original Issues:
University of Delaware Library; Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository; Davidson College Library (microform)
Halpert, Stephen and Richard Johns, editors. A Return to Pagany: The History, Correspondence, and Selections from a Little Magazine, 1929-1932, Beacon Press, 1969.
Announcement by editor Richard Johns:
“A new magazine should announce a reason for existence”: PAGANY, perhaps, more than another, for it will avoid any attempt to seek a standard, it is neither entering into connexion nor competition with any magazine trying to make a point, to formulate a policy. There is much danger in such freedom, in leaving unarticulated one or two precepts of editorial limitation. Yet even a hint of regimen is made impossible by the connotations of the title.
Pagus is a broad term, meaning any sort of collection of peoples from the smallest district or village to the country as an inclusive whole. Taking America as the pagus, anyone of us as the paganus, the inhabitant, and our conceptions, our agreements and disagreements, our ideas, ideals, whatever we have to articulate is pagany, our expression.
This Native Quarterly is representative of a diverse and ungrouped body of spokesmen, bound geographically. Wary of definite alliance with any formulated standard, PAGANY (as an enclosure) includes individual expression of native thought and emotion.
Manifesto by Williams Carlos Williams:
“The ghosts so confidently laid by Francis Bacon and his followers are again walking in the laboratory as well as beside the man in the street,” the scientific age is drawing to a close. Bizarre derivations multiple about us, mystifying and untrue as — an automatic revolver. To what shall the mind turn for that with which to rehabilitate our thought and our lives? To the word, a meaning hardly distinguishable from that of place, in whose great, virtuous and at present little realized potency we hereby manifest our belief.
Announcement and Manifesto are quoted as they appear in Pagany Volume 1, Number 1 (1930).
Richard Johns (Oct. 29, 1904- Jun. 17, 1970)
Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Richard Johns (1904-1970) was the son of a wealthy Boston attorney (Brooker 259). After failing to complete high school, Johns published several of his poems in small literary magazines in New York and Boston (Halpert 7). While in New York, Johns occasionally studied literature at Columbia University, and became acquainted William Carlos Williams’ short-lived but influential magazine Contact, which ran from 1920 to 1921 (Halpert 7). In 1929, at the age of twenty-four, Johns wrote to Williams with an idea for a little magazine called Pagany, a title borrowed from Williams’ 1928 novel A Voyage to Pagany (Brooker 259). Though William’s gave Johns his blessing to use the title, he declined to serve as a co-editor, instead preferring to offer informal advice (Halpert 6).
Armed with a fifteen hundred dollar loan from his father, Johns printed 1,000 copies of Pagany in its first run, and devoted the next three years of his life to the magazine (Halpert 34). Johns operated under an “American only” policy, hoping to celebrate and explore American poetry and literature. In 1931, Johns relocated the magazine to Manhattan, allowing him to expand his literary circles. Johns contributed a number of poems and other literary works to Pagany throughout its run (Halpert 211).
Johns’ father died in 1932, significantly decreasing John’s funds (Halpert 423). Coupled with the Great Depression, Pagany’s run ended after a belated February 1932 publication (Brooker 265). In 1934 Johns married Veronica Parker, collaborating with her on a series of mystery novels before moving to Cuttingsville, Vermont, where he worked as a photographer and horticulturist (Halpert 501). Johns died in October of 1970.
“‘Your Life, Sir!’”
William Carlos Williams
“The Work of Gertrude Stein”
“Four Bottles of Beer”
“Flowers by the Sea”
“Sea-Trout and Butterfish”
“Into the Shady Westerness”
“Five Words in a Line”
“Longface Mahoney Discusses Heaven”
“The Still Afternoon”
“A Swell-Looking Girl”
“Inspiration for Greatness”
“The Empty Room”
“The First Autumn”
“Strength Out of Sweetness”
“The Widow’s Jazz”
“Lady Laura in Bohemia”
Brooker, Peter and Andrew Thacker, editors. The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume II, North America 1894-1960. Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Halpert, Stephen and Richard Johns, editors. A Return to Pagany: The History, Correspondence, and Selections from a Little Magazine, 1929-1932. Beacon Press, 1969. Print.
Hoffman, Frederick J., Charles Allen, and Carolyn F. Ulrich. The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography. Princeton University Press, 1947. Print.
Compiled by Hannah Sommerlad (Class of ’19, Davidson College) and Annie Maisel (Class of ’19, Davidson College)