Tuesday, April 3, 2012



The front cover by John Goodwin.
The front flap showing the address on Rue Jacob.
The back flap with prices in French francs and American dollars.
A personal inscription from an unknown previous owner.

Although James Campbell states that the first issue of ZERO was published in the spring of 1949, the advertisement in the back of POINTS 6 pegged its appearance as sometime in January of 1950.


Planted among the sparse advertisements for bookshops and restaurants
at the back of the early numbers of Points was a notice announcing
the birth of another magazine. Zero. It was based in rue Jacob, in the
attic hotel room of a puckish American of Greek extraction, Themis-
tocles Hoetis, who had arrived in Paris in September 1948. Although
only twenty-three, he was officially a war veteran with a disability
pension, having been shot down over Normandy. The magazine which
he founded in partnership with a friend from Brooklyn, Asa Benven-
iste, can lay claim to being the first entirely English-language literary
magazine in Paris after the war.

Hoetis and Benveniste went for a clutch of well-known writers—
Christopher Isherwood and William Carlos Williams both contributed
to the first issue—to bolster the efforts of the young Paris-based
hopefuls. The debut was planned for the end of 1948. Then it was
advertised in transition and Points for early 1949, but had to be post-
poned again because of the usual shortage of cash. Hoetis located a
printer near the Boulevard St.-Michel who would print the magazine
for $250, a sum well beyond the editors' reach. They eventually
scrambled it together with the help of a third party:

A young seventeen-year-old American I met by chance when landing
at Cherbourg the fall before was the key. I had helped him find a piece
of lost luggage in the dockyards, and although he was traveling on to
Switzerland by car and I to Paris by train, we exchanged addresses.
He visited our scene in Paris several times, and was made aware of our
 printing problems and agreed to help out. When my next disability
check came in early December, I sent it to him at his school near
Lausanne, whereupon he cashed it for double the amount of the official
French franc rate in Paris. He then smuggled it back to me by hollowing 
out a pocket in a thick old book and mailing it to my hotel. His name was 
Irving Thalberg, son of the actress Norma Shearer and MGM's famous
producer Irving Thalberg—the subject I later learned of Scott Fitzgerald's 
novel, The Last Tycoon. It was Irving junior who saved the day with 
smuggled cash for the first issue of Zero.

Zero was always going to need cash, smuggled, borrowed, or conned.
Marlon Brando was the target of a later sting. Vail, who faithfully
promoted Zero in his Points editorials, helped Hoetis out at one stage
with an unreturnable loan. He reported in Points 18 that the New
York Times stringer in Paris had "suggested I merge with Zero, give
them my money and let them do the work." Vail promised to call
the magazine "Zoints."

The first issue of Zero eventually appeared in the spring of 1949,
with a moon-faced sketch of its editor on the cover in bold black and
red strokes. In among the work of lsherwood, Kenneth Patchen, and
others, it included a significant pairing of writers, one famous and
the other unknown, one rich, the other penniless, both living in Paris
and both black.

Unlike Vail, Hoetis could offer no payment for the work he printed,
but he had succeeded in winkling a short story out of Richard Wright,
which had previously appeared only in French. It was called "The
Man Who Killed a Shadow"; it reiterated the theme of Native Son in
miniature (and of J'irai cracker sur vos tombes), and it was followed in
the pages of Zero, as if by a policeman on the point of arresting
it, by an essay called "Everybody's Protest Novel," the first Paris
publication—almost the first publication of any kind—by the twenty-
four-year-old James Baldwin.

From EXILED IN PARIS Copyright © 1995 by James Campbell.  All rights reserved.


Three Masks of Mallarme Wallace FOWLIE

Poems Of Manners Warren WIRTZ

Divination Mason HOFFENBERG

Old Man Kenneth PATCHEN

The Glacier Station Edward McGEHEE

A Departure Christopher ISHERWOOD

Bolivian Carnival Masks (Photographs) Bill CASKEY

3 Songs In Flight John GOODWiN

The Man Who Killed A Shadow Richard WRIGHT

Everybody's Protest Novel James BALDWIN

Line Drawing

Three In Two (Pen Drawings) Edith M. SMITH

All That is Perfect in Woman: William Carlos WILLIAMS

The Neophyte Weeps Albert BENVENISTE

The Sorrow of Young Irving Blue Yoxall Themistocles HOETIS

Notes on Contributors

Cover John GOODWIN


JAMES BALDWIN was born in New York City, 1924. Is in Paris now, completing a second novel.

BILL CASKEY is living in California having completed a series of photographs of South America which will accompany the text by Christopher Isherwood.

WALLACE FOWLIE is in Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship. His first novelSleep of the Pigeon was recently published in London by the Harvill Press.

JOHN GOODWIN has written children's books and short stories. Is primarily a painter and has spent the last two winters in Haiti painting pictures influenced by the Vodun culture. Is in Paris this winter painting and writing.

MASON HOFFENBERG was born in New York City and is now living in ParisDivination is his first published poem.

CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD's travel sketch The Departure is from a travel book tentatively called The Condor and the Cow.

EDWARD McGEHEE was born in Alabama and is living in Paris now, on a Rosenwald Fellowship, working on his second novel.

KENNETH PATCHEN's poem will be included in his next volume of poetry Red Vine and Yellow Hair which will be published this year by New Directions.

EDITH M. SMITH is a young Californian who has recently arrived in Paris. She lectured for a year in the Dept. of Decorative Art at the University of California, Has had one-man showings in Berkeley and at the University and has exhibited in the San Francisco Museum of Art and the San Francisco De Young Museum.

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS is working on Paterson III and living in New Jersey.

WARREN WIRTZ is a composer from Minneapolis living in Paris now and on a music fellowship. Several of his poems have been published recently in the New Directions 10 anthology.

RICHARD WRIGHT is permanently residing in Paris.

The two line drawings by Edith M. Smith (© Edith M. Smith)

The back pages of ZERO featured three ads, no in kind ad for POINTS included.

The following excerpts from the first issue are offered as scanned jpegs to avoid possible copyright violations to the estates of James Baldwin and Kenneth Patchen.

(James Baldwin photo courtesy the Schomberg Center)

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