[PW] Request help tracing Rebecca West quotation in 1928 Saturday Evening Post

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 05:53:17 PDT 2015

A quotation ascribed to the notable British author Rebecca West has
been included in several important compilations, e.g., The Yale Book
of Quotations (2006) and The Times Book of Quotations (2000).
Intriguingly, there are two versions that differ by a single word:

[Begin two quotations]
(1) There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There
are interesting monologues, that is all.

(2) There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There
are intersecting monologues, that is all.
[End two quotations]

Quotation number 2 appeared in the 1935 collection "The Harsh Voice:
Four Short Novels" by Rebecca West. The goal of this note is to verify
the publication details of quotation number 1 which I believe appeared
in The Saturday Evening Post in 1928. The quotation occurred at the
very beginning of a short story titled "There Is No Conversation" in
the later 1935 reprint. But the word was altered from the 1928
publication, apparently.

There are some online databases of page scans of "The Saturday Evening
Post", but the database I have access to begins in 1931 which is too

Here is the metadata for the target citation. The short story was
apparently published in two issues, but I think the quotation is in
the first issue near the beginning of the story.

Date: December 8, 1928 and December 15, 1928
Periodical: The Saturday Evening Post
Volume: 201
Story Title: There Is No Conversation
Author: Rebecca West
Start Page 6 in Dec. 8 issue (Unknown pages in Dec. 15 issue;
Google Books lists Page 120 for the match. I do not know why.

(Metadata from Database: Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (H.W.
Wilson); not yet verified on paper; data may be inaccurate; some
bibliographies list December 8 and December 15 as if the story ran in
two issues)

[Begin extracted text from Google Books]
There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are
interesting monologues, that is all. We speak; we spread round us with
sounds, with words, an emanation from ourselves.
[End extracted text]

The goal is to obtain a complete and accurate citation. A scan of the
table of contents showing the date and article title together with a
scan of the story page containing the quotation would be great.
Alternatively, simple visual verification is ok.

If you wish to read some additional background then you may examine an
article I wrote that grouped the quotation with other remarks about

Most Conversations Are Simply Monologues Delivered in the Presence of a Witness

Please let me know if you can help.

With appreciation,
Garson O'Toole

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