Editor’s Notes & Cover Art

About the Cover

Our cover design by John Pickard features Forester’s Child, 1931, by photographer August Sander (1876–1964).

After his training as a photographer, Sander began professional work, at first in Linz on the Danube and after 1911 in Cologne. Here he developed the idea for his famous work People of the 20th Century, which was conceived as 500-600 photographs, primarily of people from various social groups and professions.

Some of the portraits appeared in 1929 in the publication Face of our Time (in 1936 this was confiscated by the National Socialists).

The great importance of his work is recognized within the history of photography, especially in regard to its conceptual structure. With his precise and clear photography style, Sander is considered to be a precursor of the Neue Sachlichkeit.

Photo and biographical information courtesy of Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, Germany.

Cover research by Nanette Black

Editor’s Notes

The KR Treasure Trove

About the time this magazine lands in mailboxes and bookstores, back issues of The Kenyon Review—nearly seventy years of stories, poems, reviews, and essays—will be available for the first time on the Internet. This important new capability complements other electronic initiatives we have developed over the past two years, including KROnline, regular podcasts, and a daily literary blog, all designed to reach a much larger, more international, and probably younger audience. It is an extraordinary moment.

Readers around the world will have access to this rich archive through a link at the newly redesigned kenyonreview.org. The actual files are hosted by an innovative nonprofit organization called JSTOR, which was developed by the Mellon Foundation in order to broaden access to literary and scholarly journals.

I have written earlier that The Kenyon Review aspires to a certain timelessness—that when a reader opens an issue years from now and discovers a story by Holly Goddard Jones or a poem by Carl Phillips, the work will seem as fresh, as startling, as powerful as do pieces by Robert Lowell or Flannery O’Connor or Joyce Carol Oates from decades past. An editor’s job, then, becomes something more than assembling individual issues that appear every three months, displacing the last only to be displaced and forgotten in turn. Rather, the responsibility becomes curatorial as well, preserving the past and anticipating, as best one can, the future. Voices that were new and unknown may well be celebrated in time, but the work remains.

Almost from the moment—perhaps a decade ago?—that the creative opportunities of the Internet first drizzled through my awareness, I have been hoping to make the entire run of The Kenyon Review available online. After all, we want as many people to read as much of KR as possible—that’s central to our mission. At first we were hampered by the sheer scale of the project, scanning over two hundred issues of the magazine, page by page, into a database that would be searchable by author, title, date, and so on. We lacked the resources and the staff—not to mention the hardware and software—to take on such a daunting project.

Then last year The New York Times ran a fascinating story on Google Book—the ambitious project launched by that Internet behemoth to digitize over the next decade and beyond most every book ever printed. As one would expect, such a gargantuan undertaking has already encountered significant hurdles, practical, principled, legal. Yet given Google’s all-but-limitless resources—and their considerable chutzpah—the ultimate goal ought not be dismissed lightly.

Made curious by the story in the Times, we considered approaching Google to see whether a collaboration might be possible. Perhaps this would be the answer to my decade-long yearning—using their resources to do what we alone could not, and thus making the treasure trove of the KR archive available to the world.

I confess that conversations in our offices were thoughtful and even a little heated. Were we making a pact with the devil? Did we risk losing control of KR content? More to the point: Could we afford to forego income we now receive through royalties? What would this mean for the operating budget?

As for any not-for-profit arts organization, the loss of budgeted revenue must be a cause for prudent concern. But it was in the course of these discussions that I grasped an important truth with a new certainty: as a not-for-profit we exist to serve the community, not to make money with all of our activities. We are in the business not of business but of ensuring the widest possible readership for The Kenyon Review. As my eleven-year-old daughter would surely opine: “duh.” If through other efforts, our writing programs, subscriptions, gifts from friends, and income from the KR endowment, we can raise the necessary cash to make up the difference, then the potential loss of royalties shouldn’t prevent our taking this bold step.

As it turns out, our research brought us to JSTOR, an alternative not to any devil but simply to what Google offered. Our next issue, Winter 2009, will celebrate the seventieth anniversary of The Kenyon Review’s first. I am truly delighted that we can anticipate that commemoration with this achievement of access for readers everywhere to KR’s peerless archive.

— D. H. L.

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