About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black features a photo
collage assembled by Pat Dignan of Image Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
Photo credits: Marie Curie—the Nobel Museum; Albert Einstein—AIP
Emilio Segré Visual Archives, a gift of Stan Fraydas; Aung
San Suu Kyi—courtesy of Jeremy Woodrum, Free Burma Coalition.
Also featured in the collage is an enhanced rendering of the Louvre,
Paris, France, and excerpted text by Marie Curie and Martin Luther
Creativity—the drive to generate something
new from the materials about us or from the materials within our
own imagination, to discover what we didn’t know or couldn’t see
or simply failed to comprehend—this is a defining characteristic
of the human being across time and space. Whether we account for
it in Freudian terms of transmuted desires or as an expression of
cultural expectations or as an existential defiance in the face
of an indifferent cosmos, the creative urge is finally nothing less
than an articulation of life.
For one hundred years, the Nobel Prizes have honored
men and women for internationally significant achievements—creative
achievements—in literature, the sciences, and in the pursuit
of peace. In celebrating the centenary of these distinguished prizes,
it seems only appropriate, therefore, that this collaborative issue
of two literary magazines, The Kenyon Review (U.S.A.) and
Stand (U.K.), in association with the new Nobel Museum in
Stockholm, should be shaped by an overarching concern with creativity.
What a stunning array is collected here!
Paired with new poems by Seamus Heaney, Czeslaw
Milosz, and Wislawa Szymborska, we offer new translations of stunning,
deathbed poems of the Bengali laureate Rabindranath Tagore, as well
as a discussion of poetic form by Joseph Brodsky and Derek Walcott.
A little-known story by Australian Patrick White reminds us of his
literary mastery. And a scene from a new play, written by chemistry
laureate Roald Hoffmann and Carl Djerassi, muses playfully on just
who may have been responsible for identifying—discovering—oxygen.
Tagore, we discover, carried on a correspondence
with Albert Einstein, and the two met as well in Germany. They worry,
fret, debate the nature of creativity, both in its immediate practical
dimensions and its larger implications for the nature of the divine
in relation to the human. The powerful dialogue, as these two men,
physicist and poet, attempt to understand each other, is represented
here more fully than ever before.
Creativity plays its direct and often surprising
role in scientific research as well, as Robert Friedel wonderfully
elucidates in a consideration of serendipity and the manifold ways
it manifests itself to eyes that are able to see. Herbert Simon,
an economist, writes here about intelligence and the myth of genius.
More problematic for the history of the Nobel
Prizes has been the limited place of women in the ranks of laureates.
Amitav Ghosh presents a personal portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, winner
of the Peace Prize for her brave defiance of authoritarian rule
in Burma. And Wendy Singer reveals the role of American women scholars
in collecting essential funds that would allow Marie Curie—who
herself won two Nobel Prizes, one in physics, one in chemistry—to
buy the radium essential for her research. Curie’s remarks about
the grant and about her creative mission in pursuing research are
offered here as well. Finally, Mary Beard reveals some of the ways
that women scientists have been diminished and passed over in the
awarding of prizes in earlier decades.
The Nobel Museum’s opening exhibition is, appropriately,
also focused on the theme of this issue: “Cultures of Creativity:
the Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize.” Marika Hedin,
curator of the museum and guiding light of this collaborative endeavor,
writes here about the institution’s mission and keen vision. The
exhibition actually has two versions, one that will remain in Stockholm,
a second that will travel from Norway to Asia and then the Americas
over the course of four years. We are delighted that this noble
and collaborative issue will travel along, its significance surviving
well beyond the normal rhythms of quarterly publication.
—Michael Hulse, John Kinsella & David H. Lynn