About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black features John
Rosenthal’s “Park Avenue,” an image first published in
his book of photography, Regarding Manhattan (Safe Harbor
Books, 1998). Rosenthal, a writer, photographer, and radio commentator
for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” resides
in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Let me open with a note about the upcoming Nobel
issue, Spring 2001: As announced in autumn, The Kenyon Review
is collaborating with the Nobel Museum in Stockholm and with Stand,
a U.K. literary magazine, on a remarkable venture—an issue
celebrating the centenary of the Nobel prizes. (John Kinsella, Australian
poet, Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and KR‘s
international editor, is also coeditor of Stand.) And,
as promised earlier, I can now give a hint of some of the remarkable
contents in store.
The issue will be loosely—creatively—structured
to explore the nature of creativity itself in the sciences as well
as the arts. For example, we will feature selections from the correspondence
and public dialogues between Albert Einstein and Rhabindranath Tagore
from the 1930s. The German physicist and the Bengali poet, both
laureates, strive to understand each other, discussing how creativity
functions in their distinct realms, and how it also figures in the
ways they imagine a human relation to the divine.
Oxygen, a new play by chemistry laureate
Roald Hoffmann and scientist-author Carl Djerassi, dramatically
imagines how a modern-day committee might quarrel over a worthy
candidate among scientists of the past to receive a new “historical”
version of the prize for chemistry. We have selected one scene in
which three eighteenth-century scientists, Antoine Lavoisier, Joseph
Priestley, and Carl Wilhelm Scheele, reenact their experiments concerning
oxygen before the king of Sweden.
Of course, there will be plenty of original other
literature as well, including poems by Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa
Szymborska, stories by Naguib Mahfouz and Patrick White. There’s
also a conversation between Derek Walcott and Joseph Brodsky.
Amartya Sen and Harold Simon, each awarded the
Nobel Prize in economics, have written fascinating essays. Simon,
for example, discusses some of the latest research on the illusions
and myths of human inspiration and genius. He paints a powerful
picture of how mastery of a discipline, even at the level of the
virtuoso, may be built on the kind of problem-solving strategies
that we mortals engage every day. Sen, as always, brings ethical
awareness to bear on international economic policy.
Such contributions by Nobel laureates will be
joined by illuminating articles by other authors. Amitav Ghosh,
for one, offers a portrait of peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. And
Robert Friedel writes wonderfully about the central importance of
serendipity in scientific discovery.
Speaking of Nobel laureates, the issue of KR
you hold in your hands leads off with a dazzling poem by Seamus
Heaney, followed by his fellow Irishman Paul Muldoon and then a
British author new to our pages, Rod Mengham. As special as our
upcoming Nobel issue may be, the current number is filled with extraordinarily
fine writing as well.
We feature several pieces by and about Louise
Glück, including an essay by Linda Gregerson. And there are
poems by Gregerson, too. This provides a roundedness, I believe,
a larger dialogue and context and conversation, which developing
an issue long in advance can generate.
With other significant new work by Jorie Graham,
Brigit Kelly, Michael Ryan, and so many other distinguished poets,
it’s quite a challenge to single any out for special mention—these
pages are loaded.
Indeed, if I have one misgiving it is that we
may be a little light on fiction here, though the three stories
featured, by Laura Swenson, Drago Jancar, and Leonid Dobychin, are
very fine. We’ll make up for it in the issues to come: we’ve
stories in the hamper, by famous authors and new voices, that will
knock your socks off.
—David H. Lynn