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