The White Review No. 15 Editorial

In The Art of the Publisher, Roberto Calasso suggests that publishing is something approaching an art form, whereby ‘all books published by a certain publisher could be seen as links in a single chain, or segments in a serpentine progression of books, or fragments in a single book formed by all the books published by that publisher.’ A publisher’s success can be judged, he continues, by its ‘capacity to give form to a plurality of books as though they were the chapters of a single book. All this while taking care – a passionate and obsessive care – over the appearance of every volume, over the way in which it is presented.’ With these words Calasso, the legendary director of Italian publishing house Adelphi, captures something of what we attempt with each new issue of The White Review, considering it in relation to its predecessors as a new segment in a serpentine progression, or one fragment of a single and as yet incomplete book.


Indeed, in this issue can be seen a continuation of the same themes that have preoccupied us since the beginning of this quixotic publishing venture. New literature in translation – from the extraordinary French novelist Maylis de Kerangal, the great Hungarian László Krasznahorkai and the celebrated Korean poet Ko Un – is complemented by some of the most exciting voices to have emerged from Britain and Ireland over recent years in Caleb Klaces, Declan Ryan and Luke Brown. Our dedication to hybrid, radical forms is apparent in the publication of Anne Carson’s ‘lyric lecture with chorus’ – a work that could as easily be produced on stage or film as within these pages – and Brian Dillon’s ekphrastic meditation on charisma, faith, and loss. The combination of art and literature has always been a guiding principle of this project, and here we are delighted to present works by installation artist Alicja Kwade, a photographic series from Germany’s Annette Kelm, and new work by Swiss artists Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs. Our catholic (a generous interpretation) tastes are reflected in the publication of a long-form essay on a camp in which one comes to terms with one’s own death, and another on translation and human subjectivity.


Beside this, we are excited to publish interviews with two longstanding heroes of the editors: Zadie Smith, arguably the most important British novelist and critic of her generation, and Rosalind E. Krauss, whose extraordinary body of work over the past forty years dispels the pernicious myth that art criticism must be inscrutable, obscurantist, or anything other than an intellectually and aesthetically exciting experience.


It’s a great privilege to be able to present these works to an audience, which is fortunate because Calasso also points out, in case this was ever in doubt, that ‘publishing good books has never made anyone terribly rich. Or at least not in comparison with what someone might make supplying the market with mineral water or microchips or buttons.’ This we did not need Calasso to discover, though perhaps it is time we diversified into more obviously lucrative sectors (typographically adventurous cat calendars, perhaps, or branded mineral water, formally experimental greetings cards).


In the absence of such a wildly profitable sideline, we are reduced to expressing our thanks yet again to all who make The White Review possible – its editors, writers, artists, readers, subscribers and, most recently, the supporters of our fundraising campaign. You enable us to continue paying contributors, to put on our unique programme of live readings, screenings, and performances (seventeen in the last year alone, the vast majority of them free to attend), and to provide a platform for new writers. We remain amazed by, and grateful for, the support offered to The White Review since the first moment of its launch, fifteen fragments ago.