To the Reader:
There are two basic rules for running a literary quarterly: a) it should come out four times a year; b) after five or ten or fifteen years, with the passing of its generation, it should die. The Paris Review has failed to observe either of these rules. Fifty-nine years after George Plimpton and his friends launched their first issue, here we are, celebrating issue two hundred—nine years late, and with no plans on giving up the ghost.
Why the longevity? For starters, the Review never spoke for one generation alone. Our first issue included an interview with E. M. Forster and an essay by Henry de Montherlant—both grand old men of letters—next to apprentice work by Matthiessen, Terry Southern, Robert Bly, and Donald Hall. A tradition was born. Over the fifty years of his tenure, Plimpton and his staff created a laboratory for new writing that was also, crucially, a home to the established authors they prized most. A writer could grow up in its pages. So in this issue, alongside newcomers like Matt Sumell and Rowan Ricardo Phillips, you’ll find Lorrie Moore, who published her first Paris Review story twenty years ago; Adrienne Rich, who had a poem in issue two; and Frederick Seidel, who first joined the staff of the magazine in 1961. Although John Jeremiah Sullivan’s latest essay reflects some seven years of research, it is an infant next to Maggie Paley’s interview with Southern, which we’ve had in the pipeline since 1967. (A record, even for us.)
There is one other secret to our youth: the loyalty of our readers, who embraced the magazine from the beginning and have made it an American institution. You stick with us—so we tell ourselves—because we stick to what we love. Not one school or style, but the continual search for what is original, unheard of, and good. Fashions change but quality remains, and so does the pleasure of discovery.