I’m feeling nostalgic. For exactly what I don’t know but I keep looking at and thinking about the few issues of Evergreen Review I own, especially the first four, and feeling a sense of loss.
It’s not like I was even around in 1957 when the first issue appeared. Barney Rosset, publisher of Grove Press, started Evergreen Review as a quarterly journal and it eventually became bimonthly then monthly by the late ’6os and the Review lasted until No. 96 in 1973. I would also mention that the mere mention of Grove Press sends a similar feeling of anticipation through my veins as there was a point in my life where I could have subsisted on a diet of nothing but books from Grove Press; William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Alfred Jarry, Henri Michaux, Marquis de Sade, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Pierre Klossowski, Samuel Beckett, Frank O’Hara and on and on and on.
Evergreen published writing that was literally counter to the culture, and if it was sexy, so much the better. In the context of the time, sex was politics, and the powers-that-be made the suppression of sexuality a political issue. The court battles that Grove Press fought for the legal publication of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Naked Lunch, and for the legal distribution of the film I Am Curious: Yellow, spilled onto the pages of Evergreen Review, and in 1964, an issue of Evergreen itself was confiscated in New York State by the Nassau County District Attorney on obscenity charges. ~ Ken Jordan, August 1993, Excerpt from the introduction to EVERGREEN REVIEW READER, 1957-1996. Blue Moon Books and Arcade Publishing, 1994
Barney Rosset is still at it and Evergreen Review is an online magazine (since 1998). I think what I miss most, beyond holding the physical magazine which felt more like a book in my hands (and the covers were icons), is the feeling that something big, something important was going to happen and the printed words were a part of it.
Evergreen was more than another literary magazine. It was the voice of a movement that helped to change the attitudes and prejudices of the culture at large through the language of art – and succeeded. It was always damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. ~ Ken Jordan
I wonder if that feeling still exists on the newsstand.