Winter 2008 • Vol. XXX No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 2008 |

Being Good Ancestors: Reflections of Arts Funding since World War II

Afterword to the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of The Gift Around 1978 I wrote a letter to a poet I had never met, Robert Hass, telling him how much I liked an essay about James Wright that he had just published in a little magazine. Hass kindly wrote back and, among other things, told me that The Kenyon Review was about to start publishing again after a hiatus of almost a decade. I took the hint, and sent the editors a chapter of a book I was in the midst of writing about art's place in a commercial culture. Thus it was that the first chapter of The Gift was published in the first issue of the Review's "new series." I worked on The Gift from 1977 to 1982, and it was finally published in 1983. It contains very little topical detail from those years, my hope at the time being to write what might be called a "prophetic essay," a rather grand way of saying that I intended to describe something that was the case, no matter the decade, rather than something contingently true.

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Lewis Hyde's books include Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (FSG, 2010), The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (Random House 1983; reprinted 2007), Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art (FSG, 1998), and the book of poems This Error is the Sign of Love (Milkweed Editions, 1988). He has edited a volume of essays on Henry David Thoreau and a book of responses to the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, and has translated the selected poems of Vicente Aleixandre. Hyde's many awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lannan Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1991 he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. He is currently the Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College. In addition to Pablo Neruda, Hyde has translated Spain's 1976 Nobel laureate, Vicente Aleixandre.

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