Cott, Jonathan 1942-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

COTT, Jonathan 1942-

PERSONAL: Born December 24, 1942, in New York, NY; son of Ted (a television executive) and Jean (an artist; maiden name, Cahan) Cott. Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1964; University of California—Berkeley, M.A., 1966; studied at the University of Essex, England, 1967-69.


ADDRESSES: Home—247 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016. Offıce—Stonehill Publishing Co., 38 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022.


CAREER: Writer, editor, poet. Granada Television, London, England, production deviser, 1969-70; Rolling Stone, San Francisco, CA, associate editor, 1970-71, contributing editor, 1971-75; Stonehill Publishing Co., New York, NY, executive editor, 1974—. Producer of contemporary music programs, WNYC-Radio, New York, NY, 1960-62, and KPFA-Radio, Berkeley, CA, 1965-67.


AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellowship, 1964; Fulbright fellow at University of Essex, England, 1967-69; Ingram Merrill Foundation grant, 1972; Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1978-79.


WRITINGS:

He Dreams What Is Going On inside His Head: Ten Years of Writing (film reviews, poems, essays), Straight Arrow, 1973.

Stockhausen: Conversations with the Composer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1973.

(Editor and author of introduction) Beyond the Looking Glass: An Anthology of Victorian Fairy Tales, Novels, Stories, and Poems, Stonehill (New York, NY), 1974.

(Editor) The Roses Race around Her Name: Poems from Fathers to Daughters, Stonehill (New York, NY), 1975.

City of Earthly Love (poems), Stonehill (New York, NY), 1975.

(General editor) Masterworks of English Children's Literature: 1550-1900 (three volumes), Stonehill (New York, NY), 1975.

Forever Young, Random House (New York, NY), 1978.

(Editor, with Mary Gimbel) Wonders: Writings and Drawings for the Child in Us All, Rolling Stone Press (New York, NY), 1980.

Charms, Toothpaste Press (West Branch, IA), 1981.

(Editor, with Christine Doudna) The Ballad of John and Yoko, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1982.

Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children's Literature, Random House (New York, NY), 1983.

(General editor) Masterworks of Children's Literature (eight volumes), Stonehill (New York, NY), 1983–86.

Conversations with Glenn Gould, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1984.

Dylan, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984.

(With Hanny El Zeini) The Search for Omm Sety: A Story of Eternal Love, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1987.

Visions and Voices, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1987.

Wandering Ghost: The Odyssey of Lafcadio Hearn, Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor) Palmer Cox, The Brownies' Merry Adventures, Barefoot Books (Boston, MA), 1993.

(Editor) Edmund Dulac, Fairy Tales of the World, Barefoot Books (Boston, MA), 1993.

(Editor) Rudyard Kipling, How the Leopard Got His Spots and Other Just So Stories, Barefoot Books (Boston, MA), 1993.

Iris and Osiris: Exploring the Goddess Myth, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor) Edward Lear, A Little Book of Nonsense: The Best of Edward Lear, Barefoot Books (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Editor) Carl Sandburg, Rootabaga Stories, Barefoot Books (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Editor) Emily Dickinson, Skies in Blossom: The Nature Poetry of Emily Dickinson, illustrated by Mary Frank, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.

Thirteen: A Journey into the Number, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1996.

Homelands (poems), Cahuenga Press (Los Angeles, CA), 2000.

(Editor) Back to a Shadow in the Night: Music Writings and Interviews, 1968-2001, Hal Leonard (Milwaukee, WI), 2002.


Also author of Elective Affınities, and The Song of the Ill-Beloved, both 1970. Contributor to books, including On Contemporary Literature, edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Avon (New York, NY), 1964; New American Arts, edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Horizon Press, 1965; Young American Writing, Funk, 1967; and Viewpoints, edited by Burton J. Fishman, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1972. Poetry represented in anthologies, including Young American Poets, edited by Paul Carroll, Follett (Chicago, IL), 1968; A Cinch: Amazing Works from the Columbia Review, edited by Leslie Gottesman and others, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1969; The World Anthology, edited by Anne Waldman, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1969; Another World, edited by Anne Waldman, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1971; and In Youth, edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1972. Contributor of poetry to magazines, including American Poetry Review, Paris Review, and World. Contributor of articles to New York Times, Ramparts, Sunday Ramparts, Rolling Stone, American Review, New York Review of Books, and Radio Times (London, England).


SIDELIGHTS: Writer and poet Jonathan Cott is also the editor of many books of children's literature. A music writer for more than three decades, his own books include several that profile American icons of the twentieth century, including singer Bob Dylan. Jon Weiner reviewed Dylan in the Nation, noting the changes in Dylan's career, from his protest songs of the early 1960s to his withdrawal from political themes and focus on rock and roll. Weiner wrote, "When Dylan stopped playing his protest songs, some of his old fans called him a sellout and a phony. The same things were said when he 'betrayed' folk for rock, then rock for country. But there was a strategy in these moves: Dylan was undercutting the role of superstar. He was trying to disappear as an unidentifiable person and tell his demanding and possessive audience, 'You don't own me.'"


It was then that Dylan was able to write about political issues whenever he wished, and he did, and he joined John Lennon in a tour that protested the reelection of Richard Nixon. Cott represents many of the concerts with causes of the 1970s through photographs. He also interviewed Dylan, who said to him, "Bob Dylan has always been here. . . . Before I was born, there was Bob Dylan." "Taking that statement to heart," wrote Weiner, "Cott has found the earlier Bob Dylans, going back to 'the first known troubadour poet, the eleventh-century Guillaume IX,' who, like Dylan, 'revealed many faces and voices.' Cott also finds something of Dylan in the thirteenth-century Carmina Burana, in the fifteenth-century French poet Francois Villon, the sixteenth-century Chinese philosopher Li Chih, and the eighteenth-century Hasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav. Dylan, we learn, took seriously 'Walt Whitman's great and inspiring advice: "Stand up for the stupid and crazy."'"

A Publishers Weekly contributor called Wandering Ghost: The Odyssey of Lafcadio Hearn a "moving, superlative biography." In collecting the writings of Hearn (1850-1904), Cott chose to include a biography of the half-Greek, half-Irish journalist who is most remembered by the Japanese and who wrote about subjects not generally touched upon during Victorian times, and in a style later associated with Kipling. Hearn came to Cincinnati, Ohio, shipped off by Irish relatives, at the age of nineteen. He was penniless and knew no one, and he had no sight in one eye and poor sight in the other. But he was a reader and knew French. After the Bohemian Hearn's failed marriage to a mulatto woman in Ohio, which first exposed him to the hypocrisies of America, he moved to New Orleans, then Martinique, and ultimately to Japan, with a few possessions contained in two bags. There he married a Japanese woman and found happiness, writing fiction and about Japanese culture. "It was a remarkable end for a remarkable nomad, whose story Mr. Cott presents with sympathy," wrote Phoebe-Lou Adams in the Atlantic.

Back to a Shadow in the Night: Music Writings and Interviews, 1968-2001 collects Cott's music writings in a three-part volume. In the first, he includes interviews with rock legends such as John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, and Dylan, as well as classical musicians, including Leonard Bernstein. In the second part, Cott profiles composers, including Igor Stravinsky, Glenn Gould, and Yoko Ono, and he writes on a variety of topics in the third section. Library Journal's Dave Szatmary called the volume "a handy introduction to Cott's work for general readers and music buffs."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Atlantic, April, 1991, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of Wandering Ghost: The Odyssey of Lafcadio Hearn, p. 109.

Booklist, January 15, 1994, Alice Joyce, review of Iris and Osiris: Exploring the Goddess Myth, p. 879.

Library Journal, September 1, 2002, Dave Szatmary, review of Back to a Shadow in the Night: Music Writings and Interviews, 1968-2001, p. 178.

Nation, November 3, 1984, Jon Wiener, review of Dylan, p. 457.

New Republic, December 3, 1984, Roger Shattock, review of Portrait of Mr. B: Photographs of George Balanchine, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, December 21, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Wandering Ghost, p. 38; January 10, 1994, review of Iris and Osiris, p. 52.

Time, January 7, 1985, Michael Walsh, review of Conversations With Glenn Gould, p. 98.*