Barney Rosset: The most dangerous man in publishing
Newsweek has an article on the legendary Barney Rosset:
“The story of Rosset's life is essentially one of creative destruction. He found writers who wanted to break new paths, and then he picked up a sledgehammer to help them whale away at the existing order. ‘He opened the door to freedom of expression,’ said Ira Silverberg, a literary agent who began his career in publishing at Grove. ‘He published a generation of outsiders who probably said more about American culture than any voice in the dominant culture ever could.’ A Grove book, said Robert Gottlieb, who served as editor of Simon & Schuster and then Knopf during the years Rosset ran Grove, ‘made a statement. It was avant-garde. Whether European or American, it had very special qualities; it was definitely worth paying attention to.’ ”
Barney is an old friend and mentor. I went to New York in November to attend the National Book Awards ceremony where Barney was given a life time achievement award for his contribution to literature. If you want to understand the importance of publishing in the collective development of a society, then the Newsweek article about Barney Rosset is a good place to start.