The New York Review of Books  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Not to be confused with The New York Times Book Review.

The New York Review of Books (or NYREV or NYRB) is a semimonthly magazine on literature, culture, and current affairs published in New York which takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity. Esquire has called it "the premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language." As of 2007, the publication had a circulation of approximately 140,000.

History and critical reaction

The New York Review was founded by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein, together with publisher A. Whitney Ellsworth, and with the backing of Barbara's husband Jason Epstein, a vice president at Random House and editor of Viking Books. It was founded during the New York publishing strike of 1963. The first idea was to make Norman Podhoretz editor, but he chose to stay at Commentary Magazine. The group then turned to Silvers, who had been an editor at Vanity Fair and Harper's. [1] The Review's first issues included articles by such writers as W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Hardwick, John Berryman, Philip Rahv, Dwight Macdonald, Hannah Arendt, Edmund Wilson, Norman Podhoretz, Alfred Kazin, Susan Sontag, Robert Penn Warren, Lillian Hellman, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Saul Bellow, Robert Lowell, Truman Capote, William Styron, and Mary McCarthy. The public responded by buying up practically all the copies printed and writing thousands of letters to request that the Review continue publication.

Known throughout its run as a left-liberal journal—what Tom Wolfe has called "the chief theoretical organ of radical chic"—the Review has continued publishing pieces by such notable writers as Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, Richard Lewontin, John Searle, John Updike, Steven Weinberg, Ronald Dworkin, and Alison Lurie. In a 2006 New York magazine feature, James Atlas stated: "It's an eclectic but impressive mix [of articles] that has made The New York Review of Books the premier journal of the American intellectual elite...."[2] According to the website of the consulate general of the United States in China, the Review is a "kind of magazine... in which the most interesting and qualified minds of our time would discuss current books and issues in depth... a literary and critical journal based on the assumption that the discussion of important books was itself an indispensable literary activity."[3]

The Review has, perhaps, had its most effective voice in wartime. According to a 2004 feature in The Nation,

"One suspects they yearn for the day when they can return to their normal publishing routine--that gentlemanly pastiche of philosophy, art, classical music, photography, German and Russian history, East European politics, literary fiction--unencumbered by political duties of a confrontational or oppositional nature. That day has not yet arrived. If and when it does, let it be said that the editors met the challenges of the post-9/11 era in a way that most other leading American publications did not, and that The New York Review of Books... was there when we needed it most."[4]

As editor Bob Silvers noted in 2004, "The pieces we have published by such writers as Brian Urquhart, Thomas Powers, Mark Danner and Ronald Dworkin have been reactions to a genuine crisis concerning American destructiveness, American relations with its allies, American protections of its traditions of liberties.... The aura of patriotic defiance cultivated by the Administration, in a fearful atmosphere, had the effect of muffling dissent."[5]

Because of its purported insularity, the Review has sometimes been called "The New York Review of Each Other's Books" (see Alexander Bloom, Prodigal Sons: The New York Intellectuals and Their World, Oxford University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-19-505177-7; p. 327). Philip Nobile voiced a mordant criticism along these lines in his book Intellectual Skywriting: Literary Politics and the New York Review of Books.[6]

Other publications

The Review also publishes some foreign editions and many books that have gone out of print in the United States, as well as articles or collections of articles from regular contributors under the imprint New York Review Books.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The New York Review of Books" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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