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Paris Review

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Title: Paris Review  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: John Updike, Jack Kerouac, J. G. Ballard, Louise Erdrich, Peter Carey (novelist), Poetry slam, Woody Allen, Alexander Trocchi, William Styron, Theodore Roethke
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Paris Review

The Paris Review
File:The Paris Review Issue 205.jpg
The Paris Review, Summer 2013
Editor Lorin Stein
Categories Art, culture, interviews, literature
Frequency Quarterly
Publisher Antonio Weiss
First issue Spring 1953
Company The Paris Review Foundation
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English
Website ISSN 0031-2037

The Paris Review is a quarterly literary magazine established in 1953 by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton. Plimpton edited the Review from its founding until his death in 2003. In its first five years, The Paris Review published works by Jack Kerouac, Philip Larkin, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Adrienne Rich, Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Jean Genet and Robert Bly. It has since become one of the world's leading outlets for emerging and established writers. Lorin Stein is the current editor.[1]

The Review's highly regarded "Writers at Work" series includes interviews with Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, T. S. Eliot, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, Irwin Shaw, Elizabeth Bishop, and Vladimir Nabokov, among many others. The series has been called "one of the single most persistent acts of cultural conservation in the history of the world".[2]


A simple editorial statement, penned in the inaugural issue by William Styron, stated the magazine's aim:

The Paris Review hopes to emphasize creative work—fiction and poetry—not to the exclusion of criticism, but with the aim in mind of merely removing criticism from the dominating place it holds in most literary magazines. […] I think The Paris Review should welcome these people into its pages: the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and non-axe-grinders. So long as they're good.[3]

The Review's founding editors include Humes, Matthiessen, Plimpton, William Pène du Bois, Thomas Guinzburg and John P. C. Train. The first publisher was Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Du Bois, the magazine’s first art editor, designed the iconic Paris Review eagle to include both American and French significance: an American eagle holding a pen and wearing a Phrygian cap.

The magazine’s first office was located in a small room of the publishing house Éditions de la Table ronde. Staff members were not given keys to the office, so those who worked late would have to climb out of the window, hang from the ledge and jump; they were sometimes mistaken for burglars by passing gendarmes. Other legendary locations of The Paris Review include a Thames River Grain Carrier anchored on the Seine from 1956 to 1957, where editorial conferences were punctuated by jam sessions with musicians such as Alan Eager, Chet Baker, Peter Duchin, Kenny Clarke and David Amram. For practical reasons, the office was soon relocated, owing in no small part to the lack of telephone communication. The Café de Tournon in the rue de Tournon on the Rive Gauche was the meeting place for staffers and writers, including du Bois, Plimpton, Matthiessen, Alexander Trocchi, Christopher Logue and Eugene Walter.

The first-floor and basement rooms in Plimpton's 72nd Street apartment became the headquarters of The Paris Review when the magazine moved from Paris to New York City in 1973.

In 2007, an article published by The New York Times supported the claim that founding editor Matthiessen was in the CIA but stated that the magazine was used as a cover, rather than a collaborator, for his spying activities.[4] In a May 27, 2008 interview with Charlie Rose, Matthiessen stated that he "invented The Paris Review as cover" for his CIA activities.[5]

The Review has consistently introduced the leading writers of the day. Adrienne Rich was first published in its pages, as were Naipaul, Philip Roth, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Mona Simpson, Edward P. Jones and Rick Moody. Selections from Samuel Beckett's novel Molloy appeared in the fifth issue, one of his first publications in English. The magazine was also among the first to recognize the work of Kerouac with the publication of his short story, "The Mexican Girl", in 1955. Other milestones of contemporary literature, now widely anthologized, also made their first appearance in The Paris Review: Italo Calvino's Last Comes the Raven, Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus, Donald Barthelme's Alice, Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries, Matthiessen's Far Tortuga, Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides, and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.

Time hailed The Paris Review as "The biggest 'little magazine' in history", and Margaret Atwood said "The Paris Review is one of the few truly essential literary magazines of the 20th century—and now of the 21st".

Philip Gourevitch was selected by the Review's board of directors as George Plimpton's successor in 2005. Under Gourevitch's leadership, the Review began incorporating more nonfiction pieces and, for the first time, began regularly publishing a photography spread. The Paris Review also announced, in 2006, the publication of a four-volume set of Paris Review interviews. The Paris Review Interviews, Volumes I-IV were published by Picador from 2006–2009. Gourevitch announced his departure in the fall of 2009, citing a desire to concentrate more fully on his writing.[6][7][8]

The Paris Review accepts, year-round, submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art. Submissions are accepted only by postal mail. Submission guidelines are available on The Paris Review's website.[9]

Interview series

"The interviews in The Paris Review […] are about as canonical, in our literary universe, as spoken words can be. They long ago set the standard […] for what well-brewed conversation should sound like on the page."
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times [10]

An interview with E. M. Forster—an acquaintance of Plimpton's from his days at King's College, Cambridge—became the first in a long series of now-legendary author interviews. Now known as the Writers at Work series, the Paris Review interviews quickly became a trademark of the magazine, lauded for their groundbreaking insights into the life and craft of the writer. Despite their venerable history, some of the interviews succeeded almost in spite of themselves: Graham Greene’s interview almost ended before it began when one of the interviewers turned up hungover and threw up in his hat on Greene’s doorstep; Nabokov's was cut short when Jeopardy! came on.

Early interview subjects include W. H. Auden, John Berryman, Saul Bellow, Jorge Luis Borges,[11] William S. Burroughs, Truman Capote, John Cheever, Isak Dinesen, T. S. Eliot, Ralph Ellison, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Heller, Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Marianne Moore, Nabokov, Joyce Carol Oates, Dorothy Parker, Harold Pinter, Ezra Pound, Irwin Shaw, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Waugh, E. B. White, William Carlos Williams and P. G. Wodehouse.

More recent interviews include Woody Allen, Maya Angelou, John Ashbery, James Baldwin, Elizabeth Bishop, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Brodsky, Raymond Carver, R. Crumb, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, William Gaddis, Seamus Heaney, Michel Houellebecq, Eugène Ionesco, Milan Kundera, Fran Lebowitz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ian McEwan, Arthur Miller, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Frederick Seidel, Stephen Sondheim, Susan Sontag, George Steiner and Hunter S. Thompson.

Print series

In 1964, The Paris Review initiated a series of prints and posters by major contemporary artists with the goal of establishing an ongoing relationship between the worlds of writing and art[12]Drue Heinz, then publisher of The Paris Review, shares credit with Jane Wilson for initiating the series. In the half century since its inception, the series has featured many of the leading artists to pass through New York in the postwar decades—from Louise Bourgeois to Willem de Kooning to David Hockney, Helen Frankenthaler, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol.[12]

The series, suspended after George Plimpton's death in 2003, was relaunched in 2012 with a print by Donald Baechler.

The magazine today

"Our generation grew up with the Review as a fact of life. It was America’s literary magazine. To our minds, it still is. It has launched our favorite writers. It has made a special claim for the quarterly as such, being both timely and lasting, free of the news of the day or the pressure to please a crowd. Most of all, the Review has shown, repeatedly, that works of imagination can be as stylish and urgent as the flashiest feature reporting, and can do more to refocus our picture of the world."
—Lorin Stein, The Paris Review, Fall 2010 [13]

Lorin Stein was named editor of The Paris Review in April 2010. He oversaw a redesign of the magazine's print edition and its website, both of which were met with critical acclaim.[14][15][16] In September 2010, the Review made available online its entire archive of interviews.[17][18]

In 2012, The Paris Review announced the publication of its latest anthology, Object Lessons.[19] The book, available in October 2012, comprises a selection of twenty short stories from The Paris Review's archive, each with an introduction by a contemporary author. Contributors include Jeffrey Eugenides (with an introduction to a story by Denis Johnson), Lydia Davis (with an introduction to a story by Jane Bowles), and Ali Smith (with an introduction to a story by Lydia Davis). It promises to be an "indispensable resource for writers, students, and anyone else who wants to understand fiction from a writer’s point of view".[20] As Stein explains:

Some chose classics. Some chose stories that were new even to us. Our hope is that this collection will be useful to young writers, and to others interested in literary technique. Most of all, it is intended for readers who are not (or are no longer) in the habit of reading short stories. We hope these object lessons will remind them how varied the form can be, how vital it remains, and how much pleasure it can give.[21]

On October 8, 2012, the magazine launched its app for the iPad and iPhone.

The current staff of The Paris Review includes Nicole Rudick (Managing Editor), Sadie Stein (Deputy Editor), Stephen Andrew Hiltner (Associate Editor), Robyn Creswell (Poetry Editor), Charlotte Strick (Art Editor), John Jeremiah Sullivan (Southern Editor), Clare Fentress (Editorial Assistant), Emily Cole-Kelly (Development & Events), Janet Gillespie (Finance Manager), Hailey Gates (Advertising & Promotions), and Justin Alvarez (Digital Director).[25] Their goal is to rededicate the magazine to its original mission of promoting "fiction, poetry, belles lettres, essays".[26]

In June we started an online arts gazette called The Paris Review Daily. […] But the core of our business, as long as I'm editor, is going to be putting out a paper magazine. […] We want the reader to be absorbed. It's not a thing to skim; it's a thing to read and to really get lost in. It's a refuge.

— Lorin Stein, September 2010 [27]


Three prizes are awarded annually by the editors of The Paris Review: the Paris Review Hadada, the Plimpton Prize, and the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. Winning selections are celebrated at the annual Spring Revel. No application form is required. Instead, winners are selected from the stories and poems published the previous year in The Paris Review.

  • The Paris Review Hadada: a bronze statuette to be "awarded annually to a distinguished member of the literary community who has demonstrated a strong and unique commitment to literature".[28] The award may go to a writer, reader, editor, publisher, publication, or organization. Past winners include John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Barney Rosset, William Styron, Philip Roth, James Salter and, most recently, Paula Fox.
  • The Plimpton Prize: $10,000 (and an engraved ostrich egg) awarded for the best work of fiction or poetry by an emerging or previously unpublished writer. Recent winners include Caitlin Horrocks, Wells Tower, Alistair Morgan, Jesse Ball, and Benjamin Percy.
  • The Terry Southern Prize for Humor: a $5,000 award honoring work from either The Paris Review or The Paris Review Daily that embodies the qualities of humor, wit, and sprezzatura. The prize is given in memory of longtime contributor Terry Southern.[29]

Spring Revel

The Paris Review Spring Revel is an annual gala held in celebration of great American writers and writing.[30][31][32]

The Revel "brings together leading figures and patrons of American arts and letters from throughout New York to pay tribute to distinguished writers at different stages of their careers".[33] Proceeds from the Spring Revel go directly toward the The Paris Review Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established by the co-founders in 2000 to ensure the future of The Paris Review.

The Spring Revel centers around the presentation of the Hadada, the Plimpton Prize, and the Terry Southern Prize for Humor.

The 2011 Spring Revel took place on April 12, 2011, chaired by Yves-André Istel and Kathleen Begala.[33] Robert Redford presented the Hadada to James Salter. The 2011 Revel also featured Ann Beattie presenting the Plimpton Prize for Fiction and Fran Lebowitz presenting the inaugural Terry Southern Prize for Humor.

The 2012 Spring Revel took place on April 3, 2012 and presented Robert Silvers with the Hadada.


External links

  • The New York Times, October 2010
  • "Thomas Guinzburg, Paris Review Co-Founder, Dies at 84" in The New York Times, September 2010
  • "ArtsBeat" in The New York Times, March 2010
  • The New York Times, November 2010
  • "The Paranoiac and The Paris Review" in The New York Times, February 2008
  • "Moving Day for The Paris Review" in The New York Times, May 2005
  • Does The Paris Review Get a Second Act?" in The New York Times, February 2005
  • "George Plimpton and The Paris Review: Famed Literary Journal Celebrates 50th Anniversary" on NPR, August 2003.
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