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Barney Rosset, Legendary Publisher of Grove Press, Is Dead

Barney RossetScott Rettberg Barney Rosset at the offices of the Evergreen
Review, 2001

The East Village has lost a legend of letters. Barney Rosset, who championed avant-garde literature and defended first amendment rights as the owner of Grove Press, is dead at the age of 89, per an AP report. The crusading publisher – who more recently operated the Evergreen Review with his fifth wife, Astrid Myers, out of their fourth-floor walk-up near Cooper Square – died in a hospital on Tuesday night.

As documented in a twopart profile at the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Chicago native acquired Grove, then a reprint press, for $3,000 in 1951 and sold it to Ann Getty (only to be ousted from the company) for $2 million in 1986. During that time, he published a who’s-who of cutting-edge authors, introducing American audiences to literary trailblazers such as Samuel Beckett. His list included Jean-Paul Sartre, Allen Ginsberg, Eugene Ionesco, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, Jean Genet, Frantz Fanon, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and the Marquis de Sade, to name just a few.

As documented in a 2008 movie about his groundbreaking censorship battles, “Obscene,” he fought in court to print uncensored versions of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” and William Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch.” Read more…