50 Years


“The Room You Wanted to Be In”

Richard Kaye

Gjon Mili/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

My memories of my four years as an editorial assistant at The New York Review in the 1980s now seem indelibly connected to three people I knew well when I was there—David Daniel, Bob Tashman, and Charles Rosen. Each seems connected to a New York City that is quite different from the city of today, each had a tough-minded love of great writing, and each took an enormous delight in antic ironies.

The Robert B. Silvers Lectures

Jori Klein/New York Public Library

The Robert B. Silvers Lecture is an annual series at the New York Public Library, created by Max Palevsky in recognition of the work of Robert B. Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, of which he was a founder in 1963. The series features writers and thinkers whose fields correspond to the broad range of Mr. Silvers’s interests in literature, the arts, politics, economics, history, and the sciences.

Reading Seamus Heaney

Martine Franck/Magnum Photos

The Irish writer and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who died on August 30 in Dublin, was for the last forty years both a contributor to The New York Review of Books and one of its frequent subjects. In 1973, Stephen Spender, reviewing books of poetry by Thom Gunn, W.S. Merwin, James Merrill, James Schuyler, Philip Levine, Kenneth Koch, and Heaney, wrote:

It is difficult to know what to say about Seamus Heaney except that he is very good, very Irish, very honest. His poems are, I suppose, autobiographical and are direct reports on experience. Nothing, on the level of the experience, seems invented. At the same time, he is intoxicated with language, so that the event, almost cinematically described, is dense with the texture of the words.

Heaney went on to publish a number of poems, a review, and an introduction and excerpts from his acclaimed Beowulf translation in the Review. Fifteen of his books were reviewed in our pages, and we present several of the pieces below, in his memory.

Covering Nixon

 

Thirty-nine years ago today, Richard Nixon resigned as president, after a long effort to avoid impeachment on charges related to the Watergate scandal. We present below a few highlights of the Review’s coverage of the Nixon presidency, including pieces by Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, I.F. Stone, Garry Wills, Philip Roth, and Mary McCarthy.

A Job of Work

Luc Sante

Luc Sante

The first picture shows the mailroom of The New York Review’s offices in the Fisk Building, 250 West 57th Street, where I toiled from the spring of 1980 until the spring of 1981, when I was translated upward into the realm of editorial assistance. Actually “toiled” is a bit too strong a word. The job was not exactly strenuous.

Czesław Miłosz: Intelligence and Ecstasy

In honor of the birthday of Czesław Miłosz (born in Lithuania on June 30, 1911) we present a selection of his work from the Review’s archives. Miłosz defected from Poland to the West in 1951, living in France at first and moving in 1960 to the United States. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

And Now a Word from Our Sponsors”

Zach Maher

Getting started can be difficult. When your name draws a blank, it’s unlikely that anyone will buy what you’re selling. Luckily, the attention that worthy unknowns need in order to get noticed has a price. And for fifty years, publishers with books to sell and authors with a name to make have announced their arrival with an appearance in The New York Review: though not, at least initially, under a byline.

A Light in the Dark

Nathaniel Rich

Félix Vallotton

The great Northeast Blackout of August 2003 passed without Robert Silvers’s notice—or at least without him giving the impression of noticing. While I and the other assistants, racing to the windows to see what was happening outside, frantically speculated about terrorist attacks, Bob sat at his desk, resolutely editing a manuscript about Mesopotamian art of the third millennium BC.