On our 50th anniversary, we reprint here our editorial statement for the first issue of The New York Review of Books, published in February 1963 during the newspaper strike in New York City.
To the Reader: The New York Review of Books presents reviews of some of the more interesting and important books published this winter. It does not, however, seek merely to fill the gap created by the printers’ strike in New York City but to take the opportunity which the strike has presented to publish the sort of literary journal which the editors and contributors feel is needed in America. This issue of The New York Review does not pretend to cover all the books of the season or even all the important ones. Neither time nor space, however, have been spent on books which are trivial in their intentions or venal in their effects, except occasionally to reduce a temporarily inflated reputation or to call attention to a fraud. The contributors have supplied their reviews to this issue on short notice and without the expectation of payment: the editors have volunteered their time and, since the project was undertaken entirely without capital, the publishers, through the purchase of advertising, have made it possible to pay the printer. The hope of the editors is to suggest, however imperfectly, some of the qualities which a responsible literary journal should have and to discover whether there is, in America, not only the need for such a review but the demand for one. Readers are invited to submit their comments to The New York Review of Books, 33 West 67th Street, New York City.
After fifty years we go on as before, lamenting the death of our founding co-editor Barbara Epstein in 2006. In this issue we publish several essays on or by writers and artists whose work meant something to us when we started.