112th: Michael Rosenthal and Nick Lyons on Barney Rosset
Please join us Thursday, March 30th at 7pm for an dicussion on the life of Barney Rosset with Michael Rosenthal, author of Barney, and Nick Lyons.
An incisive, compulsively readable biography of the man the Guardian called "the most influential avant-garde publisher of the twentieth century."
An impetuous outsider who delighted in confronting American hypocrisy and prudery, Barney Rosset liberated American culture from the constraints of Puritanism. As the head of Grove Press, he single-handedly broke down the laws against obscenity, changing forever the nature of writing and publishing in this country. He brought to the reading public the European avant-garde, among them Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, radical political and literary voices such as Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and Jack Kerouac, steamy Victorian erotica, and banned writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and William Burroughs. His almost mystical belief in the sacrosanct nature of the First Amendment essentially demarcates the before and after of American publishing.
Barney explores how Grove's landmark legal victories freed publishers to print what they wanted, and it traces Grove's central role in the countercultural ferment of the sixties and early seventies. Drawing on the Rosset papers at Columbia University and personal interviews with former Grove Press staff members, friends, and wives, it tells the fascinating story of this feisty, abrasive, visionary, and principled cultural revolutionary—a modern "Huckleberry Finn" according to Nobel Prize–winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe—who altered the reading habits of a nation.
Michael Rosenthal was the Roberta and William Campbell Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellowship winner, he was also awarded Columbia College's Alexander Hamilton Medal, its highest honor. The author of Virginia Woolf, The Character Factory: Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts and the Imperatives of Empire, and Nicholas Miraculous, The Amazing Career of the Redoubtable Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, he resides in New York City.
Nick Lyons was Professor of English at Hunter College and founder and Publisher of the Lyons Press. His essays and poems have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, National Geographic, The Yale Review, The Antioch Review, The Quarterly Review of Literature, and widely elsewhere, and his more than a dozen books have been published by Grove Atlantic, Simon & Schuster, Rutgers University Press, and others.