Robert Silvers, a Founding Editor of New York Review of Books, Dies at 87

from NYTs

Robert B. Silvers, a founder of The New York Review of Books, which under his editorship became one of the premier intellectual journals in the United States, a showcase for extended, thoughtful essays on literature and politics by eminent writers, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Rea S. Hederman, the publisher of The Review, confirmed the death.

The New York Review, founded in 1963, was born with a mission — to raise the standards of book reviewing and literary discussion in the United States and nurture a hybrid form of politico-cultural essay. Mr. Silvers brought to its pages a self-effacing, almost priestly sense of devotion that ultimately made him indistinguishable from the publication he edited, and it from him.

He shared editorial duties with Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006, but it was Mr. Silvers who came to embody The Review’s mystique, despite, or perhaps because of, his insistence on remaining a behind-the-scenes presence, loath to grant interviews or make public appearances.

“I put my name on the paper, and the rest I don’t care to be known,” he told Philip Nobile, the author of “Intellectual Skywriting: Literary Politics and The New York Review of Books” (1974). In a 2008 interview for the online program Thoughtcast, Mr. Silvers said: “The editor is a middleman. The one thing he should avoid is taking credit. It’s the writer that counts.”

More here.


One Response to Robert Silvers, a Founding Editor of New York Review of Books, Dies at 87

  1. Jonathan Cavallone April 4, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    Robert Silvers was an American editor who served as editor of The New York Review of Books from 1963 to 2017. He died March 20th, 2017 at the age of 87. Silvers was born in Mineola, New York, and grew up in Farmingdale and then Rockville Centre, New York. His father was a salesman but Silver’s aspired to be something great. He went on and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1947 at a younger than normal age and briefly attended Yale Law School. Silvers worked as press secretary to Connecticut Governor Chester Bowles in 1950, who was campaigning for reelection. During the Korean War he served in the U.S. Army, which sent him to the SHAPE Headquarters in Paris in 1952 as a speechwriter and press aide. At the same time, he attended the Sorbonne and Paris Institute of Political Studies, eventually receiving its certificate. In 1954, he met and befriended George Plimpton, and upon his discharge from the Army a few months later, he joined editorial board of Plimpton’s The Paris Review, as managing editor, while continuing his studies. He was promoted to Paris editor of The Paris Review in 1956. From 1959 to 1963, Silvers was associate editor of Harper’s Magazine, in New York, where he edited an issue on the state of writing in America, engaging Elizabeth Hardwick to contribute her essay “The Decline of Book Reviewing”; this would become an inspiration for the founding of The New York Review of Books. Silver’s has always been involved with some type of magazine editorial until he founded his own book review establishment the New York Review of Books. For 43 years, beginning in 1963, Silvers and Barbara Epstein edited The New York Review of Books together, until 2006, when Epstein died of cancer. After that, Silvers was the sole editor until his death in March 2017. Robert Silvers had an outstanding reputation, in fact, Jason Epstein said that “The most brilliant editor of a magazine ever to have worked in this country’ has been shared by virtually all of us who have been published by Robert Silvers.” Epstein describes Silvers as the most brilliant editor of a magazine in the country so clearly, Sliver’s was a well-liked guy.
    Mr. Silvers created the New York Review with strong intentions, which were to raise the standards of book reviews and literary discussions in the United States. The Review publishes long-form reviews and essays, often by well-known writers, original poetry, and has letters and personals advertising sections that had attracted critical comment. In addition, The Washington Post calls the Review “a journal of ideas that has helped define intellectual discourse in the English-speaking world for the past four decades. … By publishing long, thoughtful articles on politics, books and culture, defied trends toward glibness, superficiality and the cult of celebrity.” This quote also proves that Silver’s has built something that is great and many credible people associate a positive reputation along with The New York Review. The New York Review is currently in search of replacing the Editorial position, which was held by Robert Silvers. It will be hard to find a replacement that comes anywhere near as good as Silvers.

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