The Tender Hour of Twilight by Richard Seaver
Paris in the '50s, New York in the '60s: A Memoir of Publishing's Golden Age

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How I regretted as I read “The Tender Hour of Twilight,”...
-NY Times

Synopsis

From Beckett to Burroughs, The Story of O to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, an iconic literary troublemaker tells the colorful stories behind the stories

Richard Seaver came to Paris in 1950 seeking Hemingway's moveable feast. Paris had become a different city, traumatized by World War II, yet the red wine still flowed, the cafés bustled, and the Parisian women found American men exotic and heroic. There was an Irishman in Paris writing plays and novels unlike anything anyone had ever read—but hardly anyone was reading them. There were others, too, doing equivalently groundbreaking work for equivalently small audiences. So when his friends launched a literary magazine, Merlin, Seaver knew this was his calling: to bring the work of the likes of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and Jean Genet to the world. The Korean War ended all that—the navy had paid for college and it was time to pay them back. After two years at sea, Seaver washed ashore in New York City with a beautiful French wife and a wider sense of the world than his compatriots. The only young literary man with the audacity to match Seaver's own was Barney Rosset of Grove Press. A remarkable partnership was born, one that would demolish U.S. censorship laws with inimitable joie de vivre as Seaver and Rosset introduced American readers to Lady Chatterly's Lover, Henry Miller, Story of O, William Burroughs, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and more. As publishing hurtles into its uncertain future, The Tender Hour of Twilight is a stirring reminder of the passion, the vitality, and even the glamour of a true life in literature.

 

About Richard Seaver

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Richard Seaver was an editor, publisher, and translator who became legendary for championing unconventional writers in the face of censorship and cultural prudishness. He was the editor in chief of Grove Press in the 1960s, started his own imprint at Viking in 1971, and served as publisher of Holt, Rinehart & Winston until he founded Arcade Publishing in 1988, which he ran with his wife, Jeannette, until his death in 2009.
 
Published January 3, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 480 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Tender Hour of Twilight
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jason Epstein on Jan 06 2012

How I regretted as I read “The Tender Hour of Twilight,”...

Read Full Review of The Tender Hour of Twilight: ... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by JAMES CAMPBELL on Jan 06 2012

If Beckett is the hero of the first act, the second is dominated by Barney Rosset, the owner of Grove Press.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jan 27 2012

...realities make the reader of Seaver’s memoir nostalgic for a time when the battle lines were much more clearly drawn between the forces of liberation...

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jan 27 2012

He left behind a 900-page manuscript, subsequently pared down by his widow. It remains a bit ragged, but it is still a valuable historical document. There is no doubt that Grove Press helped change North American culture in a deep way.

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