Hail & Farewell
December 2, 2013 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Publisher André Schiffrin died Sunday at the age of 78. As editor-in-chief of Pantheon Books, he published books by Studs Turkel (previously), Günter Grass (previously), Simone de Beauvoir (previously), Jean-Paul Sartre (previously), and many, many other literary giants of the 20th century. The NYT obit doesn't do Schiffrin justice, however; for that, you'll have to read Dennis Johnson's appreciation: No one did so much, in fact, to define the term independent publisher coming into the twenty-first century.
posted by Cash4Lead (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Iridic at 10:05 AM on December 2, 2013

I never met Andre, but he was a paradigmatic figure who changed the lives of many of my friends: the editor as auteur. A few things to think about:

-- He basically invented the oral history as a genre by discovering and publishing Studs Terkel.

-- He created the mainstream market for graphic novels by publishing Art Spiegelman.

-- Much of what we imagine as 20th Century western intellectual inquiry comes from authors he published or discovered: Foucault, Duras, Grass, Sartre, etc.

And that's not even counting his more obvious accomplishments as a major figure in independent books and left-political publishing.
posted by johnasdf at 10:18 AM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by From Bklyn at 10:30 AM on December 2, 2013

It feels like the passing of an era.

posted by peripathetic at 11:36 AM on December 2, 2013

Just started Division Street last night.

posted by postcommunism at 11:40 AM on December 2, 2013

So strange, I just finally finished his The Business of Books which I'd bought years before (off a remaindered stack at a Barnes and Noble, oh depth of irony) and never quite gotten into. An interesting polemic on the depredations of media consolidation.
posted by nanojath at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2013

Nor does [the NYT obit] tell how he similarly developed one of his weirder hits, Wisconsin Death Trip, which Andre coaxed Michael Lesy into writing after he read Lesy’s PhD thesis.

Oh, man, Wisconsin Death Trip is a helluva book - a deep, dark and beautiful collection of photos and newspaper stories about life, death, crime and insanity in the late 1800s. It's completely fascinating, and that Flickr set doesn't include any of the articles. Sad to see him go, but glad this post let me find out it was made into a movie in 1999.

Thanks for that one, André, for the Foucault, and all the rest.
posted by mediareport at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by Kinbote at 8:50 PM on December 2, 2013

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