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Counterculture Colophon

Grove Press, the Evergreen Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde (Post*45)

Loren Glass


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Responsible for such landmark publications as Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, Waiting for Godot, The Wretched of the Earth , and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Grove Press was the most innovative publisher of the postwar era. Counterculture Colophon tells the story of how the press and its house journal, The Evergreen Review, revolutionized the publishing industry and radicalized the reading habits of the paperback generation. In the process, it offers a new window onto the 1960s, from 1951, when Barney Rosset purchased the fledgling press for $3,000, to 1970, when the multimedia corporation into which he had built the company was crippled by a strike and feminist takeover. Grove Press was not only responsible for ending censorship of the printed word in the United States but also for bringing avant-garde literature, especially drama, into the cultural mainstream as part of the quality paperback revolution. Much of this happened thanks to Rosset, whose charismatic leadership was crucial to Grove's success. With chapters covering world literature and the Latin American boom, including Grove's close association with UNESCO and the rise of cultural diplomacy; experimental drama such as the theater of the absurd, the Living Theater, and the political epics of Bertolt Brecht; pornography and obscenity, including the landmark publication of the complete work of the Marquis de Sade; revolutionary writing, featuring Rosset's daring pursuit of the Bolivian journals of Che Guevara; and underground film, including the innovative development of the pocket filmscript, Loren Glass covers the full spectrum of Grove's remarkable achievement as a communications center of the counterculture.

Praise For Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde (Post*45)

"With this richly evocative and incisive history of Grove Press, Glass celebrates the achievement of Grove's charismatic founder, Barney Rosset, whose mission to democratize the avant-garde brought European experimental literature and an expanded worl canon into the American mainstream during the 1950s and 60s."—May, Publishers Weekly

"I had such a good time reading Loren Glass's study of the Grove Press, I barely noticed that he had packed a whole education in the American reception of the European avant-garde into its pages. Brimming with as many colorful and brilliant personalities as it is with good ideas and cogent analyses, this book fills in a major gap in our knowledge of postwar American culture, and will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the lure of dangerously sexy ideas."—Mark McGurl, Stanford University

"Loren Glass tells a terrific story, detailing the rise and fall of Grove Press; of Barney Rosset, its pioneering publisher; and of the once booming US market for avant-garde literature, experimental theater, and foreign films. A riveting and highly entertaining narrative, Glass's book offers a compelling new map of the world system of postwar literature, a map on which Paris and New York figure less as competing capitals than as the closest of trading partners. Counterculture Colophon provides a whole new perspective on the American literary scene of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s."—James F. English, University of Pennsylvania

Stanford University Press, 9780804784160, 272pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2013

About the Author

Loren Glass is Associate Professor of English at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Authors Inc.: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, 1880-1980 (2004).