Rebel Publisher (Paperback)

Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word

By Loren Glass

Seven Stories Press, 9781609808228, 272pp.

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

List Price: 13.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


How Grove Press ended censorship of the printed word in America.

Grove Press and its house journal, The Evergreen Review, revolutionized the publishing industry and radicalized the reading habits of the "paperback generation." In telling this story, Rebel Publisher offers a new window onto the long 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 one of the entities 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. 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; 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 for the counterculture.

About the Author

Loren Glass is Professor of English at the University of Iowa, specializing in 20th and 21st century literature and culture. His first book, Authors Inc.: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, was published by New York University Press in 2004. Since then he has focused on the literature and culture of the sixties, teaching and writing about obscenity and censorship, drugs and literature, and the rock album era. He is a member of the Post45 collective and co-edits their book series.

Praise For Rebel Publisher: Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word

"This is a very smart and elegantly written biography of a major commercial press that played a key role in bringing the late modernist avant-garde into the mainstream postwar US culture."
—Ann Ardis, American Literary History
"[A]cademic focus has occluded the study of other institutions, most notably the publishing industry. Loren Glass's Rebel Publisher helps remedy this gap in post-World War II studies, focusing on the rise and fall of Grove Press . . . Glass's book offers a model of institutional analysis that's refreshingly new to post-World War II literary studies. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the 1960s."
—Stephen Schryer, American Literary History
"This book has turned out to be one of the most influential on my recent thinking about publishing and how it should work, proving that history can tell us a great deal about both the present and the future . . . The heroic and sometimes tragic saga reminds us of what it means to be a passionate and committed publisher . . . Rebel Publisher is a book I strongly recommend to anyone interested in contemporary literature and of course, publishing . . . [F]or many, it will be a truly inspiring tale."
—David Wilk, WritersCast
"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 world canon into the American mainstream during the 1950s and '60s."
Publishers Weekly
"Loren Glass's book Rebel Publisher is essential reading for those who care about American literary and cultural history in the mid- and late twentieth century . . . If you like reading about an era of vibrant transatlantic cultural exchange and a time when France mattered mightily to American aesthetes, you will love this book . . . It should be required reading for those studying the history of the US publishing industry, the history of the left, and the history of the battle for free speech."
—Hope Leman, Medium
"Academics customarily deploy the term 'modernism' when thinking of the fifties and sixties, but back then the more risky and progressive-sounding word 'avant-garde' was more abroad and sounded highly exciting. Glass makes a good fist of conveying this uneven excitement and its difficult mix of both 'cultural elitism and cultural pluralism' . . . Glass grasps Grove's flawed achievement in bringing to US publishing and reading a new way of thinking."
—Richard Ellis, Tijdschrift voor tijdschriftstudies
"I had such a good time reading Loren Glass's study of 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. Rebel Publisher provides a whole new perspective on the American literary scene of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s."
—James F. English, University of Pennsylvania
"As a scholarly look at Grove's cultural achievement, Rebel Publisher is enormously valuable. Its attention to the paratexts of Grove volumes, particularly Roy Kuhlman's book covers, are illuminating, and its account of the globalization of the literary marketplace during the postwar era will interest both literary scholars and book historians."
—Evan Brier, SHARP News