“Rebel Publisher: Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word” by Loren Glass— “How Grove Press Ended Censorship of the Printed Word in America”

Glass, Loren. “Rebel Publisher: Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word”, Seven Stories, 2018.

“How Grove Press Ended Censorship of the Printed Word in America”

Amos Lassen

My generation moved into adulthood with the help of Grove Press and “The Evergreen Review” and we watched as they revolutionized the publishing industry and totally changed our reading habits. “Rebel Publisher” looks at the 60s but first goes back to 1951 when Barney Rosset bought Grove Press for just $3000. In 1970, the press was a corporation and was dealing with a feminist takeover and a strike. We cannot ever forget that 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 culture of this country. It was the charismatic Rosset, who led Grove’s success. Some of the topics covered by Loren Glass include 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, and the development of the pocket film script.

Grove Press was a communications center for the counterculture and played a key role in bringing the late modernist avant-garde into the mainstream postwar US culture. Here we see that history is both the past, present and future and we see what it means for Rosset to have been a committed publisher who dared to speak out about what he believe in and in doing so, changed the way that many of us read. His mission was to democratize the avant-garde by bringing European experimental literature to this country and in doing so, we get an expanded world canon entering the American mainstream early on. We see the difference between modernism and avant garde just as we see ‘cultural elitism and cultural pluralism’.

We meet personalities who changed literature ands literature that changed personalities. For the first time we could openly read about “dangerously sexy ideas.” This is a unique book in that it appeals to scholars and the man on the street and will not likely be forgotten by either.

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