Chicago’s Barney Rosset, the avant-garde publisher who was at the vanguard of the censorship battle around D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, died in Manhattan on Tuesday. He passed away after a double-heart-valve replacement at the age of 89.
Over a long career Mr. Rosset championed Beat poets, French Surrealists, German Expressionists and dramatists of the absurd, helping to bring them all to prominence.
Besides publishing Beckett, he brought early exposure to European writers like Eugene Ionesco and Jean Genet and gave intellectual ammunition to the New Left by publishing Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and The Autobiography of Malcom X.
Most of all, beginning in high school, when he published a mimeographed journal titled The Anti-Everything, Mr. Rosset, slightly built and sometimes irascible, savoured a fight.
Founder of Evergreen Review and owner of Grove Press, Rosset inspired the 1960s counterculture by publishing authors such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Rosset went from being dubbed The Old Smut Peddler by Life magazine in 1969 to being honoured in 2008 by the National Book Foundation as a tenacious champion for writers who were struggling to be read in America.”