Paris: The Paris Review, 1953. 1st Edition. 4 vols., octavos, publisher's illustrated paper wraps.
"I still maintain that the times get precisely the literature they deserve, and that if the writing of this period is gloomy the gloom is not so much inherent in the literature as in the times" (from novelist William Styron’s letter to the editor in issue 1). First four issues, the inaugural year's full run, of groundbreaking literary journal the Paris Review. Founded in 1953 by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton (the primary editor from the magazine’s first issue until his death in 2003), the legendary magazine is one of the longest running publications of its kind. Dissatisfied with the emphasis on criticism in the publishing world, Matthiessen and Humes aspired to showcase and celebrate new work from novelists and poets of the postwar period rather than simply what they perceived as then dominant, "writing about writing." In lieu of criticism, the editors created the landmark interview series, which simultaneously provides insights into the lives and minds of contemporary authors while generating a novel form of criticism. The first issue features the now historic interview with British novelist and critic E.M. Forster, who speaks on the art of fiction and recounts how he first conceived of the classic Marabar Caves sequence in A Passage to India. With selections of new prose, fiction and poetry by the likes of Matthiessen, Terry Southern, Adrienne Rich, Richard Wilbur, Evan S. Connell, Jr., Graham Greene, Sue Kaufman, Alfred Chester, and French religious philosopher Simone Weil. Infamously, Matthiessen stated in a 2008 interview with Charlie Rose that he "invented the Paris Review as cover" for his CIA activities. Although for years the CIA and Paris Review connection has been disputed, evidence recently uncovered suggests that Cold War ties between the magazine and a US propaganda front are deeper than previously thought. As reported by Salon in 2012, the archives of the "biggest 'little magazine' in history," at the Morgan Library in Manhattan, reveal never-reported CIA ties involving numerous editors: "Congress may have even suggested some of the famed Paris Review interviews" in order to champion American writing in the cultural contest with Europe. Some wear to spine-ends and creasing to spines, light rubbing to extremities. A very good or better group of scarce and fragile periodicals. Item #2425