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Legendary Publisher Barney Rosset to Make Rare Public Appearance at Bard College on Monday, October 26

Founder, Publisher, and Editor of Grove Press to Discuss His Historic First Amendment Battles that Took Him to the U.S. Supreme Court

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Barney Rosset, legendary founder, publisher, and editor of Grove Press and the Evergreen Review, makes a rare public appearance at Bard College on Monday, October 26, to discuss the historic First Amendment battles that took him to the Supreme Court, clearing the way for him to publish such writers as D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, Kenzaburo Oe, Jean Genet, Jorge Luis Borges, and hundreds of other major 20th-century writers. Rosset will be introduced and interviewed by novelist and Bard literature professor Bradford Morrow. The conversation, which is being presented as part of Morrow’s Innovative Contemporary Fiction course, is free and open to the public and takes place at 7:00 p.m. in Weis Cinema in the Bertelsmann Campus Center. Prior to the event, at 6:30 p.m., the short silent movie Film (1965) will be shown. Film was commissioned by Barney Rosset, written by Samuel Beckett, and features Buster Keaton in his final role.

Newsweek called Grove Press “a force that challenged and changed literature and American culture in deep and lasting ways.” Rosset led a successful legal battle to publish the uncensored version of D. H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and later was the American publisher of Henry Miller’s controversial novel Tropic of Cancer. The right to publish and distribute Miller’s novel in the United States was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964, in a landmark ruling for free speech and the First Amendment. Through Grove and Evergreen, Rosset also published Beat Generation writers, including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jack Kerouac, as well as Malcom X’s autobiography and excerpts of Che Guevara’s diaries. Paul Davis’s iconic portrait of Guevara was first published as an Evergreen Review cover in 1968 and led to Evergreen’s offices being firebombed.

Last year, the National Book Foundation awarded Rosset The Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. The Foundation wrote that “Rosset, through his publishing house, Grove Press, and his magazine, The Evergreen Review, introduced American readers to such literary giants as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Jean Genet, and Eugène Ionesco, as well as many of the writers of the Beat generation. He fought two landmark first amendment battles in order to publish the uncensored version of D. H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Rosset was a tenacious champion for writers who were struggling to be read in America and this award recognizes his vision and his enormous contributions to American publishing.” Obscene, a documentary feature about Rosset by Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O’Connor, was a selection of the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

For more information about the event, call Michael Bergstein at 845-758-1539.

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This event was last updated on 10-14-2009