Necrológica: Barbara Epstein, 1928–2006

New York City, June 16, 2006—Barbara Epstein, co-editor and founder of the biweekly magazine The New York Review of Books, died the morning of June 16. The cause of death was lung cancer. She was 77.

Ms. Epstein, along with Jason Epstein, Robert Silvers, Robert Lowell, and Elizabeth Hardwick, founded The New York Review of Books during the long news blackout of the New York publishing strike in 1963. With Ms. Epstein and Mr. Silvers as editors, this small group of friends created a new kind of magazine—one in which the most brilliant minds they could find would discuss current politics, books, art, and culture in depth. The first issue included pieces by Elizabeth Hardwick; Mary McCarthy; W.H. Auden; Robert Penn Warren; Norman Mailer; and Gore Vidal. The new magazine was immediately hailed as “of more cultural import than the opening of Lincoln Center” (The New Statesman). Since 1963 Barbara Epstein co-edited the magazine with Robert Silvers, who will continue as the magazine’s editor.

Since then, The New York Review has continued to be the magazine where the most important issues in American life are discussed by writers who are themselves major forces in world literature and thought. “The secret of its success,” The New York Times wrote, “is this: Its editors’ ability to get remarkable writers and thinkers, many of them specialists in their fields, to write lucidly for lay readers on an enormous range of complex, scholarly and newly emerging subjects, issues and ideas.”

Robert Silvers, Ms. Epstein’s co-editor at The New York Review remarked: “Barbara Epstein was not only one of the founders of The New York Review and co-editor for forty-three years, she was a guiding spirit of the paper. She brought to bear on all the work of the Review a superb intelligence, an exquisite sense of language, and a strong moral and political concern to expose and remedy injustice. Of the thousands of articles published by the Review over the years she contributed something to every one and was entirely responsible for many. Gallant, imaginative, original, affectionate, she edited and published the work of many of the most talented writers and scholars of our time, many of whom became her close friends. She largely created The New York Review of Books and what it stands for.”

Rea Hederman, publisher of The New York Review of Books, noted, “Barbara Epstein, as co-editor of The New York Review, was equally fierce as a protector of those rights and causes in which she believed as she was a champion and mentor for younger writers. She worked long and tirelessly on articles intended to expose various injustices and on articles meant to present new talent to readers. She had a particular love for the arts and that love was infused in articles published by the Review. In the end, her work and that of her co-editor Robert Silvers—the only editors the Review has ever had—established a publication of lasting importance.”

Foto de Dominique Nabokov

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