Tuesday, March 21, 2017


LINKS TO MEMORIAL TRIBUTES Template - With Photo (148)&CNDID=7634537&spMailingID=10666050&spUserID=MTMzMTg1NTY1MDQwS0&spJobID=1121699886&spReportId=MTEyMTY5OTg4NgS2


link to further memorial accounts:

link to a nice memoir by one of Bob's ex-assistants, I worked even longer hours at Urizen

Dear Mr. Grimes,

Bob Silvers appears to have been a writer’s editor & I recall my happiness in the 60s with the first issue of the NYRB, whereas my subsequent experience as editor and publisher, however, was that a NYRB review (as, say, compared to a long New Yorker review) didn’t help sell books because the reviews were consciously tailored (as Bob would write me on one occasion in the early 80s) so as to obviate its readers need to read the reviewed titles - the NYRB in that respect perpetuating a general American reviewing custom, even furthering it since the length of the pieces heightened the impression that the time-pressed reader  would end up knowing all they needed or might want to, or to chat about at a cocktail party. Even so, to what extent did the work published there stand up to scholarly standards? And who ae these readers that don’t buy books?

The NYRB, perhaps it was solely Robert Silvers’ doing - he and I who were sort of pals once made a date to participate in a Russian human rights event in the mid 1970s - as a human rights hyena.

then ended up doing grievous harm, on those ideological grounds, to that very special bebé of mine, Peter Handke, and this despite the NYRB having given his work a fair shake at his initial apoearance in the USA, endeding up doing the opposite several times. 

In its drift rightward the NYRB, already in the 70s, stopped publishing Naom Chomsky and anyone of truly fundamental critical acumen and started to drift toward publishing easily editable liberal pundits of all kinds & in that way to begin to resemble the paper, also in that fashion, not just in its reviewing practice, the one it had sought to differentiate itself from, the New York Times & its Book Review.

I was introduced to Bob Silvers in the early 60s, through Fred Seidel, whom I had met through close friend Frank Conroy - the two lay-abroads were married to the unfortunately betrothed Ferguson sisters, Phyllis  & Patricia (Pattie). Fred & I got along, he later was one of the first to be puzzled by Handke’s INNERWORLD poems, I instruted Fred in Brecht’s poetics, he showed me how Lowell worked - at the time I was quite well-versed in American poetry and edited Metamorphosis where I published a hunk from Fred’s FINAL SOLUTIONS, his first collection. I had sececded from graduate school, Bob as editor of Harper’s Review asked me - out of the blue - to write something about American education. I hadn’t approached him wanting to write anything, during those days my ambitions were editorial, and had never given the matter of US. education much thought  - but still was appalled, had not got over the shock of my freshman and suffermore years at West Orange, that had succeeded those two great flourishing years at the Ploen Gymnasium - the ant-acid of Oakwood Friends School had been a marvelous reprieve, but a solitary one, the full realization of the degree to which Haverford College had been the wrong place for me at that time in my life did not dawn on me until I wrote SCREEN MEMORIES a few years ago - after Paris & Munich & Berlin, what? Back to Lancaster Pike? - NYU or some big school in Chicago, or more Paris or Berlin or London was what would have been rigt for me. Had I been in a reflective state of mind I might have written something for Bob, whom I instantly liked.

My two years at Stanford had driven home to me that I did not want to spend my life in a university department, certainly not of the kind as the then Stanford German Departmentw was constituted - something fundamentally activist made me go dead a the prospect as I would have if I had stayed. Teaching I found delightfulm even at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, especially because so many flirtatious co-edes were  pretty and bright - if only I could have transported all of us to a seraglie - and I still had a college girlfriend back east. 

I also was around the time of the founding of the NYRB, via Fred I suppose, got to know Whitney and some of the others, and as I drifted via Farrar, Straus, two years of agenting, a year at McGraw-Hill to finally being in a position to do some real publishing at Continuum Books had always kept up a relationship with Bob.

In the early 80s, post Urizen, post an analyisis but studying to be perhaps a child analyst, and on the West Coast, under the influence of Handke’s THE REPETITION & the surround of Malibu surf and chapparal and dusty paths I wrote long piece about Handke & Being and sent it to a number of folk, it was far too long for Partisan where I had done a few things, but Bob wrote back that “they had almost taken it” - but, in effect, what they did was publish pieces that gave scientists the gist of of someone’s work; the NYRB is a Reader’s Digest for hurried intellectuals.

 Fancying the idea that maybe I could write a comprehensive piece about the Handke of that time - up until THE REPETITION - I roughed out an entire book, marked up the manuscript as to what I thought needed to be touched on in such a proposed piece, but eventually Bob wrote that no they did not want that, a 25 thousand word piece it would have been. 

I introduce thss prolegema to indicate that Bob Silvers knew who Handke and his work was, also from the two long eearlier round-ups that he had published, before he put out the so devastating to Handke Marcus piece, and then refused to run my letter to the editor objecting not to Marcus political take but Marcus’s hideous mis-evaluations of Handke’s work, obviously motivated by a hatred of Handke’s Yugosla position - which Bob may have shared, via Susan Sontag:  this the background to my eventual long open letter to Bob Silvers, decimating the Marcus piece - and now a bit of cold water on the reputation of the dear man, which ought have considered the politics of the deceased not just his fine labors.


the nyrb is as parochial as this country including its occasional anglophiliac splurges. no evidence of silvers time spent in Paris. 

i have a few more items for the posting. hard work finding the right  reviewer? certainly not in handke’s case sinc it appear the knives were out as soon as H. opted to defend the serbs and milosevics. no one none of these moral hyenas would give him a break or be reflective. an astonishing little moral orgy was had back then. 

someone there had a bad psychoanalytic experience, otherwise i cant explain their giving fred crews a soap box. an open letter to him coming up.  .



but at least publishing Scott Abbott’s letter to the editor - a rare event on one of these many occasions when Handke is taken to the woodshed for a Serbian spanking.


Surprisingly so, despite having been in Havana as supposed friends of the mid-70s Bob was resistant to any of his brilliant friend H. M. Enzensberger’s essays that I collected at Continuum Books as The Consciousness Industry & Politics & Crime as well as to reviewing same & it is only just now, well into the 21st century that the NYRB finally gets around to noticing the Frankfurt School -

thus, the NYRB is scarcely radical, or cutting edge, or intellectually comprehensive,  but constitutes, occupies a well-written upper-middle-brow centrist  conservative position. 

 There is the NYRB's strange endorsment of Fred Crew's war against Freud and psychoanalysis that persists to this day
and the only explanation for which musht b e that someone there had an unsuccessful analysis. The summer time blues may be  incurable yet the process can be most enlightening, especially if you decide to put some work into it.


1 comment:


    Advance apologies for being derisive: but how can I help but being so: isn't it ever momentous for an author of the stature of H. M. („His Majesty“ ) Enzensberger, nearly 90 tree-rings old, to finally be found worthy of notice by the NYRB. It has been a decades-long chagrin of mine that Bob Silvers, a good and pleasant acquaintance, also of HME’s, in Cuba, would neither pre-publish a one of the many brilliant HME essays I translated and collected in two volumes and published as The Consciousness Industry & Politics and Crime (Continuum Books 1974) nor deign to review either or, then, Mausoleum, that Neal Acheson more than adequatly describes and praises, and that I published at Urizen Books in 1976 - and which not a single provincial in these still provincial united states reviewed or would prepublish a piece thereof. The NYRB and Silvers, who started to avail himself of far too many hacks, came to mind not only at this Enzensberger occasion but in the instance where the NYRB finally deigned to take notice of another pet of mine, the Frankfurt School, with Samuel Freeman“s The Headquarters of Neo-Marxism, in Spring this year, for which reason of overall tardiness I took very much of a minority position
    within the overall praise of the NYRB and of Bob Silver’s at the time of Bob’s demise.
    I have no quarrel with Acheson’s take on Enzensberger & his poetry. He might have praised the beautiful essay work, e.g. in Enzensberger’s piece on Nelly Sachs, which can be found, in my translation, as the introduction to Oh the Chimneys, or his piece on Bartholomew de Las Casas Short History of the Indies that I did at Continuum Books. As to Enzensberger’s loss of faith in utopia and his part in the New Left, I think I could make out an equally powerful case that the actors in that drama were insufficiently selfless and far too hedonistic, too easily bought off, too easily „marched into the institutions,“ and that a Leninist revolution might have obviated the current world-wide moguldom where the 99 percent of us are serfs of one kind or the other in a roller coaster that seems far more doomed than the Titanic ever was.
    Michael Roloff, Seattle
    Nov 5. 2017


this blog is moderated by

Powered By Blogger

Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
seattle, Washington, United States
MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website


Blog Archive