Rosset established the Grove Press in 1951, “a breach in the dam of American Puritanism,” as he rightly called it.
He published books no one else would because, as the New York Times noted, “they were too risqué or too avant-garde.”
He pioneered publishing the works of the “damned” such as Jean Genet, youthful crime in “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and communists such as Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh.
Rosset, 89, died recently after a lifetime of battling prudish publishers.
He defied censors by publishing “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D.H. Lawrence and “Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. He won a victory over bluenosers in 1964 when the Supreme Court reversed a ban on “Tropic of Cancer” in 21 states.
Rosset printed the stunning works of playwright Samuel Beckett. He imported the sexually explicit film, “I Am Curious (Yellow).”
He published the literary journal, Evergreen Review, featuring such writers as Allen Ginsberg and lascivious comic strips.
In 1962 he published “Naked Lunch” by William Burroughs, drug-riddled, sexually frank vignettes. He published “Story of O,” an erotic novel by Pauline Réage.
Rosset released the documentary film, “Titicut Follies,” a harrowing look at the abuse of patients at a Massachusetts state hospital.
His publication of Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” sold 2.5 million copies. Beckett later won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1969) as did another writer Grove Press introduced to America, Harold Pinter (2005).
Rosset expanded the frontiers of literature and culture, enriching American intellectual discourse.
The main reason that legislatures are filled with so many cretins is that 25 percent of state lawmakers do not have college degrees.
That figure, courtesy of the Chronicle of Higher Education, exposes the fatuous notion of “citizen legislators.”
Citizen lawmakers pass many absurd statutes. They propose even more absurd ones such as Virginia’s recent invasive ultrasound “rape test” before allowing abortions.
Molly Ivins, late Texas columnist, wrote after one outrageous Supreme Court decision:
“The court misplaces faith in the ‘wisdom’ of state legislatures. The Texas Lege, justly famed in song and story, is the most astonishing collection of nincompoops ever gathered in one place.”
Too honest for politics
Plato in the “Apology” has Socrates saying he “was really too honest a man to be a politician.” Russ Feingold fits that description.
Feingold, former Democratic senator from Wisconsin, was the only senator with the courage to vote against the privacy-stripping Patriot Act in 2001. The 96 senators who voted for the bill were fearful they would be called unpatriotic and lose their seats.
Feingold was indeed voted out of office but he has one consolation: being the true patriot.
His newly published book, “While America Sleeps,” tells about that and other examples of congressional cowardice such as G.W. Bush’s uncalled for Iraq war.
Speaking of “Profiles in Courage,” five cheers for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. He will not win the GOP nomination for president. But his opposition to the silly federal drug war and the even sillier federal anti-marijuana law has won him legions of young admirers.
One of the hallowed canons of newspapering is to leave no important question unanswered in a story. Yet when it comes to ethnic slurs, reporting is woefully incomplete.
Jeremy Lin, basketball sensation for the New York Knicks, made nine turnovers in one game prompting an ESPN staffer to be fired for an “offensive headline.”
The New York Times went to great lengths telling the story but it did not say what the headline said. (“Chink in the Armor”)
Hardly a firing offense since the staffer clearly meant a hole in the armor and not the slur “chink.” (Lin is from Taiwan.)
Newspaper readers are adults. They have every right to the full story without coy and childish evasions.
End NHL fighting
Sports Illustrated carried a letter recently that is worth reprinting. It said:
“The National Hockey League’s effort to reduce concussions is sheer hypocrisy. It continues to allow players to fight and throw head punches. If the NHL really wanted to minimize concussions it would ban fighting.”
Amen! A few primitives would howl, declaring that fighting is the macho image of a rugged sport. But sensible, civilized fans would heartily applaud.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.