Friday, July 08, 2016

The Genius of William Shawn, and the Invention of The New Yorker


David Remnick on the Post-War Evolution of an American Literary Institution

July 5, 2016  By David Remnick - Literary Hub                        

Just the other day, feeling a ripple of melancholy after cleaning out desk drawers and stacking books into orange moving crates, I wandered into the office next to mine. After 90 years in a micro-pocket of midtown bordered by Times Square and Bryant Park, The New Yorker was heading to new quarters, at the southern tip of Manhattan.

My colleague Pamela Maffei McCarthy greeted me at her door and, with a sly smile, pressed on me four fat folders. “You’re going to want to look at these,” she said.
As deputy editor, Pam may have accumulated more files than anyone else in our offices, so I suspected that she was attempting a wily offloading maneuver, sticking me with a papery hillock of old expense reports. No backsies! But, after I took the files to my desk and started to sort through the delicate onionskin pages, I realized that this was treasure— hundreds of editing memos written by Harold Ross, who founded The New Yorker, in 1925, and ran it for a generation. The memos were dated 1950 and 1951, his last two years alive.

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