For Publisher Barney Rosset, Risk Has Its Rewards

Barney Rosset at home in New York i i

hide captionBarney Rosset: His crusades helped overturn U.S. censorship laws.

AckerFilm
Barney Rosset at home in New York

Barney Rosset: His crusades helped overturn U.S. censorship laws.

AckerFilm

So what is fit to print? For Barney Rosset, the answer is an invariable "anything."

His Grove Press published some of drama's most famous names — including Samuel Beckett and Anton Chekhov — was known for printing books that other publishers wouldn't touch — from uncensored versions of Lady Chatterley's Lover and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer to a highly profitable line of Victorian spanking porn.

To publish them, he became a crusader against American censorship laws, challenging postal service confiscations and fighting obscenity charges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His landmark legal cases opened doors for other publishers when he won.

Earlier this week, at the National Book Awards ceremony, Rosset received the Literarian Award for his service to the literary community.

As he walked to the podium, the 86-year-old Rosset, always an iconoclast and a supporter of President-elect Barack Obama, declared: "For the first time in recent memory, I am not thinking of renouncing my American passport."

This interview was originally broadcast on Apr. 9, 1991.

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: