Great publishers seem to be scarcer than great writers, possibly because people grow up dreaming of being the next Hunter S. Thompson or Simone de Beauvoir rather than Sonny Mehta or Beatriz de Moura. Writers probably need publishers, but publishers definitely need writers. Such a fact has never seemed more tangible to me than as I read The Garden of Eros, John Calder’s account of the major literary events of his lifetime, which focuses on Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press, Barney Rosset of Grove Press, and Calder’s own Calder Publications. Between them they published dozens of the most important writers of the twentieth century: Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Nabokov, Eugène Ionesco, Alexander Trocchi, William S. Burroughs, Claude Simon, Henry Miller … the list goes on. Calder himself published eighteen Nobel Prize winners.
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