Partisan Review

New York Times and Boston Globe: Partisan Review ceases publication with tribute issue to William Phillips

Partisan Review, an influential quarterly journal of culture and politics, founded in 1934 in New York’s Greenwich Village and housed at Boston University since 1978, publishes its final issue this month as a tribute to cofounder and editor in chief William Phillips, who died in September 2002. In its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, the journal provided readers with an introduction to abstract expressionism, existentialism, new criticism, and works by young writers such as Robert Lowell, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, and Elizabeth Hardwick, reports the April 17 New York Times. The journal’s influence had been supplanted by such high-profile competitors as The New Republic and the New York Review of Books, and its dwindling circulation, recently down to about 3,200, combined with Phillips’ death, proved decisive to its fate. In a Boston Globe interview on April 17, Chancellor John Silber says he surveyed a dozen or so intellectual and literary figures in deciding what to do with the magazine. “The general attitude was that Partisan Review was a reliquary. What it needed was a new editor and purpose and direction.” In the New York Times, Silber says that the journal “was magnificent when it was the left’s response to Stalinism. Following Stalin’s death it continued to still have relevance because we were in the Cold War period. But after perestroika, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the breaking down of the Berlin Wall, the magazine lost its purpose.” Still, he calls the journal “a valuable name,” adding, “I would still hope that it could be revived.” BU, which owns the rights to the journal’s name and archives, hopes to eventually resuscitate it. “The Yale Review was discontinued some years ago, and after there was some reconsideration they found a new editor, a new direction, and they revived it,” says Silber. “I suspect something similar might happen with Partisan Review.” Phillips’ wife, Edith Kurzweil, who has overseen the journal as executive editor since his death, says that she and the magazine’s advisory board decided to cease publication with the new issue and make it a tribute to Phillips. “We thought we should go out with a bang rather than whatever we had on hand,” she says. --http://www.bu.edu/bridge/archive/2003/04-25/in-the-news.html

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