Thomas Guinzberg, 1926-2010

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09/10/2010 4:27 PM |


Thomas Guinzberg, one of the founders of the Paris Review, died on Wednesday in Manhattan following hear surgery. Guinzberg was a Marine in WWII, fought in Iwo Jima and earned a Purple Heart. After the war, he went to Yale, where he was managing editor of the Yale Daily News (under his classmate William F. Buckley, Jr.), and roommates with Peter Matthiessen. He graduated in 1950, and like many of his generation’s best and brightest, went to Paris. There, he fell in with the crowd that would found the Paris Review in 1953—Matthiessen, George Plimpton and the rest. He was their first managing editor. The Paris Review‘s remembrance of Guinzburg has this photo from 1965; Guinzberg is bottom right, next to Plimpton. (The poet and early Paris Review editor Donald Hall, and the magazine’s founding art director, William Pène du Bois, are standing.)

Guinzburg left the Review to take up his role in the family business, Viking Press, which he oversaw from his fathers death in the early 60s up until the late 70s, having overseen its sale to Penguin, and where he published, per the Times obit, Hannah Arendt, Nat Hentoff, Ken Kesey, Jimmy Breslin, Patrick White, Lawrence Durrell, Kingsley Amis, Iris Murdoch, Robert Coover, and Gravity’s Rainbow. (He also made waves by hiring Jackie O. as an editor, and helping to orchestrate the Professor Irwin Corey stunt.) He devoted much of his later years to charitable work.

If you’re looking at that photo and wondering, “Why do those sweaters look so cool, and how do I get one?”, well, those are the two questions this obituary has attempted to answer.