“I would give up my own writing before I would give up editing The Paris Review.”
– George Plimpton
The Paris Review
Established to have the written word thrive, The Paris Review remains the preeminent literary magazine in the English-speaking world. Since the magazine’s first publication in 1953, the pages of The Paris Review have displayed and introduced the work of the most important writers of the day.
George Plimpton co-founded The Paris Review with Harold L. Humes and Peter Matthiessen. Plimpton served as the magazine’s editor from its launch in 1953 until his death in 2003.
Plimpton dedicated himself to The Review from the start. When he signed on to the project from Paris in 1952 he sent a letter to his parents. “I’ve decided to stay over here in Paris and run this magazine,” he wrote, “I think I’d be a fool not to.”
Later in life, after he had reached great success with his own writing and participatory journalism he said, “I would give up my own writing before I would give up editing The Paris Review.”
Under his stewardship, The Review has introduced literary giants. Adrienne Rich was first published on its pages, as were Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, T. Coraghessan Boyle and Mona Simpson. The magazine was also among the first to recognize the work of Jack Kerouac, with the publication of his short story, “The Mexican Girl,” in 1955. Other milestones of contemporary literature also first made their appearance in The Paris Review: Italo Calvino’s Last Comes the Raven, Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, Jeffrey Eugenides’s Virgin Suicides, and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.
The founding editors also let authors talk about their work themselves. The Review‘s Writers at Work interview series offers authors a rare opportunity to discuss their life and art at length; the writers have responded with some of the most revealing self-portraits in literature. Young George Plimpton interviewed Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway as part of this series. Other interviewees include: William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov, Joan Didion and Seamus Heaney. In the words of one critic, it is “one of the single most persistent acts of cultural conservation in the history of the world.”
The back of every business card George Plimpton handed out served as a subscription card for The Paris Review. We encourage you to subscribe to help keep the Plimpton tradition alive.