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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

Tributes to Robert Gottlieb, legendary editor

What made him such a great editor?  Obits and other tributes provide some insights.

Robert Gottlieb, editor of literary heavyweights, dies at 92 (Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post, 6-14-23) He had an unassuming approach to his work but was considered a virtuoso in the field. Toni Morrison, Joseph Heller and Robert Caro were among Mr. Gottlieb’s many writers in a career spanning nearly 70 years. He edited with a pencil and unparalleled devotion.
---Robert Gottlieb, Eminent Editor From le Carré to Clinton, Dies at 92 (Robert D. McFadden, NY Times, 6-14-23) Avid reader, reluctant writer. At Simon & Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf and The New Yorker, he polished the work of a who’s who of mid-to-late 20th century writers. “I have never encountered a publisher or editor with a greater understanding of what a writer was trying to do — and how to help him do it,” Mr. Caro said in a statement on Mr. Gottlieb’s death.“The editor’s relationship to a book should be an invisible one,” Mr. Gottlieb told The Paris Review in 1994. “The last thing anyone reading ‘Jane Eyre’ would want to know, for example, is that I had convinced Charlotte Brontë that the first Mrs. Rochester should go up in flames.”
---Robert Gottlieb, celebrated editor of Toni Morrison and Robert Caro, has died at 92 (Associated Press, NPR, 6-14-23) Tall and assured, with wavy dark hair and dark-rimmed glasses, Gottlieb had one of the greatest runs of any editor after World War II and helped shape the modern publishing canon. Gottlieb's reputation was made during his time as editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster and later Alfred A. Knopf, where in recent years he worked as an editor-at-large. But he also edited The New Yorker for five years before departing over "conceptual differences" with publisher S.I. Newhouse and was himself an accomplished prose stylist.
---Remembering Robert Gottlieb, Editor Extraordinaire (David Remnick, New Yorker, 6-26-23) At Knopf and The New Yorker, Gottlieb was an editor of unexampled accomplishment—someone who seemed to have read everything worth reading and to have published a fair amount of it, too.
---Robert Gottlieb, legendary editor who championed Joseph Heller, Robert Caro and Chaim Potok, dies at 92 (Andrew Silow-Carroll, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 6-15-23) Robert Gottlieb, the legendary literary editor who shepherded into print and best-sellerdom such 20th-century classics as Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” and Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen,” died Wednesday at age 92. Photo caption: The editor Robert Gottlieb (right) and author Robert Caro appear in the 2022 documentary, "Turn Every Page."

---Remembering Robert Gottlieb: Biographer and Friend (Sydney Stern, BIO International,
---Robert Gottlieb, The Art of Editing No. 1 (Interviewed by Larissa MacFarquhar, Paris Review, Fall 1994)
---Remembering Robert Gottlieb: The Virtuoso Editor and Publisher (Will Swift, BIO International) 'Using a pencil to markup manuscripts for nearly 70 years, he served as the editor-in-chief at Simon and Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf, and The New Yorker. Arguably the best-read man of the 20th and 21st century, he read up to 16 hours a day and edited, by his own estimation, approximately 700 books. What was his secret formula? “I don’t have lunches, dinners, go to plays or movies,” he explained to The Washington Post, “I don’t mediate, escalate, deviate or have affairs.” '

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