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26.8.03

Un impeccable français

You don't see this every day in the mainstream American media: a tribute to an intellectual, a reader, an editor, and all of this in a language other than that of the newspaper itself. This is exactly how to describe Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, writing in Le Monde (Robert Silvers. lecteur permanent, August 26), and her lionization of Robert Silvers, inexhaustible editor and "man in the shadows" behind the New York Review of Books. This may not be news to some readers, but Silvers finished his undergraduate work, begun at the University of Chicago, at the Sorbonne and the Institut d'études politiques. He stayed in Paris from 1952 to 1958, getting his start in the literary world with the Paris Review. In his interview, Silvers "prefers to define himself as 'a critical admirer' and does so in impeccable French." (Anyone who has ever spent a lot of time trying to speak French knows that this is not a compliment handed out easily by a French person.) The account of how the New York Review of Books was started and the concise history of its success make interesting reading.

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