Robert Giroux, who discovered and edited some of the most unusual and paradigm-shifting voices in 20th century fiction, died today at his home in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, at the age of 94. Here’s the obituary from the New York Times, for now:
If the flamboyant Roger Straus presented the public face of Farrar, Straus, Mr. Giroux, as editor-in-chief, was its quiet mover, working behind the scenes to shape its list of books and establishing himself as the gold standard of literary taste. The publisher Charles Scribner Jr., in his memoir, “In the Company of Writers: A Life in Publishing” (1991), wrote, “Giroux is a great man of letters, a great editor, and a great publisher.”
How many masterpieces Mr. Giroux discovered will be for the future to decide. As he himself insisted, it can take decades for a book to become a classic. Still, one of the first books he edited is now on any list of the century’s best, Edmund Wilson‘s work on 19th-century socialist thinkers, “To the Finland Station” (1940); Mr. Giroux judged the manuscript to be nearly flawless.
He was also T. S. Eliot‘s American editor and published the American edition of George Orwell‘s “1984,” accepting it at once despite the objection of his immediate superior, whose wife had found some of the novel’s passages distasteful.
Mr. Giroux introduced a long roster of writers who would achieve fame, publishing first books by, among others, Jean Stafford, Robert Lowell, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor, Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, William Gaddis, Jack Kerouac and Susan Sontag. He edited Virginia Woolf, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Bishop, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy, Donald Barthelme, Grace Paley, Derek Walcott, Louise Bogan and William Golding.