The Importance of the Paris Review

The Paris Review proudly stands as one of the last bastions of literary journals delivering notable literature and artwork. The quarterly publication began in 1953, founded by George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, and Harold L. Humes. Plimpton acted as the editor for 50 years until his death in 2003, guiding the Review as it published work by Jorge Luis Borges and Samuel Beckett and letters from e e cummings to Ezra Poud.

Issues feature short stories, serialized novels, poetry, art portfolios, and perhaps most notably the “Art of Fiction” series, consisting of interviews with established authors including Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen and historically Henry Miller and Vladmir Nabokov.

Issue 199, Winter 2011, included the fourth and final installment of Roberto Bolano’s serialized novel The Third Reich. Like much of the work published by the Paris Review, Bolano’s novel represents some of the most lauded current literary achievements. Though the novel saw publication through major publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, that edition did not include the elegant and simplistic illustrations by Leanne Shapton (who also has work in the current issue). It is this kind of unique, multi-faceted treatment of literature that sets the Paris Review apart from other literary journals.

The Winter 2011 issue also included a multi-media art portfolio entitled Woman by Women, curated by Charlotte Strick. The artwork spans photography, painting, drawing, and prints centered on the theme of the portrayal of women in artwork. We were particularly pleased to see that a striking piece of photography by Marilyn Minter sets off the collection.

These examples represent only a small sampling of the incredible wealth of phenomenal work that are impossible to catalogue in a brief article. The Spring Issue (#200) is out now, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth into work by Stephen Dunn and Adrienne Rich and interview with Bret Easton Ellis and Terry Southern. If you’re unfamiliar with the Paris Review, it’s time to pick up a copy.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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