The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 19, 2012

FSG & Mad Men

On the most recent episode of Mad Men, Ken Cosgrove sits down to lunch with an editor from FSG (yes, we blushed). Cosgrove calls the publishing house “Farrar, Straus,” though by 1967 it had been “Farrar, Straus and Giroux” for nearly two years. But hey, old names die hard—our receptionist still answers the phone with “Farrar, Straus.”

So, what was FSG publishing in the late 1960s? I dug up an old catalogue to find out.

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Apparently, the late Sixties at FSG were all about Lowell, Berryman, Sontag, and Wolfe. The trends were New Journalism and New Criticism: 1966 brought the debut book of essays from the “brilliant young social critic…Tom Wolfe," Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation, Lowell’s Near the Ocean, and A Reader’s Guide to T.S. Eliot.

Some of the highlights from 1967 include Berryman’s sonnets, Neruda’s The Heights of Machu Picchu, a collection of essays about Randall Jarrell (who had died two years earlier), and a centennial edition of The Golden Key with illustrations by Maurice Sendak and an afterword by W.H. Auden (pictured below).

Also, more New Criticism (Six Metaphysical Poets: A Reader’s Guide) and an adaption of Prometheus Bound by Lowell. In the introduction to the translation, Lowell's conservatism and the war really come through: “Half my lines are not in the original. But nothing is modernized," he writes. "There are no tanks or cigarette lighters. No contemporary statesman is parodied. Yet I think my own concerns and worries and those of the times seep in.”

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By 1968, many of these writers were at the height of their careers: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and Homage to Mistress Bradstreet were all in the catalogue, though Berryman's long poem appears to have been published only reluctantly...and only in paperback.

Read more about the writerly Ken Cosgrove

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