THE EDITORIAL CREDO of the New York Review of Books, which began publication in February 1963, was what one might expect of a highbrow journal.
… Neither time nor space … have been spent on books which are trivial in their intentions or venal in their effects, except occasionally to reduce a temporarily inflated reputation or to call attention to a fraud…
Almost immediately it achieved its modest though difficult ambition of becoming the only serious review of books in America. Against middlebrow art and taste, the NYR insisted on the necessity of making intellectually and aesthetically scrupulous judgments and of being invidious and dismissive when necessary—which was often, given the plenitude of bad and mediocre works. The fault of the New York Times Book Review (which in part provoked the existence of the NYR) was that it showed an undiscriminating hospitality to books good and bad....
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