From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Grove Press is an American publishing imprint that was founded in 1951. Imprints include: Black Cat, Evergreen, Venus Library, Zebra. Barney Rosset purchased the company in 1951 and turned it into an influential alternative book press in the United States. The Atlantic Monthly Press, under the aegis of its publisher, Morgan Entrekin, merged with Grove Press in 1991. Grove is now an imprint of the still-independent publisher, Grove/Atlantic Inc., where its traditions continue.
Grove and the literary avant-garde
Grove published Evergreen Review, a literary magazine. Its eclecticism can be seen in the issue from March-April 1960, which includes work by Albert Camus, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bertolt Brecht, and LeRoi Jones, as well as Edward Albee's first play, The Zoo Story.
Grove published French avant-garde of the era, including Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jean Genet, and Eugène Ionesco; most of the American Beats of the 1950s, including Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg; and poets associated with Black Mountain and the San Francisco Renaissance such as Robert Duncan.
In 1954 Grove published future Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot after it was refused by more mainstream publishers — it turned into a bestseller. Since then it has been Beckett's U.S. publisher. In 2006 Grove published an anniversary bilingual edition of Waiting for Godot and a special four-volume edition of Beckett's works, with commissioned introductions by Edward Albee, J. M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, and Colm Tóibín, to commemorate his centenary (April 2006).
Grove is also the U.S. publisher of the works of Harold Pinter, the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature; in 2006 it published a collection called The Essential Pinter, which includes Pinter's Nobel Lecture, entitled "Art, Truth & Politics."
In addition, Grove publishes Japanese literature, such as that written by another future Nobel Prize Laureate Kenzaburo Oe, who selected Grove over more financially prosperous publishers because of its commitment to freedom of speech.
Grove and radical politics
Grove and the American sexual revolution
Grove Press has contributed to the American sexual revolution. In the United States in the years 1959 through 1966, bans on three books with explicit erotic content were challenged and overturned. Two of those books were published by Grove: Lady Chatterley's Lover and Tropic of Cancer.
Grove published the first unexpurgated edition of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover and the first edition of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. They also published the first U.S. edition of Story of O, written pseudonymously under the name Pauline Réage, and the massive "My Secret Life" which purports to be the erotic memoirs of a Victorian English Gentleman.
The Lady Chatterley's Lover case
In 1959, Grove Press published an unexpurgated version of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence. The U. S. Post Office confiscated copies sent through the mail. Lawyer Charles Rembar sued the New York city postmaster and won in New York and then on federal appeal. In 1965, Tom Lehrer was to celebrate the erotic appeal of the novel in his cheerfully satirical song "Smut" with the couplet "Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately?/I've got a hobby: rereading Lady Chatterley."
The Tropic of Cancer case
Henry Miller's 1934 novel, Tropic of Cancer, had explicit sexual passages and could not be published in the United States; an edition was printed by the Obelisk Press in Paris and copies were smuggled into the United States. (As of 2003, used book dealers asked $7500 and up for copies of this edition.) In 1961, Grove Press issued a copy of the work and lawsuits were brought against dozens of individual booksellers in many states for selling it. The issue was ultimately settled by the U. S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Miller v. California. In this decision, the court defined obscenity by what is now called the Miller test. The Wikipedia article on pornography notes that "In the United States, hardcore pornography is legal unless it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which it almost never does."
The Naked Lunch case
The William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch was forbidden from being published in some parts of the world for approximately ten years, presumably due to the vividness of some of the material, though it found a quick release in France where Olympia Press published it soon after completion. The first American publisher to take a chance with the novel was Grove Press. The book was banned by Boston courts in 1962 due to obscenity, but that decision was reversed in a landmark 1966 opinion by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. This was the last major literary censorship battle in the US.
Upon publication, Grove Press added to the book supplementary material regarding the censorship battle as well as an article written by Burroughs on the topic of drug addiction. Grove would publish several editions of the novel over the next four decades, including a "Restored Text" version in 2002. Grove also published the first American paperback editions of other controversial Burroughs' works including The Soft Machine, Nova Express and The Ticket That Exploded. Grove would also publish the final collection of the author's writings, the posthumously published Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs.