New Directions Publishers  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

New Directions Publishing Corp. is an American publishing company founded in 1936 by James Laughlin, best known for its focus on experimental writing and its connection to the Beat generation. The company also has published many translations of world literature, such as works by Hermann Hesse, Apollinaire, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Octavio Paz, and this remains one of the focal points of New Directions today

Contents

New Directions "Annuals"

The Press initially focused on publishing experimental writing, and was noted in its early years for its (mostly) annual anthologies of recent writing, each titled "New Directions in Poetry and Prose" with either a year or a volume number after it (e.g., "New Directions in Poetry and Prose 1941" or "New Directions in Poetry and Prose 11"). The New Directions "annuals", as they are generally called, soon broadened their focus to include quality contemporary writing of all genres or schools, though the work included tended to represent a more intellectual side of American writing as well as a considerable amount of literature in translation from modernist authors around the world. Several collections of some of the best works from the annuals were published, including "Spearhead" (1947), which included work from the first ten years. The last of the annuals was published in 1991.

Early series

Throughout its existence, New Directions has published individual works by a wide range of authors. However, James Laughlin created a number of thematic "series" early in New Directions' life, in some cases offering subscriptions to the series in a manner similar to magazine publishers.

New Directions "Poet of the Month" and "Poet of the Year" series published thin volumes representing either lengthy individual poems or small collections of poems on a monthly basis, and a larger volume of poems by a deserving poet once a year. Each volume was published by a different small press and released by New Directions. The Series was discontinued after a few years.

"Directions" began in 1941 as a quarterly soft-bound journal, with each edition dedicated to a single author or work in prose. Early issues included a collection of short stories by Vladimir Nabokov and a play by William Carlos Williams. The subscription model did not take hold, and later editions in the series were published in more traditional form and sold as individual works and not just to subscribers.

The "New Classics" and "Modern Readers" series reprinted recent books that had gone out of print but that the publishers felt deserved to become classics (including such works as Exiles and Stephen Hero by James Joyce and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald). The "New Classics" series continued and became, with the "Annuals", one of the signature series of New Directions, helping to build the reputation of a number of works that are now considered "classics." The "Makers of Modern Literature" series published criticism and literary histories of major figures in or influences on modern literature

New Directions authors

New Directions' authors eventually included William Carlos Williams, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Thomas Merton, Djuna Barnes, Vladimir Nabokov, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Delmore Schwartz, Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Tennessee Williams, Rosmarie Waldrop, Michael Palmer, William Saroyan, Aharon Shabtai, and Susan Howe, among others.

Jacket design

Beginning after World War II, New Directions developed a close relationship with artist Alvin Lustig, who designed modernist abstract book jackets and who ultimately was responsible for developing a distinctive black and white style of graphical jacket that served as a New Directions mark for many years.

Literature in translation

The company also has published many translations of foreign literature, such as works by Hermann Hesse, Apollinaire, Rainer Marie Rilke, W.G. Sebald, Octavio Paz, and Javier Marias, and this remains one of the focal points of New Directions today.

Incorporation

The company was incorporated in 1964 as the New Directions Publishing Corporation and operates from New York City, and its books today are distributed by WW Norton & Company





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "New Directions Publishers" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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