A new memoir, “Rosset: My Life in Publishing and How I Fought Censorship” (OR Books), is the work of several hands. Rosset had planned an autobiography, and he enlisted many helpers, but he was never satisfied, and, when he died, in 2012, the book was unfinished. The editors have managed to pull together a memoir using material in Rosset’s papers, and have produced a book that has the charm and some of the truculence of the man himself.

Rosset’s first great accomplishment after acquiring Grove was to become Beckett’s American publisher. Beckett was an elusive and problematic prize. He lived in Paris; he wrote in French; and he was fanatical about the integrity of his art. There are differing accounts of how Rosset heard about Beckett, but it’s undisputed that when they met, in Paris, they hit it off. Maybe it was the Irish ancestry. But it was sound business sense. Rosset recognized Beckett’s potential at a time when he was barely a coterie author. He must also have realized that he had a melodramatically self-abnegating prima donna on his hands, and he patiently walked Beckett through the steps necessary for his books to be published in the United States, starting with persuading him to translate them into English himself, which Beckett did only after making a tremendous fuss.

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