Richard Seaver


Richard Seaver, a longtime Southampton resident and a legendary figure in American publishing, died of a heart attack on January 5 at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

As the editor-in-chief at Grove Press, he challenged traditional literary standards by bringing out works by authors such as Henry Miller and William Burroughs for readers around the world. Most recently, Mr. Seaver was the head of Arcade Publishing, a company that rejected the philosophy of publishing well-known literary figures, instead seeking out and publishing works by unknown authors.

A Fulbright scholar in Paris, Mr. Seaver studied at the Sorbonne in the 1950s and founded a literary quarterly called Merlin. It was Mr. Seaver who ultimately was responsible for finding a publisher—Grove Press—for then-unknown playwright Samuel Beckett. Barney Rosset, the publisher of Grove Press, not only became Beckett’s publisher, he gave Mr. Seaver a job after reading an essay he had written about Beckett’s work.

Works published by Grove during Mr. Seaver’s tenure there include Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” and “Tropic of Capricorn” and William Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch.”

It was long suspected, though Mr. Seaver never admitted to it, that he was the translator of the 1954 French novel “The Story of O.” His wife confirmed last week that he was, in fact, the translator.

During the course of his career, he translated more than 50 books from French including work by the Marquis de Sade.

Mr. Seaver is survived by his wife, Jeannette Seaver; a daughter, Nathalie of Los Angeles; two sons, Alexander of Connecticut and Nicholas of Colorado; four grandchildren; and a sister, Joan Aichner of North Carolina.

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