Critic and writer;
Born: April 24, 1916; Died: October 9, 2013.
Stanley Kauffmann, who has died aged 97, was a critic, author and editor who helped discover the classic novels Fahrenheit 451 and The Moviegoer. He wrote reviews for the American magazine The New Republic for more than 50 years, joining the title in 1958 and remaining there for the rest of his life.
He also wrote several novels, among them The Philanderer, released in Britain in 1953. It was soon banned and became the subject of a landmark obscenity trial in which the publisher Fredric Warburg was eventually acquitted.
A dentist's son, Stanley Kauffmann was born in New York in 1916 and witnessed film's early years first hand, seeing new works by Charlie Chaplin and others during the silent age. He began going to the theatre in the 1920s and had memories of John Barrymore and the daring Shakespeare productions of Orson Welles.
Theatre was Kauffmann's first love, and after graduating from New York University's College of Fine Arts in 1935 he was an actor and stage manager with the Washington Square Players. He wrote several plays and taught for years at the Yale School of Drama.
He did not plan to become a film critic but ended up writing during a dynamic era that featured the rise of the French New Wave and the emergence of such American directors as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
He had worked in book publishing for more than a decade when, in 1957, a friend offered him the chance to write about film for The Reporter, a biweekly magazine. He enjoyed it enough to send a review to The New Republic and he was soon taken on full time. Kauffmann would recall that as a young man he was told theatre was a vital force because it encompassed all art forms before it. Film, he later decided, was theatre's successor.
Kauffmann had a dedicated following, with admirers including Susan Sontag and Roger Ebert, who once called him the most valuable film critic in America. In recent years, he didn't bother with Avatar or other blockbusters, reasoning that they would manage fine without him. He did spread the word about such foreign-language releases as the Russian musical Hipsters, a documentary about German painter Gerhard Richter and the Israeli family drama Footnote.
When the American Film Institute was compiling a list of the 20th century's best movies, Kauffmann declined to participate, worrying he would be "trampled under the thundering herd" of opinions with which he disagreed.
His interests and influence were not limited to film. He worked in publishing in the 1940s and throughout the 1950s. As a publishing editor, Kauffmann twice helped make history. In 1953, at Ballantine Books, he took on a disturbing novel about a future society in which books are burned - Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
A few years later, at Alfred A Knopf, an agent sent him the manuscript for a novel by a young author named Walker Percy. Kauffmann recalled that the book was beautifully written but poorly structured and needed substantial revision. The Moviegoer was published in 1961, developed a word-of-mouth following among fellow writers and went on to win the National Book Award, beating Catch-22 among others.
In 1943 Kauffmann married Laura Cohen, who died last year. They had no children.
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