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Publishing force behind Sartre dead

Dec. 2: André Schiffrin, a publishing force for 50 years, whose passion for editorial independence produced shelves of serious books, a titanic collision with a conglomerate that forced him out to stem losses, died in Paris on Sunday. He was 78.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his daughter Natalia Schiffrin said.

The son of a distinguished Paris publisher who fled Nazi-occupied France during World War II, Schiffrin grew up in a socialist New York literary world and became one of America’s most influential men of letters.

As editor in chief and managing director of Pantheon Books, a Random House imprint where making money was never the main point, he published novels and books of cultural, social and political significance.

Taking risks, running losses, resisting financial pressures and compromises, Schiffrin championed the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, Günter Grass, Studs Terkel, Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, Noam Chomsky, Julio Cortázar, Marguerite Duras, Roy Medvedev, Gunnar Myrdal, George Kennan, Anita Brookner, R. D. Laing and many others.

But in 1990, after 28 years at Pantheon, Schiffrin was fired by Alberto Vitale, the chief executive of Random House, in a dispute over chronic losses and Schiffrin’s refusal to accept cutbacks and other changes.

 
 
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