Friday, June 01, 2012

Paris Review

"Plimpton’s letter on Pasternak is essential, however, because for many years a small group of journalists has been trying to pry more information out of Matthiessen on the still-unknown extent of the CIA’s role with the Paris Review — and many in particular have wondered what the legendary Plimpton himself knew of the magazine’s CIA origins. Matthiessen’s story has not changed much since it was first revealed in a 1977 New York Times story. But the Review’s archive at the Morgan Library in Manhattan — until now left mostly out of the debate — shows a number of never-reported CIA ties that bypass Matthiessen or outlive his official tenure at the Agency. In fact, a number of editors, Plimpton included, repeatedly courted ties to the Congress for Cultural Freedom. These ties started modestly — ad exchanges, reprints of Paris Review interviews in the Congress’s official magazines — but grew much more robust, including what one editor described as a “joint emploi” where the Congress and the Review would team up to share an editor’s living expenses in Paris and also to share interviews and other editorial content. In its vast quest to beat the Soviets in cultural achievement and showcase American writing to influential European audiences and intellectuals, the Congress may have even suggested some of the famed Paris Review interviews. All of which means that at the dawn of the CIA’s era of coups and nefarious plots, America’s most celebrated apolitical literary magazine served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power."