Bernard Smith (editor)
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Bernard Smith (September 20, 1907 - December 21, 1999) was an American literary editor, film producer, and literary critic. He is best remembered for his work at the Knopf publishing house, where he edited B. Traven, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett, and Langston Hughes.
He attended City University of New York, and in 1928 began working for Alfred A. Knopf, where he was eventually made simultaneously editor-in-chief and managing editor. There Smith was Traven's first American editor, and took a free hand in revising Traven's initially rough English.
In 1939 Smith published his Forces in American Criticism, a historical and critical survey of American literature and literary criticism from a Marxist perspective. Smith, though never a Communist Party member, was a committed Marxist; but the book was undogmatic and was well received in the mainstream literary academy, including favorable notice from critics such as Austin Warren.
Smith moved in 1947 to Hollywood, where he worked in the film industry, first for Samuel Goldwyn as a script editor. In 1950 he became an independent producer, working on films such as Elmer Gantry and How the West was Won. In 1963 he partnered as a producer with director John Ford, making films such as Cheyenne Autumn.
In 1994 Smith published a memoir, A World Remembered: 1925-1950. He edited volumes including The Democratic Spirit: A Collection of American Writings From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1941), Books That Changed Our Minds, and The Holiday Reader with Philip Van Doren Stern. His work also included studies published in the 1940s of the painters Moses Soyer and David Burliuk.
- Bernard Smith, 92, Who Edited Literary Giants: obituary (New York Times Dec. 31, 1999)
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