Fred Jordan, an influential longtime editor at Grove Press for three decades and, later, publisher of Pantheon Books, died on April 19. He was 95.
The Viennese-born Jordan, né Alfred Rotblatt, emigrated to the United States in 1949 after surviving the Holocaust. After working as a journalist, in 1953, Jordan began a long and storied publishing career with a one-man publisher of esoterica, Falcon's Wing Press. In 1956, he joined Grove Press, then comprised of just three people including its owner and publisher, Barney Rosset.
According to Grove Atlantic, Rosset and Jordan "reached a verbal agreement followed by thirty years of close collaboration without clearly defined roles, and never with a contract." Rosset oversaw the finances and the company's creative direction and Jordan brought "the steady hand that built the operations and kept the company on course, often during turbulent times, overseeing business operations while also editing books and managing special projects, including court cases." (Grove was a target of the CIA's COINTELPRO program, which focused on surveilling and disrupting the efforts of domestic American political organizations and ran from 1956 until 1971.)
Over the years, Jordan published work by writers as notable and varied as Kathy Acker, Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Marguerite Duras, Allen Ginsberg, Vaclav Havel, Eugene Ionesco, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Pablo Neruda, Kenzaburō Ōe, Harold Pinter, Sam Sheppard, Art Spiegelman, and Tom Stoppard. During his time at Grove, the publisher became an incubator for avant-garde literature, including with the Evergreen Review, a leading left-leaning cultural magazine on the 1960s, for which Jordan was editor from its 21st issue until it ceased publication of its print edition after its 96th issue, in 1984. (An online incarnation lives on at www.evergreenreview.com.)
After brief stints as publisher of the U.S. division of Methuen and head of an imprint at Grosset & Dunlap, Jordan returned to Grove In the early 1980s, where he remained editor-in-chief until 1990, five years after Grove was sold to Ann Getty. He finished his career as publisher and editor-in-chief of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, where he published the second volume of Spiegelman's comics magnum opus, the Holocaust allegory Maus, which would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize when published as a complete work.
Correction: The Evergreen's final print issue was in 1984, not 1973. This piece has been updated with further information.