Skip to main content

Stanley E. Gontarski Grove Press Research Materials

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2013-0516

Scope and Contents

The Dr. Stanley E. Gontarski Grove Press Research Materials collection consists of articles, literary manuscripts, biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, interviews, films, Grove Press catalogs, financial information, materials concerning Rosset's 1948 documentary Strange Victory, and files for Rosset's intended autobiography,The Subject is Left-Handed, all documenting the professional career of Barney Rosset and the history of Grove Press. A major portion of the collection comprises copies of extensive intelligence files obtained from Rosset's personal papers, compiled by various branches of American intelligence (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Army Intelligence) under the Freedom of Information Act.

All of these materials were used by Dr. Gontarski to research Barney Rosset and Grove Press.


  • Other: Date acquired: 05/16/2013


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of this collection is provided for non-commercial, personal, educational, and research use only. All other use, including but not limited to commercial or scholarly reproductions, redistribution, publication, websites, exhibitions, broadcasts, or other transmission, whether by electronic means or otherwise, without prior written permission of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited. For information about the copyright and reproduction rights for this item, please contact Special Collections, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. Stanley E. Gontarski, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English, Florida State University, specializes in twentieth-century Irish Studies, British, U.S., and European Modernism, and in performance theory. He has been awarded four National Endowment for the Humanities research grants, and has twice been awarded Fulbright Professorships.

Dr. Gontarski has been Guest Editor of the American Book Review, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and Modern Fiction Studies and most recently Drammaturgia. He is also General Editor of two book series: 1) "Crosscurrents: Comparative Studies in European Literature and Philosophy" with the University Press of Florida and 2) "Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance" with Anthem Press, London.  He edited the Journal of Beckett Studies from 1989-2008, and currently serves as Co-Editor with its publication by Edinburgh University Press.

The materials in this collection were used by Dr. Gontarski to research his unpublished book about Barney Rosset and Grove Press. Barnet Rosset was born in Chicago on May 28, 1922. His formative years were spent in the Francis Parker School, where "progressive education" flourished, and this experience led him to its political counterpart. During World War II, Rosset was an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic Service.

In 1948, after having served as an officer in the Army Photographic Company in China until his return to New York in 1946, Rosset produced "Strange Victory," a groundbreaking documentary about postwar racial discrimination in the United States.

In the 1950s, repressive obscenity laws made it illegal to publish literary works that challenged the status quo or violated the prevailing mores of the day.  Rosset deliberatively set out to challenge these laws by publishing these books and defending them successfully in court against attacks by such departments such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1951, Rosset bought a newly-established New York publishing company, Grove Press, named after the Greenwich Village street where it began. Through 1984, he ran it from various locations in the same neighborhood, developing Grove into one of the most influential publishers of its day. Attracted to books that, through their form or content, challenged their assumptions of the status quo, Rosset published writers such as Samuel Beckett, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Malcolm X, Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco, Frank O'Hara, Harold Pinter, and Tom Stoppard, that other presses passed up because they were too experimental or violated social values.

In 1988, the PEN American Center presented Rosset with its Publisher Citation for "distinctive and continuous service" to international letters, to the freedom and disgnity of writers, and to the free transmission of the printed word across the barriers of poverty, ignorance, censorship, and repression." He was named Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres bu the French Ministry of Culture (1999), and was honored with the Small Press Center's Poor Richard's Award (1999) and the National Book Critic's Lifetime Achievement Award (2000). In 2008, the National Book Foundation honored him as "a tenacious champion for writers who were struggling to be read in America."  Rosset died in Manhattan on February 21, 2012.

The Atlantic Monthly Press, under the aegis of its publisher, Morgan Entrekin, merged with Grove Press in 1991. As of 2014, Grove is an imprint of the publisher Grove/Atlantic, Inc.


9.01 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Personal correspondence, magazine and newspaper articles, Freedom of Information Act requests, galley proofs and unpublished manuscripts, audio and video of interviews and book readings, interview transcripts, a reel of the film "Minitaurus," and books used by Dr. Stanley Gontarski to research Barney Rosset and Grove Press.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Stanley E. Gontarski.

An interview transcript with Michael McClure and oversized, framed poem, "Berkeley Song," donated by Dr. Gontarski in November 2014.

Lawrence Tucker correspondence and compact audiocassette interview recordings of Lawrence Ferlinghetti (undated) and Barney Rosset (1997) donated by Alex Laurence, May 2019.

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

The Grove Press Records, Syracuse University The Barney Rosset Papers, Columbia University Oral History Interview with Barney Rosset, Columbia University Samuel Beckett Papers, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Stanley E. Gontarski Grove Press Research Materials
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US