Robert Gottlieb, noted editor from Le Carré to Clinton, dies at 92

Robert Gottlieb, noted editor from Le Carré to Clinton, dies at 92

Unlike his revered and formal predecessor, who wore a jacket and tie, saw people by appointment and was referred to as “Mr.” Schon,” Mr. Gottlieb was an eccentric collector of kitsch, such as plastic ladies’ handbags, a passionate lover of classical ballet and a cynical Anglophile who referred to the writers as “dear boy”.

He didn’t attend gossip magazine luncheons, preferring a hot dog in Central Park or a sandwich at his desk. With his long face, heavy glasses and slicked hair, he’d padd around the office like a beachgoer in old sneakers, baggy pants and rumpled polo shirts, jostling with staff.

He made few and mostly minor changes over five years, allaying the fears of many New Yorker fans. They published new contributors including journalist Raymond Bonner, essayist Judith Thurman and poet Diane Ackerman, and novels by Robert Stone and Richard Ford. New critics were hired, and Talk of the Town commentaries were opened to more authors and were no longer written anonymously. But he did not mince long articles, which critics sometimes called long-winded and boring, and he gradually won the trust and affection of most of the staff.

In 1992, Tina Brown, the British editor of Vanity Fair, replaced Mr. Gottlieb in an amicable transition and introduced spectacular changes. Fans called him lively timeliness and refreshing audacity. Conservatives called them obscene, especially a portrait of Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s trademark dandy, who appeared on an anniversary cover as an acne-stricken teenager with a gold earring, an advertisement for a Times Square sex shop. Staring at the handbill.

After his New Yorker days, Mr. Gottlieb resumed editing for Knopf over time; became a dance critic for the New York Observer; compiled compilations on dance, jazz and song; and wrote several books, including a 2016 memoir, “Avid Reader: A Life”, in which she addressed the pros and cons of the literary life.

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