University of Texas lands Commentary archive


NEW YORK (JTA) — Commentary, the seminal neoconservative magazine, has donated its archives to the University of Texas at Austin.

Founded in 1945, the New York-based magazine has played an outsized role in American intellectual life as a venue for essays on politics, culture and Jewish issues. Commentary moved rightward along with its editor Norman Podhoretz, who took the helm in 1960, and the magazine became a leading voice of the emerging neoconservative movement.

The Commentary archive that the University of Texas is receiving spans material from 1945 to 1995, including correspondence with S. Y. Agnon, Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, William F. Buckley, George Orwell, Philip Roth and Tom Wolfe.

The archive will be housed at the university’s Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum that already houses the papers of a number of prominent American Jewish writers, such as Norman Mailer, Bernard Malamud, David Mamet, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Leon Uris.

"The early decades of Commentary, especially its first 25 years, should prove to be an invaluable resource for the social and intellectual history of the postwar years and the gradual assimilation of Jews into the mainstream of American life," Morris Dickstein, distinguished professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, said in a statement released Monday by the Ransom Center.

Commentary was long published by the American Jewish Committee, though it had editorial independence. Commentary became fully independent of AJC in 2006 and now is edited by John Podhoretz, Norman’s son.

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