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RIP Janet Malcolm


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David Remnick just sent out the following email:

Janet Malcolm, a dear friend for many decades to everyone at The New Yorker and one of the greatest writers we’ve ever been fortunate enough to publish, died on Wednesday in New York. From her early pieces on the world of psychoanalysis to her most recent Profiles, her reputation often seemed to rest as much on her razor-sharp acuity as on the enormous intelligence of her prose. And yet she was immensely kind, full of scrupulous self-questioning about all acts of definitive judgment. Tilting her head slightly, her eyes narrowing, she seemed, catlike, to take everything in. And, when she sat down to write, the instrument of her prose was equal to the intelligence and range of her mind.

Janet Malcolm was born in Prague in 1934. Her family emigrated five years later. It was, of course, never lost on her what fates might have been her own: the Nazi concentration camps, Soviet occupation. She first started writing for The New Yorker in the early sixties, publishing pieces on children’s literature and shopping; she even wrote a design column called “About the House.” After that apprenticeship, she began publishing what amounted to a string of lasting and vivid works: “Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession”; “In the Freud Archives”; “The Journalist and the Murderer; “The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes”; and many more.

In the coming days, you’ll be able to read many obituaries and appreciations of Janet’s work here and elsewhere. But, in the immediate hours and days after her death, we hope you’ll read her work, some of which is presented here. Her sentences, clear as gin, spare as arrows, are like no one else’s. And her considerations—of psychoanalysis, of biography, and of journalism itself—are all examples of a rare and utterly free mind at work.

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