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Arthur A. Cohen papers

 Collection
Call Number: YCAL MSS 496

Scope and Contents

The Arthur A. Cohen Papers provide evidence of the writing, editing, and publishing career of Arthur Allen Cohen between 1940 and 1986. The Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiovisual material, legal and financial documents, and clippings relating to Cohen's writing, publishing companies Noonday Press and Meridian Books, and work editing the Documents of Twentieth Century Art series for Viking Press. Cohen's interest in theology (particularly Judaism) and art are also reflected in the Papers. Cohen's Papers provide insight into theology, the art world, and publishing during the mid-twentieth century.

The progression of Cohen's creative process from idea to publication is documented in correspondence, drafts, and printed material pertaining to his books. For example, the Papers include drafts, galleys, publicity, reviews, and other material tracing Cohen's novel In the Days of Simon Stern. Correspondence with publishers, such as Random House and Ardis Publishing House, also pertain to Cohen's writing career. Cohen's interest in religion is reflected in several of his writing projects as well as correspondence with theologians such as Thomas J. J. Altizer, Jacob Neusner, and Jacob Taubes.

Cohen's literary circle included a number of authors, such as Yoram Kaniuk, Jerzy Kosinski, Jacques Maritain, David McKain, Ron Padgett, Ruthven Todd, and Elie Wiesel, some of whose works he edited and published. In addition, Cohen's correspondence with artist Robert Motherwell reflects their friendship and work editing Viking Press's Documents of Twentieth Century Art series (Motherwell served as the general editor whereas Cohen worked as the managing editor). As the Papers illustrate, Cohen also wrote the foreword to a book by and about Motherwell, printed as part of the series.

Correspondence and papers concerning Meridian Books, Noonday Press, and the Documents of Twentieth Century Art series relate to Cohen's publishing career. Also of interest is Cohen's correspondence with Morris Philipson, a student with Cohen at the University of Chicago, who went on to be the director of the University of Chicago Press.

Cohen's correspondence with friends, family (largely his parents Isidore Meyer and Bess Junger Cohen), photographs, and journals also provide insight into his personal life.

Dates

  • 1941 - 1988

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

Boxes 38, 44 and 46 (audiovisual material): Use of originals is restricted. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Arthur A. Cohen Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Arthur A. Cohen and Elaine Lustig Cohen, 1985-2010.

Arrangement

Organized into nine groupings: I. November 1985 and January 1986 Acquisitions, 1959-1982. II. August 1987 Acquisition, 1957-1981. III. February 1990 Acquisition, undated. IV. October 1991 Acquisition, circa 1986. V. April 1992 Acquisition, 1960s-1970s. VI. November 1992 Acquisition, 1960s. VII. January 1993 Acquisition, undated. VIII. October 2003 Acquisition, 1941-1988. IX. December 2010 Acquisition, 1940s-1980s.

Extent

47 Linear Feet (46 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.cohena

Overview

The Arthur A. Cohen Papers provide evidence of the writing, editing, and publishing career of Arthur Allen Cohen between 1940 and 1986. The Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiovisual material, legal and financial documents, and clippings relating to Cohen's writing, publishing companies Noonday Press and Meridian Books, and work editing the Documents of Twentieth Century Art series for Viking Press. Cohen's interest in theology (particularly Judaism) and art are also reflected in the Papers, particularly his writing and publishing projects.

Arthur A. Cohen (1928-1986)

Arthur Allen Cohen, theologian, author, editor, and publisher, was born on June 25, 1928 in New York to Isidore Meyer and Bess Junger Cohen. Cohen graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts (1946) and a Masters of Arts (1949). He returned to New York where he enrolled at the Union Theological Seminary and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (graduating in 1953).

While Cohen was a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary he founded the Noonday Press with Cecil Hemley. Cohen sold the press in 1955 and founded Meridian Books. When the World Publishing Company bought Meridian Books in 1960, Cohen stayed on with the company, working as vice president until taking a position as director of the religious book department and then editor-in-chief at Holt, Rinehart, & Winston (1962-64). Cohen worked as managing editor of the Documents of Twentieth Century Art series for Viking Press from 1968 to 1975.

Cohen also sustained a writing career in tandem with his publishing career. He authored several novels, including The Carpenter Years (1967), In the Days of Simon Stern (1973), A Hero in His Time (1976), Acts of Theft (1980), An Admirable Woman (1983), and Artists and Enemies (1987). His non-fiction works include Martin Buber (1957), The Natural and the Supernatural Jew (1962), The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition (1970), Osip Emilievich Mandelstam: An Essay in Antiphon (1974), and The Tremendum: A Theological Interpretation of the Holocaust (1981). Cohen also published a number of articles in Harper's, New York Times Book Review, Partisan Review, and other journals.

In 1956 Cohen married Elaine Firstenberg Lustig (b. 1927), a graphic designer, painter, and photographer, with whom he opened Ex Libris (1974-1986), a gallery and bookstore specializing in rare, out-of-print materials on twentieth-century art (particularly European avant-garde). Arthur and Elaine Cohen had one daughter, Tamar Judith, an artist based in New York.

Cohen died of cancer at the age of 58 in 1986.

Existence and Location of Copies

Correspondence with Robert Motherwell (November 1985 and January 1986 Acquisitions) is available on microfilm.

Processing Information

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and in some instances minimal organization, at or around the time of acquisition. Further description was carried out in 2011. Various acquisitions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole. Each acquisition is described separately in the contents list below and titled according to month and year of acquisition.

The finding aid for this collection is compiled from individual preliminary lists for each acquisition that were created at or around the time of receipt by the library. The preliminary lists were migrated to comply with current archival descriptive standards and merged into a single file in 2007-2008. As part of the migration, modifications were made to the formatting of individual lists; however, the content of the lists was neither modified nor verified.

As a rule, descriptive information found in the Collection Contents section is drawn in large part from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call numbers: Uncat ZA MS 3; Uncat ZA MS 48; Uncat ZA File 234; Uncat ZA MS 207; Uncat ZA MS 265; Uncat ZA MS 390; Uncat ZA MS 276; Uncat MSS 563; and Uncat MSS 1254.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
Title
Guide to the Arthur A. Cohen Papers
Author
by Beinecke staff
Date
2007-05-15
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2010-02-10: Transformed with yale.addEadidUrl.xsl. Adds @url with handle for finding aid. Overwrites @url if already present.

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977