When Henry Edited Hannah

In the early 1950s, Henry Kissinger edited the journal Confluence. Among the writers he published there was Hannah Arendt. Their editorial relationship was fraught. His edits were heavy; her resistance, strong. Here she responds to his attempted edits on August 14, 1953:

I fear you will be disappointed to see from the galleys all sentences which you wrote were eliminated and quite a few of my own sentences re-instated….I realize that your editorial methods—re-writing to the point of writing your own sentences—are quite current….I happen to object to them on personal grounds and as a matter of principle. If we had given this matter a little more thought, you might have decided not to want this, or any of my manuscripts, which I would have regretted. But it certainly would have saved us both some time and trouble. (Greg Grandin, Kissinger’s Shadow, p. 24)

Truth be told, I bet Kissinger’s editorial instincts were right.


  1. Charles Rossi September 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm | #

    Hannah Arendt to Mary McCarthy about copy editors:

    “This whole nonsense comes from their zeal to show how necessary they [copy editors] are, how well they worked, and how much etc; plus, of course, sheer undiluted stupidity with more than a bit of méchanceté. The outrage is that they make us work to undo what they did, and each time they put one of their idiotic queries in the margin one rushes back to reference and God knows what. If we were compensated by the hour by the publisher for unnecessary work they would begin to be a bit more careful…. These people are not “professionals,” they are actually unemployable people who have succeeded in landing a job which hardly exists to begin with.”

    • gstally September 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm | #


  2. gstally September 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm | #


    I think it can’t be denied, whatever the the what-have-you, that Henry was more iconic than Dick in spite of the air time.

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