Life Stories

Profiles from The New Yorker

Publisher: Modern Library
One of art's purest challenges is to translate a human being into words. The New Yorker has met this challenge more successfully and more originally than any other modern American journal. It has indelibly shaped the genre known as the Profile. Starting with light-fantastic evocations of glamorous and idiosyncratic figures of the twenties and thirties, such as Henry Luce and Isadora Duncan, and continuing to the present, with complex pictures of such contemporaries as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Richard Pryor, this collection of New Yorker Profiles presents readers with a portrait gallery of some of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century. These Profiles are literary-journalistic investigations into character and accomplishment, motive and madness, beauty and ugliness, and are unrivalled in their range, their variety of style, and their embrace of humanity.


It used to be said around the New Yorker offices that our founding editor, Harold Ross, invented the Profile. But if a Profile is a biographical piece-a concise rendering of a life through anecdote, incident, interview, and description (or some ineffable combination thereon-well, then, it's a little presumptuous to stick...
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"Eloquent witness to the magazine's remarkable content over the years.... It was the Profile a New Yorker staffer coined the term that the magazine really revolutionized. It's intoxicating to have these pieces all in one place."

"An anthology that makes] you remember why the magazine has long had a reputation for literary excellence."
--Chicago Tribune

"Splendidly entertaining."
--Houston Chronicle