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'Legend' Janet Malcolm Dies At 86: 'Gave Us So Much'
Obituary

'Legend' Janet Malcolm Dies At 86: 'Gave Us So Much'


Janet Malcolm, a well-known journalist, died on Wednesday at the age of 86, and many of her friends, fans, and former coworkers paid tribute to her in social media posts.

Anne Malcolm, Malcom's daughter, told The New York Times that her mother died of lung cancer in a hospital in Manhattan.

Malcolm was an esteemed staff writer for The New Yorker for more than five decades, and she was widely regarded for her books "Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession" (1981), "In the Freud Archives" (1984), "The Journalist and the Murderer" (1990), "The Silent Woman" (1993), and many more. She was often lauded and criticized for her sharp, acerbic commentary on everyone from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow to desi

Her poem "Thoughts on Living in a Shaker House" made its New Yorker debut in 1963.

In 2011, The Guardian described Malcolm as having "a kind of x-ray vision, the ability to see through people's pretensions." In 2019, The New York Times described her as a writer "uncommonly concerned with finding a form that delivers the force of the story she is telling."

Malcom was described as a "dear friend" who was "immensely kind, full of scrupulous self-questioning about all acts of definitive judgment" by New Yorker editor David Remnick in a note on the publication's website following her death.

Born Jana Wienerová in 1934 in Prague, she emigrated with her family from Czechoslovakia in 1939 and lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn, for a year before moving to Yorkville in Manhattan. Malcolm attended the High School of Music and Art and the University of Michigan, where she “began writing for the school paper, The Michigan Daily, and the humor magazine, The Laughter.”

Her first husband, Donald Malcolm, was a fellow New Yorker contributor; the couple lived in Washington, D.C. for a time before returning to New York, where their daughter, Anne, was born in 1963.

Janet Malcolm married her New Yorker editor, Gardner Botsford, in 1975 after her divorce from Donald, and he died in 2004 at the age of 87.

Her daughter and sister, journalist Marie Winn, survive Malcolm.

Following her death, many of her fellow New Yorker contributors, as well as fans and writers from other publications, expressed their condolences:

Janet Malcolm's "In the Freud Archives" and "The Journalist and the Murderer" are among the best works ever published in the New Yorker. RIP — John Seabrook (@jmseabrook) June 17, 2021

Janet Malcolm influenced my thinking about many things, including journalism, editing, psychoanalysis, art, and biography; she wrote about seeing the world and how seeing it changes it. — Pete Wells (@pete_wells) June 17, 2021

RIP, Janet Malcolm. Her collected @NewYorker work (fully digitized) can be found here: https://t.co/wHhwTWeT1G — Michael Luo (@michaelluo) June 17, 2021

Janet Malcolm, the great New Yorker writer, died on June 17, 2021. #RIP—Susan Orlean (@susanorlean)

Pic.twitter.com/9eqQrzAVMK — Patrick Radden Keefe (@praddenkeefe) June 17, 2021

Janet Malcolm, you will be missed. — Emily Nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) June 17, 2021

http://t.co/k8drd8y33e — rachel syme (@rachsyme) June 17, 2021

— Daniel Alarcón (@DanielGAlarcon) on June 17, 2021

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he is doing is morally repugnant; he is a kind of con man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them...” RIP, Janet Malcolm. — Maria Konnikova (@mkonnikova) June 17, 2021

Janet Malcolm was a style and argument giant. “The Journalist and the Murderer” is rightly required reading for young writers; “In the Freud Archives” and “The Impossible Profession” have been indispensable for me personally. What a legend. pic.twitter.com/5eesvE3dSd — Moira Donegan (@MoiraDonegan) June 17, 2021

“To read Malcolm remaking the profile is both a lesson for readers (I am learning so much!) and a tacit reproach to fellow practitioners (I am wasting my life!”). https://t.co/jahP5v7f41 — Evan Osnos (@eosnos) June 17, 2021

"Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he is doing is morally indefensible." — Janet Malcolm, what a legend — Megan Gibson (@MeganJGibson) June 17, 2021

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