Renata Adler (born October 19, 1938) is an American author, journalist and film critic.
Background and education
Adler was born in Milan, Italy, and grew up in Danbury, Connecticut. (Her parents had fled Nazi Germany in 1933.) After gaining a B.A. in Philosophy and German from Bryn Mawr, where she studied under José Ferrater Mora, Adler studied for an M.A. in Comparative Literature at Harvard under I. A. Richards and Roman Jakobson, before pursuing her interest in Philosophy, Linguistics and Structuralism at the Sorbonne, where she gained a D. d'E.S. under the tutelage of Jean Wahl and Claude Lévi-Strauss. She later received her J.D. from Yale Law School, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Georgetown University.
In 1962, Adler became a staff writer-reporter for The New Yorker, and in 1968-69, she served as chief film critic for the New York Times. Her film reviews were collected in her book "A Year in the Dark." She then rejoined the staff of The New Yorker, where she remained for four decades. Her reporting and essays for The New Yorker on politics, war, and civil rights were reprinted in "Toward a Radical Middle."
Her "Letter from the Palmer House" was included in the Best Magazine Articles of the Seventies.
In 1980, upon the release of her New Yorker colleague Pauline Kael's collection When the Lights Go Down, she published an 8,000-word review in The New York Review of Books that dismissed the book as "jarringly, piece by piece, line by line, and without interruption, worthless," arguing that Kael's post-sixties work contained "nothing certainly of intelligence or sensibility," and faulting her "quirks [and] mannerisms," including Kael's repeated use of the "bullying" imperative and rhetorical question. The piece, which stunned Kael and quickly became infamous in literary circles, was described by Time magazine as "the New York literary Mafia['s] bloodiest case of assault and battery in years."