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David Denby

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David Denby

David Denby
Denby speaking at the Berkeley School of Journalism, 2009
Born 1943 (age 72–73)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Film critic, journalist
Nationality American
Alma mater Columbia University
Subject Film criticism
Children 2

David Denby (born 1943) is an American journalist, best known as a film critic for The New Yorker magazine.[1]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Journalism 2.1
    • Books 2.2
  • Bibliography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life and education

Denby grew up in New York City. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965, and a master's degree from its journalism school in 1966.



Denby began writing film criticism while a graduate student at Stanford University's Department of Communication.[2] He began his professional life in the early 1970s as an adherent of the film critic Pauline Kael—one of a group of film writers informally, and sometimes derisively, known as "the Paulettes."[3] Denby wrote for The Atlantic and New York before arriving at The New Yorker; his first article for the magazine was published in 1993, and beginning in 1998 he served as a staff writer and film critic, alternating his critical duties week by week with Anthony Lane. In December 2014, it was announced that Denby will step down as film critic in early 2015, continuing with The New Yorker as a staff writer.[4]


In a modern corporate state, good and evil may not be clear, and many people wander around in a fog of compromise, torn between ambition and guilt.

David Denby
In a December 20, 1982 review of the 1982 film The Verdict directed by Sidney Lumet.[5]

Denby's Great Books (1996) is a non-fiction account of the Western canon-oriented Core Curriculum at his alma mater, Columbia University. Denby reenrolled after three decades, and the book operates as a kind of double portrait, as well as a sort of great-thinkers brush-up. In The New York Times, the writer Joyce Carol Oates called the book "a lively adventure of the mind," filled with "unqualified enthusiasm."[6]Great Books was a New York Times bestseller. In The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th century, Peter Watson called "Great Books" the "most original response to the culture wars."[7] The book has been published in 13 foreign editions.

In 2004, Denby published American Sucker, a memoir which details his investment misadventures in the dot-com stock market bubble, along with his own bust years as a divorcé from writer Cathleen Schine, leading to a major reassessment of his life. Allan Sloan in the New York Times called the author "formidably smart," while noting this paradox: "Mr. Denby is even smart enough to realize how paradoxical it is that he not only has a good, prestigious job, but that he is also in a position to make money by relating how he lost money in the stock market."[8]

Snark, Denby's book from 2009, is a polemical dissection of the spread of low, annihilating sarcasm in the Internet and in public speech. In 2012, Denby collected his best film writing in Do the Movies Have a Future?

Denby's next book, Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives. will be released on February 2nd, 2016.[9]



  1. ^ "Contributors: David Denby". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Biography: David Denby". World Leaders Forum:  
  3. ^ Denby, David (October 20, 2003). "My Life As a Paulette".  
  4. ^ Hayden, Erik (December 13, 2014). "David Denby to Step Down as New Yorker Film Critic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ Denby, David (December 20, 1982). "Rough Justice".  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Watson, Peter (July 2002). The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th century. Harper Perennial. p. 733.  
  8. ^  
  9. ^ "Lit Up".  

External links

  • David Denby on Facebook
  • David Denby on Twitter
  • David Denby Archive. – New York. – (articles from Jan 1998 to Jan 2001).
  • Transcript of February 25, 2004, online chat with David Denby. – Q&A
  • David Denby articles at Byliner
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , December 22, 1996.Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World interview with Denby on Booknotes
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