Leon Wieseltier has a new home at The Atlantic. He’ll be a contributor and critic. Editor-in-Chief James Bennet announced the news Monday.
Wieseltier most recently made quite a dramatic exit from The New Republic, where he was literary editor for the last 31 years. They were letting him go. But before he split, the man with a puff of extraordinary snow white hair offered the newsroom an emotional goodbye few will forget. At one point, he even had to stop speaking as tears got the best of him. Days later, many of his coworkers walked out in solidarity to him and editor Frederic Foer, who also got the shaft by vilified TNR Publisher Chris Hughes.
“For a generation of editors and writers, Leon has helped define standards for piercing criticism of culture and society,” said Bennet. “There is no writer better equipped – by dint of erudition, wit, and forcefulness – to fill the role of critic for The Atlantic.”
Wieseltier’s now infamous newsroom quote: ‘This is the best fucking thing I’ve ever done in my little life.’” (Hopefully The Atlantic is the second best thing.)
From The Daily Beast: “‘Leon said he’s never seen any editor be so disrespected and dicked around—I’m paraphrasing—as Frank has been treated for the last couple of months,’ said TNR senior editor Julia Ioffe, describing a meeting in the newsroom, at which Wieseltier and Foer announced that they’d quit.”
This spring he’s teaching at Harvard Law School.
According to a release, Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn to Holocaust survivors. He attended Columbia, Harvard and Oxford. He lives in Washington, D.C. — possibly in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, where I always spot him, or rather, his hair.