Michael Ermarth, editor   Kurt Wolff: A Portrait in Essays and Letters.
Translated from the German by Deborah Lucas Schneider.
University of Chicago Press, 223 pages, $24.95

reviewed by Martin Greenberg

Publishers aren’t often remembered; in most cases, why should they be? But Kurt Wolff, who died in 1963, is one of the exceptions. In this country he is remembered as the German émigré publisher who started Pantheon Books in 1942, during World War II, and made it into one of the most distinguished American publishing houses—“distinguished” here meaning that it published serious works of literature (mostly foreign) and no junk, a definition that eliminates most homegrown publishers. Nor did Pantheon have its publishing way smoothed for it by a rich man’s money. Houses supported by angels publish good books but suffer as a rule from some...

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