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Kurt Wolff

A Portrait in Essays and Letters

Kurt Wolff (1887-1963) was a singular presence in the literary world of the twentieth century, a cultural force shaping modern literature itself and pioneering significant changes in publishing. During an intense, active career that spanned two continents and five decades, Wolff launched seven publishing houses and nurtured an extraordinary array of writers, among them Franz Kafka, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Boris Pasternak, Günter Grass, Robert Musil, Paul Valéry, Julian Green, Lampedusa, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

252 pages | 2 halftones, 2 figures | 6 x 9 | © 1991

Biography and Letters

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing


“The invaluable correspondence, intoxicating recollections, and, best of all, engaging voice of perhaps this century’s most discriminating publisher.”

New York Times Book Review

“Pure oxygen and nutrition for exhausted and demoralized editors and publishers. One of the prophetic publishers of the century . . . Kurt Wolff instances in these modest reminiscences and correspondence with authors (Kafka, Werfel, Kraus, Rilke, Mann, Pasternak, Grass, et al.) the vision and devotion that bound them to him and that made him—the secret of his calling—‘synonymous with his work.’”


“This beautifully designed, lovingly printed book is a bouillabaisse of memorabilia, containing historic-quality letters and poems and rich excerpts from published works. It provides a fine bouquet of examples of the cultural and literary delights Wolff’s imprint guaranteed. . . . This is a highly personal, sentimental, enriching book and many admirers of Pantheon—with which Kurt Wolff was long associated—will find it meaningful and revealing. Sentimentalists will be pleased to find the famous Lou Andreas-Salomé here. And the special section entitled ‘Adventures in Publishing’ will offer a surprise with the appearance of James Joyce. As for the section headed ‘On Luring Away Authors,’ it is virtually worth the price of the book to all editors.”

Washington Post

Table of Contents

Translator’s Note
Kurt Wolff: A Biographical Sketch
Essays on Publishing
The Publisher’s Profession
On Publishing in General and the Question How Do an Author and Publisher Come Together?
On "Luring Away" Authors, or How Authors and Publishers Part Company
Adventures in Publishing
Essays on Individual Authors
Franz Kafka
Franz Werfel
Karl Kraus
Rabindranath Tagore
Lou Andreas-Salomé
Rainer Maria Rilke
Heinrich Mann
Hermann Hesse
Thomas Mann
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Boris Pasternak
Günter Grass
Laudatio for Kurt Wolff by Lambert Schneider, on behalf of the German Booksellers Association, May 15, 1960
Acceptance Speech by Kurt Wolff
Kurt Wolff Bibliography
Selected Titles from the Publishing Houses of Kurt Wolff
Glossary of Selected Names

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