1997, I have been asking notable publishers and
editors, a bookseller, and a journalist who follows these topic about
the book business and the remarkable, disturbing alteration we have seen
in its structure. Generously, they have told me how they entered the
book trade; spoken about writers they’ve published and declined to
publish; described the (changing) class structure of their domain;
talked straight about money, commerce, and corporate capitalism;
described their way of practicing responsible publishing. They have
taken us into the precarious business of selling books, and have traced
the advent and threat/promise of electronic publishing. Without
exception they have been serious readers, usually of more than one
language. They have recognized that times have changed. They have
observed with wary friendliness the generations coming up. They have
spoken out of the old values and honorable traditions of
book-publishing. They, and I, have wondered whether these can still
exist in corporate publishing. Several eminent editors recently
published books doubting it. It’s been difficult not to agree.
thought it was time to look closely at a single publishing company, one
that had played a significant role in European and American Jewish –
and non-Jewish – culture. I would follow its fortunes from the days of
its cultivated founder, through his death and the sale of his company to
a privately-owned corporation, to its being re-organized as a small
sub-division of a gigantic media conglomerate. Its existence is full of
twists and ironies, of displacement across continents, its founder’s
intention revered but re-interpreted in a new time. Its story is
corporate but, also, is composed of the intersection of enlightened
personalities and the works of great writers with the most awful events
of the twentieth century. Following it, I would examine the play of high
culture with corporate mind-sets and see how it worked.
new conversations will appear in the next three issues of Archipelago,
culminating this series that may serve as an opening into an
institutional memory contrasting itself with the current corporate
structure, reflecting on glories of its own, revealing what remains
constant amid the flux. The people speaking here are strong-minded
characters engaged with their historical circumstances. Out of that
engagement have appeared, and continue to be published, a number of
books that we can say, rightly, belong to literature.
Schocken, a German Jewish magnate and philanthropist, established the
Schocken Verlag in Berlin, in 1931. In the seven years his company
existed – was allowed to exist – in Weimar, then Nazi, Germany, it
titles of classic Hebrew works important to the educated, assimilated
Jews of its founder’s class and generation. Owner of a chain of
department stores – the stores were devoted to mass merchandizing
but many of the buildings were designed, handsomely, by the Modernist
architect Erich Mendelsohn – Schocken was a man of wealth and leisure
who devoted himself to collecting fine art and literature. His interests
were in “Jewish liturgy and sacral poetry Biblical and midrashic
texts; medieval secular Hebrew poetry; Yiddish literature from the 15th,
centuries; rare and original first editions; illuminated Hebrew
manuscripts, and ancient Jewish coins.” While re-investigating his
Jewish roots – he was “greatly influenced” by the TALES
OF RABBI NACHMAN OF BRATZLAW, translated by Martin Buber
– he became convinced that the great works of sacred and secular
Hebrew writing should be translated into German and published for the
sake of his fellow believers. “We have no working scholarship and no
books,” he is said to have lamented.
Schocken, who found his spiritual and intellectual strength in these
ancient words and ideas, this lack of books and scholarship was
unbearable. So important to him were they that in the course of his
World War I relief work – helping resident German Jews with Russian
citizenship interned in provincial towns, Jews in areas of Lithuania and
Poland occupied by the German army, and Jewish prisoners of war – he
provided them with books and teaching materials, in addition to food,
blankets, and medicine.
Schocken helped a German Zionist organization, the “Zionistische
Vereinigung für Deutschland,” establish a fund to subsidize Jewish
scholarship. His hope was that some of the work produced by the
recipients would be suitable for publication. When the funds proved
insufficient to encourage a meaningful “arbeitende Wissenschaft,”
Schocken founded an academy of Jewish scholarship and a research
institute for Jewish poetry, gathering around him the leading Jewish
scholars of the day – including Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig.
neither the fund nor the academy produced many books….
Schocken thus decided to establish his own publishing house. His
decision gained urgency when the Nazi regime revoked the German
citizenship of Jews in 1933;
every Jew who had considered himself a true German was suddenly stripped
of an identity. Schocken was now fully dedicated to spreading Jewish
knowledge and culture by publishing books in a popular and accessible
vein, for a Jewish audience that needed these works more than ever.
of the first works was by Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, who had
been commissioned by the publishing firm of Lambert Schneider to produce
a new German translation of the Old Testament. Schneider’s financial
difficulties gave Schocken the opportunity to acquire the rights to this
project, and indeed to invite Lambert Schneider himself to join his new
and Rosenzwieg’s DIE
SCHRIFT (“The Scriptures”) formed the heart of
Schocken’s German publishing program. its overall goal was to bring
centuries of Jewish culture and history to a German-speaking audience.
Eminent scholars such as Leo Baeck and Hermann Cohen contributed titles
on Jewish history, theology, and philosophy. Buber continued his work in
Chassidic and kabbalistic mysticism.
with titles in German, Schocken published classical and modern Hebrew
poetry in Hebrew with a facing German translation. In addition, he began
a series of Jüdische Leserbücher, intended for use in Jewish schools,
unions, and adult education institutes.
Schocken Verlag also began publishing an annual Almanach,
an “anthology of Jewish literature dealing with diaspora
existence. It included texts from all periods and places in Jewish
history, describing collective suffering but emphasizing the national
salvation of the Jews, whether through the prospect of a Messiah or a
Jewish homeland.” The first Almanach also included a calendar for the
forthcoming year, 5694,
and information about contemporary Palestine; it continued to appear
each year at Rosh Hashanah, until the Verlag was shut down in 1938.
Salman Schocken emigrated to Palestine, while Lambert Schneider, his
managing editor, and Moritz Spitzer, editor-in-chief, remained in
Berlin, operating the company by virtue of an active exchange of letters
with him. “The Verlag’s final ambitious vision was called ‘Gastgeschenk.’
If, as the Nazis claimed, the Jews were a ‘guest people,’ living
parasitically off their German ‘hosts,’ Schocken wanted to show the
gifts that the guests had brought to the great body of German literature
and culture. He found it particularly important that these books appear
while the Jews were being closed out of German intellectual and
Palestine, Schocken established the Schocken Publishing House, Ltd.,
under the direction of his son Gerschom. “But the climate and
the political realities of life were at odds with the intellectual
Zionism he had cultivated in Germany; the builders of a new state were
by and large more concerned with the practical demands of agriculture,
urban planning, and social welfare. There was little demand for the
treasures of ancient Hebrew literature.”
Schocken and his family – except for the one son – took ship for the
United States, where he immediately joined the widening circle of
brilliant German Jewish refugees adding their luster to American
cultural and intellectual life. Five years later, enlisting the aid of
Hannah Arendt and Nahum Glatzer, he founded Schocken Books in New York.
many of my generation in the late Sixties, I had any number of Schocken
books of literature and social thought on my shelves. Their authority
was grave and unassailable. When in Paris several years ago, I learned
that there were in fact two publishers called Schocken – the second
being in Israel, the name pronounced with a long o – I became
interested at once in the fate of these companies and deeply curious
about their founder. As a result, this serious – though, alas, hardly
definitive – look at the history of Schocken Books, to appear in the
next three issues of Archipelago,
will bring the series “Institutional Memory” to a fitting, although
I think disturbing, close.
first of the conversations is with Altie Karper, the managing editor of
Schocken and Pantheon Books. We spoke twice in New York, in the
editorial offices of Schocken Books – located between those of
Pantheon and Knopf – in late January and early May, with further
correspondence by e-mail. I am indebted to her for invaluable background
materials, including the pamphlet quoted in this introduction, and for
her generous and open professional hospitality. Her love and respect for
the legacy of Salman Schocken was moving and will be apparent in her
Schocken and Schocken Verlag
McNAMARA: The history of Schocken Books is a
remarkable story of a publishing house, from the Schocken Verlag
of Berlin, founded by Salman Schocken, to the Schocken Books that is now
a division of the Knopf Publishing Group, which is part of Random House,
Inc., which is owned by Bertelsmann, the enormous German media
corporation. Let us begin at the beginning: Salman Schocken was born in 1877,
in Posnan. His father had been a small merchant…
KARPER: …and Salman and his brother, Simon,
decided to do the same thing on a grander scale, expanding from one
department store that they started in 1901
eventually into a chain of nineteen, and they became very successful. He
was also a man of letters and a book collector, and in the early part of
the century he became a committed and active Zionist. All of this
resulted in his decision
s to start publishing books of Jewish
interest in Germany, because he felt there was a need for educated
German Jews to learn about their heritage and culture. He was busy with
his department stores while he was doing this, it was a kind of
avocation, but he founded Schocken Books in 1931
because he felt that there was a need that had to be filled, to publish
serious works of literature and philosophy that spoke to German Jews and
informed them about their heritage, about where they came from: that’s
why Schocken Verlag came into being.
McNAMARA: In THE
INVENTION OF HEBREW PROSE, Robert Alter traces the
development of the Hebrew novel after the Haskalah, the Jewish
Enlightenment. The movement of Hebrew from a sacred into a modernized
secular literature began in about the 1880s,
Alter writes, when all these bright young men from the shtetlach,
the small villages in the outreaches of the empire, came to the cities
and decided to write novels; and it continued, not without harsh
setbacks, into the 1930s,
when it was stopped for good in European catastrophe. He says, “In
Germany, two fine Hebrew publishing houses were active, Stybel … and
Schocken (the latter also having a German-language operation), which in
the quality of their literary titles and the elegance of their
typography and bookbinding would not be surpassed by any of their
is also a small essay by Anthony David Skinner, called “Salman
Schocken and the Jewish Renaissance.”
Let me read from it, as well, because it leads to a question I want to
ask about Schocken’s intentions. Skinner writes, “A cultural
movement that absorbed Kafka’s METAMORPHOSIS
into the Jewish canon offered a Judaism more defined by the tastes and
judgments of writers, editors, scholars, and entrepreneurs than by
tradition. Hence the irony that one of the leading figures in the Jewish
renaissance was the department store magnate Salman Schocken. Through
the media empire Schocken established in Berlin, Jewish culture left the
arena of the sacred and entered into the mass market.” It’s a
provocative statement. As I understand it, Salman Schocken was
interested in Hebrew literature – the necessary
books of Hebrew literature – but he thought that an increasingly
assimilated population that spoke German, needed access to these books.
He published in translation, in German: did he publish also in Hebrew?
Germany, he published classical and modern Hebrew poetry in Hebrew with
facing German translation. But he didn't undertake a major Hebrew
publishing program until he moved to what was then Palestine,
in 1934. In
Germany he published in German; but the kinds of translations he was
interested in publishing in German were the Bible and classic works of
Jewish philosophy, to make these volumes accessible to assimilated
German Jews. He was interested in acquainting German Jews with the
Jewish philosophers of the day – Buber, Rosenzweig, Gershom Scholem,
and Walter Benjamin
– and in publishing contemporary secular
McNAMARA: Let me make a little diversion. America
during the ‘20s
saw the beginnings and rise of important publishing in New York by
Jewish publishing houses.
The fortunes that founded the New York Jewish publishing
houses also came from dry-goods merchants. Why was this so: the great
fortunes built upon merchandising coinciding with Jewish secular
literature being published by means of those fortunes?
KARPER: I think it’s as basic as the fact that
there were professions that were just not open to Jews at this time: in
banks, in law firms, in publishing houses. There were quotas for law
schools and medical schools. But no one said you couldn’t open up your
own dry-goods business, so that’s where many of them went.
McNAMARA: Of course. And then they used their
fortunes for this great cultural work. Perhaps there are books on the
subject in English, about the Schocken Verlag and its milieu? The
Verlag was founded in 1931.
Hitler came to power in 1933.
We know from many sources what the atmosphere in Berlin was like at that
time, but, specifically, what sort of an environment did Schocken
and his circle live in?
KARPER: I think that they were aware that this was
not going to have a good end; that it was going to have a horrible end.
In fact, I think it was a combination of his awareness of what was going
on in Germany and his Zionism that made him, very shortly after he
founded Schocken Verlag, move to Palestine and get involved in
publishing there. He ran Schocken Verlag pretty much from afar
from about 1934
when Schocken Verlag ceased publishing.
enough, after ‘33
was when Schocken began publishing Kafka.
Kafka had been published by a number of secular German publishers.
Then along came the rule that Jews could be published only by Jews, and
Christians only by Christians; and that’s how Schocken acquired Kafka.
What’s even more interesting is that one of Kafka’s publishers was
Verlag Kurt Wolff, which was the predecessor of Pantheon. It is kind of
nice that we’re all back together again, here.
McNAMARA: Also, the obvious irony is that you’re
all owned by Bertelsmann.
KARPER: Well, I’ll tell you something, on a
personal note, which I think will interest you. When Arthur Samuelson,
Schocken’s editorial director from 1993
announced that he was leaving, and Sonny Mehta [president
of the Knopf Publishing Group and editor-in-chief of Alfred A.
Knopf] started looking for someone to replace him, the people
who called him most often were from Bertelsmann: “Are you finding
somebody who will be good for Schocken, because it’s really important
to us. Schocken must continue, and it must continue the way it is, and
can we help you look for somebody?” All the signals that we get from
them are positive: “We want this to continue, and we want it to
be what it’s always been and to keep getting better.”
McNAMARA: Who are the writers Salman Schocken
published during that period? The first and obvious one is not Kafka,
Agnon. They met in Berlin in 1914,
introduced by mutual friends in the Zionist movement.
KARPER: Right; he so valued what Agnon was doing
that he offered him a subsidy, he kept him going while he was writing.
While he was not being published by Schocken at the time – because
this was before Schocken Verlag was established. Salman Schocken was so
impressed with what he was doing that he decided to find some way of
getting Agnon into print. Eventually, Schocken did get to publish Agnon,
but their relationship started out as someone who was interested in
literature helping out someone who created wonderful literature.
McNAMARA: Schocken must have been part of an intellectual
circle. Do you know what salons he went to, who he dined with?
KARPER: His friend and spiritual mentor was Martin
Buber. That was a great intellectual relationship and a great publishing
relationship. Schocken credited Buber and his writings — specifically
Buber’s TALES OF RABBI
NACHMAN— with reawakening within him, in the 1910s,
an interest in Judaism. He believed that his primary responsibility was
to bring the works of people like Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem to
the attention of educated, assimilated German Jews who didn’t know
about their work. He thought that this would be valuable, which indeed
it was. I don’t know that he saw himself as much of a fiction
publisher, or a political publisher, because he didn’t publish many
books about Zionism, or advocating Zionism. He was more interested in
Jewish philosophy, in acquainting people with their heritage and their
culture. That’s where the works of Scholem, Buber, Rosenzweig, and
Benjamin come in.
McNAMARA: In that circle of educated German Jewish
intellectuals, would they have talked with non-Jewish intellectuals, as
KARPER: I’m sure that they did, especially during
the Weimar years. There was a great hothouse of intellectual and
cultural creativity and there weren’t barriers, really; those were set
up later. So I’m sure that they did. What they were interested in was
literature and art and everyone participating equally.
McNAMARA: From 1931 to 1938,
Schocken was in Berlin. How big was the publishing company?
KARPER: It looks like they published about forty
books a year. That’s a goodly size for what sounded like pretty much a
mom-and-pop operation. There was Moritz Spitzer, who was editorial
director, and Lambert Schneider, managing editor.
McNAMARA: There were two editors: Lambert Schneider
and Moritz Spitzer. I understand that it was Spitzer who persuaded them
that they ought to publish Kafka, even though he didn’t look “marketable.”
Obviously, they thought as publishers. I wonder, then, how were they
capitalized, and what sort of return did they expect?
KARPER: What I’ve seen in some of the literature
is that Schocken Verlag was incorporated as a division of Salman
Schocken’s department store empire. It was not its own independent
operation. Because he was so successful – and this is kind of an irony
– it seemed as though the Verlag, which was not as profitable as it
might have been, was used as a kind of tax write-off, as we’d call it
nowadays. Some of the profits from the stores were used to subsidize the
Verlag. That allowed them not to have to pay so much in taxes on the
stores. There is a small pamphlet about Salman Schocken that was
published by the Harvard Library in 1973
that describes this.
McNAMARA: And so, they published forty-some titles a
year. For the first three years, till 1933,
he lived mostly in Berlin. Then, he moved to Palestine.
KARPER: With the rise of Nazism, he just didn’t
see why any Jewish person would want to live in Germany.
McNAMARA: But wasn’t until 1938
that Schocken Verlag ceased publishing in Germany.
KARPER: It was right after Kristallnacht.
McNAMARA: But until then he was allowed to publish.
KARPER: Under restrictions. That’s what they did:
gradually ascending levels of persecution. You start putting the screws
on, and then you turn them tighter, so that the people have a chance to
get used to what’s going on, and then you just ratchet it all up to
the next level.
McNAMARA: During that time, Max Brod offered them world
right to the entire oeuvre
of Kafka, and they decided to take them on.
McNAMARA: But the Nazi’s eventually banned
entirely the publication in Germany of works by Kafka.
KARPER: Yes, so Schocken Verlag made
arrangements with a publisher in Prague, called Heinrich Mercy Verlag,
to publish its Kafka titles with them. Of course, after Czechoslovakia
was invaded by the Nazis that was the end of that.
McNAMARA: Do you know much about the actual
operations, the day-to-day operations? Did they have their own printing
companies, for example? I am thinking of Robert Alter’s remarking how
beautiful the volumes were.
KARPER: I’m pretty sure they subcontracted out their
printing and binding, as most publishers do.
McNAMARA: Salman Schocken left for Palestine in the
KARPER: He left Berlin in December 1933, spent a month in Switzerland, and arrived in
Palestine in 1934.
McNAMARA: So that he was effectively gone. And yet,
people stayed and carried on.
KARPER: Yes. He would come back to Germany and offer
the people who worked for him in his publishing company and department
stores an opportunity to leave. He offered them subsidies to go to
Palestine or go to America, and offered them classes. But they said, “Well,
we don’t think it’s so bad here, we’ll just stay here for now,”
which astonished him.
McNAMARA: Yes, that must have been astonishing. I
wondered, because the Schocken Institute, with his library, is in
KARPER: He was able to get all that out because he left in
you could still do that.
McNAMARA: And his family got out?
McNAMARA: Shall we talk about Palestine and Zionism?
I noticed, for example, that his son was called Theodore, and his
son-in-law was called Herzl.
KARPER: Herzl Rome.
He took over the running of the firm upon Salman
Schocken’s death in 1959;
he died in 1965.
Ted Schocken was publisher of Schocken Books, until his death in 1975.
Bonny Fetterman, who worked at Schocken in the 1970s
and then returned to be a senior editor here from 1982
remembers him. The Schocken family members involved in the
publishing operation whom I know are David Rome, the son of Herzl Rome,
who started in 1983
and was there when Schocken was bought by Random House in 1987.
David came along as a consultant and performed valuable services for us
for several years. I continue to be in touch with him.
Miriam Schocken, another grandchild of Salman Schocken, was an editor
here in 1986-‘87.
McNAMARA: Let us go back. Schocken and his family are in
KARPER: And he brought interest in a newspaper
called Ha’aretz, which
is in Tel Aviv.
McNAMARA: Yes, it is still a great newspaper.
KARPER: And he did start a publishing operation
there, and started the Schocken Institute, and created the Schocken
Library by having all his books shipped there. He joined the board of
Hebrew University. He jumped into the intellectual life in Palestine as
soon as he got there.
McNAMARA: And then left.
KARPER: Yes. Interesting.
McNAMARA: He must have been a very practical man, as well,
and he must have had a very good eye for the way political movements
were going. So, he came to New York.
KARPER: He didn’t start Schocken Books until ’45,
but he came here in 1940.
He left a great par in Jerusalem: his eldest son Gershom, for one, and
Gershom’s family; and the Schocken Archives, and the Schocken Library.
He brought the rest of his family, and he did bring books. I remember
that, during one of our moves, there were a lot of books in the basement
at Random House, and some of them looked to be family property so we
just put them in boxes and sent them to David Rome and Miriam Schocken.
I’m sure he had a great personal library here which is now with the
McNAMARA: There’s now no official institutional
relationship between the publishing branches?
KARPER: No, none. In fact, they pronounce it
Schocken, long o, and we pronounce it Schocken, short o, so there
McNAMARA: But is there an informal relationship, at
all? Do you publish any of the same titles, for instance?
KARPER: Not really. In fact, when Arthur
Samuelson was considering publishing Leah Rabin’s memoir a lot of
publishers came and paid court to her and did their little song and
dance, and then when Arthur was introduced to her as the publisher of
Schocken, she went into this whole diatribe about Ha’aretz
and how they didn’t do right by her husband, and going on and on, and
he just said, “Sorry, wrong Schocken. Not us.”
in New York
McNAMARA: So his son Gershom stayed in Palestine, to
run the publishing company there, and Salman Schocken left for New York.
KARPER: He was on the board of directors of the
Hebrew University and traveled widely for them, doing fund raising and
public relations, which took him to the United States in 1940.
There might be in an article about this, though it’s not one that I’ve
come across: he was such an ardent Zionist, and then, after having spent
time in the United States, he decided that he’d rather live here.
That, I’m sure, is a very interesting chapter.
McNAMARA: In 1945
he founded Schocken Books, the American publishing company. Again, with
his own capitalization?
McNAMARA: And he enlisted Hannah Arendt…
KARPER: …and Nahum Glatzer …
McNAMARA: …who was his first editor-in-chief. Can
you tell me anything about him – in fact, about that whole
KARPER: This is part of the establishment of German
Jewish intellectual life in this country. There have been many
fascinating books published about the contributions of German Jewish
s intellectuals in the United States.
McNAMARA: The New School for Social Research had
been organized on these shores.
KARPER: They were part of that world of performance
and music and literature. They sought in some ways to recreate some of
what they had in Germany on these shores.
McNAMARA: When he founded the American company, what
did he mean to publish?
KARPER: Well, once again, he came here and saw an
American Jewish society that was quite similar to the German Jewish
society, educated and literary, but not as acquainted with their
heritage and culture as they might be. He saw it as a similar
opportunity here, now publishing in English instead of in German –
all the people he had published in Germany he could publish now in
English – and acquainting American Jews with the works of great
philosophers and great writers.
McNAMARA: And so, 1945 was the launch. Their first book was about Mark
LIGHTS, by Bella Chagall, his wife.
McNAMARA: And it didn’t do well.
KARPER: I guess the world wasn’t ready for Chagall
yet; but then the world caught up with us, and it then became a very
successful book for Schocken in the ‘60s
when it was relaunched.
McNAMARA: Can you tell us about the beginnings of
that new institution, Schocken Books? He capitalized the firm from his
own fortune. How did it happen that he still had a fortune?
KARPER: Well, I think he had probably left early
enough so that he was able to get his money out, in 1933.
McNAMARA: I suppose he would have had to sell his
KARPER: This is probably part of the historical
record. The department stores were sold to non-Jews after Kristallnacht.
I don’t know what kind of return he got on his investment, what he was
able to do, but it was sold, so that might have been where some of his
capitalization came from.
McNAMARA: Was he the sole investor, do you think?
KARPER: I don’t have any information about anybody
else being involved in it. In contrast, we know that Helen and Kurt
Wolff, who founded Pantheon were capitalized by a number of investors,
and we know who most of them were. But there isn’t anything on the
record about who might have been involved with Schocken, which leads me
to think that perhaps there wasn’t, or we’d know who they were.
McNAMARA: The Wolffs came here ..
KARPER: Also in 1940-41;
Pantheon was started in 1942.
There’s an interesting synchronicity.
McNAMARA: They’d have known each other.
KARPER: Oh yes, they all knew each other. When I was
looking through some old Pantheon files, I saw that they had a
pub[lication] party for DR.
ZHIVAGO , in 1959, and Salman Schocken and Alfred and
Blanche Knopf [of Alfred A.
Knopf] and Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer [the
founders of Random House] were on the list of people whom
they were going to invite. That was one fascinating piece of onion-skin
McNAMARA: In their first couple of years, how big
was their list, whom did they publish? They published in translation?
KARPER: Yes, they did publish some German volumes,
but mostly in translation and once again, that was when they published
the Buber, TALES OF THE
HASIDIM, and the works by Gershom Scholem, and works by
Franz Rosenzweig, and Kafka, and Agnon. That, I think, was the core of
McNAMARA: How big do you think the house was?
KARPER: They probably did about twenty books a year,
I would think, based on what we see on the back list. Half of what they
had done in Germany.
McNAMARA: By then, it wasn’t unusual for there to
be a Jewish publishing house, but were they unique in concentrating on
what they did?
KARPER: That’s an interesting question. I think
“Judaica,” or books known as Judaica, became categorized as such in
when works by people like Isaac Bashevis Singer first appeared. I don’t
think that there were books marketed as “Judaica” until the ‘50s,
after the war.
McNAMARA: Except that Schocken had already done
this, but in a different way.
KARPER: Yes, and the Jewish Publication Society –
butI mean by mainstream publishers like Viking and Simon &
McNAMARA: But Viking was founded by Harold Guinzberg.
KARPER: Yes. But I don’t think that there was
something that was consciously known as Judaica publishing until after
the war. I worked at Viking in the early 1980s.
When we were going through the old rejection files
I saw a reader’s report for Isaac Bashevis Singer’s IN
MY FATHER’S COURT. It was the funniest thing that I have
ever seen, because the person who read it didn’t get what it was
about, and couldn’t imagine who’d be interested in this, and then,
in the last sentence, wrote, “And isn’t his older brother the more
famous one anyway?” And he was, at the time! Israel Joshua Singer had
been published in the United States before I.B.
Singer. I don’t think people were aware of the market until they
actually started publishing these books and saw that there were people
who were interested in buying them.
McNAMARA: In a way, the readers were there before
KARPER: Yes, exactly.
McNAMARA: How did that influence then what Schocken
published in the ‘50s?
KARPER: I think that Schocken felt there were books
that should be published that weren’t being brought out by secular
houses, and that he was there to do that, as he had done in Germany.
McNAMARA: There was still enough capital?
KARPER: Apparently they were encountering financial
difficulties, and it was at that point that they decided to expand the
list beyond Judaica. That was where you see Schocken going into other
fields, into the Montessori books, educational publishing, women’s
studies, history and literary criticism, even some titles on yoga and
they had this idea: a number of the books we have as paperback backlist
books were published by university presses. Schocken bought the rights,
and then a whole course-adoption market came to be developed. In the ‘60s
the Schocken list was perhaps thirty or forty percent Judaica, and the
rest were books in other disciplines that were course-adoption books
used by universities. It really depended on who was on staff there at
the time. Books in the field of women’s studies and books about
English literature were done then too. Between the Judaica volumes,
which also were beginning to be adopted by universities – books by
authors such as Cecil Roth, Elias Bickerman, Nahum Sarna, and Simon
Wiesenthal – and books in other fields, they got by.
McNAMARA: How many people do you think they had on
KARPER: They probably had three or four acquiring
editors, I would say.
McNAMARA: Salman Schocken was growing old.
KARPER: He died in 1959.
Herzl Rome and Ted Schocken took over at that time.
McNAMARA: Ted Schocken kept on through the 1970s.
KARPER: Right, until he died in 1975.
McNAMARA: By the decades, how did the Schocken list
KARPER: Interestingly enough, one of my college
professors, Emile Capouya, was editorial director of Schocken very
briefly, though I don’t know exactly when that was. I was looking
through the Schocken files one day and I was astonished to see a
contract for a book that had been signed up by him. I had him as an
English professor at Baruch College in the late ‘70s;
I think he was at Schocken before that. He was probably responsible for
the literary works and the works of literary criticism that we have on
McNAMARA: Did Schocken have editors who were noted,
in the way the well-known editors were noted?
KARPER: You mean editors like Pascal Covici and
Maxwell Perkins? I guess the Schocken equivalents would be Hannah Arendt
and Nahum Glatzer.
McNAMARA: It is worth noting when a family concern
can bring in more family members and they go on. But then Schocken was
sold to Random House.
KARPER: I think what happened was that after Ted
Schocken died the heirs kept it going and had some success at it,
but then they started getting on in years, too, and decided that they
didn’t quite have the energy and resources to keep it going on their
own and they let the word out that they were interested in selling. A
couple of publishers had expressed interest, André Schiffrin, at
Pantheon, most particularly. Schocken was bought by Random House and
placed under the direction of André Schiffrin, who was managing
director of Pantheon, in 1987.
McNAMARA: Random House had been bought by the
KARPER: That was in 1980.
When Random House bought Schocken, the Newhouse family already owned
Random House. I don’t know how much was paid for Schocken; but I’m
sure that André and Mr. [Robert] Bernstein [then
president of Random House] had to get the approval of the
Newhouses for it.
McNAMARA: During the ‘80s,
did Schocken have a real identity, do you think, or was it in sort of a
KARPER: Schocken continued to publish terrific
Judaica titles during that period – Susannah Heschel’s anthology ON
BEING A JEWISH FEMINIST, JEWISH MEDITATION by Rabbi
Aryeh Kaplan, Rachel Biale’s
WOMEN AND JEWISH LAW, Primo Levi’s THE
PERIODIC TABLE, Hillel Halkin’s translation of Sholem
Aleichem’s TEVYE THE
DAIRYMAN AND THE RAILROAD STORIES, I NEVER SAW ANOTHER BUTTERFLY,
a collection of poems and artwork by children in the Terezin
concentration camp, Elie Wiesel’s titles in paperback – those are
the ones that spring most readily to mind. But there were two books that
Schocken published in the 1980s,
WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO
GOOD PEOPLE, by Harold S. Kushner, in 1981
by Kit Williams, in 1980
that were phenomenally successful.
KARPER: This was a storybook that had imbedded in it
clues to the location of an actual gold treasure. Whoever could figure
out where the treasure was, would get it. It sold something like a
half-million copies, as did WHEN
BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE, in its initial run.
McNAMARA: What happened, then, when the house became
absorbed into Random House?
KARPER: Well, I think André was particularly
interested in reinvigorating the Judaica part of the list. He looked at
the backlist, and looked at what was in the hopper, and decided that
Schocken should really be a premier publisher of Judaica, as was the
founder’s original intention.
McNAMARA: What happened during the ‘90s?
KARPER: Bonny Fetterman was senior editor for
Judaica at Schocken from 1983
to 1996. She
had started at Schocken in the early ‘70s
as an editorial assistant, and was so enamored of the kind of publishing
that they did that she went off to get a masters degree in Judaic
studies because she really wanted to do justice to the kind of
publishing that Schocken did. After she had gotten her degree and spent
some time atother publishing houses to learn her craft, she came back to
Schocken about seven years before. Schocken was bought by Random House.
She was really the primary acquirer and editor during the 1990s and
brought to Schocken excellent books by authors such as David Ariel,
Barry Holtz, David Hartman, Samuel Heilman, Joan Nathan, and Lucy
Dawidowicz. Then Arthur Samuelson was named editorial director in 1993.
He repackaged and freshened up our core backlist titles, put new
Kafka translations into the works, and published an excellent series of
Jewish lifestyle books by Anita Diamant. He also brought Aharon
Appelfeld to Schocken. One of his accomplishments was bringing out
Everett Fox’s magnificent translation of the Bible, called THE
FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES, which was as extraordinary publishing
of my favorite titles on our backlist was a book edited by Bonny – a
magnificent translation of SEFER
HA-HAGGADAH, The Book of Legends, which was
originally published in Hebrew by Chaim Nachman Bialik and Yehoshua Hana
Ravnitzky in Odessa in 1907.
extracts from the Talmud stories related by the Rabbis who compiled the
Talmud, their discussions of the Bible and the Midrash, and their moral
and ethical teachings, as opposed to the parts of the Talmud that deal
with the legal discussions and the legal backing-and-forthings, such as
what happens if your ox gores my camel, and so on. Schocken commissioned
a translation by William G.
Braude, but unfortunately Braude died just after he completed his final
draft in 1988. We published it in 1992.
It has a superb index where you can look up “childhood” or “parenthood”
or “rabbis and teachers” or “relations with Romans” and it will
give you everything that’s in the Talmud on those subjects: aphorisms
and stories and history and discussions between the rabbis on what is
the best way to raise your child, and what kind of respect should be
accorded to one’s parents, and how does one deal with the Romans when
they’re sacking your country. It’s all of the wisdom of Talmud
distilled into this amazing book. That was a work that we were really
proud to publish.
McNAMARA: Yes, I look at your list and see so many
books there that are on my shelves When I lived away at college,
probably in 1968-69,
my parents sent me a copy of AMERIKA.
So, one of the first books on my old bookshelf was a Schocken book.
KARPER: So many people tell me that. What Arthur and
Bonny were doing throughout the ‘90s
was keeping up the tradition of publishing classic Judaica, works of
philosophy, fiction, non-fiction, of interest to people who were
interested in Judaic culture.
McNAMARA: And so, is Schocken is able to continue on
the basis of its own developed and alert readership.
KARPER: Oh yes. It’s amazing. All the Bubers and
Scholems that we have on our backlist – we reprint them every year,
there’s an interest in these titles which form the core of our
publishing program, to which we of course add new titles. But the titles
that we publish just don’t go out of date, they’re books for
eternity, and the books that form the core of our backlist are books
that were on the Schocken list ten years ago and twenty years ago and
thirty years ago and forty years ago. It’s wonderful to see new
generations who become acquainted with these books, and new professors
assigning them to courses.
McNAMARA: Arthur Samuelson and Bonny Fetterman both
KARPER: Yes. Bonny’s mother became ill and she
left to take care of her in 1996.
Arthur is married to Molly O’Neill, the food writer; she was planning
a website that would focus on food and entertaining, and he left
Schocken to become involved in that, in the fall of 1999.
When Bonny left, Arthur had hired an editor named Cecilia Cancellero,
whose area of interest was in women’s studies and ethnic
studies, to replace her, but Cecilia had a baby in the summer of 1999
and decided that she wanted to do freelance editing instead.
McNAMARA: And you were here. When did you
KARPER: I was hired by André in 1989
to be the managing editor of Pantheon and Schocken. André had said, “I
know that you’ve got this Judaic background” – I’m observant,
and in addition to my yeshiva education, I spent some time in a
post-graduate Jewish Studies program, and this is a passion of mine –
“and if you ever come across anything that you’d like to sign up for
Schocken, feel free.” But I was busy being managing editor. Then, ten
years later, Arthur told me one day that he was going to tell Sonny [Mehta]
that he was leaving. I said, “Well, you know, Arthur, he’s going to
ask you to think about somebody to succeed you, so just give it some
thought, and think about the people you’re leaving behind, and
recommend somebody good,
because I’m going to be working with this person, and we want Schocken
to continue and thrive in your absence.” He kind of smiled and said
“Oh, yes, I’ll recommend somebody good.” And they go off and they
have their meeting, and then he comes back a couple of hours later. I
said, “Well, how did it go? Did Sonny asked you for suggestions for a
successor?” He said, “Oh, yes.” “Well, did you suggest anybody?”
And he said, “Well, yes.” I said, “You don’t have to tell me if
you don’t want to, that’s fine. Well, is it somebody good?” He
said, “I think so.”
next day I get a call from Sonny’s assistant saying that Sonny would
like to have lunch with me, which is not a regular occurrence, he’s a
very busy man, and I thought, “Uh oh!” He took me to a kosher Indian
restaurant, so I knew this was serious, because both of us were going to
be able to eat and to enjoy what we were eating. Somewhere around
dessert he said, “Why don’t you acquire books for Schocken?”
I said, “Well, because I’ve been kind of busy and you never really
asked me to, and I thought Arthur was doing a fine job.” He said, “Well,
Arthur is not going to be here any more, so why don’t you start doing
this? I think you’d be good at it.” I thought about it and figured
that if the smartest guy in publishing thinks I should be signing up
books for Schocken, I guess I ought to give it a try. SoI said, “Okay.”
continue to be managing editor of Pantheon and Schocken, but I’ve got
a little more help now with that side of it. And at the same time that I
became a Schocken editor, Susan Ralston was named Schocken’s editorial
director; she’s been a Knopf editor for many years and also has a
Judaic background. She’s a great colleague and a terrific person to
work with and to bounce ideas around with. Our mandate is to acquire the
best Judaica, which is what we’re trying to do.
been lucky in that I’ve worked for fabulous people. That’s really
how you learn about publishing: you apprentice yourself to someone who
really knows what he or she is doing, and you learn by watching. At
Viking I worked for Elisabeth Sifton. Then I worked for Susan
Hirschman at Greenwillow Books, a children’s imprint which was
at the time a division of William Morrow and is now part of
HarperCollins. The lesson I learned from them is that you acquire what
interests you, what you yourself would like to read. You don’t waste
your time worrying about what you think they,
out there want to read. Acquire what interests you,
and if you have an instinct for this sort of thing, you’ll find that they’ll
want to read it, too. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. It’s
worked wonderfully well for Elisabeth; and for Susan, and of course it’s
Sonny’s publishing philosophy as well. He’s said it on many
occasions: “I just acquire books that I’d be interested in reading
myself.” That’s what Susan Ralston and I do.
McNAMARA: What have you acquired since then?
KARPER: Ah! Well the first book that I acquired for
Schocken was by Ari Goldman, a former New York Times reporter and currently a professor of
journalism at Columbia University. He had published about ten years ago
a book called THE SEARCH
FOR GOD AT HARVARD, about his experience when taking a
sabbatical from The Times
as religion reporter and getting a divinity degree at Harvard, because
he wanted to learn more about his beat – and, also, he thought that in
learning more about other people’s religions, he’d learn more about
his own. He wrote a book about spending a year in divinity school and
what he learned and how he grew. It’s a good book, still in print in
paperback, and in paperback it was on the bestseller list for a
couple of weeks. We’d been friends for years – I’d actually met
him and his family at a hotel in the Catskills one Passover –and I’d
been saying to him for years, “You’re going to do another book, you
have to do it with me, you have to do it with Schocken.” And then
around the time that this whole Schocken transition was happening, he
called me up. I think he needed some sales figures. I said, “Okay, Ari,
it’s time to do your next book.” He said, “Well, actually I do
kind of have an idea for it.” We went out to lunch and he told me his
idea for the book. On the day that he turned fifty, last September, his
father died. He spent the last year saying Kaddish for his father, and
this book would be his journey through that year. The best way to
describe it, I think, is to describe what it isn’t: It isn’t
– I don’t know if you’re familiar with…
McNAMARA: … Leon Wieseltier’s KADDISH…
KARPER: Yes: it’s the mirror opposite of Leon
Wieseltier’s book. His was the intellectual journey into saying
Kaddish for your parent for a year. Ari’s book is the emotional and
personal and spiritual journey into saying Kaddish. I think it’s a
perfect complement to Leon Wieseltier’s book.. He’s in the middle of
writing and is supposed to deliver it next fall. I’m so excited about
book that I’ve signed up is a book on the Chabad Lubavitch, the
Lubavitch Chasiddim. This was a subject that I was always interested in
reading about. They’re ubiquitous, and yet, with the Rebbe’s passing
six years ago, one would have assumed they were going to disintegrate,
because there was no head. There was no new Rebbe named after he died;
but in fact they haven’t folded up and gone away. They’re even more
vibrant than ever, and they have all these terrific emissaries in all
corners of the world setting up houses and synagogues, conducting
Passover seders in Nepal… It seemed a natural subject for a book
because they have such an influence, even to the point of starting up
non-sectarian drug treatment centers in Los Angeles. They have a program
where, for the children who are victims of the Chernobyl nuclear
disaster, they airlift these kids out and pay for their treatment in
Israel. I thought, “Well, whom should I get to write it?” I opened Moment,
a monthly magazine of Jewish concerns, and saw this terrific article on
the Chabad Lubavitch by a writer named Sue Fishkopf. I thought, “My
God!” and got her address and phone number. I called and said, “I
really liked your article, and I think you’d make a terrific author
for a book about them.” She said, “I was actually thinking the same
recently, I was reading in The Jewish Week an interview with Sid Caesar about his having
received a lifetime achievement award from the National Foundation for
Jewish Culture. The article was so warm and so affectionate, talking
about his career and American Jewish comedy, that I called the reporter
and said, “There’s a book here” – the history of American Jewish
comedy, which has never been done. He said, “You know, I was thinking
the same thing.”
going to be a history of American Jewish comedy: the Marx brothers and
George Burns and Jack Benny, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen and Sid Caesar,
and Milton Berle, and Fanny Brice and Carl Reiner and Jackie Mason, all
the way down to Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart and Ben Stiller. It will
be the history of all these extraordinary people and the evolution of
American Jewish humor as it mirrors the twentieth century American
Jewish immigrant experience. What did they think was funny in the 1920s
What did Jewish comedians make jokes about then? How was that different
from what Alan King or Henny Youngman made jokes about in the 1950s
You know, as Jews became more comfortable in America, their humor
changed: the subject of their humor, whom they were directing it to. It’s
fascinating when you look at it from that context, and you see what
Lenny Bruce and David Steinberg and Jerry Seinfeld make jokes about is
really different from what George Burns and Jack Benny made jokes about,
or Buddy Hackett, or Myron Cohen, or Totie Fields. It’s a fascinating
way of looking at the American Jewish experience in the twentieth
century in this country: through the prism of humor.
McNAMARA: Yes, that sounds interesting, because it’s
not a history of, say, vaudeville, although it is that, also, perhaps,
but is kind of an intellectual history.
KARPER: Or part of our cultural history; yes.
can’t think of anything I want to do more than work in publishing.”
McNAMARA: Would you tell me about your own interest in
publishing and how you came into it?
KARPER: I was an English major in college, because as long
as I can remember I loved books and loved reading, and I loved writing
about books, and I like talking about books. I grew up on the Lower East
Side of Manhattan, and I started at Brooklyn College as an English
major. At some point I thought, “Well, I can’t just be an English
major for the rest of my life.” My cousin Daisy Maryles works at Publishers
Weekly; she’s the executive editor there. My family was so
worried about what I was going to do with my life, they said, “Maybe
you could do something like what Daisy does.” I thought, “Hmmm.” I
called up Daisy and we talked about what she does for the magazine. I
went to the college library and took out a book on the subject,
Chandler Grannis’s WHAT
HAPPENS IN BOOK PUBLISHING. Then I asked around about how
one gets a job in publishing, and everyone told me that you really have
to know how to type, which I didn’t know. I thought, “Well, I guess
I had better learn how to do this.”
then I was a junior and had pretty much finished up my requirements, but
I just had electives, and I thought, “Why don’t I take typing?”
But Brooklyn College didn’t offer typing – but Baruch did. So I
spent my last year at Baruch College. That’s where I met Emile Capouya,
who was formerly with Schocken – he was my thesis advisor. I took a
couple of typing and shorthand courses, and that was really what got me
my job. There were all these finely educated young women and men who’d
taken the Radcliffe course and knew more about publishing than I did –
but none of them could type worth a damn, and I could!
McNAMARA: Where did you start?
KARPER: My very first job was at Plenum Press, a
scientific and technical publishing house. I was assistant to the
managing editor and worked for production editors. I learned copy
editing, proofreading, and the whole production process. Then I went on
to work for an editor who acquired psychology textbooks. I could
have stayed, moving into the acquiring end of things, but I was really
interested in trade publishing, so I left Plenum and wound up at Viking.
I was Elisabeth Sifton’s assistant and worked for her for four years.
Then when she became Elisabeth Sifton Books at Viking, I was assistant
editor for her imprint. And then – you know that period when you hit a
certain age, and you think, “What do I really want to do with my life?”
I hit that point. I left Viking. I thought, “Do I really want to stay
in publishing? Do I want to go off and be a teacher” – because that
was something that I had really thought about – “or do I want to go
to law school” – my dad was a judge, and that was also in the back
of my mind. So I went off for my year of what I call “retrenchment.”
I spent a year out of publishing – I was working in public relations,
actually – and I decided, “You know what? I can’t think of
anything I want to do more than work in publishing. In what capacity I
don’t know, but that’s what I really want to do.”
I got the job at Greenwillow. I was executive editor, working for Susan
Hirschman. I fell in love with children’s publishing. But it just didn’t
work outfor me there. After three years, I came to Pantheon/Schocken as
managing editor. I liked it, and I still do, because you’re the
liaison between the acquiring editor and production and design, and you
work with the publicity, advertising, and sales and marketing people.
Your job is to keep an eye on the whole, to make sure that it all flows
seamlessly: This is when
we get the manuscript, this
is when they want the books to be in the warehouse: okay, how do we do
this? That’s my job. It gives you a bird’s eye view of the
publishing process. You see the manuscript come in, then you send it out
for copy editing, and then you watch as the design is approved, the
galleys come in, and then the jacket is created. You do this for the
whole list. This is something I continue to enjoy doing. But when Sonny
asked me if I wanted to get involved in acquiring books for Schocken,
all of a sudden there was this click!
and I said, “Oh, of course, why didn’t I think of that?” (laughter)
It all just kind of fit into place.
of Part 1.
Vol. 5, No. 3, the editor talks with Susan Ralston,
in Vol. 5, No. 4, with Arthur Samuelson
the history and future of Schocken Books.
series of conversations about Schocken Books is made possible by the
Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy.
A Conversation with Marion
Vol. 1 No. 3
A Conversation with Cornelia and Michael Bessie, Vol. 1
No. 4 and Vol. 2, No. 1
A Conversation with William
Strachan, Vol. 2, No. 4
A Conversation with Samuel H.
Vaughan, Vol. 3, No. 2
Reminiscence: Lee Goerner
(1947-1995), Vol. 3, No. 3
A Conversation with Odile
Hellier, Vol. 4, No. 1
A Conversation with Calvin Reid about Electronic Publishing, Vol. 4,
Authors and Books Mentioned (published by Schocken Books,
unless otherwise noted):
S.Y. Agnon, DAYS OF AWE
BOOK THAT WAS LOST AND OTHR STORIES
THE DAIRYMAN AND THE RAILROAD STORIES,
tr. Hillel Halkin
Robert Alter, THE INVENTION OF HEBREW PROSE
(Univ. of Washington)
Aharon Appelfeld, THE
Hannah Arendt, MEN
IN DARK TIMES
(Harcourt Brace and World)
ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM (HBW)
A Report on the Banality of Evil (The Viking Press); et alia
David S. Ariel, WHAT
DO JEWS BELIEVE?:
The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism
Walter Benjamin, ILLUMINATIONS
AND JEWISH LAW
Chaim Nachman Bialik and
Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky, SEFER
Book of Legends, tr. William G. Braude
Elias Bickerman, FROM
EZRA TO THE LAST OF THE MACCABEES
Moses Hadas, translator), THE
An Account of their History
the Beginnings to the Fall of the House of the Hasmoneans
Martin Buber, TALES OF THE HASIDIM
SCHRIFT DIE FUNF BÜCHEN DER WEISUNG
(Berlin: Schocken Verlag, 1925)
Franz Rosenzweig) DIE
(Berlin: Schocken Verlag: 1936)
Bella Chagall, BURNING
Lucy S. Dawidowicz, THE
WAR AGAINST THE JEWS
THAT PLACE AND TIME
Anita Diamant, CHOOSING
A JEWISH LIFE
Karen Kushner) HOW
TO BE A JEWISH PARENT
Everett Fox, tr., THE
FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES:
The Schocken Bible, Vol. 1,
ROSENZWEIG, HIS LIFE AND THOUGHT
LOVES OF FRANZ KAFKA
Ludwig Strauss), SENDUNG
UND SCHICKSAL: Aus dem Schrifttum des nachbiblischen
(Berlin: Schocken, 1931)
DIMENSIONS OF JOB: A Study and Selected Readings
THE WAY OF
RESPONSE: Martin Buber selections from his writings
PASSOVER HAGGADAH, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM THE EARLIEST
HAGGADOT AND CONTEMPORARY READNGS TO ENHANCE THE SEDER
Ari Goldman, THE SEARCH FOR GOD AT HARVARD
Chandler Grannis, WHAT
HAPPENS IN BOOK PUBLISHING
(Columbia Univ. Press)
David Hartman, CONFLICTING
Spiritual Possibilities of Modern Israel
Samuel Heilman, DEFENDERS
OF THE FAITH – INSIDE ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWRY
Heschel (ed.) ON
BEING A JEWISH FEMINIST
SCHOCKEN GUIDE TO JEWISH BOOKS
OUR WAY: Jewish Texts and the Lives We Lead Today
Franz Kafka, AMERIKA
CASTLE tr. Mark Harmon
CASTLE tr. Willa and Edwin Muir
(ed. Nahum Glatzer)
METAMORPHOSIS, IN THE PENAL COLONY, AND OTHER STORIES
TRIAL, tr. Breon Mitchell
TRIAL, tr. Willa and Edwin Muir
S. Kushner, WHEN
BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
(tr. Raymond Rosenthal)
Maria Montessori, THE
MONTESSORI’S OWN METHOD
Joan Nathan, THE JEWISH HOLIDAY BAKER; THE JEWISH
Leah Rabin, RABIN: OUR LIFE, HIS LEGACY
Eugene Rosenstock-Huessy) JUDAISM DESPITE CHRISTIANITY
Jehuda Halevi) ZWEIUNDNEUNZIG
HYMNEN UND GEDICHTE DEUTSCH (Berlin:
JUDISCHEN ERZIEHUNG: Drei Sendschreiben. (Berlin: Schocken
SCHRIFT UND LUTHER (Verlag Lambert Schneider. Berlin.
Martin Buber) DIE
SCHRIFT DIE FÜNF BUCHEN DER WEISUNG Berlin: Schocken,
M. B.) DIE
SCHRIFT UND IHRE VERDEUTSCHUNG (Berlin: Schocken Verlag,
Cecil Roth, A HISTORY OF THE JEWS
HISTORY OF THE MARRANOS
Nahum Sarna, EXPLORING EXODUS: THE ORIGINS OF
THE BOOK OF PSALMS
THE PRAYERS OF ANCIENT ISRAEL
WORLD OF THE BIBLE IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY
Gershom Scholem, MAJOR
TRENDS IN JEWISH MYSTICISM
MESSIANIC IDEA IN JUDAISM
THE MYSTICALSHAPE OF THE GODHEAD
THE KABBALAH AND ITS SYMBOLISM
THE BOOK OF SPLENDOR
Isaac Bashevis Singer, IN
MY FATHER’S COURT
(Farrar, Straus& Giroux)
Israel Joshua Singer, THE
tr. from the Yddish by Maurice Samuel (Knopf)
Volaková and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (eds.), I
NEVER SAW ANOTHER BUTTERFLY:
Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-44.
LANGUAGE OF LIFE
RIVERS RUN TO THE SEA
THE SEA IS NEVER FULL
BEGGER IN JERUSALEM
THE KINGDOM OF MEMORY
GATES OF THE FOREST
TOWN BEYOND THE WALL
TRIAL OF GOD;
Simon Wiesenthal, THE
Leon Wieseltier, KADDISH
Kit Williams, MASQUERADE
Internet Links (selected):
List of Books Published by Schocken Verlag, Berlin, 1933-38
Schocken Institute for Jewish Research of The Jewish Theological
Seminary of America, housed in the Schocken Library building in
Jerusalem, is a research institute dedicated to the exploration of
Hebrew liturgical poetry. The Schocken Library Building is an
architectural masterpiece. Upon his arrival in Israel in 1934, Salman
Schocken, the publishing magnate, commissioned the German-Jewish
expressionist architect, Erich Mendelssohn, to design a building for the
purpose of housing the collection of books, manuscripts and incunabula
that Schocken had brought with him from Berlin.”
Shocken, mécène et collectionneur
Schocken’s Department Stores
Mendelsohn, Architect: Façade of Schocken Department Store, Chemnitz
Books Teachers Guide to THE
FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES,
tr. Edward Fox
Anthony David Skinner, “Collecting
Memory: Salman Schocken and the Jewish Renaissance,” National
Foundation for Jewish Culture: Jewish Scholarship
Kafka For The 21st Century by Arthur Samuelson, publisher, Schocken
“On the occasion of the
publication by Schocken Books of a new translation based on the restored
text of The Castle, PEN … sponsored an evening of tribute, reflection,
and re-examination of the work of Franz Kafka. The evening, directed by
Tom Palumbo, took place on Thursday, took place on Thursday, March 26,
1998, 8:00 p.m. in The Town Hall, New York City.” Jewish Heritage
Online Magazine broadcasts recordings of that
Tel Aviv: auction of Judaica: “Manuscripts are among the oldest
extant artifacts to have survived the often troubled history of the
"people of the Book." This sale features several whose
provenance is the renown Schocken collection, originally formed by
Salman Schocken (1877-1959), the successful businessman and publisher
who devoted much of his means to assembling one of the most important
arrays of Hebrew books and manuscripts ever put together. In 1934, with
the Nazi onslaught he managed to transfer his enormous library from
Berlin to Jerusalem, where he reestablished his publishing company and
became the owner of the country's prestigious Ha'aretz newspaper. Among
the Schocken manuscripts on offer in this auction is a domestic item
used at Passover, the Nuremberg Haggadah on parchment from Germany
before 1449, richly illuminated in sepia by the itinerant German scribe
and illustrator, Joel ben Simeon, sometimes called Feibush Ashkenazi.
This completely preserved manuscript is of great importance and is one
of the few remaining in private hands. (Est: $600,000-700,000) Another,
on paper, filled with decorative amulets and charms, is a circa 1600
Miscellany of Magical Texts, Kabbala and Literature, written and
illustrated in various hands, (Est: $12,000-14,000) while a fine 14th to
15th century example on parchment of a Pentateuch with accompanying
commentaries in the margins comes from either Spain or Provence. (Est:
Agnon: Agnon, Shmuel Yosef (1888-1970)
“Agnon was the first Hebrew
writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. One of the central
figures in modern Hebrew fiction, his works deal with the conflict
between traditional Jewish life and the modern world, and attempt to
recapture the fading traditions of the European shtetl, or township.”
Judenbuche” – verboten und eingestampft. Ein Beispiel
Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of the History and Culture of
The Helen Wolff
1942 Helen and Kurt Wolff, having fled Hitler's Germany, founded
Pantheon Books, which published the Bollingen Series and such popular
works as the American edition of Doctor Zhivago and Anne Morrow
Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. When Random House acquired Pantheon Books
in 1961, the Wolffs were invited to join Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
where they had their own imprint. After Kurt Wolff's untimely death in
1963, Helen Wolff continued with HBJ until her retirement, overseeing
Helen and Kurt Wolff Books until her death in 1994.
Wolff's papers contain correspondence from the early 1950s through the
late 1990s, financial records, readers' reports, and some manuscripts.
These files reflect Helen Wolff's distinguished career as an
international publisher based in New York and the friendships she formed
with writers and colleagues. Among the correspondents represented in
this archive are Joy Adamson, Hannah Arendt, W. H. Auden, Heimito von
Doderer, Umberto Eco, Günter Grass, Arthur Koestler, Anne Lindberg,
Konrad Lorenz, Ralph Manheim, Herbert Mitgang, and the family of Rudolf
Helen Wolff papers join the Kurt Wolff archive, which has been part of
the Yale Collection of German Literature since 1947.”
“The People of the
Book: Jews in German Publishing, 1871-1938,” n.d. New York: The Leo
Baeck Institute, pp. 16-19. Information and quotations
in this Introduction are taken from this source.
Robert Alter, THE
INVENTION OF HEBREW PROSE Modern Fiction and the
Language of Realism (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988),
After Kafka’s death [Max] Brod took it upon himself to have Kafka’s
work published, so he had to convince publishers that Kafka’s work
was worthy. One such publisher was Salman Schocken. Schocken was
convinced by one of his editors that Kafka “could give meaning to
the new [post WWI] reality that had befallen German Jewry and would
demonstrate the central role of Jews in German culture…. Philosopher
Martin Buber wrote to Brod that Kafka’s novels were “a great
possession” and that they could “show how one can live marginally
with complete integrity and without loss of background….” While
Kafka did not actively represent the Jews, it was a part of himself
that came out in his writing, just like his relationship with his
father.” Arthur Sameuelson, “A Kafka for the 21st
“When the Nazis introduced their racial laws they exempted Schocken
Verlag, a Jewish publisher, from the ban against publishing Jewish
authors on condition that its books would be sold only to Jews.…
Brod offered Schocken the world publishing rights to all of Kafka’s
works. This offer was initially rejected by Lambert Schneider,
Schocken Verlag’s editor in chief, who regarded Kafka’s work as
outside his mandate to publish books that could reacquaint German
Jewry with its distinguished heritage. He also doubted its public
appeal. His employer also had his doubts about the marketability of
six volumes of Kafka’s novels, stories, diaries, and letters,
although he recognized their universal literary quality as well as
their potential to undermine the official campaign to denigrate German
Jewish culture. But he was urged by one of his editors, Moritz
Spitzer, to see in Kafka a quintessentially ‘Jewish’ voice that
could give meaning to the new reality that had befallen German Jewry
and would demonstrate the central role of Jews in German culture.
THE LAW, an anthology drawn from Kafka’s diaries and
short stories, appeared in 1934 in Schocken Verlag’s Bücherei
series, a collection of books aimed to appeal to a popular audience,
and was followed a year later – the year of the infamous Nuremburg
Laws – by Kafka’s three novels. The Schocken editions were the
first to give Kafka widespread distribution in Germany. Martin Buber,
in a letter to Brod, praised these volumes as ‘a great possession’
that could ‘show how one can live marginally with complete integrity
and without loss of background.’ (From THE
LETTERS OF MARTIN BUBER [New York: Schocken Books,
1991], p. 431)
many of the books Schocken sold ended up in non-Jewish hands, giving
German readers – at home and in exile – their only access to one
of the century’s greatest writers. Klaus Mann wrote in the exile
journal Sammlung that
‘the collected works of Kafka, offered by the Schocken Verlag in
Berlin, are the most noble and most significant publications that have
come out of Germany.’ Praising Kafka’s books as ‘the epoch’s
purest and most singular works of literature,’ he noted with
astonishment that ‘this spiritual event has occurred within a
splendid isolation, in a ghetto far from the German cultural ministry.’
Soon after this article appeared, the Nazi government put Kafka’s
novels on its blacklist of ‘harmful and undesirable writings.’
Schocken moved his production to Prague, where he published Kafka’s
diaries and letters. Interestingly, despite the ban on the novels, he
was able to continue printing and distributing his earlier volume of
Kafka’s short stories in Germany itself until the government closed
down Schocken Verlag in 1939. The German occupation of Prague that
same year put an end to Schocken’s operations in Europe.” Arthur
Samuelson, op. cit.
“Originally … the Verlag had been organized as a division of the
Schocken department store chain. This step may have been taken at
first as a matter of administrative convenience, but it offered great
fiscal advantages as well – advantages that were decisively
important after 1933. As long as the Verlag was just another division
of the concern, its profits and expenses were reckoned in with the
whole. As it happened, the expenses of the Verlag far outweighed its
receipts, and in effect the Verlag operated on the surplus funds
produced by the profit-making divisions of the firm. Furthermore,
despite nazi attacks on Jewish businesses, and on department stores in
general, whatever their ownership. the Schocken firm continued to
prosper.… Moreover, the diminution of the firm’s profits by the
amount of the Verlag’s expenditures reduced it taxable surplus. To a
certain extent, then, the Verlag ran at the expense of Nazi tax
these factors do not detract from the magnitude of Schocken’s
personal generosity. The money that he assigned to the Verlag came out
of his own income – or, what was the same, was never added to it.
This consideration stands despite Nazi restrictions on capital export,
since Schocken did continue to transfer funds abroad, and these were
reduced by expenditures for the Verlag. Furthermore, Schocken’s
financial basis in Germany was increasingly jeopardized, and he faced
further drains on his capital in the future. Therefor, his outlay at
this time was all the more striking in view of the fact that ordinary
business sense would have dictated thrift.” Stephen M. Poppel, “Salman
Schocken and the Schocken Verlag: A Jewish Publisher in Weimar and
Nazi Germany,” Harvard Library
Bulletin, Vol. XXI, Number 1, January 1973, p. 31.