ABOUT THIS BOOK
As head of Suhrkamp Verlag, a premier German publishing house, Siegfried Unseld is eminently qualified to write about the relationship between authors and their publishers—and he does so here with engaging partisan enthusiasm. Long familiar with what he terms the Janus-headed nature of the publishing profession, Unseld considers the dual responsibilities of a publisher: in one direction, his responsibility for the material success of his firm; and in the other, his responsibility to the intellectual ideals and spiritual requirements of his authors.
Through close examination of four writers, Unseld shows how the author's personality can affect the publisher's dilemma. Hermann Hesse, by virtue of his loyalty and his desire for financial independence, enjoyed an exemplary relationship with his publishers. With Bertolt Brecht it was all confusion; with Rainer Maria Rilke, a one-author-one-publisher lifetime alliance; with Swiss poet Robert Walser, a mire of difficulties ("Each book printed," he once said, was "a grave for its author").