The current editor-in-chief at Pantheon Books is Dan Frank.
|Parent company||Random House|
|Founder||Kurt Wolff & Helen Wolff,|
Kyrill S. Schabert,
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
|Key people||Dan Frank, Editorial Director|
Bertelsmann, the German company that also owns Bantam Books, Doubleday Publishing, and Dell Publishing, acquired Random House in 1998, along with its imprints the Modern Library, Times Books, Everyman's Library, Vintage Books, Crown Publishing Group, Schocken Books, Ballantine Books, Del Rey Books, and Fawcett Publications, making Bertelsmann the largest publisher of American books.
In addition to classics, international fiction, and trade paperbacks, recently Pantheon has moved aggressively into the comics market. It has published many critically acclaimed graphic novels and comics collections, including Ice Haven, La Perdida, Read Yourself RAW, Maus, In the Shadow of No Towers, and Black Hole. Many of its comics publications are high-quality collected editions of works originally serialized by other publishers such as Fantagraphics Books.
Pantheon Books was founded in 1942 in New York City by Helen and Kurt Wolff who had come to the United States to escape fascism and the Holocaust. Pantheon is currently part of Bertelsmann. Important early works published by Pantheon were Zen and the Art of Archery by German scholar Eugen Herrigel, the Bollingen series (composed of C. G. Jung's collected works in English and books of noted Jungian scholars), the first complete translation of the I Ching, and Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.
When Random House bought Alfred A. Knopf in 1960, the front page of the New York Times reported that the merger "united two of the nation's most celebrated publishers of quality writing". The following year, Random House would buy Pantheon, which would be moved into the Knopf Publishing Group. Also in 1961, Pantheon hired Andre Schiffrin as executive editor of Pantheon Books.
Under the direction of Schiffrin, Pantheon continued to publish important works by European writers such as The Tin Drum by Günter Grass, who would later receive a Nobel Prize for his work; Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault, The Lover by Marguerite Duras, and Adieux by Simone de Beauvoir. By the late 1960s, Pantheon started to bring American writers such as Noam Chomsky, James Loewen and Studs Terkel to European readers. In 1965, RCA bought Random House. Throughout the 1970s, Pantheon continued to publish intellectual and often leftist works of fiction and nonfiction "without a profit-and-loss sheet in sight". In other words, Pantheon editors prided themselves on subsidizing the cost of publishing less commercially successful (but socially or intellectually important) works with the profits from more commercially successful books.
In early 2009, long-time Pantheon publisher Janice Goldklang was laid off as part of a general restructuring of Random House and its publishing divisions.
Pantheon and Random House, which at the time was owned by SI Newhouse, were plagued with controversy throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. In December 1989, Alberto Vitale, a former banker, replaced Robert L. Berstein as chairman and president of Random House. In February 1990, Schiffrin was "asked to resign after he refused to reduce the number of titles published [by Pantheon] or to trim Pantheon's 30-member staff". In protest at Schiffrin's forced resignation and other changes in staffing, such as the hiring of Erroll McDonald, editors and staff Tom Engelhardt, Wendy Wolf, Sara Bershtel, Jim Peck, Susan Rabiner, David Sternbach, Helena Franklin, Diane Wachtell, Gay Salisbury, and several others resigned in the following months. Authors of books published by Pantheon, Random House, and other related imprints, including Studs Terkel, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Princeton historian Arno Mayer, and Barbara Ehrenreich, held a protest outside Random House in March 1990 during which they argued that the termination of Schiffrin amounted to corporate censorship of the books that would not be printed without him. Novelist E. L. Doctorow used his acceptance speech for a fiction prize at the March 1990 National Book Critics Circle award ceremony to criticize Random House for ousting Schiffrin.
In the week following the protests, 40 Random House editors and publishers signed a statement that defended the personnel changes at Pantheon, stating: "like Pantheon, we abhor corporate censorship. We have never experienced it, nor do we believe that Pantheon has ever experienced it. We would not tolerate censorship of any form, and we are offended by any suggestion to the contrary. But, unlike Pantheon, we have preserved our independence and the independence of our authors by supporting the integrity of our publishing programs with fiscal responsibility". Another supporter of Schiffrin's termination wrote that the protests and resignations were "a hilarious specimen of people intoxicated by self-importance. It also is a case study of the descent of intellectuals' leftism into burlesque".
In 1998, Random House made news again when it was bought by Bertelsmann. The Authors Guild approached the Fair Trade Commission, arguing that "the $1.4 billion acquisition of Random House by Bantam's parent, Bertelsmann AG, the German media conglomerate, would create a "new economic behemoth" with the potential to restrict readers' choices and authors' ability to market their works". Bertelsmann was allowed to make the purchase, however, making it the largest publisher of English-language trade books. Again, Schiffrin protested, noting that in the eight years since Random House had come under the direction of Vitale, "Random House's 'high end'—the literary translations and books of criticism, cultural history and political analysis that had built the reputation of the Knopf and Pantheon imprints—were being sacrificed" and that concerns for the "bottom line" would outweigh intellectual and social concerns.
Schiffrin published a memoir in 2000, in which he explains his side of the controversies surrounding Pantheon and Random House called The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read, in which he accused Vitale and those with money-making interests of homogenizing the publishing industry by focusing too much on profits, and warns: "the resulting control on the spread of ideas is stricter than anyone would have thought possible in a free society". In a 2003 interview, former Pantheon editor Tom Engelhardt reflects on the Pantheon controversy in light of the acquisition by Bertelsmann: "Pantheon was a very specific place, publishing a very specific kind of book, and we felt that was being wiped out. As it turned out, what happened at Pantheon was the beginning of the gargantuan feasting on the independent publishing house and not-so-independent houses as well."
Pantheon continues to publish well-respected fiction and non-fiction, and has more recently expanded further into graphic novels. Pantheon re-issued books in the graphic-based "...For Beginners" series (originally published by Writers and Readers Cooperative) in the 1970s and 1980s; deciding to bring the series back in 2003.
One of the first original graphic novels Pantheon published was the highly acclaimed Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman in 1986. Spiegelman has become somewhat of a comics consultant, advising editor-in-chief Dan Frank. Another key member of the Pantheon Graphic Novels team is graphic designer Chip Kidd.
In 2000, Pantheon published The Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware. In 2005, Pantheon published The Rabbi's Cat, a graphic novel by Joann Sfar that "tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat". Notable cartoonists whose graphic novels have been published by Pantheon include Spiegelman, Ware, Dan Clowes, Ben Katchor, Marjane Satrapi, and David Mazzucchelli.
A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story (Pantheon Books, 1992) is a memoir written by Elaine Brown. The book follows her life from childhood up through her activism with the Black Panther Party. In the early chapters of the book, Brown recalls growing up on York Street in a rough neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Due to her mother's persistence, she is able to attend an experimental elementary school in a nice neighborhood and becomes friends with some Jewish girls. From that point on, Brown describes being a part of two worlds. She'd act "white" while hanging out with her school friends, and "black" when with the girls in her neighborhood.
At age 19, Brown moves to California, where she has a love affair with Jay Kennedy. She later ends the affair, and through her neighbor begins to meet people involved in the Black Panther Party. Brown describes her experiences in developing a black consciousness, and later, a feminist consciousness. She overcomes sexism in the party as well as her own personal obstacles to be the head of the party from 1974-1977. The book also covers her two runs for councilwoman in Oakland. There is a large amount of writing on friend, lover, and fellow Panther Huey P. Newton, including information on his theory of "revolutionary intercommunalism," in which he foresaw the weakening of the nation-state under the power of the market economy.
A Taste of Power was optioned in January, 2007 by HBO to use in its upcoming six-part series, "The Black Panthers."Alan Watts
Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-American philosopher who interpreted and popularised Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master's degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest in 1945, then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy and not a religion. He considered Nature, Man and Woman (1958) to be, "from a literary point of view—the best book I have ever written." He also explored human consciousness in the essay "The New Alchemy" (1958) and in the book The Joyous Cosmology (1962).
Towards the end of his life, he divided his time between a houseboat in Sausalito and a cabin on Mount Tamalpais. According to the critic Erik Davis, his "writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity."Alias the Cat!
Alias the Cat is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Kim Deitch, published by Pantheon Books in 2007. It originally appeared as a three-issue comic book in 2002 as The Stuff of Dreams from Fantagraphics Books.
The metafictional book stars Deitch himself and his best-known creation, Waldo the Cat. It's about a character named Alias the Cat who appeared in 1915 in a comic strip and a serial film, as well as in real life as a freedom-fighting superhero, but who mysteriously disappears. As Deitch researches the character, the story keeps getting more and more involved.American Power and the New Mandarins
American Power and the New Mandarins is a book by the US academic Noam Chomsky, largely written in 1968, published in 1969. It was his first political book and sets out in detail his opposition to the Vietnam War.And Their Children After Them
And Their Children After Them (ISBN 9780394577661), written by Dale Maharidge, photographed by Michael Williamson, and published by Pantheon Books in 1989, won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. It is about sharecropper families during the Great Depression.Black Hole (comics)
Black Hole is a twelve-issue comic book limited series written and illustrated by Charles Burns and published first by Kitchen Sink Press, then Fantagraphics. It was released in collected form in 2005 by Pantheon Books. The story deals with the aftermath of a sexually transmitted disease which causes grotesque mutations in teenagers. Burns has said that the mutations can be read as a metaphor for adolescence, sexual awakening and the transition into adulthood.Cop Killer (novel)
Cop Killer (original Swedish title: Polismördaren) is a crime novel by Swedish writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, published in 1973. It is part of their detective series revolving around Martin Beck and his team.Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Chris Ware. Pantheon Books released the book in 2000 following its serialization in the newspaper Newcity and Ware's Acme Novelty Library series.La Perdida
La Perdida is an alternative comic book series created by Jessica Abel and published by Fantagraphics. It was collected into graphic novel form by Pantheon Books, and has received a positive critical response.Manufacturing Consent
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a 1988 book by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, in which the authors propose that the mass communication media of the U.S. "are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion", by means of the propaganda model of communication. The title derives from the phrase "the manufacture of consent," employed in the book Public Opinion (1922), by Walter Lippmann (1889–1974).The book was revised 20 years after its first publication to take account of developments such as the fall of the Soviet Union. There has been debate about how the Internet has changed the public’s access to information since 1988.Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Memories, Dreams, Reflections (German: Erinnerungen, Träume, Gedanken) is a partially autobiographical book by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and an associate, Aniela Jaffé. First published in German in 1962, an English translation appeared in 1963.Murder at the Savoy
Murder at the Savoy (original title: Polis, polis, potatismos! literally "Police, Police, Mashed Potatoes!") is a crime novel by Swedish writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. It is the sixth book out of ten in the detective series by revolving around police detective Martin Beck.Roseanna (novel)
Or see Roseanne (name).Roseanna is a mystery novel by Swedish writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, first published in 1965. It is the first novel in their detective series revolving around Martin Beck and his team.The Chocolate War
The Chocolate War is a young adult novel by American author Robert Cormier. First published in 1974, it was adapted into a film in 1988. Although it received mixed reviews at the time of its publication, some reviewers have argued it is one of the best young adult novels of all time. Set at a fictional Catholic high school, the story depicts a secret student organization's manipulation of the student body, which descends into cruel and ugly mob mentality against a lone, non-conforming student. Because of the novel's language, the concept of a high school secret society using intimidation to enforce the cultural norms of the school and various characters' sexual ponderings, it has been embroiled in censorship controversies and appeared as third on the American Library Association's list of the "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000–2009." A sequel was published in 1985 called Beyond the Chocolate War.The Man Who Went Up in Smoke
The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (original title: Mannen som gick upp i rök) is a mystery novel by Swedish writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, published in 1966. It is part of their detective series revolving around Martin Beck and his team. In the novel, Beck returns to work and travels to Hungary to search for a missing journalist called Alf Matsson. After meeting the Budapest police and the criminal underground, he begins to wonder if Matsson ever entered the country.The Man on the Balcony
The Man on the Balcony is a mystery novel by Swedish writer Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, originally published as Mannen på balkongen in 1967. It is the third novel in the detective series revolving around Swedish police detective Martin Beck.
In the novel, Martin Beck and his team realize that a paedophilic murderer may have been seen by an unidentified serial robber who was watching for prey in the area, at the time. The pressure is turned up when more child murders begin to occur.The Quest for Fire
The Quest for Fire (French: La Guerre du feu) is a 1911 Belgian novel by "J.-H. Rosny", the pseudonym of two brothers; the author was likely the elder of the two, Joseph Henri Honoré Boex (1856–1940). It was first published in English in 1967.
It was made into a feature film of the same name in 1981. The film stars Ron Perlman, Rae Dawn Chong and Everett McGill.