Faber & Faber: by Toby Faber review – the untold story of a publishing giant

They turned down Ulysses and Animal Farm, but still shaped 20th‑century literatureAll publishing houses have archives, but for anyone interested in 20th-century literature the archive of Faber & Faber is a fabled treasure house. This is the firm that was, as Toby Faber puts it, “midwife at the birth of modernism”. In 1924 Faber’s grandfather, Geoffrey Faber, aspiring poet and fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, had been installed as chairman of the Scientific Press, recently inherited by another All Souls fellow, Maurice Gwyer. It published mostly books and journals for nurses. Geoffrey Faber renamed it and started making it into a literary publisher. Within his first year he had installed TS Eliot as a fellow director and acquired his backlist.The firm would go on to publish Ezra Pound, WH Auden and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Then Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney: a poetry list to beat all others. Academics have always itched to get into the Faber archive, to get at the letters and memos that record how this 20th-century canon was made. Toby Faber has rights of entry. He has given us a highly selective anthology rather than a narrative: his book is made up of extracts from original documents (mostly letters, but also memos, board minutes and blurbs), with spare comments from himself.Faber & Faber allowed The Bodley Head to get Ulysses; “Feebler and Fumbler”, Joyce called the firm Related: Lord of the Flies? ‘Rubbish’.... Continue reading at 'The Guardian'

[ The Guardian | 2019-06-20 11:00:08 UTC ]
News tagged with: #ted hughes #philip larkin #seamus heaney #poetry list #20th-century canon #original documents #board minutes #spare comments #bodley head #joyce called #anthology #publishing houses

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