Fischer, Samuel

(1859-1934)
   publisher; helped establish the careers of numerous important twentieth-century authors. Born to a Jewish family in the small Hungarian city of Torok Szent Miklos, he educated himself via a local bookshop and a reading club. Thus prepared, he apprenticed as a book trader and then departed in 1881 for Berlin.* He assumed part ownership of a book-shop in 1883 and founded a publishing house in 1886. Through publication of Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Zola, as well as several German-language authors, the Fischer Verlag gained international recognition.
   Fischer earned an honored name in Berlin society by promoting Naturalism and social criticism, nurturing important literary friendships, and energetically assisting with the founding of several learned journals. By 1900 the Fischer Verlag had moved beyond Naturalism and was publishing some of the forth-coming talents of twentieth-century literature: Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Thomas Mann,* and Hermann Hesse. It was the risky publication of a ten-volume Ibsen edition in 1898 and of Mann s Buddenbrooks in 1901 that established Fischer s fame. In 1907 he launched a series of low-priced literary works. The Fischer Library of Contemporary Novels, anticipating discriminating paperbacks in se-ries, spawned an abundance of inexpensive classical editions.
   Fischer s son-in-law, Gottfried Bermann (later Bermann Fischer), joined the firm in 1925 and became manager in 1928. By convincing Peter Suhrkamp in 1933 to edit the Verlag's Neue Rundschau,* he heightened the firm's prestige and financial position. But running a Jewish concern in Nazi Germany was complicated (the displacement of Rudolf Kayser, a German of Jewish ancestry, by Suhrkamp was construed by some as a gesture of appeasement). Bermann took over the firm upon Fischer's death. Although his success continued, he moved Fischer Verlag to Vienna in 1936. After the Anschluss it was relocated to Stockholm. Expelled from Sweden in 1940 for anti-Nazi activity, Bermann opened the L. B. Fischer Company in New York. Fischer Verlag was reorgan-ized in Frankfurt in 1950. Samuel Fischer did not embrace Expressionism,* becoming involved only in its fringes by publishing Georg Kaiser,* Albert Ehrenstein, and Arnolt Bron-nen.* His significance came, above all, from his success in transforming German authors into world literary figures. One of these, Thomas Mann, speaking of Fischer in 1929, remarked on the "deep, spiritual intelligence of the man, his infallible instinct for what is valuable, his knowledge of what is necessary (NDB).
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Greenberg, Literature and Sen-sibilities; Katia Mann, Unwritten Memories; Mendelssohn, S. Fischer; NDB, vol. 5; Un-seld, Author and his Publisher.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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