PARNASSUS CORNER: A Life of James T. Fields, Publisher to the Victorians by W. S. Iryon

PARNASSUS CORNER: A Life of James T. Fields, Publisher to the Victorians

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KIRKUS REVIEW

James T. Fields, with a combination of artistic predilections (he was a would-be poet) and Yankee acquisitiveness, left a lasting mark on the American cultural scene. The firm of Tickner & Fields, now the Houghton Mifflin Company, were the publishers of Whittier, Longfellow, Emerson, Thoreau; and from his office in the Old Corner Bookstore, Fields promoted and sold the books of almost all the notable writers, American and English, of the mid-19th century. He was keenly attuned to the public taste but not above manipulating opinion to gain an honest dollar for himself and his authors. This is a big, old-fashioned, over-stuffed biography, important not so much for the story of Fields as for the picture of the literary climate in which he worked. Although Hawthorne and many another American writer (English writers were a better risk) might have gone unpublished, save for Field's discernment, it is a case of the work making the man, not the man making the work: the bookseller was apparently all there was of the man. The general reader could doubtless do without much of the minutiae and treadmill description.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1963
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin