Pantheon Books was founded in 1942 in New York City by European intellectuals who had come to the United States to escape fascism and the Holocaust. Pantheon is currently part of Bertelsmann, a publishing company known to be actively involved in the Holocaust. 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 1980, RCA sold Random House to Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr., and Pantheon Books came under pressure to increase profits.
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.
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