Thomas Seltzer (translator)

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Logo of Thomas Seltzer's publishing company from D.H. Lawrence's Tortoises Tortoises, 1921, Publisher's Logo (Thomas Seltzer).jpg
Logo of Thomas Seltzer's publishing company from D.H. Lawrence's Tortoises

Thomas Seltzer (February 22, 1875, Russia − September 11, 1943, New York City) was a Russian-American translator, editor and book publisher.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.80 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.



Signature of Thomas Seltzer Signature of Thomas Seltzer.jpg
Signature of Thomas Seltzer

Born in Russia, Thomas Seltzer moved to the United States with his family as a young child. He attended the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship and graduated in 1897, going on to do post-graduate work at Columbia University. In addition to speaking his native Russian, Seltzer was conversant in Polish, Italian, German, Yiddish, and French and it was his language skills that led him to a career as a translator. He parleyed his way with words into work as a journalist and editor, writing for newspapers and magazines, notably Harper's Weekly and in 1911-1918, Seltzer worked with Max Eastman, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, and others as editor of the socialist magazine, The Masses .

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

As an editor, Seltzer gained experience at Funk & Wagnalls and beginning in 1917 the New York publishing firm Boni and Liveright. It was during his tenure with Funk & Wagnalls that Seltzer met his wife Adele Szold and the couple were married October 21, 1906.

Funk & Wagnalls was an American publisher known for its reference works, including A Standard Dictionary of the English Language, and the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedia.

In 1919 Seltzer established his own publishing venture, Thomas Seltzer, Inc., and is credited with bringing D. H. Lawrence's works to the American public. His work also brought him into contact with such authors as Henry James and Theodore Dreiser.

D. H. Lawrence English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter

David Herbert Lawrence was an English writer and poet. His collected works represent, among other things, an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. Some of the issues Lawrence explores are sexuality, emotional health, vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.

Henry James American writer and literary critic

Henry James was an American-British author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He was the son of Henry James Sr. and the brother of renowned philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.

Theodore Dreiser Novelist, journalist

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser was an American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school. His novels often featured main characters who succeeded at their objectives despite a lack of a firm moral code, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency. Dreiser's best known novels include Sister Carrie (1900) and An American Tragedy (1925).

As a result of publishing controversial writers, Seltzer was attacked by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1922 and all copies of D. H.Lawrence's Women in Love , Arthur Schnitzler's Casanova's Homecoming, and the anonymously written A Young Girl's Diary were confiscated. Seltzer refused to back down, retaining a lawyer and fighting the attempted censorship in the court case People v. Seltzer. Although victorious, it was not to be the end of Seltzer's fight against censorship, as he was charged with publishing "unclean" books in 1923; once again, D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love was the impetus for the charges. Fighting censorship charges eventually led Seltzer's publishing efforts into bankruptcy. The business was taken over by Seltzer's nephews Charles and Albert Boni. [1]

New York Society for the Suppression of Vice state censorship body

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was an institution dedicated to supervising the morality of the public, founded in 1873. Its specific mission was to monitor compliance with state laws and work with the courts and district attorneys in bringing offenders to justice. It and its members also pushed for additional laws against perceived immoral conduct. While the NYSSV is better remembered for its opposition to literary works, it also closely monitored the newsstands, commonly found on city sidewalks and in transportation terminals, which sold the popular newspapers and periodicals of the day.

<i>Women in Love</i> book

Women in Love (1920) is a novel by British author D. H. Lawrence. It is a sequel to his earlier novel The Rainbow (1915), and follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The emotional relationships thus established are given further depth and tension by an intense psychological and physical attraction between Gerald and Rupert. The novel ranges over the whole of British society before the time of the First World War and eventually concludes in the snows of the Tyrolean Alps. Ursula's character draws on Lawrence's wife Frieda and Gudrun's on Katherine Mansfield, while Rupert Birkin's has elements of Lawrence himself, and Gerald Crich is partly based on Mansfield's husband, John Middleton Murry.

Arthur Schnitzler Austrian writer

Arthur Schnitzler was an Austrian author and dramatist.

Seltzer died in New York on September 11, 1943, three years after Adele's death. He had no children.


Works translated by Seltzer:

Works compiled and edited by Seltzer:

Works Published by Thomas Seltzer, Inc.:

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  1. Levin, Alexandra Lee. "Thomas Seltzer: Publisher, Fighter for Freedom of the Press, and the man who 'Made' D. H. Lawrence". American Jewish Archives January, 1989.
  2. "The Newest Books". The Independent. Jul 13, 1914. Retrieved August 14, 2012.

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