February 7, 1902|
|Died||December 19, 1989
|Pen name||Jan van Straaten|
|Occupation||literary agent, author, translator, editor and publisher|
|Nationality||Dutch-American (Jewish atheist)|
|Period||1928-1982 (occasional writing)
1933-1986 (literary agency)
|Notable works||books: Slavonic rhapsody, Briefwechsel; translations: Music here and now, Bambi's children; article: Chávez lights new music with old fires|
|Relatives||Louis Fles, George Fles,
Michael John Fles, Bart Berman, Helen Berman, Thijs Berman, Giorgio van Straten
Barthold Fles (February 7, 1902 – December 19, 1989) was a Dutch-American literary agent, author, translator, editor and publisher. Among his many clients were Raymond Loewy, Heinrich Mann, Joseph Roth, Felix Salten, Ignazio Silone, Bruno Walter and Arnold Zweig.
Life and career
Barthold "Bart" Fles was born in Amsterdam into an assimilating Jewish family. His father, Louis Fles, was a successful businessman and an activist against religion. Barthold had a tense relationship with his father, who wanted him into his business, while the young Fles was mostly interested in reading. Barthold read in Dutch, German, English, and French, anytime and at a tremendous pace. He did study business at a vocational school and found employment at De Lange publishers. In 1923 he left for the United States.
In New York Fles found temporary employment as a violinist, painting apartments, selling vacuum cleaners and working for publishers. In 1933 he established a literary agency in Manhattan, New York. Initially many of his clients were German refugees and other foreign authors. He organized evenings for these authors in New York, in order to get them acquainted with the American book market. From the 1940s onwards, however, most of his clientele was from the United States.
In 1936 Barthold married Ruth Grünwald, a dancer at the Metropolitan Opera who had been just one year in the United States. Ruth assisted Barthold at his literary agency. Later she left him.
Fles was a special figure in the lives of many of his clients. He kept closely in touch, encouraged his authors to concentrate on their art, and arranged fellowships with literary funds. Still, some clients moved on to larger agencies, or were later represented by publishing houses, lawyers, or by themselves, often after long relationships. An exception was Anaïs Nin who left him soon after she joined his client circle, citing unorganized business conduct as a reason. "Bonjour, friend, and good-bye, literary agent", she wrote to him. In biographical notes on Fles, however, she stated that he had refused to take on her boyfriend Henry Miller. Miller himself also had hard feelings, calling Fles dishonest and part of the publishing establishment. Fles was influential during several decades in getting blacklisted authors published.
Although he had no children of his own, Barthold Fles wrote two juvenile books: Slavonic rhapsody: the life of Antonín Dvořák (1948) under the pseudonym Jan van Straaten (Van Straaten being his mother's maiden name), and East Germany (1973). He also wrote introductions to compilations and many articles and translated several books from German to English. Among the translations was another children's book, Bambi's Children by Felix Salten. His non-fictional writings and his translations received considerable praise, except for his book on Germany. This book was clearly outside his (music and literature) expertise and sealed his writing for publication, set aside an intro to More by Dell Shannon (1982) by his prolific client Elizabeth Linington.
In 1986, at the age of 84, Fles closed his agency. Subsequently he returned to his native Netherlands, where he spent his last three years in Laren's Rosa Spier home for retired artists. At Rosa Spier he was approached by Madeleine Rietra, a Dutch expert on German literature, who posthumously published his letter exchange with clients Joseph Roth (bookchapter in 1991) and Heinrich Mann (book in 1993), along with commentaries and biographical notes.
Barthold Fles, a diabetic for several decades, died on December 19, 1989, aged 87.
- 1948 - Slavonic rhapsody: The life of Antonín Dvořák
- 1973 - East Germany
- 1993 - Briefwechsel mit Barthold Fles, 1942-1949 (with Heinrich Mann; editor Madeleine Rietra)
- 1948 - The best short stories from Collier's
- 1949 - Seven short novels from the Woman's Home Companion
- 1951 - The Saturday Evening Post western stories
- 1951 - The Saturday Evening Post Fantasy Stories
- 1939 - Ernst Krenek: Music here and now
- 1939 - Felix Salten: Bambi’s children
- 1943 - Hans Natonek: In search of myself
These German poetry books were published by Barthold Fles Verlag, New York
- 1941 - Max Herrmann-Neisse: Letzte Gedichte
- 1941 - Barthold Viertel: Fürchte dich nicht! Neue Gedichte
- 1942 - Hans Sahl: Der hellen Nächte, Gedichte Aus Frankreich
- 1942 - Max Hermann-Neisse: Mir bleibt mein Lied, Auswahl aus unveröffentlichten Gedichten (posthumous publication)
- 1928-09-15 - Chávez lights new music with old fires. Musical America 48 (22): 5 & 21.
- 1932-05-18 - The Price of Being Sensible. The Nation 134 (3489): 576.
- 1935-03-10 - In Holland Writers Favor the Exotic. New York Times: BR 8 & ?.
- 1935-10-27 - Van Gogh Letters and Other Dutch Books. New York Times: BR 8 & ?.
- 1935-12-24 - The Literary Scene In Holland. New York Times: 61.
- 1935-11-02 - Rococo Italy in a Picaresque Novel. The Saturday Review of Literature 8 (1): 12.
- 1936 - Literature in Exile. Story 9: 8, 101-102.
- 1936-08-23 - Holland Turns to the Historical Novel. New York Times: BR 8.
- 1945-07-28 - What Has Happened to Them Since? Reply. Publishers Weekly: 307.
- 1950-06-04 - A Literary Letter about Holland. New York Times: BR 11.
- 1951-10 and 11 - The Literary Agent. The Writer 64 (10): 319-323, (11): 361-365. (also included in the book Briefwechsel mit Barthold Fles)
- Madeleine Rietra: "Der New Yorker Literaturagent Barthold Fles als Vermittler zwischen der alten und neuen Welt (1933-1945)" in Batts MS (ed.): Alte Welten - neue Welten, Akten des IX. Kongresses der Internationale Vereinigung für Germanische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1996, p. 164. ISBN 3-484-10718-9.
- Madeleine Rietra: "Heinrich Mann/Barthold Fles: Autor/Agent" in Würzner H, Kröhnke K (eds.): Deutsche Literatur im Exil in den Niederlanden 1933-1940. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994, p 151-162. ISBN 978-90-5183-649-3.
- Bleiler EF: The Guide to Supernatural Fiction, page 189. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1983.
- Boberach, Heinz; Schulze-Bidlingmaier, Ingrid (1994). Quellen zur deutschen politischen Emigration 1933 - 1945 (in German). K.G. Saur. ISBN 978-3-598-23040-0. "Korrespondenz Barthold Fles (1902-1989) Literaturagent, Verleger, Schriftsteller, Übersetzer holländisch-jüdischer Herkunft; seit 1923 New York, dort 52 Jahre als Literaturagent tätig."
- Spoor Andrew: Een literaire vroedvrouw; Briefwisseling van Heinrich Mann en zijn Amerikaanse uitgever (English: A literary midwife; Letter exchange of Heinrich Mann and his American Publisher). NRC Handelsblad 1994-05-06. Accessed 2008-07-15.
- Rietra M: "Muß man dann immer postwendend Geld senden um überhaubt mit Ihnen verkehren zu können? Joseph Roth und Barthold Fles in Briefen", in Onderdelinden S: "Interbellum un Exil", page 199. Rodopi Publishers, 1991.
- Ester, H: "Correspondentie Heinrich Mann-Barthold Fles: Soms waait er een gure wind uit de brieven, dan kan er geen groet vanaf", Trouw, September 30, 1993
- Groth, M: "The Road to New York: The Emigration of Berlin Journalists, 1933-1945", page 248. K. G. Saur, 1988.
- Cazden, R: "German Exile Literature in America, 1933-1950", page 147. American Library Association, 1970.
- Mann, Heinrich; Barthold Fles; Madeleine Rietra (1993). Briefwechsel mit Barthold Fles, 1942-1949 (in German). Berlin: Afbau. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-351-02244-0. "1936 heiratet er Ruth Grünwald, eine Tänzerin an der Metropolitan Oper, die ein Jahr zuvor mit ihren Eltern aus Frankfurt nach New York ausgewandert war."
- Bowker Company, R.R; ), Publishers' Board of Trade (U.S; Philadelphia, Book Trade Association of; Book Trade Association, Am; Union, American Book Trade (1957). "Barthold Fles" (limited view). Publishers Weekly: 40. "BARTHOLD FLES, New York literary agent, left July 5 for Europe. He will visit authors and publishers in 13 European countries and 30 cities, returning on September 15. In his absence the agency will be run by Mrs. Ruth Fles and Mrs. Robin McKown."
- Waters, Frank (1998). Of Time and Change, A Memoir. San Francisco, California: MacAdam/Cage. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-878448-86-6. "Dasburg and Fles fled into the Taos Inn, where they ate their Thanksgiving dinner. I joined them there, contrite and embarrassed. Bart Fles, whose wife had just left him, shrugged. 'You're no different from the rest of us, Frank. It happens to us all.' Added Dasburg, 'Wine and women! You and I've had no luck with either of them, Frank!'"
- Rikhoff, Jean (1976). One of the Raymonds. Fawcett Crest. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-449-23090-9. "For HELEN TAYLOR, who tried to make me a writer, and JOYCE ENGELSON, who is trying to keep me one, two great editors; and to my agent BARTHOLD FLES, who lent the encouragement and (often) money to keep me going, this book is dedicated in admiration and affection"
- Nin A: Fire. Harvest ,1996. ISBN 978-0-15-600390-2.
- Webb, William (1991). Henry & Friends: The California Years, 1946-77. Capra Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-88496-343-1. "Henry was delighted to see Walker, though not so delighted to see Barthold Fles, the literary agent who was also visiting Walker. The conversation became animated. Henry got off a few cracks about Fles being a fraud, part of the publishing establishment that was by definition money grubbing and dishonest."
- Rouverol, Jean (2000). Refugees from Hollywood: A Journal of the Blacklist Years. University of New Mexico Press. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-8263-2266-1. "The person who had translated the first Bambi was a former client of his named Whittaker Chambers. [...] But [Barthold Fles] did mention that he was handling other blacklisted writers in addition to Margaret: Phil Stevenson (writing as "Lars [Lawrence]") and Guy Endore (Werewolf of [Paris]) too. So — still puzzled, but desperate to join the ranks of publishable writers again — I set about courting him shamelessly, offering to be his tour guide next day for some of Mexico's tourist attractions (with the private hope that there might be time afterward for him to do a little reading)."
- Mitford, Jessica (2006). Sussman, Peter, ed. Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-375-41032-1. "Barthold Fles was Decca's first literary agent. She had been introduced to him by Doris Brin Walker's husband, Mason Robe[r]son. Fles's appeal included his continued representation of blacklisted screenwriters, whose work was carried by small, leftist publishing houses during the years of anti-Red hysteria."
- Lewis Buell E: A Fine Sequel to That Modern Classic, "Bambi". New York Times December 3, 1939: BR105.
- Shannon, D (Linington, E): "More by Shannon". Doubleday, 1982.
- "Agent Barthold Fles to retire to artists' colony near Amsterdam." Publishers Weekly 228 (Nov. 29, 1985): p. 14
- "Barthold Fles (Obituary)". Publishers Weekly 237 (Jan 12, 1990): 19.
- Heinrich Mann: "Briefwechsel mit Barthold Fles". Aufbau, 1993.
- Margaret Bearden papers: Folder listing.
- Brody, Leslie. Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford. Counterpoint. p. 220. ISBN 9781582434537. "Eventually, she found a writer's agent willing to represent the book. Barthold Fles had a small agency with distinguished clients, many of them European leftists, including Heinrich Mann, Ignazio Silone, and Cedric Belfrage. (He also represented Anaïs Nin.)"
- Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2001. "Agent: Barthold Fles, 507 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017."
- Branscum R: Cheater and Flitter Dick. Viking Press, 1983.
- de Mesquita, J.B. (December 3, 1993). "'Overschat u de Amerikanen niet?' vroeg Fles aan Mann" ['Don't you overestimate the Americans?' Fless asked Mann]. Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad (in Dutch) 129 (13) (Amsterdam). "Hij vestigt zich in New Vork en zal tot 1945 meer dan dertig Duitstalige schrijvers vertegenwoordigen onder wie Irmgard Keun, Leo Perutz, Joseph Roth, Jakob Wassermann, Heinrich, Klaus, Thomas en Erika Mann, Bertold Brecht en Lion Feuchtwanger. In het jaar dat Fles trouwt, 1936, haalt hij ook de schrijver Hans Natonek als cliënt binnen. Zonder de minste inspanning. Want door dat huwelijk was Natonek [...] nu zijn stiefvader geworden. [...] In Nederland hielp hij onder anderen Dola de Jong en Maurits Dekker aan een uitgever."
- Fred CJ: Maverick: Fifty Years of Investigative Reporting, page 183.
- The Book of the Sea, page vi.
- Butcher, Fanny (1957-05-19). PART 4. "The Literary Spotlight". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. G9. "I hear that there is a new Finney fantasy in the hands of the author's agent, Barthold Fles. It is science fiction with religious overtones."
- Henry B. Maloney (1973): Goal making for English teaching, p. 14.
- Stewart, John. Ernst Krenek: the man and his music. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 219. "Nevertheless, Simon and Schuster turned it down, whereupon Fles took over as Krenek's literary agent and soon succeeded in placing the book with W. W."
- Full text of "KPFK program folio"
- "Margaret Larkin, Writer, 67, Dead; Poet and Ex-Union Activist Aided Lewis on 'La Vida'." New York Times May 11, 1967, page 47.
- Raymond Loewy Archives: "Accession 2251", Hagley Museum and Library.
- Miller H and Laughlin J: Selected Letters, page 2. W. W. Norton & Company, 1995.
- Ullmann L and Rose PI: The Dispossessed: An Anatomy Of Exile, page 321. University of Massachusetts Press, 2004.
- Mitford, Jessica (1978). A fine old conflict. "Drawing on the trade press for inspiration, I wrote the piece, entitled "St. Peter Don't You Call Me," and sent it off to Bart Fles. Faithful Bart circulated it to numerous magazines and forwarded the rejections that poured in from Coronet, the Nation, the Reporter, the Atlantic Monthly, and others. "Eet ees too deestasteful a subject," he told me. But eventually it did find a home, for a fee of forty dollars in Frontier, an obscure liberal Democratic magazine in Los Angeles with a circulation of two thousand."
- Sights and Sounds. p. 575. "Adaptation of "Salmon River Polly" from Westering Women by Helen Markley Miller. Copyright © 1961 by Helen Markley Miller. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc. and the Barthold Fles Literary Agency."
- Munson G: The Writer's Workshop Companion, page v. Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951.
- Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2002. "Agent: Barthold Fles, 507 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017."
- "Greenbie v. Noble (Levet J.)." United States Patents Quarterly 1957: 115-124?.
- Klein, Alexander, ed. (1958). The double dealers: adventures in grand deception. J. B. Lippincott & Co. "THE ROCKET SMASHERS by Richard Sharpe. Copyright 1956 by Fawcett Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Barthold Fles, New York City."
- Rockwell, Molly (1993). "Acknowledgements". Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-8121-8. "Fifteen songs and carols from A Treasury of Christmas Songs and Carols edited and annotated by Henry W. Simon. By permission of Barthold Fles, Literary Agent, New York."
- Stephen J. Herzog: Minority group politics, p. 281 and p. 322.
- Grant, Louis (1972). Communitas: of college and community. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-442-22793-7. "JANET STEVENSON, 'Ignorant Armies,' Atlantic Monthly (October, 1969). Copyright (c) 1969 by Janet Stevenson. Reprinted by permission of Barthold Fles, literary agent."
- Waters F: Of Time and Change: A Memoir, page 216
- Serke J: Böhmische Dörfer: Wanderungen durch eine verlassene literarische Landschaft, page 92. Zsolnay, 1987.
- Typton G: "Review: Two Biographies." Music Educators Journal 35 (6) (May-Jun, 1949): 46-47.
- Jackson MM: "East Germany (Book Review)." School Library Journal 21(1): 103, 9/1974
- Birge EB: "Music here and now (bookreview)." Music Educators Journal 26 (4): 48, Feb 1940.
- Gould J: America Through a Refugee's Eyes. New York Times Nov 7, 1943: BR5.
- Oja CJ: Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, page 445. ISBN 0-19-516257-9.
- Stevenson R: "Carlos Chávez’s United States Press Coverage". Aztlán 14 (1) (Spring 1983): 21-33.
- Gibson, Christin (2008). The music of Manuel M. Ponce, Julian Carrillo, and Carlos Chavez in New York, 1925--1932 (PhD dissertation). University of Maryland, College Park. ISBN 978-0-549-78766-2. "During his 1928 interview with Barthold Fles for the Musical America cover story, Chávez expressed the hope that the League might produce his ballet, Los Cuatro Soles."