Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

A. Bryant Mangum, PhD

Second Advisor

Katherine Saunders Nash, PhD

Third Advisor

Thom Didato, MA


Scholars and literary enthusiasts have struggled for decades to account for editor Maxwell Perkins’s unparalleled success in facilitating the careers of many of the early twentieth century’s most enduring and profitable writers, among them F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. This study seeks to penetrate that mystery by dissecting Perkins’s editorial practice and examining how he navigated the competing tensions between commercial success and aesthetic integrity in various circumstances. At play in the construction of his literary legacy are prevailing perceptions of authorship, complex interpersonal relationships, and the inherent battle between art and commerce. Focusing on his day-to-day activities, it is apparent that Perkins was guided by a unique editorial double vision—the propensity to appreciate the aesthetic experience while retaining the critical detachment necessary to appraise a literary work from a commercial standpoint—when solving the paradoxical dilemmas inherent in modern publishing.


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Date of Submission