Gollob, Herman 1930-
GOLLOB, Herman 1930-
PERSONAL: Born July 7, 1930, in Waco, TX; son of Abe (a lawyer) and Ruybe (Cohen) Gollob; married Barbara Kowal, April 9, 1961; children: Emily, Jared. Education: Texas A & M University, B.A. (English) 1951.
ADDRESSES: Home—40 Frederick St., Montclair, NJ 07042-4106. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Doubleday, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036-4039.
CAREER: Editor and writer. MCA, Beverly Hills, CA, theatrical agent, 1956-58; William Morris Agency, New York, NY, literary agent, 1958-59; Little, Brown, Boston, MA, editor, 1959-64; Athenum Publications, New York, NY, editor, 1964-68, editor-in-chief, 1971—; Harper's Magazine Press, New York, NY, editor-in-chief, 1968-71; Literary Guild, New York, NY, editorial director, 1979-81; Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, vice president and senior editor, 1981-86; Doubleday Publishing Company, New York, NY, editor-in-chief, 1986-90, editor-at-large, 1990-95. Volunteer teacher, Lifelong Learning Institute of Caldwell College. Military service: U.S. Air Force, 1951-53; Korean War veteran.
Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Herman Gollob spent more than three decades building a brilliant career as a book editor for several major publishing houses in New York City. Along the way, he helped many noted authors refine their work, including Donald Barthelme, James Clavell, Bill Moyers, Dan Jenkins, John Jakes, Bob Greene, Judith Viorst, and Leon Uris. But as he neared retirement in 1995, Gollob went to see a production of Hamlet, starring Ralph Fiennes. Gollob had not seen a performance of the most heralded play in the English language since his college days. "Seeing that performance left an impression—it was an epiphany, really," Gollob told Edward Nawotka in an interview for Publishers Weekly. "That ultimately set me off on an obsessive course of self-education and immersion in all things Shakespearean."
This immersion led Gollob to volunteer as an instructor at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Caldwell College in New Jersey, teaching adults—mostly housewives and retired professionals—about Shakespeare. It also led him to write Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard. In the book, Gollob states, "I realized that I, a twentieth-century Texas Jew long transplanted to New Jersey/New York, was developing a kinship with a sixteenth-century Stratfordian Protestant transplanted to London."
Gollob's book is part memoir, part textbook, in that it aims to help readers better understand Shakespeare's work in addition to providing a history of Gollob's youth and career. As Gollob recounts the pursuit of his post-retirement passion, the reader journeys along with him; Gollob tells of his visits the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington, D.C., and seeks out renowned actors and directors who have played roles in, or directed, Shakespeare's plays. His dedication soon leads him to London, where he goes to the Globe Theatre, modeled after the original structure, and views another production of Hamlet. He also takes a three-week course in Shakespeare at Oxford University in England.
Although not academically trained as an expert in Shakespeare, Gollob provides personal insights and commentary about Shakespeare's work. In the Houston Chronicle, Earl L. Dachslager wrote that he found some of Gollob's analyses "puzzling" but noted that Gollob's "comments on some of Shakespeare's less familiar works, for example Troilus and Cressida and King John, are sharp and considerate." Dachslager also said that Gollob's thoughts on King Lear were his "most distinctive" as Gollob approaches the play "through the lens of his religion, Judaism." The character of Lear is similar to a Hebrew prophet, Gollob argues, and in his book, he writes that the play is "an allegory of mankind's evolution from paganism to ethical monotheism."
Some reviewers found Gollob's account to be too detailed regarding his intellectual journey. Bernadette Murphy of the Los Angeles Times, for example, commented that although Gollob is clearly passionate about his subject, his book "is not particularly adept at inspiring the same enthusiasm in readers." Other critics, however, praised Gollob's book. A Publishers Weekly contributor, for instance, called the book "a thoroughly engaging account" and noted that Gollob's "boyish zeal comes across as a call to arms to all readers who've ever contemplated changing their lives." Writing in Time, Andrea Sachs found the book too academic at times, but overall, she found the book "valuable for its passionate view of Shakespeare and its account of Gollob's intriguing life." And Dachslager noted the book's "readable, often witty, style; its vivid portraits of the author's family, friends, co-workers, students and notable personages … and, most of all, its portrait of the author as a thoughtful, literate and just man—one who could easily have cast the world aside but instead chose to remain fully engaged in the ongoing challenge of learning and of teaching."
Regarding the writing process, the former book editor confessed to Nawotka that the first draft of the book was more than 900 pages: "I began to have second thoughts about the quality of what I'd done. I thought to myself, 'I never expected that just a few years after retiring, I'd find myself editing another crappy manuscript, and that it would be mine.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gollob, Herman, Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Esquire, July, 1989, Bob Greene, "Herman Gollob's Bar Mitzvah," pp. 33-34.
Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2002, Bernadette Murphy, "Much Ado about Shakespeare in Editor's Rambling Tale," p. E3.
Publishers Weekly, April 1, 2002, review of Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard, p. 67; April 1, 2002, Edward Nawotka, "PW Talks with Herman Gollob," p. 67.
Houston Chronicle Web site,http://www.chron.com/ (May 31, 2002), Earl L. Dachslager, "A Late Convert to the Bard, Publishing Figure Gollob Finds Himself and Shakespeare."
Mercury News Web site,http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/ (May 2, 2002), Charles Matthews, "Mystery of the Bard Won't Die," includes a discussion of Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard.
Time Online,http://www.time.com/ (June 3, 2002), Andrea Sachs, "Avon Calling: Just as He Was about to Retire from Editing, Herman Gollob Fell in Love—with Shakespeare."