Ben Hecht


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born in New York, reared in Wisconsin, was a bohemian member of the literary group that flourished in Chicago just after World War I. He was known as an ironical, cynical, ultra-romantic writer, who was variously dubbed an “intellectual mountebank” and “Pagliacci of the Fire Escape.” He drew attention to himself in various ways, such as having a well-publicized literary feud with his friend Maxwell Bodenheim, with whom he wrote The Master Poisoner (1918) and other plays; publishing the Chicago Literary Times (1923–24), a gaudy iconoclastic little magazine; and vociferously espousing the cause of art-for-art's-sake. His attitude of mind was revealed in his novels, including Erik Dorn (1921), and stories. With Charles MacArthur he wrote a popular play, The Front Page (1928), a lively, tough treatment of life on a metropolitan newspaper staff. A Child of the Century (1954) is his autobiography.

Subjects: Literature.

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