Hecht, Ben

Tagged: Author

(1894-1964) US journalist, playwright, screenwriter, publisher and author, active from 1910 in Chicago with Bohemian literary circles as a journalist before becoming exceedingly successful in Hollywood as a screenwriter, the first of his seventy or more scripts dating from the late 1920s, all nonfantastic, many for films that have become famous. His writings are particularly notable for their cynicism, Iconoclasm and irony. Many of his short stories border on Science Fantasy, most vividly "The Adventures of Professor Emmett" (in A Book of Miracles, coll 1939) (see Hive Minds); some were influenced by the works of Charles Fort. A Book of Miracles also contains "The Little Candle", a Near Future tale which may be the first (and perhaps the only significant) example of Holocaust Fiction in the form of Prediction, through its description of a carefully executed "great International Pogrom" ("The extirpating of Jews had been carefully planned"), during which Nazi Germany exterminates 500,000 Jews, with millions more deported and facing death.

Hecht, however, is best known as an author of Fantastika for the Fantazius Mallare sequence comprising Fantazius Mallare (1922) and The Kingdom of Evil (1924), an erotic and self-consciously Decadent account of a descent into madness; the first volume was successfully prosecuted for obscenity on the grounds of its illustrations by Wallace Smith, who was jailed. Miracle in the Rain (3 April 1943 Saturday Evening Post; 1943 chap), truncations televised several times (1947-1953), filmed as Miracle in the Rain (1956) directed by Rudolph Maté, is a sentimental World War Two fantasy set in New York. [JE/JC]

Ben Hecht

born New York: 28 February 1894

died New York: 18 April 1964

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