Entry updated 12 September 2022. 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]
born New York: 28 February 1894
died New York: 18 April 1964
- Fantazius Mallare: A Mysterious Oath (New York: Pascal Covici Publisher, 1922) [Fantazius Mallare: illus/hb/Wallace Smith]
- The Kingdom of Evil: A Continuation of the Journal of Fantazius Mallare (New York: Pascal Covici Publisher, 1924) [Fantazius Mallare: illus/hb/Anthony Angarola]
- Miracle in the Rain (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1943) [chap: first appeared 3 April 1943 Saturday Evening Post: hb/George Salter]
- The Champion from Far Away (New York: Covici-Friede, 1931) [coll: hb/nonpictorial]
- A Book of Miracles (New York: The Viking Press, 1939) [coll: hb/George Salter]
- Eleven Selected Great Stories (New York: Avon Book Co, 1943) [coll: pb/]
- The Collected Stories of Ben Hecht (New York: Crown Publishers, 1945) [coll: hb/]
- Treasury of Ben Hecht: Collected Stories and Other Writings (New York: Crown Publishers, 1959) [coll: hb/]
about the author
- Adina Hoffman. Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2019) [nonfiction: hb/]
previous versions of this entry