Entry updated 22 June 2020. Tagged: Author.
First the pseudonym, then the legal name of US playwright and author born Elmer Leopold Reizenstein (1892-1967), active from around 1914. Of his plays, The Adding Machine: A Play in Seven Scenes (performed 1923; 1923) follows its protagonist, Mr Zero, from suicide into heaven – which he despises because it is full of indecent creatures like Rabelais and Jonathan Swift – and back to Earth, where he is transformed into the work-slave designated by the title. A Voyage to Purilia (12 October-21 December 1929 The New Yorker; 1930), a novel, combines a deft use of sf instruments – the protagonists travel to the planet Purilia in a ship propelled by Antigravity – with a very extensive guying of Utopian assumptions. On Purilia, life mirrors the gestural and narrative Clichés of the last days of the silent film (see Cinema) – the implication being that utopian worlds are as fatuously bound by rigmarole and fetish as the "normal" lives depicted in the classic Hollywood films (see California) – and the protagonist escapes marriage, which is identical to a Hollywood fade-out, by the skin of his teeth. [JC]
born New York: 28 September 1892
died Southampton, Hampshire: 8 May 1967
- The Adding Machine: A Play in Seven Scenes (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1923) [play: first performed 19 March 1923 Garrick Theatre, New York: hb/]
- A Voyage to Purilia (New York: Cosmopolitan Book Company, 1930) [first appeared 12 October-21 December 1929 The New Yorker: hb/Peter Arno]
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