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Herbert Gold Biography

(1924– ), Birth of a Hero, The Prospect before Us, The Optimist, Salt

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellen Gilchrist Biography to Grain

American novelist, born in Cleveland, Ohio, educated at Columbia University and the Sorbonne. Gold's early novels, for example Birth of a Hero (1951) and The Prospect before Us (1954), are characteristic of much of the American realist writing of the 1950s, emphasizing the plight of the individual in a conformist society. His later novels, such as The Optimist (1959), are markedly less realist in their techniques and show a burgeoning preoccupation with parable and fable. Salt (1963) is a feverish portrait of the anonymity of New York City life executed through the points of view of the participants in a romantic triangle. Fathers: A Novel in the Form of a Memoir (1967) recounts Gold's family history over several generations and the process of ‘Americanization’ that the family underwent; Family: A Novel in the Form of a Memoir (1981) is a later reworking of the same technique, here again concerned with the history of a Jewish immigrant family. Other novels include He/She (1980), True Love (1982), and Mister White Eyes (1984). Gold is also an accomplished short-story writer and a witty, trenchant essayist; the early stories are collected in Fifteen by Three (1957) and Love and Like (1960), his essays in The Age of Happy Problems (1962) and First Person Singular: Essays for the Sixties (1963). His other works include Fiction of the Fifties: A Decade of American Writing (1959), Stories of Modern America (1961), The Magic Will: Stories and Essays of a Decade (1971), and an autobiography, My Last Two Thousand Years (1972).

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