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Irwin Shaw Biography

(1914– ), The Young Lions, Bury the Dead, The Gentle People: A Brooklyn Fable

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

American novelist, playwright, and short-story writer, born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at Brooklyn College. Shaw enjoyed his greatest commercial success with The Young Lions (1948), a long and ambitious novel (subsequently filmed) about the Second World War which seeks to dramatize the military and moral experience of both American and German combatants. From the mid-1930s Shaw began to establish himself as a screenwriter in Hollywood. His early plays, notably Bury the Dead (1936) and The Gentle People: A Brooklyn Fable (1939), are characteristic of much of the left-wing writing of the period in their emphases on the dangers of fascism and their appeal for pacifism. His early volumes of short stories reveal a talent for social realism. His second novel, The Troubled Air (1951), explores the dilemma of the liberal mind in its treatment of a radio show producer who is asked to fire several members of his cast in view of their alleged communist sympathies. Significant later novels include Lucy Crown (1956), Two Weeks in Another Town (1960), Voices of a Summer Day (1965), and Acceptable Losses (1982). His short stories are collected in Stories of Five Decades (1982).

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