Meyer Levin

Meyer Levin (October 7, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois – July 9, 1981 in Israel) was a Jewish-American novelist, known for works on the Leopold and Loeb case and the Anne Frank case.

Contents

Leopold and Loeb case

Meyer wrote the 1956 novel Compulsion inspired by the Leopold and Loeb case. Levin had attended the University of Chicago at the same time as Leopold and Loeb, before the murder of Bobby Franks.

The novel, for which Levin was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America in 1957, was the basis for Levin's own 1957 play adaptation and the 1959 film based on it. Compulsion was "the first 'documentary' or 'non-fiction novel' ("a style later used in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song").[citation needed] Levin follows the known facts of the case closely, while changing names and using a fictional reporter as a narrator.

Anne Frank case

Levin was one of the first American journalists to become aware of the existence of Anne Frank's diary, and he was also one of the first people to recognize the literary and dramatic potential of this document; he wrote the book review, which appeared on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Book Review. He corresponded with and met Anne's father Otto Frank, who authorized Levin by mail to adapt the Diary for the stage. Levin later became obsessed when Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were later substituted for him, successfully adapting the diary into a hit play, while the play he wrote was rejected. He brought suit against the producers and writers of the Broadway play, alleging that they had appropriated a number of Levin's original scenes from his adaptation. Levin prevailed in his lawsuit, but settled for a lesser amount of damages, rather than continue with expensive litigation, since the Hacketts decided to appeal the verdict, but Levin still obtained no right to have his version of the play performed, as he had signed that away, under pressure by Myer Mermin, an attorney for Otto Frank, of the law firm Paul, Weiss.

Levin wrote a novel, The Fanatic, based on his experiences, but that was not sufficient to exorcise his inner demons. Some years later, he wrote one of his best-received books, The Obsession, containing his straightforward version of all the facts.

His 30-year battle to have his play performed and the legal battles were also covered in An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary by Lawrence Graver, The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Meyer Levin, Lillian Hellman and the Staging of the Diary by Ralph Melnick, as well as in the French-language book by Levin's wife, Tereska Torres, Les maisons hantees de Meyer Levin, published by Editions Phebus (Paris). Also look for the 2010 play by Rinne Groff Compulsion, inspired by the life of Meyer Levin, starring Mandy Patinkin and directed by Oskar Eustis.

Bibliography

Novels

  • The Reporter (1929)
  • Frankie and Johnny (1930)
  • Yehuda (1931)
  • The New Bridge (1933)
  • The Old Bunch (1937)
  • Citizens (1940)
  • My Father's House (1947)
  • Compulsion (1956)
  • Eva (1959)
  • The Fanatic (1964)
  • The Stronghold (1965)
  • Gore and Igor (1968)
  • The Settlers (1972)
  • The Spell of Time (1974)
  • The Harvest (1978)
  • The Architect (1981), (fictionalized life of Frank Lloyd Wright)

Autobiographical works

  • In Search (1949)
  • The Obsession (1974).

Judaica

  • Beginnings in Jewish Philosophy
  • The Story of Israel
  • An Israel Haggadah for Passover
  • The Story of the Synagogue
  • The Story of the Jewish Way of Life

See also

External links


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