Greenfeld, Howard (Scheinman) 1928-
GREENFELD, Howard (Scheinman) 1928-
PERSONAL: Born August 1, 1928, in New York, NY; son of Isidore S. and Evelyn (Scheinman) Greenfeld; married Paola Clara Angelucci, April 1, 1977; children: Daniel. Education: Attended University of Chicago, and New York University; Columbia University, B.A., 1951, M.A., 1952.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—61 West 62nd St., Apt. 11G, New York, NY 10023.
CAREER: Writer and editor. Taught English in Rome, Italy; Random House, New York, NY, assistant editor working under Bennett Cerf, 1952-56; Orion Press (publishing company; now part of Viking Press), founder and editor, 1956-71; J. Philip O'Hara (publishing company), Chicago, IL, editor-in-chief, 1971-76.
MEMBER: Authors Guild.
Marc Chagall, illustrated with reproductions of the artist's work, Follett (New York, NY), 1967, revised edition, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 1981, revised edition, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1989, published as The Essential Marc Chagall, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2000.
The Waters of November, Follett (New York, NY), 1969.
Pablo Picasso: An Introduction, Follett (New York, NY), 1971.
The Impressionist Revolution, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1972.
Gertrude Stein: A Biography, Crown (New York, NY), 1973.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Crown (New York, NY), 1974.
They Came to Paris, Crown (New York, NY), 1975.
Books: From Writer to Reader, Crown (New York, NY), 1976, revised edition, 1989.
Chanukah, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1976.
Gypsies, Crown (New York, NY), 1977.
Sumer Is Icumen In: Our Ever-Changing Language, Crown (New York, NY), 1978.
Passover, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1978.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1979.
Puccini: A Biography, Putnam (New York, NY), 1980.
Bar Mitzvah, illustrated by Elaine Grove, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1981.
Caruso: An Illustrated Life, Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.
Purim, illustrated by Elaine Grove, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1983.
The Devil and Dr. Barnes: Portrait of an American Art Collector, Penguin (New York, NY), 1987.
The Hidden Children, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1993.
Paul Gauguin, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1993.
Ben Shahn: An Artist's Life, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.
After the Holocaust, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2001.
The Essential Alexander Calder, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Howard Greenfeld is the author of a number of biographies designed to make the lives of artists, musicians, and writers interesting and inspiring to readers both young and old. A dedicated researcher, Greenfeld explained to Jean F. Mercier of Publishers Weekly that "I read everything I can get hold of on all my subjects and talk to everyone who knew them, literally saturate myself in their lives and times, even though I use only a fraction of what I read. I have to know the people I'm writing about and to care about them. I couldn't do it any other way." Among the author's many books are biographies of literary figures F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, opera great Enrico Caruso, and artists Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and Marc Chagall. While some are designed for school-aged readers, others of Greenfeld's biographies are more appropriate for an adult reader due to their lengthy, more sophisticated treatment of their subject.
Greenfeld drew on personal experience in his highly praised 1967 biography of Chagall as he personally knew the artist. In Marc Chagall, he presents a detailed account of the artist's life, from his birth in Russia to his time spent in Paris during the 1920s to his later travels in Germany, Jerusalem, and the United States. Reviewing Greenfeld's Marc Chagall, a critic for Young Readers' Review noted: "Greenfeld loves his subject; that is evident on every page. He wants his readers to appreciate the genius of Chagall and this book will certainly set them on the right road." In an appraisal of the 1989 edition of Marc Chagall, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the "dreamlike images" of the artist "are gracefully complemented by Greenfeld's down-to-earth, sympathetic prose," while Daniel M. Stern noted in a review of the same edition for the Los Angeles Times Book Review that "Greenfeld captures the sense of excitement and desperation felt by a young artist in [Paris during the 1920s] . . ., as well as the warmth of Chagall's character and family life."
Other biographies of noted twentieth-century artists written for younger readers include Pablo Picasso: An Introduction and Paul Gauguin. Reviewing the first work for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, a reviewer praised Greenfeld for presenting "a good balance" between the "man and his work," while Horn Book reviewer Mary M. Burns cited Paul Gauguin as "rich in detail." In telling the story of Gauguin, a man so obsessed with painting that he abandoned a career as a stockbroker and retired to the South Pacific, Greenfeld "places great emphasis on the artist's search for inspiration and struggle for recognition," Burns added. Greenfeld's Ben Shahn: An Artist's Life presents a mature discussion of a man who weathered the "Red Scare" of the early and mid-twentieth century yet produced art that challenged racism, anti-Semitism, and other social injustices. Reviewing the book in the New York Times Book Review, Daniel Cohen noted that Greenfeld "scrupulously balances the personal and the political," creating a book that "gives a convincing sense of a determined individual making his mark as an immigrant in the turbulent America of depression and war, social upheaval and reaction."
Written for an adult readership, Puccini recounts the life of the late nineteenth-century opera composer who, in the words of Washington Post contributor Joseph McLellan, "achieved a level of celebrity that is reserved nowadays for rock stars and Johnny Carson." Born in Italy in 1858, Giacomo Puccini led a somewhat scandalous private life yet created such popular works as La Bohème, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly, for which he earned enduring fame among opera aficionados. Relying heavily on the late composer's letters, Greenfeld pens a biography that a Publishers Weekly contributor hailed as a "complete and up-to-date portrait" of the man as well as a "lively view of Puccini's world," all presented in an "admirably detailed" fashion. "Greenfeld is sensible and lucid as he shows how the composer's flair for melodrama and tragedy were not happenstance but the essence of his personality," added a New Yorker reviewer.
Greenfeld's biography of Puccini was followed by one detailing the life of another opera great of that same era, operatic tenor Enrico Caruso. Although both Puccini and Caruso: An Illustrated Life were criticized as lacking documentation and presenting a superficial treatment of the music of these artists, they also received praise from several reviewers as appropriate for general readers. Basing his account of the singer's dramatic life and tragic death on archived material and interviews, Greenfeld presents "an intelligent mixture of private and public detail," according to Library Journal reviewer Randy L. Neighbarger. While characterizing Greenfeld's approach to his subject as "nearly worshipful," Choice contributor K. Pendle praised the text as "fluent, concise, and easily readable without being condescending." In Booklist, Caruso was described by Stuart Whitwell as "not a serious effort at definitive biography, but an accessible, quickpaced overview of the great singer's life."
In addition to biographies, Greenfeld has authored books focusing on other personal interests, among them the art of writing and book publishing, and the history and traditions of the Jewish faith. First published in 1977, his highly praised Books: From Writer to Reader follows the process of book creation from inspiration to the bound volume placed in a reader's hands. From manuscript submission and editorial revisions to printing and marketing, the volume also explores printing techniques such as color separation, marketing and promotion strategies, and the bookselling industry. Noting that Greenfeld "competently provides first-hand information" on his subject, a Booklist reviewer maintained that "would-be writers will gain insights into book making" with the aid of Book. A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books contributor was equally enthusiastic, citing Book as "one of the most comprehensive and lucid texts on the subject." A revised and newly illustrated edition of Books that encompasses desktop publishing and other technological advancements in printing processes was produced in 1989; in School Library Journal David Gale commended Greenfeld's revision as "clear, complete, and authoritative; it remains the best source on a changing industry for young adults."
Jewish history and traditions are the focus of a series of books Greenfeld authored during the 1980s. In Purim, Bar Mitzvah, Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and Passover, he provides young readers with the dramatic history behind each of the five major Jewish holidays. Reviewing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for Booklist, a reviewer noted that Greenfeld "captures the intense spiritual significance of the two holiest days in the Jewish religion," while a Publishers Weekly contributor dubbed the writing "incisive" and "inspiring." In his coverage of more recent history, The Hidden Children and After the Holocaust each introduce readers to the men and women who survived the attempted extermination of people of Jewish descent by the Nazis during World War II. The Hidden Children contains the stories of fifteen children forced into hiding for the duration of the war, their stories gleaned through Greenfeld's interviews with them and presented against the backdrop of the war itself. After the Holocaust continues the travails of the Jewish people as they suffered continued oppression in makeshift camps for displaced persons as well as the loss of jobs, homes, and worldly goods following World War II. As in the previous volume, Greenfeld structures his book around the stories of eight men and women, and illustrates that the end of war "didn't mean the end of anti-Semitism" or "that shattered lives could simply be put back together," according to Horn Book reviewer Christine M. Heppermann.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 1973, review of The Impressionist Revolution, p. 524; December 15, 1974, review of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p. 419; November 15, 1975, review of They Came to Paris, p. 444; January 1, 1977, review of Books: From Writer to Reader, p. 666; November 1, 1978, review of Sumer Is Icumen In: Our Ever-Changing Language, p. 478; December 1, 1979, review of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, p. 557; March 1, 1981, review of Puccini: A Biography, p. 910; November 1, 1981, Ilene Cooper, review of Bar Mitzvah, p. 388; October 1, 1988, Barbara Elleman, review of Passover, p. 332; November 15, 1991, Stuart Whitwell, review of Caruso: An Illustrated Life, p. 592.
Book World, June 2, 1968.
British Medical Journal, May 4, 1996, Peter Dormer, review of The Devil and Dr. Barnes, p. 1169.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1970, review of The Waters of November, p. 98; March, 1972, review of Pablo Picasso: An Introduction, p. 107; January, 1973, review of The Impressionist Revolution, p. 76; November, 1973, review of Gertrude Stein: A Biography, p. 43; March, 1975, review of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p. 113; April, 1977, review of Books, p. 124; January, 1994, Betsey Hearne, review of The Hidden Children, p. 154; April, 1994, Deborah Stevenson, review of Paul Gauguin, p. 252.
Choice, June, 1971, review of Pablo Picasso, p. 540; January, 1992, K. Pendle, review of Caruso, p. 756.
Commonweal, November 21, 1969; February 29, 1980, review of Passover, p. 115.
Encounter, November, 1982, Peter Porter, review of Puccini, pp. 46-52.
Horn Book, October, 1972, review of The Impressionist Revolution, p. 479; June, 1978, review of Gypsies, p. 295; March, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of Paul Gauguin, p. 214; November, 2001, Christine M. Heppermann, review of After the Holocaust, p. 771.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 1973, review of Gertrude Stein, p. 1358; October 15, 1974, review of F. Scott Fitzgerald, pp. 1113-1114; November 1, 1976, review of Books, p. 1178; November 15, 1977, review of Gypsies, p. 1208; May 1, 1978, review of Passover, p. 499; January 1, 1982, review of Bar Mitzvah, p. 8; February 1, 1983, review of Purim, p. 122; September 15, 1987, review of The Devil and Dr. Barnes: Portrait of an American Collector, pp. 1367-1368; October 15, 2001, review of After the Holocaust, p. 1484.
Library Journal, February 15, 1970, Daisy Kouzel, review of The Waters of November, p. 787; February 15, 1972, Marsha J. Shapiro, review of Pablo Picasso, p. 784; February 15, 1983, Randy L. Neighbarger, review of Caruso, p. 399; October 15, 1987, Stephen Allan Patrick, review of The Devil and Dr. Barnes, p. 77; October 15, 1991, Eugene Gaub, review of Caruso, p. 82.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 28, 1991, Daniel M. Stern, review of Marc Chagall, p. 9.
Musical America, January-February, 1992, F. Paul Driscoll, review of Caruso, p. 60.
New Yorker, March 2, 1981, review of Puccini, pp. 126-127.
New York Times, June 17, 1983.
New York Times Book Review, January 18, 1981; January 17, 1999, David Cohen, review of Ben Shahn: An Artist's Life, p. 18.
People, April 8, 1991, Susan Toepfer, review of Marc Chagall, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, August 25, 1969, review of The Waters of November, p. 284; September 3, 1973, Howard Greenfeld, interview with Jean F. Mercier; November 21, 1977, review of Gypsies, p. 64; March 13, 1978, review of Passover, p. 110; August 28, 1978, review of Sumer Is Icumen In, p. 394; September 17, 1979, review of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, p. 146; November 28, 1980, review of Puccini, p. 41; March 6, 1981, review of Marc Chagall, p. 95; September 11, 1981, review of Bar Mitzvah, p. 72; December 17, 1982, review of Caruso, p. 69; November 16, 1990, review of Marc Chagall, p. 58; December 3, 2001, review of After the Holocaust, p. 62.
Saturday Review, November 8, 1969.
School Library Journal, November, 1978, Daisy Kouzel, review of Sumer Is Icumen In, pp. 73-74; February, 1980, Jan Farrow, review of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, pp. 55-56; August, 1981, Lara L. Seltzer, review of Marc Chagall, p. 66; May, 1983, Isabel Soffer, review of Purim, p. 71; March, 1989, David Gale, review of Books, pp. 206, 208; January, 1994, Alexandra Marris, review of Paul Gauguin, p. 135; May, 1994, Susan Kaminow, review of The Hidden Children, pp. 122-123; November, 2001, Andrew Medlar, review of After the Holocaust, p. 176.
Smithsonian, May, 1988, Frank Getlein, review of The Devil and Dr. Barnes, p. 182.
Spectator, February 25, 1989, Richard Dorment, review of The Devil and Dr. Barnes, p. 30; February, 1991, Shirley Wilton, review of Marc Chagall, p. 94.
Times Literary Supplement, April 9, 1982.
Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1999, review of Ben Shahn, p. 57.
Washington Post, February 20, 1981, Joseph McLellan, review of Puccini; March 15, 1983.
Young Readers' Review, March, 1968.