Bodenheim, Maxwell

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BODENHEIM, MAXWELL (1893–1954), U.S. poet and novelist. Born in Mississippi, Bodenheim was raised in poverty. He moved to New York, where he first attracted attention with his book of verses Minna and Myself (1918). He continued his experiments in free verse with five other volumes. The suppression of his first novel, Replenishing Jessica (1925), on the grounds that it was immoral brought him temporary notoriety. His novels of New York's seamy side, such as Naked on Roller Skates (1931) and New York Madness (1933), endeared him to radical circles. Bodenheim never shunned unpopular causes and continued to pioneer the treatment of unconventional themes. His anguished "Poem to the Gentiles" (1944) cast doubt on the sincerity of many non-Jewish protests against Nazi barbarism. Bodenheim's last days were again spent in poverty. He was murdered by a psychopathic ex-convict.


J. Mersand, Traditions in American Literature (1939), 133–6; S. Liptzin, Jew in American Literature (1966), 140–1.

[Sol Liptzin]