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Levin, Meyer


LEVIN, MEYER (1905–1981), U.S. novelist. Born and raised in the Chicago slums, Levin became a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and in 1925 was sent to cover the opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and returned to Palestine in 1928 to spend a year on a kibbutz. He had already written short stories of Jewish life, some of which appeared in the Menorah Journal, but his Yehuda (1931) was one of the first novels about kibbutz life. In The Golden Mountain (1932), reissued in 1966 as Classic Hassidic Tales, he retold stories of the Ḥasidim, and in The Old Bunch (1937) portrayed his own generation of Chicago Jews. Levin was a correspondent in Spain during the Civil War (1936–39) and later reported the Palestine disorders for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (1945–46). In 1946 he made the first feature film of the yishuv, My Father's House, and a documentary, The Illegals, in 1947. His autobiography, In Search, appeared in 1950.

Levin's writings covered a wide field – from Jewish mysticism to the modern American scene, which he depicted with realism and vitality. His novels include Reporter (1929), Frankie and Johnny (1930, reedited as The Young Lovers, 1952), The Fanatic (1964), and Stronghold (1965). Levin was the first writer to dramatize The Diary of Anne Frank (1952). Levin's own account of the turmoil he underwent to bring his version of the diary to the stage is found in his The Obsession (1973). His bestseller, Compulsion (1956), a study of the *Loeb-Leopold murder case of the 1920s, was dramatized by the author himself (1959) and filmed. Eva (1959) told the story of a Jewish girl's escape from Nazi-occupied Poland to Palestine. Levin also published a Passover Haggadah, various histories of Israel for juveniles, and books on the synagogue and the Jewish way of life. In 1958 he settled in Israel, which was the setting for his erotic extravaganza, Gore and Igor (1968). Israel is also the subject of his novels The Settlers (1972) and The Harvest (1978).

add. bibliography:

L. Graver, An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary (1995); R. Melnick, The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Meyer Levin, Lillian Hellman and the Staging of the Diary (1997); S. Rubin, Meyer Levin (1982).

[Sol Liptzin]

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