Shaw, Irwin

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SHAW, IRWIN (1913–1984), U.S. novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter. Born in Brooklyn, Shaw gained overnight fame with his one-act antiwar drama Bury the Dead (1936), dealing with a group of dead soldiers who refuse to be buried. The Gentle People (1939), about a group of Brooklyn folk who turn upon a gangster, demonstrated Shaw's gift for seeing a fable in everyday life and was regarded as an anti-Fascist parable. His World War ii experiences in the U.S. army inspired a book of short stories, Act of Faith (1946), and his first novel, The Young Lions (1948). One of the outstanding novels of the war, The Young Lions dealt with the problem of antisemitism in the army and dramatically portrayed the careers of one German and two American soldiers and their fateful encounter toward the end of World War ii. Shaw's other novels include The Troubled Air (1951), about the treatment of actors suspected of being Communists; Lucy Crown (1956); In the Company of Dolphins (1964); and Voices of a Summer Day (1965). As a writer, Shaw was noted for his liberal outlook and masterly technique, evident in short-story collections such as Sailor off the Bremen (1939), Welcome to the City (1942), Mixed Company (1950), and Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957, 19592). His plays include Sons and Soldiers (1944), Assassin (1946), and the comedy Children from Their Games (a play in two acts, 1963), but in this genre Shaw was generally less successful, although he was prominent as a writer of screen and radio plays. Shaw wrote the text for Report on Israel (1950), an album of photographs by Robert *Capa. He also provided the text for Paris/Magnum Photographs, 1935–1981 (1981). Among his later works are Rich Man, Poor Man (1970); Evening in Byzantium (1973), and Paris! Paris! (illustrated by Ronald Searle, 1977). His Short Stories, Five Decades appeared in 1978.


J.R. Giles, Irwin Shaw: A Study of the Short Fiction (1983); M. Shaynerson, Irwin Shaw: A Biography (1989).

[Joseph Mersand]