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Encyclopedia > S. J. Perelman

Sidney Joseph Perelman, almost always known as S. J. Perelman (February 1, 1904October 17, 1979), was an American humorist, author, and screenwriter. He is primarily known for his humorous short pieces written over many years for The New Yorker magazine. February 1 is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1904 (MCMIV) was a leap year starting on a Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... October 17 is the 290th day of the year (291st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... This page refers to the year 1979. ... A humorist is an author who specializes in short, humorous articles or essays. ... An author is the person who creates a written work, such as a book, story, article or the like. ... Screenwriters, scenarists or script writers, are authors who write the screenplays from which movies and television programs are made. ... The New Yorker is an American magazine that publishes reportage, criticism, essays, cartoons, poetry, and fiction. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...


In cinema, Perelman is noted for co-writing scripts for the Marx Brothers films Horse Feathers and Monkey Business and for the Academy Award-winning screenplay Around the World in Eighty Days. Groucho, Gummo, Minnie (mother), Zeppo, Frenchy (father), Chico and Harpo. ... Horse Feathers (1932) was the fourth Marx Brothers film. ... Monkey Business (1931) is the third of the Marx Brothers movies and the first not to be an adaptation of a Broadway show. ... The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. ... Around the World in Eighty Days is a 1956 movie based on the novel of the same name by Jules Verne. ...


With Ogden Nash he wrote the book for the musical One Touch of Venus (music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Nash), which opened on Broadway in 1943 and ran for more than 500 performances. His play The Beauty Part (1962), which starred Bert Lahr in multiple roles, fared less well, its short run attributed at least in part to an accompanying 11-week newspaper strike. Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet best known for writing pithy and funny light verse. ... One Touch of Venus was a Broadway musical written by Kurt Weill (music), Ogden Nash (lyrics), and S.J. Perelman and Nash (book); it was directed by Elia Kazan and featured choreography by Agnes De Mille. ... Kurt Julian Weill (March 2, 1900 – April 3, 1950), born in Dessau, Germany and died in New York City, was a German-born American composer active from the 1920s until his death. ... Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion. ...


Perelman's work is difficult to characterize. He wrote many brief, humorous descriptions of his travels for various magazines, and of his travails on his Pennsylvania farm, all of which were collected into books. (A few were illustrated by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who accompanied Perelman on the round-the-world trip recounted in Westward Ha!) He also wrote numerous brief sketches for The New Yorker in a style that was unique to him. They were infused with a sense of ridicule, irony, and wryness and frequently used his own misadventures as their theme. Perelman chose to describe these pieces as feuilletons — a French literary term meaning "little leaves" — and he defined himself as a feuilletoniste. Perelman's only attempt at a conventional novel (Dawn Ginsbergh's Revenge) was unsuccessful, and throughout his life he was resentful that authors who wrote in the full-length form of novels received more literary respect (and financial success) than short-form authors like himself, although he openly admired his British rival, P.G. Wodehouse. Travel is the transport of people on a trip or journey. ... Official language(s) None Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 160 miles (255 km)  - Length 280 miles (455 km)  - % water 2. ... Al Hirschfeld photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1955 Albert Hirschfeld (June 21, 1903 – January 20, 2003) was an American caricaturist, best known for his simple black and white satirical portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars. ... Called English literatures performing flea, P. G. Wodehouse, pictured in 1904, became famous for his complex plots, ingenious wordplay, and prolific output. ...


The tone of Perelman's feuilletons, however, was very different from those sketches of the inept "little man" struggling to cope with life that James Thurber and other New Yorker writers of the era frequently produced. Although frequently fictional, very few of Perelman's sketches were precisely short stories. James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894–November 2, 1961) was a U.S. humorist and cartoonist. ... The New Yorker is an American magazine that publishes reportage, criticism, essays, cartoons, poetry, and fiction. ...


Sometimes he would glean an apparently off-hand phrase from a newspaper article or magazine advertisement and then write a brief, satiric play or sketch inspired by that phrase. A typical example is his 1950s work, "No Starch in the Dhoti, S'il Vous Plait." Beginning with an off-hand phrase in a New York Times Magazine article ("...the late Pandit Motilal Nehru -- who sent his laundry to Paris -- the young Jawaharlal's British nurse etc. etc....), Perelman composes a series of imaginary letters that might have been exchanged in 1903 between an angry Pandit Nehru in India and a sly Parisian laundryman about the condition of his laundered underwear. 1903 (MCMIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Friday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ...


In other sketches, Perelman would satarize popular magazines or story genres of his day. In "Somewhere A Roscoe," he pokes fun at the "purple prose" writing style of 1930's pulp magazines such as Spicy Detective. In "Swing Out, Sweet Chariot," he examines the silliness of the "jive language" found in The Jitterbug, a teen magazine with stories inspired by the 1930's Swing dance craze. Perelman voraciously read magazines to find new material for his sketches. (He often referred to the magazines as "Sauce for the gander.")


Perelman also occasionally used a form of word play that was, apparently, unique to him. He would take a common word or phrase and change its meaning completely within the context of what he was writing, generally in the direction of the ridiculous. In Westward Ha!, for instance, he writes: "The homeward-bound Americans were as merry as grigs (the Southern Railway had considerately furnished a box of grigs for purposes of comparison) ... ". Another classic Perelman pun is "I've got Bright's Disease and he's got mine". Brights disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that would be described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis. ...


He also wrote a notable series of sketches called Cloudland Revisited in which he gives acid (and disillusioned) descriptions of recent viewings of movies (and recent re-readings of novels) which had enthralled him as a youth in 1919 Providence, Rhode Island. 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Nickname: Beehive of Industry, The Renaissance City Location in Rhode Island Coordinates: Country United States State Rhode Island County Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline (D) Area    - City 20. ... Official language(s) None Capital Providence Largest city Providence Area  Ranked 50th  - Total 1,214* sq mi (3,144* km²)  - Width 37 miles (60 km)  - Length 48 miles (77 km)  - % water 32. ...


A number of his works were set in Hollywood and in various places around the world. He stated that as a young man he was heavily influenced by James Joyce, particularly his wordplay, obscure words and references, metaphors, irony, parody, paradox, symbols, free associations, non-sequiturs, and sense of the ridiculous. All these elements infused Perelman's own writings but his own style was precise, clear, and the very opposite of Joycean stream of consciousness. Perelman drily admitted to having been such a Ring Lardner thief he should have been arrested. Woody Allen has in turn admitted to being influenced by Perelman and recently has written what can only be called tributes, in very much the same style. The two once happened to have dinner at the same restaurant, and when the elder humorist sent his compliments, the younger comedian mistook it for a joke. Authors that admired Perelman's ingenious style included T.S. Eliot and W. Somerset Maugham. ... James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (Irish Seamus Seoighe; 2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish writer and poet, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. ... In psychology and philosophy stream of consciousness, introduced by William James, is the set of constantly changing inner thoughts and sensations which an individual has while conscious, used as a synonym for stream of thought. ... Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935) is a three-time Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor, musician, and comedian. ... Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 - January 4, 1965), was a major Modernist Anglo-American poet, dramatist, and literary critic. ... W. Somerset Maugham as photographed in 1934 by Carl Van Vechten. ...


Perelman was indirectly responsible for the success of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22. When first published, this novel received lukewarm reviews and indifferent sales. A few months later, Perelman was interviewed for a national publication. The interviewer asked Perelman if he had read anything funny lately. Perelman — a man not noted for generosity with his praise — went to considerable lengths to commend Catch-22. After the interview was published, sales of Heller's novel skyrocketed. (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American satirist best remembered for writing the satiric World War II classic Catch-22. ... Catch 22 can refer to: A book by Joseph Heller, or the movie based on the book; see Catch-22. ...


Like most comic writers', Perelman's was not a happy life; his marriage to Laura West was strained from the start because of his interminable affairs (notably with Leila Hadley), and Perelman was not much of a father. He generally regarded children as a nuisance, and his son Adam ended up in a Reformatory for Wayward Boys. The two things that brought him happiness were his MG car and a tropical bird, which he pampered like babies. His Anglophilia turned rather sour when he actually had to socialise with the English themselves. Perhaps he never really recovered from the blow Fate dealt to his close friendship with Nathanael West, when the latter was killed in a car crash. Both men came from Jewish-Russian immigrant families, and their virtuoso writing style is all the more remarkable for the fact that their parents spoke Yiddish and German when they arrived in the USA. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Nathanael West (October 17, 1903 - December 22, 1940) was the pen name of Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein. ... Yiddish (ייִדיש, Jiddisch) is a Germanic language spoken by about four million Jews throughout the world. ...


Perelman picked up plenty of juicy expressions and liberally sprinkled his prose with these phrases, thus paving the way for the likes of Philip Roth. Both his surprisingly lacklustre biography by Herrmann and the Selected Letters ("Don't Tread On Me", edited by Prudence Crowther) suffer from the fact that "Lotharian Sid's" erotic escapades and fantasies have been censored beyond recognition to protect certain individuals. Philip Roth Philip Milton Roth (born March 19, 1933, Newark, New Jersey) is an American novelist. ...


A British expert on comic writing, Frank Muir, lauded Perelman as the best American comic author of all time in his Oxford Book of Humorous Prose. Frank Muir (5 February 1920 - 2 January 1998) was an English comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. ...


While many contemporary American humorists, such as Garrison Keillor, favor a frugal Hemingway-esque style, something more like Perelman's exuberant verbal wit can be found in the hyperventilating prose of the British author Martin Amis. Garrison Keillor (born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942) is an American author, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality. ... Photo of Martin Amis by Robert Birnbaum Martin Amis (born August 25, 1949) is a British novelist. ...


External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
S. J. Perelman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (540 words)
Perelman (February 1, 1904 – October 17, 1979), was a United States humorist, author, and screenwriter.
Perelman also occasionally used a form of word play that was, apparently, unique with him.
All these elements infused Perelman's own writings but his own style was precise, clear, and the very opposite of Joycean stream of consciousness.
SCHOOL'S OUT: HYPERLEARNING, The new Technology and the End of Education By Lewis Perelman (1369 words)
Perelman argues that schools should be replaced by "a new mechanism more attuned to the technology and social fabric of the modern world".
Instead, argues Perelman, we must replace education and schools by hyperlearning which "represents not merely a new form of "education" freed of this or that encumbrance, but a world freed of the encumbrance of education altogether".(p.63) Nations that choose a "brand-new, high-tech learning system will be the world's economic powerhouses through the twenty-first century".
Perelman's thesis is complex and somewhat convoluted with economics and education figuring on opposite sides of the same coin, each one reciprocally dependant on the other.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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