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Herman Wouk (1915 - 2019)

PostPosted: May 18th, 2019, 8:40 am
by toucana

The writer Herman Wouk has passed away just ten days before his 104th birthday

He will probably be best remembered for his wartime novel The Caine Mutiny which won a Pulitzer prize in 1951. The novel was adapted by the author into a successful Broadway play directed by Charles Laughton, and also became a major Hollywood film directed by Edward Dmytryk that starred Humphrey Bogart in 1954.

Like several of his other best known works, The Caine Mutiny was based around Wouk’s own experience during WW2 as a US navy executive officer. His writing career began in fact when he was still at sea. He gained his first major success with a book called Aurora Dawn which was accepted for publication and later became a Book-Of-The-Month-Selection. The publishing contract reached him when his ship was off the coast of Okinawa.

Herman Wouk was born on 27 May 1915 in Brooklyn. His parents were Hasidic Jewish immigrants from Russia. Wouk’s maternal grandfather the rabbi Mendel Lev Lebin who took charge of the boy’s education never learned English. As a boy Herman Wouk grew up speaking Hebrew and Yiddish as well as English, and became an ardent student of the Talmud in later life.

He married Betty Sarah Brown a civilian navy personnel officer from California just after the war ended and they remained married for 66 years until she died in 2010 aged 90. She acted as her husband’s literary agent and adviser for the rest of her life.

Wouk’s last novel,The Lawgiver, published when he was 97, is a meta-fiction about a crew making a movie about Moses.  It’s made out of such 21st-century materials as emails, texts and Skype transcripts, and it features a “mulish ancient” named Herman Wouk who’s brought in as a script Doctor.