V. J. Jerome

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Victor Jeremy Jerome (1896–1965) was a Polish-American communist writer and editor. He is best remembered as a Marxist cultural essayist and as the long-time editor of the theoretical journal of the Communist Party USA.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Jerome Isaac Romain, better known by the pseudonym "Victor Jeremy Jerome," was born in Strykov, Poland in 1896. Romain immigrated to New York City in 1915, and attended City College of New York.

Following graduation, Jerome worked was a bookkeeper for the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union in the early 1920s.

Political career[edit]

In 1924, Jerome joined the Communist Party, and in the following year married Rose Pastor Stokes. He returned to college and in 1930 received a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University. After Stoke's death in 1933, Jerome moved to Hollywood for a year to raise money for the Spanish Loyalists. Returning to New York in 1935, Jerome became editor of The Communist which later became Political Affairs, and served in that position until 1955. In 1937, he married Alice Hamburger.

Jerome was among the cultural spokesmen of the Communist Party, and rose in the party hierarchy during the mid-1930s .

Between 1935 and 1965 Jerome wrote constantly. He wrote two autobiographical novels, A Lantern for Jeremy (released during the "Foley Square Trials" in 1952), and its sequel, The Paper Bridge (published posthumously in 1966). He also published a collection of vignettes entitled Unstill Waters (1964). A prolific writer, he turned out short stories, plays, and literary and art criticism. Victor Jerome is best known, however, for his political and cultural essays. Among these are "The Intellectuals and the War" (1940), "The Negro in Hollywood Films" (1950), and "Culture in a Changing World" (1948).

Victor Jerome was prosecuted and convicted under the Smith Act for committing the "overt act" of writing a pamphlet – "Grasp the Weapon of Culture" – that Jerome presented as a report to the Communist Party. He was indicted with sixteen other Communist leaders in 1951. Following a nine-month trial in New York's Foley Square Courthouse – Jerome passed the long hours in court writing poetry and reading page proofs of "A Lantern for Jeremy" – Jerome was convicted and sentenced in 1953 to three years at Lewisburg Penitentiary, that he served between 1954 and 1957.

Following his release from prison he began writing a novel based on the life of Spinoza.

Death and legacy[edit]

V.J. Jerome died in 1965 at the age of 68.

Footnotes[edit]

Works[edit]

  • Leninism, the only Marxism Today: A Discussion of the Characteristics of Declining Capitalism. With Alexander Bittelman. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1934.
  • Social-Democracy and the War. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1940.
  • Intellectuals and the War. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1940.
  • The Path Dimitroff Charted New York, Workers Library Publishers, 1943.
  • The Treatment of Defeated Germany. New York: New Century Publishers, 1945.
  • A World "Christian Front"? What is Behind the Alliance between the Vatican and Finance Capital? The Anti-Social Ethics of Red-Baiters: A Reply to Clare Boothe Luce. New York: New Masses, 1947.
  • Culture in a changing world, a Marxist approach. New York: New Century Publishers, 1947.
  • The Negro in Hollywood films. New York: Masses & Mainstream, 1950.
  • Grasp the Weapon of Culture! New York: New Century Publishers, 1951.
  • A lantern for Jeremy: A Novel. New York: New Century Publishers, 1952. (Juvenile audience)
  • The Paper Bridge: A Novel. New York: Citadel Press, 1966.