E. L. Doctorow
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|E. L. Doctorow|
E.L. Doctorow, (photograph by Mark Sobczak)
|Born||Edgar Lawrence Doctorow
January 6, 1931
Bronx, New York, United States
|Occupation||Writer, editor, professor|
|Alma mater||Kenyon College, Columbia University|
|Notable work(s)||The Book of Daniel
Homer & Langley
|Spouse(s)||Helen Esther Setzer (m. 1953; 3 children)|
Edgar Lawrence "E. L." Doctorow (born January 6, 1931) is an American author. He is known internationally for his unique works of historical fiction.
Doctorow was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Rose (Levine) and David Richard Doctorow, second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent who named him after Edgar Allan Poe. He attended city public grade schools and the Bronx High School of Science where, surrounded by mathematically gifted children, he fled to the office of the school literary magazine, Dynamo. He published his first literary effort, "The Beetle," in it, which he describes as ”a tale of etymological self-defamation inspired by my reading of Kafka.”
Doctorow attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he studied with the poet and New Critic John Crowe Ransom, acted in college theater productions, and majored in philosophy. After graduating with honors in 1952, he completed a year of graduate work in English drama at Columbia University before being drafted into the United States Army. He served as a corporal in the signal corps, in Germany 1954–55 during the Allied occupation.
He returned to New York after his military service and took a job as a reader for a motion picture company, where he said he had to read so many Westerns that he was inspired to write what became his first novel, Welcome to Hard Times. He began it as a parody of western fiction, but it evolved to be a serious reclamation of the genre before he was finished. It was published to positive reviews in 1960.
Marriage and family
In 1953, Doctorow married a fellow Columbia University drama student, Helen Esther Setzer, while in Germany. By the time he had moved on from his reader's job in 1960 to become editor at the New American Library (NAL), a mass-market paperback publisher, they were the parents of three children.
To support his family, Doctorow spent nine years as a book editor, first at NAL working with Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand among others; and from 1964, as editor-in-chief at The Dial Press, publishing work by James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Ernest J. Gaines and William Kennedy, among others.
In 1969, Doctorow left publishing in order to write, accepting a position as Visiting Writer at the University of California, Irvine, where he completed The Book of Daniel (1971), a freely fictionalized consideration of the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for giving nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was widely acclaimed, called a "masterpiece" by The Guardian, and said by The New York Times to launch the author into "the first rank of American writers" according to Christopher Lehmann-Haupt.
His subsequent work includes the award-winning novels World's Fair (1985), Billy Bathgate (1989) and The March (2005); two volumes of short fiction, Lives of the Poets I (1984) and Sweetland Stories (2004); and two volumes of essays, Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution (1993) and Creationists (2006).
He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Yale School of Drama, the University of Utah, the University of California, Irvine, and Princeton University. He is the Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor of English and American Letters at New York University. He has donated his papers to the Fales Library of New York University.
Awards and honors
E.L. Doctorow has won many awards for particular works.
For his body of work and other personal honors, he received:
- 1998: National Humanities Medal, one of nine people selected that year by President Bill Clinton in consultation with the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- 1998: Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award from the Tulsa Library Trust
- 2012: Inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame
- 2012 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, winner
- 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, National Book Foundation
- 2014 The Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
- 1960: Welcome to Hard Times - adapted as the 1967 film Welcome to Hard Times
- 1966: Big As Life
- 1971: The Book of Daniel - historical fiction about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed in 1953 for giving nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union; finalist for the National Book Award, Fiction - adapted as the 1983 film Daniel
- 1975: Ragtime - winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters - adapted as the 1981 film Ragtime and the 1998 Broadway musical Ragtime
- 1980: Loon Lake (novel) - finalist for the National Book Award in its first paperback edition
- 1985: World's Fair - winner of the National Book Award for Fiction
- 1989: Billy Bathgate - winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the best novel of the previous five-year period; finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize - adapted as the 1991 film Billy Bathgate.
- 1994: The Waterworks
- 2000: City of God
- 2005: The March - winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner award; finalist for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize
- 2009: Homer & Langley
- 2014: Andrew's Brain 
- 1968: The Songs of Billy Bathgate (short story)[a]
- 1984: Lives of the Poets: Six Stories and a Novella
- 2002: Jolene: A Life - first published in The New Yorker, 2004 in the Book Sweet Land Stories.
- 2004: Sweet Land Stories - New York Times Notable Book
- 2011: All The Time in the World: New And Selected Stories
- 1979: Drinks Before Dinner (play)
- 1982: American Anthem (photographic essay)
- 1995: Poets and presidents: Selected Essays, 1977–92
- 2003: Reporting the Universe, Harvard University Press
- 2006: Creationists: Selected Essays 1993-2006 (Random House)
- 2008: "Wakefield" (short story), The New Yorker, January 14, 2008
- 2009: "All The Time in the World" (short story), Kenyon Review, Vol. 31, no. 1
- 2012: "Unexceptionalism: A Primer" (op-ed), The New York Times, April 28, 2012
- Andrew's Brain, reviewed by Terrence Rafferty in New York Times
- Andrew's Brain, reviewed by Eric Allen Been In Chicago Tribune
- Andrew's Brain, reviewed by David Cooper in New York Journal of Books
- Andrew's Brain, reviewed by Heller McAlpin, NPR Books
- NYTimes 2000-01-30 for members only
This short story chronicling the career of a folk-rock musician is told in the form of liner notes. Doctorow recycled the protagonist's name for his PEN/Faulkner award-winning novel Billy Bathgate. According to an interview, he has been asked whether the protagonist of "Songs" is the son of the novel's protagonist. An age given in "Songs" fits a birth date given in the novel, yet he had not intended the interpretation, although he had no objection to it.
- Intersections: E.L. Doctorow on Rhythm and Writing, June 28, 2004.
- American Conversation: E. L. Doctorow, September 25, 2008.
- "Interview: E.L. Doctorow discusses the art of writing and his new book of essays, Reporting the Universe". Talk of the Nation (National Public Radio). Retrieved 2011-02-09.
- Review of 'The Book of Daniel', The New York Times, June 7, 1971.
- "Modern Library: 100 Best Novels". Random House. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- "Winners of the National Humanities Medal and the Charles Frankel Prize". National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- "National Humanities Medal: Nominations". NEH. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- James McBride wins US National Book Award, BBC News, November 21, 2013
- "1972" (Article on that year's fiction award from the 60-year anniversary blog). National Book Foundation (NBF). Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "National Book Awards – 1982". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "National Book Awards – 1986". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
(With essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
- "National Book Awards – 1989". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Fiction" Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "National Book Awards – 2005". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Kaufman, Leslie (March 28, 2013). "A New Doctorow Novel". The New York Times.
- Arana-Ward, Marie. "E. L. Doctorow," The Washington Post, April 17, 1994, p. X6.
- Baba, Minako. "The Young Gangster as Mythic American Hero: E.L.Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate," in Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States.
- Bloom, Harold (Ed.). E.L. Doctorow Chelsea House, 2001.
- E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations, Chelsea House, 2001.
- Fowler, Douglas. Understanding E.L. Doctorow University of South Carolina, 1992.
- Girgus, Sam B. The New Covenant: Jewish Writers and the American Idea University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
- Harter, Carol C. and James R. Thompson. E.L.Doctorow Gale Group, 1996.
- Henry, Matthew A. "Problematized Narratives: History as Friction in E.L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate," Critique Magazine.
- Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism Duke University Press, 1991.
- Leonard, John. "The Prophet", New York Review of Books, June 10, 2004.
- Levine, Paul. E.L. Doctorow New York: Methuen, 1985.
- Matterson, Stephen. "Why Not Say What Happened: E.L. Doctorow’s Lives of the Poets," Critique.
- McGowan, Todd. "In This Way He Lost Everything: The Price of Satisfaction in E.L. Doctorow’s 'World’s Fair'," Critique, vol. 42, 2001.
- Miller, Ann V. "Through a Glass Clearly: Vision as Structure in E.L. Doctorow’s Willi" in Studies in Short Fiction.
- Morgenstern, Naomi. "The Primal Scene in the Public Domain: E.L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel," in Studies in the Novel, vol. 35, 2003.
- Morris, Christopher D. Conversations with E.L. Doctorow University of Mississippi Press, 1999.
- Morris, Christopher D. Models of Misrepresentation: On the Fiction of E.L. Doctorow University of Mississippi Press, 1991.
- Porsche, Michael. Der Meta-Western: Studien zu E.L. Doctorow, Thomas Berger und Larry McMurtry (Arbeiten zur Amerikanistik)" Verlag Die Blaue Eule, 1991.
- Pospisil, Tomas. The Progressive Era in American Historical Fiction: John Dos Passos’ 'The 42nd Parallel and E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime Brno : Masarykova univerzita, 1998.
- Rasmussen, Eric Dean. "E. L. Doctorow's Vicious Eroticism: Dangerous Affect in The Book of Daniel. symplokē 18.1–2. (2011): 190–219. https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/symploke/summary/v018/18.1-2.rasmussen.html
- Shaw, Patrick W. The Modern American Novel of Violence Whiston Press, 2000.
- Siegel, Ben. Critical Essays on E.L. Doctorow G.K. Hall & Company, 2000.
- Tokarczyk, Michelle M. E.L. Doctorow: An Annotated Bibliography Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, 1988.
- Tokarczyk, Michelle M. E.L. Doctorow’s Skeptical Commitment, Peter Lang, 2000.
- Trenner, Richard. E.L. Doctorow:Essays and Conversations Ontario Review Press, 1983.
- Williams, John. Fiction as False Document: The Reception of E.L. Doctorow In the Post Modern Age Camden House, 1996.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: E.L. Doctorow|
- Guide to the E.L. Doctorow Papers
- George Plimpton (Winter 1986). "E. L. Doctorow, The Art of Fiction No. 94". Paris Review.
- "Billy Bathgate Discussion With EL Doctorow" (November 30, 2004)