Fast, Howard

Fast, Howard
(b. 1914)
   Here is the story of Spartacus, who led the great slave revolt against Rome. I wrote this novel because I considered it an important story for the times in which we live. Not in the mechanical sense of historical parallels, but because there is hope and strength to be taken from such a story about the age-old fight for freedom—and because Spartacus lived not for one time of man, but for all times of man. I wrote it to give hope and courage to those who would read it, and in the process of writing it, I gained hope and courage myself.
   Author of more than 80 works, including the novel SPARTACUS (1951), playwright, historian, novelist, and screenwriter Howard Melvin Fast dislikes the term prolific. He insists,“I’m not prolific; I’m just here a long time. ” According to a New York Times critic, “Mr. Fast is unusually successful in conveying the mood and impression he depicts. He possesses also the knack of creating life-like characters; his leading figures, in their outlines, have reality and act on their own volition, and the minor figures emerge as distinct individualities. ”
   Although he has dabbled in several popular genres, Fast is best known for historical novels. Indeed, his very first book, Two Valleys, published when he was 18, depicted life on the American frontier during the Revolutionary War. With Citizen Tom Paine (1943), Fast made his first foray into fictional biography. Another example of this subgenre is Fast’s single most famous work, Spartacus, a fictional account of the real leader of the slave revolt of 71 B. C. Howard Fast saw the decline of Rome as a direct effect of the empire’s dependence upon slaves, and Spartacus’s themes of oppression and revolt are also present in many of his other novels, including Freedom Road (set during Reconstruction) and Citizen Tom Paine. Indeed, all of Fast’s books deal with the concept of servitude, particularly Moses, Prince of Egypt and Power (about exploited mine workers). For Fast, slavery need not be literal; it includes the “wage slavery” of the mines and factories of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. All of these concerns bespeak Fast’s dedicated involvement in the American Left, alongside other such eminent figures as W. E. B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Dashiell Hammett, Leonard Bernstein, Norman Mailer, and Mary McCarthy.
   During World War II, Fast served as a member of the overseas staff of the Office of War Information from 1942 to 1944. He essentially wrote propaganda, including the well-known Voice of America radio broadcasts to occupied Europe. He also acted as a correspondent for the Special Signal Corps; as a war correspondent in the China-India-Burma Theater; and as a foreign correspondent for Esquire and Coronet in 1945. Also at this time, however, Fast became a card-carrying member of the American Communist Party, largely out of an antifascist sense of patriotism, for which he ironically endured his fair share of persecution during the McCarthy era. Fast quit the Communist Party in 1957, when he became fully aware of the horrific details of life under Stalin. Overnight, he went from being one of the most widely taught U. S. authors in the Soviet Union to being a nonentity there. He would later run for the U. S. Congress, 23rd New York District (Bronx), in 1952, as the American Labor Party candidate. In 1950, while serving a federal prison term for withholding information from the House Un-American Activities Committee, Fast first became aware of the historical figure of Spartacus. He learned of Rosa Luxemburg’s socialist organization, the Spartacists, and became curious about the origin of the group’s name. Fast later read about Spartacus in The Ancient Lowly, a history of the ancient working classes.
   Fast’s novel tells the story of Spartacus through a series of flashbacks and multiple points of view, as various characters recall having seen or encountered the gladiator-warrior at one time or other during their travels. The major events and characters of the novel are largely preserved in the film version, although the novel’s relatively byzantine structure is not. Andrew Macdonald characterized the book as, “highly cinematic, with quick cutting between scenes, extensive use of flashbacks, heavy reliance on dialogue, and minutely described settings. ” Due primarily to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts to suppress Fast’s works by intimidating the large publishing houses, Fast was forced to self-publish Spartacus himself in 1951. The book sold 48,000 copies before being picked up in 1952 by Citadel Press. Many critics found Spartacus inferior to Fast’s earlier works, and the New York Times called it “dreary proof that polemics and fiction cannot mix. ” Still, hundreds of thousands of copies sold in the 1950s. EDWARD LEWIS, working on behalf of KIRK DOUGLAS’s Bryna Productions, optioned the novel from Fast in 1957. As that initial option was about to run out, Fast granted a 60-day extension in exchange for one dollar and the privilege of adapting the screenplay. Bryna had little choice but to agree. Douglas quickly determined that Fast’s script would be unusable, however; so while the author continued to crank out pages, Douglas brought blacklisted screenwriter DALTON TRUMBO onto the project secretly, with Edward Lewis as Trumbo’s “front. ”According to VINCENT LOBRUTTO, Fast detested Trumbo’s adaptation, calling ersatz author Lewis “the world’s worst writer. ”
   Fast told reporters in 1960 that he was “directly responsible for at least half of the finished script of the film version of the book. ” He went on to say that, although his script had undergone revisions, he was “never told that Dalton Trumbo worked on it nor who [would] get screen credit for the film. ” His major works include: Conceived in Liberty: A Novel of Valley Forge (1939); Citizen Tom Paine (1943); Freedom Road (1944); The American: A Middle Western Legend (1946); Spartacus (1951); Thirty Pieces of Silver (play, 1951); The Naked God:The Writer and the Communist Party (1957); Moses, Prince of Egypt (1958); The Jews: Story of a People (1968); The Immigrants (1977); The Hill and The Hessian (screenplays); and numerous other works under the pseudonyms E. V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson. Several of Fast’s books and stories have been adapted to film, including: The Winston Affair (filmed in 1964 as Man in the Middle), “Mirage,” Penelope, Fallen Angel (filmed in 1968 as Jigsaw), and The Immigrants (1978;TV miniseries). Fast’s long and productive career has brought him numerous prestigious awards, including: the Bread Loaf of Literary Award, 1937; the Schomburg Award for Race Relations, 1944; the Newspaper Guild Award, 1947; the Jewish Book Council of America Award, 1947; the $25,000 Stalin International Peace Prize of the USSR, 1953; the Screenwriters Annual Award, 1960, for Spartacus; the Secondary Education Board Book Award, 1962; and the American Library Association Notable Book Award, 1972, for The Hessian. Fast told Mervyn Rothstein in the New York Times: “I have been very fortunate, no question about it, because even during the blacklist period my books were selling by the millions all over the world. . . . I was born and grew up in the greatest, the noblest achievement of the human race on this planet—which was called the United States of America. ”
   ■ “Credit to Trumbo Disputed by Fast,” New York Times, February 23, 1960, p. L-36;
   ■ Cutler, B. J. , “Reds Attack Howard Fast as ‘Deserter,’” New York Herald Tribune, August 25, 1957;
   ■ Gareffa, Peter M. ,“Fast, Howard (Melvin),” in Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, vol. 1. Ann Evory, ed. (Detroit: Gale, 1981), 185–186;
   ■ “Howard Fast,” Current Biography, April 1991;
   ■ “Howard Fast to Run,” New York Times, September 9, 1952;
   ■ LoBrutto,Vincent. Stanley Kubrick:A Biography (New York: D. I. Fine, 1997);
   ■ Macdonald, Andrew, Howard Fast:A Critical Companion (Westport, Conn. : Greenwood, 1996);
   ■ Margulies, Stan, ed. , Spartacus:The Illustrated Story of the Motion Picture Production (St. Louis, Mo. : Western Printing and Lithographing Co. , 1960);
   ■ Rothstein, Mervyn, “Howard Fast in a New Mode,” New York Times, March 10, 1987.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Fast, Howard — (1914 2003)    American author. He was born in New York. He wrote novels about American history, injustice and oppression. He also published books on Jewish themes, including Haym Solomon: Son of Liberty, Picture Book of History of the Jews, My… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Fast, Howard — vero nome di Cunningham, E.V …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • FAST, HOWARD MELVIN — (1914–2003), U.S. author, best known for his imaginative historical novels as well as detective fiction published under the name E.V. Cunningham. Fallen Angel (1951) was published under the name of Walter Ericson. Born and educated in New York… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Fast, Howard Melvin — ▪ 2004  American writer (b. Nov. 11, 1914, New York, N.Y. d. March 12, 2003, Old Greenwich, Conn.), wrote prolifically, most notably popular historical novels on themes of human rights and social justice. Fast, who was well known for his leftist… …   Universalium

  • Fast, Howard Melvin — pseud. di Ericson, Walter …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Fast, Howard Melvin —    см. Фаст, Говард …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • Howard Fast — Born Howard Melvin Fast November 11, 1914 New York City Died March 12, 2003(2003 03 12) (aged 88) Greenwich, Connecticut …   Wikipedia

  • Howard Melvin Fast — (* 11. November 1914 in New York; † 12. März 2003 in Old Greenwich, Connecticut) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller. Neben anderen Pseudonymen veröffentlichte Fast seine Werke auch als E. V. Cunningham. 1953 erhielt er den Internationalen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Fast — als Abkürzung steht für: First Assistance Samaritian Team, ein Auslandshilfe Team des Arbeiter Samariter Bundes e.V. Fast AQM Scalable TCP, ein Protokoll in der Informatik Fast Search and Transfer, eine norwegische Firma für… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Howard Fast — Este artículo o sección necesita referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como revistas especializadas, monografías, prensa diaria o páginas de Internet fidedignas. Puedes añadirlas así o avisar …   Wikipedia Español

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