Algren, Nelson

Algren, Nelson
orig. Nelson Ahlgren Abraham

born March 28, 1909, Detroit, Mich., U.S.
died May 9, 1981, Sag Harbor, N.Y.

U.S. writer.

The son of a machinist, Algren grew up in Chicago and worked his way through the University of Illinois during the Great Depression. His novels of the poor skillfully capture the mood of the city's underside and are lifted from routine naturalism by his vision of his characters' pride, humour, and unquenchable yearnings. Among his popular successes were The Man with the Golden Arm (1949; film, 1956) and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956; film, 1962). He also published an admired short-story collection, The Neon Wilderness (1947).

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▪ American writer
original name  Nelson Ahlgren Abraham  
born March 28, 1909, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
died May 9, 1981, Sag Harbor, New York

      writer whose novels of the poor are lifted from routine naturalism by his vision of their pride, humour, and unquenchable yearnings. He also catches with poetic skill the mood of the city's underside: its jukebox pounding, stench, and neon glare.

      The son of a machinist, Algren grew up in Chicago, where his parents moved when he was three years old. He worked his way through the University of Illinois, graduating in journalism in the depth of the Great Depression. Sometime after graduating, he adopted a simplified spelling of the original name, Ahlgren, of his Swedish grandfather, who had converted to Judaism and taken the name Abraham. He went on the road as a door-to-door salesman and migratory worker in the South and Southwest, then returned to Chicago, where he was employed briefly by a WPA (Works Progress Administration) writers' project and a venereal-disease control unit of the Board of Health. In this period, too, he edited with the proletarian novelist Jack Conroy (Conroy, Jack) the New Anvil, a magazine dedicated to the publication of experimental and leftist writing.

      Algren's first novel, Somebody in Boots (1935), relates the driftings during the Depression of a young poor-white Texan who ends up among the down-and-outs of Chicago. Never Come Morning (1942) tells of a Polish petty criminal who dreams of escaping from his squalid Northwest Side Chicago environment by becoming a prizefighter. Before the appearance of Algren's next book—the short-story collection The Neon Wilderness (1947), which contains some of his best writing—he served as a U.S. Army medical corpsman during World War II.

      In 1947 Algren met the French writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (Beauvoir, Simone de). The two began a transatlantic relationship that lasted 17 years. De Beauvoir dedicated her novel Les Mandarins (1954; The Mandarins) to him, limning him in the character Lewis Brogan.

      Algren's first popular success was The Man with the Golden Arm (1949; filmed 1956), which won the first National Book Award for fiction. Its hero is Frankie Machine, whose golden arm as a poker dealer is threatened by shakiness connected with his drug addiction. In A Walk on the Wild Side (1956; filmed 1962) Algren returned to the 1930s in a picaresque novel of New Orleans bohemian life. After 1959 he abandoned the writing of novels (though he continued to publish short stories) and considered himself a journalist. His last novel, The Devil's Stocking, which he completed in 1979, was rejected by many publishers but was published posthumously in 1983.

      Algren's nonfiction includes the prose poem Chicago, City on the Make (1951) and sketches collected as Who Lost an American? (1963) and Notes from a Sea Diary: Hemingway All the Way (1965). Algren was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters three months before he died.

Additional Reading
Bettina Drew, Nelson Algren: A Life on the Wild Side (1989, reissued 1991). Also of interest for their stories about Algren are Simone de Beauvoir, America Day by Day (1952, reissued 1999; originally published in French, 1948), a travel book; her Force of Circumstance (1965, reissued 1992; originally published in French, 1963), a volume of autobiography; and her A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren (1998). H.E.F. Donohue and Nelson Algren, Conversations with Nelson Algren (1964, reissued 2001), presents a firsthand look at the writer. Also useful is Matthew J. Bruccoli and Judith Baughman, Nelson Algren: A Descriptive Bibliography (1985).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Algren, Nelson — ► (1909 81) Novelista estadounidense. Obras: El hombre del brazo de oro y El último carrusel, entre otras. * * * orig. Nelson Ahlgren Abraham (28 mar. 1909, Detroit, Mich., EE.UU.–9 may. 1981, Sag Harbor, N.Y.). Escritor estadounidense. Hijo de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Algren,Nelson — Al·gren (ôlʹgrĭn), Nelson. 1909 1981. American writer noted for his novels about the pride and longings of impoverished people, including The Man with the Golden Arm (1949). * * * …   Universalium

  • Algren, Nelson —    см. Олгрен, Нелсон …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • Algren — Algren, Nelson …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Nelson Algren — Nelson Algren, 1956 Born March 28, 1909(1909 03 28) Detroit, Michigan Died May 9, 1981 …   Wikipedia

  • Algren — Nelson Algren Nelson Algren (* 28. März 1909 in Detroit; † 9. Mai 1981 in Sag Harbor, N.Y.) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nelson Algren — (* 28. März 1909 in Detroit; † 9. Mai 1981 in Sag Harbor, N.Y.) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nelson Algren — est un écrivain nord américain juif et communiste né le 28 mars 1909 à Détroit, Michigan, et mort à Sag Harbor dans l État de New York le 9 mai  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • ALGREN (N.) — ALGREN NELSON (1909 1981) Né à Detroit, Nelson Algren n’a pas trois ans lorsqu’il vient habiter, avec ses parents, Chicago, où il a grandi et pratiquement toujours vécu. Il travaille pour se payer des études de journalisme, mais lorsque, en 1931 …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Nelson Algren — Nelson Algren. Nelson Algren, de nacimiento Nelson Ahlgren Abraham (28 de marzo de 1909, Detroit, Míchigan 9 de mayo de 1981, Sag Harbor, Nueva York) fue un escritor estadounidense. Hijo de un maquinista, creció en Chicago …   Wikipedia Español

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