William Saroyan


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Saroyan, William

 

Born Aug. 31, 1908, in Fresno, Calif. American writer.

Saroyan is the son of Armenian emigrants. He has lived in Europe since 1960. His first book was the short-story collection The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934), which was followed by Inhale and Exhale (1936), Little Children (1937), The Trouble With Tigers (1938), My Name Is Aram (1940), Rock Wagram (1951), and The Whole Voyald and Other Stories (1956). Saroyan’s plays were first staged in the late 1930’s. They include My Heart’s in the Highlands (1939), The Time of Your Life (1939, Pulitzer Prize), The Cave Dwellers (1939), and Get Away, Old Man (1944).

Saroyan has written the novels The Human Comedy (1943; Russian translation, 1958) and The Adventures of Wesley Jackson (1946; Russian translation, 1959) and various works depicting family and psychological conflicts among intellectuals, for example, Mama, I Love You (1956; Russian translation, 1970), Papa, You’re Crazy (1957; Russian translation, 1964), and Boys and Girls Together (1963).

Since the 1960’s, Saroyan has written mainly autobiographical sketches, essays, memoirs, and articles on current affairs, collected in Not Dying (1963), Days of Life and Death and Escape to the Moon (1970), and Places Where I’ve Done Time (1972).

Saroyan depicts the life of ordinary Americans, especially poor Armenians, among whom he spent his childhood and adolescence. He writes of his love for the common people in a kindly tone that borders on sentimentality. Saroyan’s works are characterized by the author’s distinctive sense of humor, vivid imagination, and colorful descriptions of everyday life.

WORKS

The William Saroyan Reader. New York, 1958.
Letters From 74 Rue Taitbon. New York, 1968.
I Used to Believe I Had Forever, Now I’m Not So Sure. New York, 1969.
In Russian translation:
60 mil’ ν chas: Rasskazy. Moscow, 1958.
”Chto-to smeshnoe: Ser’eznaia povest’.” Literaturnaia Armeniia, 1963, nos. 5–8.
Put’vashei zhizni: P’esy. Moscow, 1966.

REFERENCES

Orlova, R. “Dobryi uteshitel’.” In her Potomki Gekl’berri Finna. Moscow, 1964.
Gonchar, N. “Tochnosf detail i pravda obraza.” Literaturnaia Armeniia, 1973, no. 9.
Floan, H. R. William Saroyan. New York, 1966.

I. M. LEVIDOVA

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John Leggett A Daring Young Man: A Biography of William Saroyan.
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At times the poems suggest a bleak spirituality, a sort of Central California pantheism, the Fresno outlook of Phillip Levine and William Saroyan.
That theme is continued in "Part Four: Dreams and Awakenings 1915--1945," a period when--no matter that eastern critics like Edmund Wilson denied it--this state's literature surged, with major writers developing or settling all over the state: Robinson Jeffers, Dashiell Hammett, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, Nathaniel West.
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After a series of box office disasters Whale made his last film, a version of a William Saroyan short story, Hello Out There - originally meant as one episode in an unrealised portmanteau film - in 1952.
Wells, Aldous Huxley, William Saroyan ("the bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind"), Marcia Lowe, Edward Abbey, Sean O'Faolain, Alan Sillitoe, and Flann O'Brien.
Based on a William Saroyan short story, this program (photo at right) features a young boy at the turn of the century, who is caught shoplifting.
1, 76-80 (April 1946), review of Elizabeth Bowen, The Demon Lover; Katherine Anne Porter, The Leaning Tower; William Saroyan, Dear Baby.