Jeremy Treglown: Fellowship Recipient

Jeremy Treglown: Fellowship Recipient

I’m Jeremy Treglown. I’m a mixture of
a freelance writer and a former academic. I’ve worked in the Ransom Center several
times on different projects. It’s a most wonderful resource for people working as I
do on literary subjects, but also on other subjects including movies and as it happens
what I’m doing at the moment combines those two. I’m now working on John Hersey, who
used to be immensely well known in the USA. His second big book was called The Wall and
it was set in the Warsaw ghetto, published in 1950. It was the first American novel of
the Holocaust. Hersey’s book is tremendously important and the record of its publication
is here, all the toings and froings with his publishers and what they wanted to do about
publicity. But also the David Selznick archives, the archives of the moviemaker David Selznick,
which are enormous in bulk, are here at the Ransom Center. And Selznick wanted to make
a movie of The Wall. He bought the rights very early on and then the project foundered.
He went through – his company went through a period of financial difficulties and there
were also issues about casting. John Hersey in this, there’s very interesting contractual
details here in the archives, Hersey wanted to have quite a high degree of control over
script writing, direction, and who played the leading role of Rachel. So all of that
is in the correspondence and also that the difficulties for Selznick having bought the
movie for a lot of money which he was paying Hersey for a period of ten years and then
not actually being able to get the backing to make it. So the movie was never made and
you see something in all this, of both the strength of Hersey as a creative writer, his
determination that the movie, if it was going to be made, should get the novel right, it
shouldn’t Hollywoodize the Holocaust, terribly important and, on the other side, the obsessiveness
of Selznick’s character.

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