NATHAN, GEORGE JEAN (1882–1958), U.S. drama critic and editor. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Nathan became the foremost American critic of his time, and took the lead in freeing the American theater of the stagy and melodramatic trappings of the belasco period. He was in journalism for more than 50 years, mostly linked with the world of Broadway as critic for The Bohemian Magazine (1906–08), Harper's Weekly (1908–10), The Smart Set (1908–23), and The American Mercury, which he founded with H.L. Mencken in 1924. He was also a founder – with Theodore Dreiser, Eugene O'Neill, and others – of The American Spectator (1932–39). A detached, sophisticated, and cynical figure, Nathan was something of a boulevardier, not only in his personal habits but also in his writings. Nevertheless, he was a man of learning, critical insight, and courage, who paved the way for Eugene O'Neill and his type of dramatic writing. Nathan labored consistently to educate American taste to accept writers such as Sean O'Casey, Jean Giraudoux, and Ludwig Thoma. He wrote several books with Mencken, including the satirical play Heliogabalus (1920). His own books, over 30 in number, include: Mr. George Jean Nathan Presents (1917); The Theater, the Drama, the Girls (1921); Materia Critica (1924); Testament of a Critic (1931); The Theater of the Moment (1936); Morning After the First Night (1938); an Encyclopaedia of the Theater (1940); and The Theater of the Fifties (1953). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Goldberg, Theatre of George Jean Nathan (1926); C. Angoff (ed.), World of George Jean Nathan (1952); S.J. Kunitz, Twentieth Century Authors, first suppl. (1955), incl. bibl.; New York Times (April 8, 1958), 1; (April 9, 1958), 36. (Charles Angoff)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Nathan, George Jean — (1882 1958)    Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the son of wealthy parents, he graduated from Cornell University in 1904, then spent a year studying at the University of Bologna. As a reporter for the New York Herald, he published his first theatre… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

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  • Nathan — Nathan1 [nā′thən] n. [Heb nāthān, lit., he has given] 1. a masculine name: dim. Nat, Nate 2. Bible a prophet who rebuked David for the death of Uriah: 2 Sam. 12:1 14 Nathan2 [nā′thən] George Jean 1882 1958; U.S. drama critic & editor …   English World dictionary