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Putnam, Samuel (1892-1950) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Putnam, Samuel (1892-1950)

Historical Note: Samuel Putnam was born in Illinois in 1892 and was educated at the universities of Illinois and Chicago. He served as a reporter on the Chicago Tribune, Evening Post, and other papers during the blooming of the Chicago Renaissance, when meeting, interviewing, and working with such notables as Harriet Monroe, Harold Stearns, H. L. Mencken, and Thorstein Veblen. Friendship with Pascal Covici led to his undertaking a translation of the works of Aretino and to joining many of the Chicago literary figures in Paris in 1926. In Paris, accompanied by his wife, Riva, and his young son, Hilary, Putnam strove to establish himself as an editor, translator, and writer. He became editor of The New Review (1930-1932), as well as publishing a biography of François Rabelais, and numerous translations. Financial problems forced the Putnams to return to the U.S. in 1933, where Putnam earned money translating from Italian and French, though his real interest became centered on Brazilian Portuguese, which publishers found lacked marketability. During the depression years Putnam devoted time to writing for the Daily Worker and to the cause of Communism, with which he broke in May 1945. Despite economic straits and poor health, Putnam gained recognition as an expert on Brazil and Brazilian literature, and was invited to Brazil to lecture in 1946. Samuel Putnam died in 1950 at the age of 62 in his home in New Jersey.

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