Ruth Prawer Jhabvala 1927-2013
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the prodigiously gifted novelist and prolific screenwriter, Oscar winner for her adapted screenplays Room with a View and Howards End, has died in Manhattan after a long illness. She was 85.
As the screenwriter for movies by producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory she was for 40 years the hypotenuse of one of the most productive filmmaking triangles in film history. A German Jew who left her native country for England during World War II and relocated to India and then the United States, she was attuned to tales of dislocation and cultural collision. She was a brilliant adapter of novels — both of her Oscars were for screenplays based on E.M. Forster works — who distilled the nuance and depth of the source material in under two hours running time.
Although her critics griped about the “Masterpiece Theater” aspect of the many costume dramas she wrote, she was equally deft in writing modern-day material, as with her adaptation of her own novel, Heat and Dust and the book Le Divorce.
My favorite of her screenplays was Howards End. Yours?