Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the prodigiously gifted novelist and
prolific screenwriter, Oscar winner for her adapted screenplays “Room with a
View” and “Howard’s 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.
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