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1. Our Town: A Play in Three Acts
2. The Selected Letters of Thornton
3. Thornton Wilder:The Bridge of
4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey: A
5. The Letters of Gertrude Stein
6. The Ides of March: A Novel
7. The Eighth Day: A Novel
8. The Collected Short Plays of Thornton
9. The Bridge of San Luis Rey
10. Conversations with Thornton Wilder
11. Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin
12. Theophilus North: A Novel
13. Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin
14. The Collected Short Plays of Thornton
15. Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays
16. American Characteristics: And
17. The Skin of Our Teeth: Play in
18. The Enthusiast: A Life of Thorton
19. Thornton Wilder, An Intimate Portrait
20. Three Plays By Thornton Wilder;

1. Our Town: A Play in Three Acts
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 118 Pages (2010-02-16)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0573613494
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Drama / 17m, 7f, extras / Bare StageIn an important publishing event, Samuel French, in cooperation with the Thornton Wilder estate is pleased to release the playwright's definitive version of Our Town. This edition of the play differs only slightly from previous acting editions, yet it presents the version of Our Town as Thornton Wilder wished it performed. Described by Edward Albee as "...the greatest American play ever written," the story follows the small town of Grover's Corners through three acts: "Daily Life," "Love and Marriage," and "Death and Eternity." Narrated by a stage manager and performed with minimal props and sets, audiences follow the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and eventually-in one of the most famous scenes in American theatre-die. Thornton Wilder's final word on how he wanted his play performed is an invaluable addition to the American stage and to the libraries of theatre lovers internationally."While all of Wilder's work is intelligent, non-synthetic and often moving, as well as funny, it is Our Town that makes the difference. It is probably the finest play ever written by an American." - Edward Albee "Thornton Wilder's masterpiece...An immortal tale of small town morality [and]...a classic of soft spoken theater." - The New York Times ... Read more

Customer Reviews (115)

5-0 out of 5 stars No complaints.
Considering how long it took me to get around to ordering my textbooks, I was pleasantly surprised to receive my book so promptly and in such great condition.

3-0 out of 5 stars Life is fleeting
"Live that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip." ~Will Rogers

I have never read or seen this play so I didn't have any expectations going into it. I am on the fence. There is so little that happens that you really don't care about the characters; however, Wilder does such a good job of expressing emotion and getting you to think with so few words, that's it hard not to like. It's amazing how different this play is when compared to his novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. It really shows Wilder's talent and diverse writing style.

I did like how the play skipped around in time, going forward to the future, and then back in time to give some background information. I also enjoyed how the stage manager would interrupt a scene and talk directly to the cast. I am sure that brings comic relief on the stage.

The play has three acts. Act I is dubbed, "Daily Life", Act II is "Love and Marriage" and as Thornton says you can imagine what Act III is about. He really makes you ponder and appreciate your life. As Wilder says, "The play is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life." The way he does that though is by making the after life so miserable that you don't even want to think about your happy life on Earth. No thank you.

The more I think about the play, the more I like it. I may need to go back and read it when I get closer to Act III in my life. I now need to go check my local theater listings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Accurate to description given.
The used book I bought was in good condition which was accurate to how they described it to be.Everything was satisfactory and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another product.

1-0 out of 5 stars Bad experience
This is the first worst quality copy I have ever received from Amazon labeled as good quality used book.The whole book is discolored with cover and two pages torn and many pages wrinkled.It is unpleasant to handle.I will think twice before buying another used book through Amazon again.

4-0 out of 5 stars 4 and 1/2 Stars -- A Low-Key Masterwork
Our Town is one of the twentieth century's greatest dramas and one of the most influential of all-time - one of very few plays that truly changed how people think about theater. Thornton Wilder was tired of conventions and boldly tried to write a play that could really stand on its own without a set and with minimal scenery and props. This required miming - a huge gamble that could have come off as disastrously implausible and corny. However, the play became a sensation, won the Pulitzer Prize, and has had a profound influence. As all this suggests, it truly must be seen to be fully experienced and appreciated - not because of theatrical touches, as nearly always in such cases, but because it relies more than nearly any other play on acting power. Indeed, its full strength does not come across even in performance unless the acting is superb. Its many revivals and adaptations have thankfully attracted some of the most talented actors for over seventy years, but this is little help to those merely reading the play. It is all too easy for the play to come off as flat on paper, and the miming instructions can be particularly off-putting. However, though reading can never convey the full gamut, the greatness is such that much of it comes across even here, making the play well worth reading for those unable to attend a performance or who want to read it after seeing one.

The plot is almost as simple as the presentation; it begins by depicting everyday life in a small New England town and proceeds to show representative life events there, namely love, marriage, and death. Characters are archetypes, almost stereotypes, representing time-honored small town American ideals. Much of the play is not dramatic at all in the usual sense, simply showing mundane interactions. Even the ostensibly most dramatic scenes are meant to be very familiar; there is nothing even resembling a twist, and it is safe to say that the whole plot is easily recognizable to nearly all Americans, whether personally or from idealized depictions. All this sounds very boring and almost certainly would be in lesser hands, but Wilder's handling is masterful. The play celebrates the banal - everyday events that few think anything of but that after all make up most of our lives. The message is also equally obvious - we should embrace rather than ignore such moments because life can end at any time; we must make the most of what we have before it is too late, especially as many lives are made of little or nothing more than such moments. This again sounds almost unbearably clichéd, the dramatic equivalent of a Hallmark card, but Wilder's artistry again saves the day. The play is suffused with great emotional intensity that at times becomes near-unbearable; it is one of the most affecting dramas ever despite the lack of highly wrought pathos. It moves us precisely because it is so familiar - or did; many initial viewers were moved precisely because they saw so much of their own lives, reacting - and perhaps afterward adjusting - accordingly. However, the realism is now almost entirely of historical interest, and the play is indeed valuable as a snapshot of rural New England life in the early twentieth century, not least in showing how centuries-old traditions were rapidly changing as well as consequent effects. Urbanization, immigration, commercialization, mass media, technology, and numerous other factors have made Our Town's world all but unrecognizable. It now comes off as almost quaint, which in a way adds a further emotional layer if we see it as an unintentional lament for a dying life. Yet none of this really matters, because such elements are really just vehicles for the profound depiction of elemental human emotions at the play's core. The final scene is one of the most sublimely poignant anyone is ever likely to see, throwing life's ups and downs into stark relief against death's undeniable ubiquity. Different as the characters may seem from us, they have the same basic thoughts and feelings - nay the same that human beings have always had and will continue to have as long as they are human. The play will surely remain relevant and affecting for this long also, regardless of superficial changes.

Yet, for all this, it is easy to exaggerate the simplicity. Wilder has been called an unfashionable optimist, and his work is certainly at least relatively optimistic beside most twentieth century drama and other art. However, he was not blind to life's dark side, as shown here by the drunkard serving as the mouthpiece for views that even the staunchest idealist should not ignore. Also, despite the general primitivism, Our Town is a very modern play in some ways. This is clearest in the important part of the narrator, a character fully aware of his fictional status who interacts with the audience and otherwise behaves in ways distinctly opposed to traditional drama. The last act is also notable for what might be called supernatural elements, dropping realism for a sort of poetic fantasy that, while very different from the first two acts in style, is much the same in spirit. Such things are an interesting contrast to the otherwise mundane realism, making the play significantly more complex than is usually noted.

In the end, though, the intense emotion at the play's heart carries it, making or breaking it onstage depending on acting and working to varying degrees on paper depending on readers' sensibilities. It seems safe to say that the play will touch everyone in some way, but some may not think it lives up to its reputation in purely literary terms. However, everyone interested in drama must experience this supremely influential classic in some form. As in life generally, we must not let the opportunity slip away...
... Read more

2. The Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder
by Thornton Wilder, Jackson R. Bryer, Robin Gibbs Wilder
Paperback: 768 Pages (2009-12-01)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060765089
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The author of such classics as Our Town and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder was a born storyteller and dramatist—rare talents on glorious display in this volume of more than three hundred letters he penned to a vast array of famous friends and beloved relatives. Through Wilder's correspondence, readers can eavesdrop on his conversations with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, NoËl Coward, Gene Tunney, Laurence Olivier, Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Leonard Bernstein, Edward Albee, and Mia Farrow. Equally absorbing are Wilder's intimate letters to his family.

Wilder tells of roller-skating with Walt Disney, remembers an inaugural reception for FDR at the White House, describes his life as a soldier in two World Wars, and recalls dining out with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. In these pages, Thornton Wilder speaks for himself in his own unique, enduring voice—informing, encouraging, instructing, and entertaining with his characteristic wit, heart, and exuberance.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars 10,000 letters
I am not sure what the previous reviewer was talking about when he says that TW was not "a great letter writer".TW wrote 10,000 letters in his lifetime, a habit that was established early in his life by his father.Through this selection we get to watch TW write and brag about his successes, "skating with Walt Disney" or his meeting with Garbo or when he was errand boy to Gertrude Stein when she visited the U of Chi, a literary friendship that continued until her death.Getting a chance to peek into this trove is like being the voyeur in a Rear Window, sometimes you feel rather guilty.As for the notes by the editors I think that though concise they are informative and some of the background essays are quite good; but to say that TW was not a good letter writer, is like saying he was a poor novelist ignoring that 1927 he won the Pultizer for The Bridge of San Luis Rey.Recommended for TW fans of course but also people wanting a front seat to the goings on of the early 20th Century American literary scene.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not really a great letter writer
Wilder is not one of the great letter writers , though he must have been an admirable correspondent, and late in life he lashes out at a would-be biographer whose take on him was going to be that Wilder led a lonely life, by responding with a list of great friends.I had 400 letters from Ruth Gordon, he cries out.Sometimes it feels as though all 400 were in this book.

I yield to no one in my admiration for Thornton Wilder's plays, and I believe that the Library of America Wilder is the best book of plays they will ever publish.So I ran to this book to find out more about the dramatist, and maybe that was the wrong approach, because there isn't very much there, particularly about the 2 series of seven one-act plays that, late in life, turned out to be his finest achievement.(It is interesting to discover that BERNICE turns out to have been built up out of the failed plans to write a screenplay for Italian neo-realist Vittorio de Sica.)Wilder is usually charming and warm in his letters, but I got tired of reading, say, 1 letter to G.D. or 1 letter to Hemingway, and then have to put up with six or seven letters to his family no more revealing or intriguing than his letters to anyone else.Right now I'm so tired of Amos, Isabel, and Isabella!Even Wilder's "high society" letters are more interesting, at least he's giving and apparently getting some good gossip, but it's a little dispiriting how he just loves him his rich people, always ready to provide Lady Sibyl Colefax with some anecdotes of the po' folk he lives among in the US for her amusement.

Still there is plenty to admire.His writing life, for all his social whirlwind, is a heroic one, and his actual taste is a marvel of discernment that holds up admirably today (okay, if Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin aren't your idea of great artists, you'll admit he was right about hundreds of others).What strikes me this week is how well he would have fit right in with today's vogue for multicultural, multilingual literature: he was versed in French, Italian, Spanish, German writing and art, and intimately familiar with the latest developments in each, and he sought actively to cross-fertilize the cultural patterns of each nation he visited, in the name of a greater understanding and appreciation.He is always recommending something recherche to someone in a position to do something about it.(His work in helping to place those forced out of Hitler's Germany due to ideology and religion is an inspiration, and maybe you had to be a social butterfly to get so much done in this line, I can't say.)We don't find out much about his emotional life, his lovelife, so maybe there was nothing going on in that department.This zero became the lack around which the rest of his life was organized; no wonder he just doted on those, like Mia Farrow, for whom need and the primal, sex and the affective, was everything,

Another thing I liked about him was his occasional getting down on the young writers and artists who came to him for help.He wasn't just flattering and gooey with them, no, he was fairly strict with them and told them exactly what he thought, in terms that must have come as a shock to the aspiring writers (Edward Albee, Marcia Nardi for example), but maybe did them some good?

And yes, there are some lovely stories here...His meeting with Freud, his late-in-life encounter with Djuna Barnes (negative about every topic he begins), the story of being summoned by Mary Pickford who wants to co-write a play with him about two Chinese sisters.... ... Read more

3. Thornton Wilder:The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Other Novels 1926-1948 (Library of America No. 194)
by Thornton Wilder
Hardcover: 750 Pages (2009-09-03)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$19.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1598530453
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Thornton Wilder was the rare writer whose achievements as a playwright were matched by equal abilities as a novelist. As companion to its volume of Wilder's collected plays, The Library of America's edition of his early novels and stories brings together five novels that highlight his wit, erudition, innovative formal structures, and philosophical wisdom. Drawing on the post-collegiate year he spent in Rome, Wilder fashioned in The Cabala a tale of youthful enchantment with the Eternal City in the form of a fictitious memoir of an American student and the enigmatic coterie of noble Romans who draw him into their midst. He followed this debut novel two years later with The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which catapulted him to literary prominence and earned him the first of his three Pulitzer prizes. "The Bridge," Wilder later wrote, "asked the question whether the intention that lies behind love was sufficient to justify the desperation of living." Set in 18th-century Peru, the book is a kind of theological detective story concerning a friar's investigations into the lives of five individuals before they were killed in a bridge collapse. An elegantly told parable, with credible historical ambience and psychologically rounded characters, The Bridge of San Luis Rey is primarily a probing inquiry into the nature of destiny and divine intention: Why did God allow these particular people to die?

The Woman of Andros, based on the Andria of Roman writer Terence, is a meditation on the ancient world filtered through the sensibility of a meditative courtesan; Heaven's My Destination, a departure from Wilder's historical themes, is a picaresque romp through Depression-era America; and The Ides of March takes up the story of Julius Caesar's assassination by imagining the exchange of letters among such prominent ancient figures as Catullus, Cleopatra, Cicero, and Caesar himself, "groping in the open seas of his unlimited power for the first principles which should guide him." The volume concludes with a selection of early short stories-among them "Précautions Inutiles," published here for the first time-and a selection of essays that offers Wilder's insights into the works of Stein and Joyce, as well as a lecture on letter writers that bears on both The Bridge of San Luis Rey and The Ides of March. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Some great stuff, some not quite
He was such a fine writer. Our Town, which is not in this book, was one of those plays we had to read in high school and resonates to this day. But I had never read The Bridge of San Luis Rey, so I bought this book to read that and to sample some of his other novels.
I took my time reading every word (sometimes reading sections more than once) and tried to absorb all of his detailed descriptions, which really add to the richness of the experience. I thought the Bridge of San Luis Rey was wonderful.I liked all of the other stories, although some more than others. I learned something from each novel - either about his time and place or the times and places he created. It was all worth the effort.
One observation: The font is very small and the line spacing practically non-existent, so you might need an index card or something like that to make the reading easier.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent compendium
The Library of America is a "can't lose" situation for purchasers and this volume is no exception.The book includes an excellent selection, is intelligently edited, includes a good summary of Wilder's life, is bound and printed well, and is a financial bargain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great texts, but needs better notes from editor
I don't know why, but I have often found myself drawn to the works of Wilder, and I was sol glad to see this collection of Wilder's early writings.There is no denying the power of :The Bridge of San Luis Rey."I have no qualms with the texts themselves, but the editorial aspect bothers me.Wilder's sexuality is completely left out, and this is important when you consider that the third act of "Our Town" (not in this text) was drafted at the home of his lover, Samuel Steward.Steward's pen name, Phil Andros, is also shared by Wilder's novel "The Woman of Andros."Coincidence?I think not.Again, I love the Library of America (I have just about every volume), and I love the novels in this collection, but the editor, J.D. McClatchy could have been a little more honest in his notes. ... Read more

4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey: A Novel
by Thornton Wilder
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2004-01-01)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$11.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060580615
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence, Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.

By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper seeks to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His study leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition featuring a new foreword by Russell Banks. Tappan Wilder has written an engaging and thought-provoking afterword, which includes unpublished notes for the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, illuminating photographs, and other remarkable documentary material. Granville Hicks's insightful comment about Wilder suggests an inveterate truth: "As a craftsman he is second to none, and there are few who have looked deeper into the human heart."

... Read more

Customer Reviews (104)

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent novel
The Bridge of San Luis Rey is a masterpiece--beautifully written, evocative, and sensitive.A pleasure to read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Well written, but...
The book "The Bridge of San Louis Rey" plagues you with the question, "Why those five?" The book then goes into a small segment of the personal lives of all the victims of the bridge collapse, ultimately leaving it up to you to decide and think about. The book was extremely well written, with careful attention to vocabulary, and sentence formation. Therefore, I give the book a 4 out of 5. All that being said, I personally did not like the book, it's just not the genre that i like to spend my time reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Eclipsed by the "Boom" Writers

This book is a 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel that may have been a breakthrough for its time.As I read it I could not help but wonder how this content would have fared in the hands of "Boom" writers such as Octavio Paz or Gabriel Garcia Marquez.Had I read this before I read the South American Boom writers I might have had more appreciation for it.

I checked Wilder's bio and could not find any time spent in Peru or South America prior to (or after) writing the book unless it was during his Coast Guard service. Perhaps its weakness is fundamental: that it is an impression of rather than the actual experience of Latin America. At the time it was written, it may be the closest English speaking readers could get to this type of cross-cultural literary experience. Now readers have a variety of authentic voices to chose from.

Wilder has created a good book, but is not a great book. I understand that it is on some lists as a great American classic. I recommend that those who compile these lists try some of the late twentieth century Latin American writers.

2-0 out of 5 stars What am I missing? I found the book dull and unsatisfying.
I have read all the positive reviews and I am a bit stumped. I found the early chapter about the relationship between the mother and daughter very tedious and meaningless. I almost stopped reading after that chapter, but slogged on through the rest of the book with little uptick in enjoyment. I believe people just feel they have to love and praise the "classics" no matter what. I found the book dull and unsatisfying. I'm so glad it was a short book. The most enjoyable part of the book was looking up the many words I did not understand. I'm very glad I put the [...] app on my iPhone.

2-0 out of 5 stars No epiphany here....A book about the obvious
I read this book to the point in the story where the bridge collapses and Father Juniper decides to investigate the lives of the victims to see what they had in common, thereby discovering the logic behind God's will. At this point I completely lost interest. Why proceed? Anyone with any life experience already knows what he'll find. NOTHING! No logic,no hidden meaning, no consistant thread! Why did the bridge collapse when they were on it? BECAUSE S--T HAPPENS, THAT'S WHY! No other reason! Who didn't already know this? Why wade through the rest of the book to read a conclusion you can easily predict?

Nevertheless, wade through I did. What was revealed was that each person was a typical human being who loved, was loved, had flaws, etc. But didn't we already know this would be the case? His final conclusions about the connections between people and "love being the only survival, the only meaning" are basically the same inadequate, ultimately unsatisfying conclusions I've heard repeated before in casual discussions. Implied is that nothing is permanent, there is no forever, no certainty of any existence beyond this one. We live, die, are briefly remembered by our loved ones who eventually die themselves, and then it's as if we never existed. Can anyone sing "Dust in the Wind"?

Everyone I've ever talked to who had given much thought to the purpose of life, unless they had strong religious convictions, essentially reached this same conclusion. I doubt most of them had read Mr. Wilder's book.

Wilder has written a book in an attempt to illustrate the obvious. Perhaps he was too young, and too inexperienced in life, to realize at the time how obvious it was. ... Read more

5. The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder (Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Mo)
Hardcover: 486 Pages (1996-12-25)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300067747
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An annotated collection of the writers' correspondence traces Stein's contribution to Wilder's creation of such plays as Our Town and Wilder's support for Stein's famous U.S. lecture tour in 1934 and 1935. UP. Amazon.com Review
Gertrude Stein, the great lesbian modernist, met ThorntonWilder when he was a young writer in search of a mentor. Stein becamethat mentor and helped Wilder shape his aesthetic into classicAmerican plays such as Our Town and The Skin of OurTeeth. Begun during Stein's lecture tour of the U.S. in 1934,their friendship lasted until Stein's death 12 years later. Theseletters record Wilder's attempts to help Stein with publication andStein's insistence that the writer's work is not teaching or lecturingor seeking fame, but writing. The Letters of Gertrude Stein andThornton Wilder records not only a friendship, but also thewriters' struggles with the position of their writing in Americanculture. ... Read more

6. The Ides of March: A Novel
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 304 Pages (2003-09-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$5.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060088907
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Drawing on such unique sources as Thornton Wilder's unpublished letters, journals, and selections from the extensive annotations Wilder made years later in the margins of the book, Tappan Wilder's Afterword adds a special dimension to the reissue of this internationally acclaimed novel.

The Ides of March, first published in 1948, is a brilliant epistolary novel set in Julius Caesar's Rome. Thornton Wilder called it "a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic." Through vividly imagined letters and documents, Wilder brings to life a dramatic period of world history and one of history's most magnetic, elusive personalities.

In this inventive narrative, the Caesar of history becomes Caesar the human being. Wilder also resurrects the controversial figures surrounding Caesar -- Cleopatra, Catullus, Cicero, and others. All Rome comes crowding through these pages -- the Rome of villas and slums, beautiful women and brawling youths, spies and assassins.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great man revived
Very clever story,which helps insight in an exceptionnal being and the critical times he lived in.

2-0 out of 5 stars Less is less
This is less than Shakespearian. The book never makes me wonder if Caesar will live or wonder why he should not

5-0 out of 5 stars If you liked "I, Claudius," you will like this book...
I think this wonderful epistolary novel deserves to better known.Even though it is critically acclaimed and by a famous American writer, I, a huge fan of quality historical fiction set in Rome, never heard of it for years.

Using letters, journals, and excerpts from other "documents," Wilder tells the story of Caesar in the days leading up to his assassination.We already know what will happen of course, and our attention is sustained by the subtle way Wilder sets the scene and coyly circles around as he approaches his climax.This is not linear narration; I think an author attempting just to "novelize" the historical account the old-fashioned, chronological way would end up writing the type of simplistic, melodramatic "reads like a made-for-TV movie" type of historical fiction that makes me so wary about the genre.

Some readers, perhaps accustomed to being entertained by everything these days, including their history and documentaries, etc., may find this book a little dry.In this, the work reminds me of Graves' "I, Claudius," and "Claudius, the God," which also purposefully uses a drier prose style to achieve a certain effect.I thought "The Ides of March" was especially engrossing for the very reason that it eschews over the top dramatization, but I would not be suprised if did not appeal to many readers' tastes.

4-0 out of 5 stars Caesar's last months
The structure of this novel, made up of letters written by different persons, allows us to examine Julius Caesar from multiple points of view. Undoubtedly a man of enormous energy, ambition, intelligence and the will to exercise power, Caesar is different things to different observers. Dictator,traitor, military genius, great politician, depraved soul. Who exactly is Caesar? Through family and political gossip, a tight web is being formed around this titan of history, until the final stabbing in the Senate. A fascinating counterfactual question is: What would have happened had Caesar survived the attack? But he didn't and civil war ensued, ending with the death of the Roman Republic and the beginning of Empire. Some of the best parts of the novel are Caesar's own letters, especially those adressed to Lucius Mamillius Turrinus, where Caesar develops his views on politics, power, and government, as observed by a natural born leader, a ruler of soldiers and politicians; a vain and authoritarian man, but also extremely conscious of his mortal human nature -he was exasperated by omens and superstition- as well as of the immense responsaibility that power brings upon rulers. Jumping in time, this novel takes us by the hand towards the tragic end of one of the most important and enigmatic characters of history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel about Caesar
This excellent novel, Wilder's masterpiece, is set during the last 17 years in the life of Julius Caesar in Rome. In it he attempts to answer the following: "What sort of person was Caesar and why was he assassinated?" Told mainly through letters and documents of people who knew him, from the famous - Cleopatra, Catallus, Cicero, Brutus - to the lesser known - Cytheris, an actress; Turrinus, a friend; Cornelius Nepos, a political observer - and including such sources as Caesar's commonplace book and journal, broadsides, and various official memoranda, Wilder creates a brilliant picture of the man and the people who surround him. We learn of Caesar's great love for Rome, but his disdain for those who populate her. In a magnificent observation by his physician Sosthenes, he says, "Caesar does not love, nor does he inspire love. He diffuses an equable glow of ordered good will, a passionless energy that creates without fever, and which expands itself without self-examination or self-doubt....I could not love him and I never leave his presence without relief." Those few sentences speak volumes. We see in Caesar's own (private) letters how different the public figure (lofty, dictatorial, the great warrior) is from the private man (amused by human folly, lonely, sensitive to those who have been injured by life's cruelties). Yet the book is not just a history lesson, despite its appearance, but a moving novel that builds masterfully to a stunning climax on the Ides of March with his murder. The book is truly magnificent, filled with much insight into human motivation and observation. Definitely worth looking into. ... Read more

7. The Eighth Day: A Novel
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 512 Pages (2007-01-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$3.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060088915
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This new edition of Thornton Wilder's renowned 1967 National Book Award–winning novel features a new foreword by John Updike and an afterword by Tappan Wilder, who draws on such unique sources as Wilder's unpublished letters, handwritten annotations in the margins of the book, and other illuminating documentary material.

In 1962 and 1963, Thornton Wilder spent twenty months in hibernation, away from family and friends, in the Rio Grande border town of Douglas, Arizona. While there, he launched The Eighth Day, a tale set in a mining town in southern Illinois about two families blasted apart by the apparent murder of one father by the other. The miraculous escape of the accused killer, John Ashley, on the eve of his execution and his flight to freedom triggers a powerful story tracing the fate of his and the victim's wife and children. At once a murder mystery and a philosophical story, The Eighth Day is a "suspenseful and deeply moving" (New York Times) work of classic stature that has been hailed as a great American epic.

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Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Correction to your "Editorial Review"
In your editorial review you wrote that Douglas, Arizona is a border town in the Rio Grande. Although it is, in fact, a border town, that portion of the border is not where the Rio Grande is, as a quick "Google Maps" look will show.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant blend of a murder mystery and an adventure
Total departure from Wilder's better known "college/small-town" novels, this is, in my estimation, his best work. I found this book at a used book store many years ago and it blew me away. My hard copy is so worn now that I am buying another copy --thank goodness for the re-release of this gem. Other reviewers have given you the general plot line so I won't spoil the shocker for you. Enjoy! You won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is it: the Great American Novel
Until I had some time on my hands not many good books (read "high-profile") to read in English for entertainment while living overseas, and _The Eighth Day_ came through my hands, Thornton Wilder was just "a 20th century middle american white male traditionalist," to me, a result of over-exposure to the clinically edited versions of "Our Town," presented to us in school and on the big and small screens.The title itself, "The Eighth Day," confounded me and caused me to bypass the book whenever I saw it, thinking it was "a war novel," confusing it with "The Longest Day."

I settled down to give it a go and was unable to put it aside.When I finished reading it, I said -- as it encompassed so many places with a unifying sense of metaphysical connections -- "Look no further. This is it: The Great American Novel.I don't know what the fuss has been about, 'oh who could we pick?'. . . 'it has not yet been written. . .'
Clearly it has been, and has been languishing on library shelves throughout all the bloodless PG-PC interpretations of "Our Town," to which we have been subjected, all in the hopes that the bland versions introduced to us we intrigue us enough to read more on our own."Our Town" has been presented as our 'been there, done that' exposure to Thornton Wilder:'" a grave disservice, perhaps an intentional burying of a thoughtful,perceptive, and persuasive -- not to mention very very hip -- author under layers of one-size-fits-all theatre.
If you haven't read it, do.It is the kind of book that comes back in bits and pieces -- in scenes remembered as one's own experiences are -- over the years.

Looking at the reviews here already, I was surprised to see that all of us who thoroughly enjoyed reading this book have such close similarity of responses: "candidate for great american novel," "sadly neglected," "memorable," inspiring . . . .
It is a book that is hard to describe, as it is an experience that takes hold in the reader, an experience of scenes we think perhaps were ones we have been in, somewhere, sometime, or of which we have somehow a deeply felt/remembered knowledge.

I don't read many American authors, preferring British authors with a mention for theBooker Prize.Thornton Wilder does it for me -- perhaps closest to Somerset Maugham, yet wholly American (and here we should not be envisioning a flag-waving bumper sticking "patriot").It is that part of what is really American (forget the pumpkin pies and turkey) that survives in spite of all efforts to eradicate its soul.

The title, _The Eighth Day_, becomes easier to remember and less likely to be confused with "a war novel" when we consider thatyes, "on the seventh day, God rested," and all time since then has been the Eighth Day of creation, one in which man -- Kerouac's "Desolation Angels" -- is to be making the most of what has been given him to work with, his purpose in living, acting, working, as another put it, to define God to himself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Monument Fiction
In The Eight Day, Thorton Wilder tackles life's great question: is there a design to existence, or is it all an accident?Is there some structure to the cosmos and the human place within it, or is it some universal happenstance?Wilder, near the end, seems to come down on the side of design with the ruminations of the old Indian leader of the "cult" above Coaltown.But he seems unable to hold this vision.On page 145 one character ruminates: "Life affords no second chances... Is this what growing older is - seeing always more clearly the things we failed to see?"And this gem later on: "His parents were both forty when he was ten - that is to say they were beginning to be resigned to the knowledge that life was disappointing and basically meaningless."No matter how hard a person holds onto the desire for order, the pull toward disorder is stronger.Wilder creates a novel with characters of a type, etched in the fictional equivalent of stone.They are contending with mighty destinies, against a backdrop which marks them for greatness and flux.In this way the novel gets its great strength and weakness.It is a monumental achievement, but lacks the reality of real life experience.Wilder here is testing ideas rather than fleshing a living fictional reality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Close contender for "The Great American Novel"
Majestic!Wilder came closer than most to writing The Great American Novel."The Eighth Day" appears to be the template for the novels of John Irving. ... Read more

8. The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder Volume II
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 360 Pages (1998-05-01)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.94
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Asin: 1559361484
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Volume II of Wilder's collected plays includes "The Angel That Troubled the Waters, Our Century, The Unerring Instinct", and "The Alcestiad, or a Life in the Sun", a little-known retelling of an ancient Greek legend. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Edition of Lesser-Known Wilder
First, a correction to a previous review. Anyone looking for Pullman Car Hiawatha in this book will be disappointed: it's in Volume I of The Collected Short Plays.
Both volumes have been edited with great care and love. The better-known plays may be in Volume I, but the works here are no less fascinating, even the less successful ones. And despite the title, Wilder's fourth finished full-length play The Alcestiad (with its "satyr play" The Drunken Sisters) is included. Perhaps most tantalizing of all are two completed scenes from the ambitious The Emporium, along with extensive diary notes illuminating Wilder's struggles to make progress on this unfinished project. These two volumes are a must for anyone who loves Wilder's work, and especially for writers and anyone involved in the theater.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pullman Car Hiawatha - Amazing
I performed as Harriet from Pullman Car Hiawatha in State Competition for one-acts, and we won!It is quite moving if done right, and is a lot like Our Town - on a shorter and more eccentric verson. ... Read more

9. The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder
Mass Market Paperback: 117 Pages (1970)
-- used & new: US$11.43
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Asin: B000I1TPA2
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I had not read this book in 20 years and really enjoyed reading it again. ... Read more

10. Conversations with Thornton Wilder (Literary Conversations Series)
Paperback: 156 Pages (1992-01-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$25.00
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Asin: 0878055142
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Known today primarily as the author of Our Town, probably America's most beloved and widely produced play, Thornton Wilder is the only writer ever to be honored with Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and drama.This collection of interviews with Wilder covers the full range of his sixty-year career as one of America's leading men of letters.

In addition to American interviews, this book includes translations of interviews published originally in French and German that have never appeared in English previously.It includes a transcription of a rare radio interview conducted by Rex Stout and an extensive Paris Review conversation between Wilder and Richard H. Goldston, his first biographer.Throughout this book is a sense of Wilder's boundless curiosity, his wit, his unflagging energy, his friendships with a range of celebrities such as Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Gene Tunney, and above all, the multitude of subjects on which he conversed easily and brilliantly.

Conversations with Thornton Wilder provides a close-up encounter with Wilder as novelist, playwright, actor, director, teacher, scholar, world traveler, musician, raconteur, and friend of the famous.The earliest interview included was given in 1928, when his most acclaimed and commercially successful novel, The Bridge at San Luis Rey, won him his first Pulitzer Prize.From the 1930s and 1940s come Wilder's comments on his two celebrated plays, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, both Pulitzer winners.In the last three decades of his life, WIlder returned to the novel form (The Eighth Day won the National Book Award) while continuing to write plays and give his opinions on theater-in-the-round, the hippie movement, movies and television, and Communism.

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11. Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, and The Matchmaker (Perennial Classics)
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 496 Pages (2007-01-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$6.22
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Asin: 0060512644
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Three of the greatest plays in American literature collected in one volume

This important new omnibus edition features an illuminating foreword by playwright John Guare and an extensive afterword for each play drawing on unpublished letters and other unique documentary material prepared by Tappan Wilder.

Our Town—Wilder's timeless 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning look at love, death, and destiny is celebrated around the world and performed at least once each day in the United States.

The Skin of our Teeth—Wilder's 1942 romp about human follies and human endurance starring the Antrobus family of Excelsior, New Jersey. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1943.

The Matchmaker—Wilder's brilliant 1954 farce about money and love starring that irrepressible busybody Dolly Gallagher Levi. This play inspired the Broadway musical Hello, Dolly!.

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Customer Reviews (12)

2-0 out of 5 stars Three plays by Thornton Wilder
When I received this collection of plays by Thornton Wilder, I compared some of the text to an original acting script, and found that several changes had been made, apparently to make it more socially "correct".For example, in the introductory monolog to Our Town, the playwright's reference to the people living in Polish Town as "foreigners who come to work in the mill" had been completely deleted.I consider this an example of Bowdlerizing, and a big enough change in the text that it may be illegal.I was very disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Our Town - An Invitation to Open our Eyes
Our Town is interesting 1939 play stage-managing the life of rural families in NH at turn of the century, focussing on a love affair, rueing that each one of us should spend more time appreciating the fullness and preciousness of the day-to-day world in which we live. Without scenery, the audience must employ its imagination more than usual and thus more fully participates in the production.

5-0 out of 5 stars Three Masterpeices of Dramatic Art
Thornton Wilder's reputation as a playwright rests upon three works: the 1938 drama OUR TOWN; the 1943 comedy THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH; and the 1955 THE MATCHMAKER, a farce re-written from a previously failed play titled THE MERCHANT OF YONKERS. The first two of these titles won Pulitzer Prizes; the final title would go on to become the basis for the musical comedy HELLO, DOLLY!, one of the most popular Broadway shows of the 20th Century.

Although its "out of town" opening was nothing short of a debacle, OUR TOWN first charmed and then stunned audiences and critics alike when it reached New York--partly through Wilder's staging concepts (the play is performed on a bare stage and without scenery or hand props) but most particularly through Wilder's delicate story of an ordinary New Hampshire town in the earliest part of the 20th Century. In the first act we become acquainted with the Gibbs and Webb families; in the second act we learn how George Gibbs and Emily Webb come to fall in love and marry. It is charming, guiless stuff--until the third act brings us the town cemetery, where the dead contemplate the nature of life, death, and eternity.

Written in the darkest days of World War II, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH is a proto-absurdist comedy about an "everyman" family: Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, their son Henry, their daughter Gladys, and their sultry housemaid Sabina, who live in middleclass comfort in New Jersey. But it is also, most curiously, the middle of the ice age! As the play progresses, Wilder drags the Antrobus family from Noah's flood to the aftermath of an apocalyptic, global war--even as the actors break ranks, dispute the merits of the play, refuse to play scenes, and are sent rushing to the hospital with food poisoning. Can they finish the show? More to the point, can the human race survive?

THE MATCHMAKER is, of course, the famous story of Dolly Gallegher Levi--a busybody who is determined to marry the wealthy Horace Vandergelder. But Horace is stuffy; who wants a husband like that? By putting her hand in here and there, Dolly contrives to unstuff the stuffy, bring the unhappy lovers together, create two new romances, and do well by herself and all those around her.

Wilder was not fond of realistic theatre and all three plays are similar in that they are styled in a very theatrical manner. As noted, OUR TOWN is done without scenery; in a classic production you can see the back wall of the stage itself. THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH is also highly stylized, with bits of the stage flying away and then reappearing, and in all three titles characters suddenly turn to speak to the audience directly--and now and then even emerge from the audience itself.

All of this was very cutting edge for its time, but what really sets Wilder apart is his talent for mixing a slight story with a depth of poetry and theme that rarely occurs on the stage. His plays bring forth great, fundamental questions. What is eternity? What is the future of mankind? What is the nature of happiness? What is life worth--and can it be lived to any point or purpose? His responses are eloquent and more often light than dark.

Samuel French Inc., which holds the amateur performance rights to all these titles, notes that OUR TOWN is performed at least once a day in some part of the world. It is generally regarded as the single best known play of American theatre. Although seldom performed in America today, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH remains a landmark drama--and is very popular indeed in Europe and most particularly in Germany. And THE MATCHMAKER, although often outshined by its cousin HELLO, DOLLY! remains a favorite as well.

These three plays are presented with a preface by John Guare. Frankly, they would be better left to speak for themselves. Guare seems a great deal less interested in Wilder than in his friends, and most particularly so in Gertrude Stein. The result is a bite of over-written and over-heated academia at its least impressive. Considerably better are the end notes by Tappan Wilder, which describe the original productions and the wider impact of each. But with or without foreword and end notes, these are three masterpieces by a master artist working at the height of his powers. American classics, all three.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

5-0 out of 5 stars Anyone searching for some good plays?
Thorton Wilder is one of the best playrights of his generation. This book brings together three of his best plays. "Our Town" which is a play centered around one town, and the way life can change within it. "the Skin of Our Teeth", which centers around one family that is going through all the changes that have ever happened in the world, including the ice age, world war 2, the depression, and so on. And finally "the Matchmaker" which is not the best play, but is still worth reading. Thorton Wilder does an amazing job with character developments and sub-plots, and these three plays really show his genius.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classics that are deserving of the term
Skin of Our Teeth and Our Town both were prize-winning plays. The Matchmaker became one of the most popular musicals of all time - Hello Dolly. Thornton Wilder'splays are in production at countless high schools across the country, and that's a pity - few students have the maturity or insight to bring these words strongly to life.

Skin of Our Teeth, the story of the Antrobus family in stone age Atlantic City, NJ,deals with indomitable humanity, and how we can prevail against all odds, but especially against our own impulses. It also brings up the consolations of literature and of past times.

Our Town is a simple little play about love and death, and how life is composed as a series of moments. It is so important to live in every, every, moment.

The Matchmaker is about living life to the fullest, even in the midst of grief and aging.

This makes these plays sound dreadfully simplistic, and full of high-school style morality. Thornton Wilder's writing is full of irony, wit, grace, kind humor, and style. His writing has a deceptive simplicity and rhythm. Read these plays to bring some beauty into your life. ... Read more

12. Theophilus North: A Novel
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 432 Pages (2003-04-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$6.50
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Asin: 0060088923
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Marking the thirtieth anniversary of Theophilus North, this beautiful new edition features Wilder's unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder.

The last of Wilder's works published during his lifetime, this novel is part autobiographical and part the imagined adventure of his twin brother who died at birth. Setting out to see the world in the summer of 1926, Theophilus North gets as far as Newport, Rhode Island, before his car breaks down. To support himself, Theophilus takes jobs in the elegant mansions along Ocean Drive, just as Wilder himself did in the same decade. Soon the young man finds himself playing the roles of tutor, spy, confidant, lover, friend, and enemy as he becomes entangled in the intrigues of both upstairs and downstairs in a glittering society dominated by leisure.

Narrated by the elderly North from a distance of fifty years, Theophilus North is a fascinating commentary on youth and education from the vantage point of age, and deftly displays Wilder's trademark wit juxtaposed with his lively and timeless ruminations on what really matters about life, love, and work at the end of the day -- even after a visit to Newport.

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Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars loved it!
Theophilus North: A Novel I own this book titled, "Mr. North" some genius decided to retitle Wilder's book for some reason. I found it delightful. Wonderful character descriptions in it. I wanted to continue reading to find out who he would meet next and how the story would develope.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful tale of a 'benevolent meddler'
I've lived long enough to be able to judge novels by how many times I'm willing to re-read them.I've read Theophilus North about 20 times...

If it's not my favorite novel of all time, then it's definitely within the top five.The main character really appeals to me, a supremely independent, intelligent, well educated soul, who repeatedly, almost against his will, gets entangled in the lives of those with whom he comes in contact while on a summer vacation in Newport - always to the benefit of those fortunate enough to to be a target for his 'meddling'.

I know this is a fable, not a true story... but, oh, how I wish there were people like this in the world...

5-0 out of 5 stars A NICE READ, BUT POINTLESS
this author, which has written books so beatiful, has given the world this one which is also beatiful, but pointless, i guess that the main character is himself. the book does not have a plot or at least is not goinganywhere, but it is not boring, and it is a good read. i just loved it,even though when i finished i had the sensation of not being told anythingnew. the book has gone into oblivion and will propably stay there, the onei read i took it from the library and i was the only one who got it fromthe shelf in more than a decade, i guess it is there in the shelf at thelibrary, waiting for another ten years until some reader will take it down,and write another pointless review about it....

LUIS MENDEZluismendez@codetel.net.do

4-0 out of 5 stars It creeps into your heart
I read this book more than 20 years ago as a college student and I still find myself thinking about it now. I was a persnickety English student and I wouldn't have imagined the book was making much of an impression on me atthe time. Maybe I needed to age considerably before I could appreciateWilder's idea that you do get everything you wish for -- just not on yourschedule, and seldom packaged as you may have hoped or expected.

3-0 out of 5 stars Goody Two-Shoes
At once a nice travelogue of Newport, Rhode Island, in the 1920's and a novel of human interaction, "Theophilus North" is a well-written and engaging (at first) book.It's just hard to understand why Wilderwrote it.There is so little of it in the way of dramatic or comicinvention.The protagonist is a bodhisatva (a saint on earth) who spendshis days doing good.All the time.You keep expecting some rising action- after 100 pages you yearn for it - but it never comes.Just one gooddeed after another.It isn't a bad read, and it might even be a good thingto put into the hands of teenagers (if you can get them to sit still forit).But there's no inner struggle going on in this first personnarrative.And that makes ultimately for a weak plot.The book wassomething of a hit when it first came out, but it has since sunk to theobscurity it probably deserves.That saddens me, because I thought theauthor's "Our Town" and "Skin of Our Teeth" to be someof the finest writing this side of Heaven. ... Read more

13. Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Matchmaker
by Thornton Wilder
Mass Market Paperback: 225 Pages (1966)
-- used & new: US$16.40
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Asin: B000VLEURW
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Three plays by Thornton Wilder: Our Town, The Skin of our Teeth, and The Matchmaker. ... Read more

14. The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder Volume I
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 280 Pages (1997-05-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$11.47
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Asin: 155936131X
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Volume One of the collected short plays by one of the greatest American playwrights of the Twentieth Century.
Amazon.com Review
The theater world's great rediscovery of Thornton Wildershifts into high gear with this glorious volume of short plays--somerecently discovered among his papers and published here for the firsttime. The Pulitzer-winning author of Our Town and The Skinof Our Teeth returned constantly to the short form, perhaps morethan any other contemporary playwright. His mastery is revealed in cutgems Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, The Long ChristmasDinner, and especially Pullman Car Hiawatha. With thisvolume edited by Donald Gallup and Wilder's nephew A. Tappan Wilder weadd the playlets of two great unfinished cycles, The Seven Ages ofMan and The Seven Deadly Sins, several of which have beencompleted by a scholar, respectfully based on Wilder's writings andconversations. Best among the hitherto unproduced works is RiversUnder the Earth, about the dark currents moving beneath the placidsurface of a family on summer vacation. Like so many of Wilder'slonger works, these short plays seem to be homely slices ofAmericana--but every once in a while they suddenly yield glimpses ofthe infinite. ... Read more

15. Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater (Library of America)
by Thornton Wilder
Hardcover: 800 Pages (2007-03-15)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$23.98
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Asin: 1598530038
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Tender, beguiling, suffused with feeling and wit, the remarkable plays of Thornton Wilder occupy a unique place in American culture. His most celebrated play, Our Town, has achieved iconic status as an expression of the spirit and pathos of small-town American life; adapted for the movies and the operatic stage, it continues to resonate with audiences responding to its formal elegance, plainspoken poetry, and moving evocation of the inevitability of loss.

Collected Plays & Writings on Theater, the most comprehensive one-volume edition of Wilder's work ever published, takes the measure of his extraordinary career as a dramatist by presenting the complete span of his achievement, beginning with his early expressionist experiments and daring one-act plays such as "The Long Christmas Dinner" and "The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden" (one of Wilder's personal favorites), ranging through the full flowering of Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, and The Matchmaker, and encompassing the intriguing dramatic projects of his later years, such as his adaptation of the ancient story of Alcestis (The Alcestiad) and plays written for dramatic cycles based on the Seven Deadly Sins and the varied ages of an individual's life. Complementing the selection of plays is an illuminating group of essays that captures Wilder's reflections on his plays and contains a revealing epistolary account of the film adaptation of Our Town, as well as evaluations of dramatists such as Sophocles, George Bernard Shaw, and the Austrian satirist Johann Nestroy (whose farce Einen Jux will er sich machen Wilder brilliantly transformed into The Matchmaker).

Collected Plays & Writings on Theater also includes material never before published: scenes from The Emporium, an ambitious unfinished play that, emerging out of Wilder's intense engagement with existentialist philosophy in the postwar years, imagines a Kafkaesque department store whose enigmatic activities are as inscrutable as the mysteries of life itself; and the complete screenplay Wilder wrote for Alfred Hitchcock's film Shadow of a Doubt just before reporting for military service in 1942. Although faithful to the spirit of the film, the screenplay presented here restores Wilder's original dialogue, some of which (to Wilder's dismay) was altered for the movie. A study of family life, youthful illusions, and the desperation of a criminal on the run, the Shadow of a Doubt screenplay is a masterful exhibition of the art of suspense and taut dramatic storytelling, and is an essential part of Wilder's ouevre. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays
Excellent edition of the works of one of America's greatest writers and dramatists. Readable type, good paper, scholarly notes & introductory material.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must have for anyone who loves Wilder, drama, and American letters
I find the plays of Thornton Wilder to be a refreshing delight.While they have humor, satire, a freedom with the conventions of drama, and a telling use of the ordinary to make a deeper point, they also have scenes of emotional power and depth without ever becoming maudlin.Wilder never needs to make things "real" to make a real point.I can't think of any of his characters that need the psychological torture or a pathos built on a foundation of narcissism or the endless drumbeat of sex as the universal explanation for whatever one wants to conclude about life.Yep, I enjoy what Wilder provides and enjoy it very much.

The play that most people associate with Wilder is "Our Town", but they know it mostly from the 1940 movie.The play is sparer and Emily does not live.I think the play is better because her death makes its point about life more strongly than it does when she pulls through.This wonderful edition from the Library of America has articles by Wilder on the production of the play and a series of letters between Wilder and the producer, Sol Lesser, on the making of the movie version are quite interesting.This volume also has notes by Wilder on some of his other plays and on other theatrical topics.

What most people may not know is that the musical "Hello, Dolly" is based on Wilder's play called "The Matchmaker".The musical paid him sufficient royalties that made him financially secure for the remainder of his life.Wilder had based "The Matchmaker" on earlier works.It has a fairly long tradition because it is such a delightful topic.

The volume opens with a series of very short "plays" that are really literary pieces more meant to be read than produced.These were previously collected in a volume entitled "The Angel That Troubled The Waters".

Then come the longer and performable and even regularly performed one act plays."The Long Christmas Dinner" is probably the best well known.The effect of the time compression of 90 years of Christmases (not every year) is such an interesting effect.The actors age on stage, are born, and die for four generations (a fifth being hinted at).The ordinary language and the way we observe these lives in "fast forward" tell us so much.Quite a fine achievement.

Then come the big plays.Wilder won three Pulitzers.One for his novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in 1928.Another for "Our Town" in 1938, and then for the strangely wonderful "The Skin of Our Teeth" in 1943."The Skin of Our Teeth" is said to be influenced by "Finnegan's Wake" and Wilder did love that book.It toys nearly every dramatic convention one can think of.The three acts aren't really related except by keeping the central characters.But they are not informed from the other acts.It is full of anachronisms such as mixing 20th Century New Jersey with an ice age.And not only do the characters talk to the audience (a Wilder trademark), they do so out of character as if the actor himself or herself is speaking.But they are playing a role there, too.

The volume also includes a number of Wilder's "uncollected plays" and which are quite enjoyable and valuable.

The book also includes a very informative chronology of Wilder's life and very good notes on the texts.

Strongly recommended for those who love drama and American letters.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must" for classic theater shelves
The most comprehensive one-volume edition of dramatist Thornton Wilder's work published to date, Thornton Wilder Collected Plays & Writings on Theater is an 800+ page compendium of plays Wilder wrote throughout his career, essays that reveal Wilder's reflections on his own plays, an epistolary account of the film adaptation of the classic play "Our Town", a chronology, notes, and much more. Of special interest to literati is material that has never before been published: scenes from "The Emporium", an ambitious yet unfinished play that evolved out of Wilder's involvement with existentialist philosophy in his postwar years, as well as the complete screenplay that Wilder wrote for Alfred Hitchcock's movie "Shadow of a Doubt" just prior to reporting for military service in 1942. Like all Library of America editions, Thornton Wilder Collected Plays & Writings on Theater features a sturdy hardcover binding, a compact, relatively lightweight design, and an inset ribbon bookmark. A "must" for classic theater shelves, and recommended for college and public library collections.

5-0 out of 5 stars Someone from Wisconsin
The master anthologist J D McClatchy does it again with this superb edition of Thornton Wilder's plays and associated writing for the theater.

In the SF Chronicle the other day, a reviewer gave this volume horrible marks, he didn't like one thing about it.He said THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH is labored claptrap, and that was about the nicest thing he said.

I'm here to refute that opinion.To me Wilder is a great god of the theater and the shame is that some of his very best work has rarely or never been staged. Over the past ten years, as the different episodes of his two cycles have been given to us by Gallup and others, it's been one enchanting masterpiece after another!I had no idea how protean his imagination was, nor how everything had to be different from one another.What a shame he didn't finish the 7 ages of man, but the episodes we have, "Infancy," "Childhood," "Youth" and especially the new "The Rivers Under the Earth" are pretty spectacular,And as for THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS, what can I say, I don't believe any other author could have pulled it off."A Ringing of Doorbells" gets sort of into Tennessee Williams country, but Williams lacked the control Wilder had in spades.

OK, I wasn't crazy about "In Shakespeare and the Bible," but I probably just don't understand it.I can't decide if Katy did the right thing, nor what the point was about her having changed her name from Mildred, nor what agreement is made by the other two more worldly characters, her fiancee and her aunt, after Katy makes her exit. "Bernice" and "The Wreck on the Five Twenty Five" are beyond praise and I wish I could step into a time machine and see Ethel Waters and Lillian Gish act in them in Berlin or wherever their fugitive premiere was.We don't usually think of Wilder as being interested in civil rights, and the famous plays we know by him deal with almost totally white worlds, but "Bernice" is all about a sort of Frantz Fanon liberation and empowerment after enslavement, just brilliant.

And the two "extra" (non cycle) plays are cute too, "The Marriage we Deplore" has a surprise ending, and "The Unerring Instinct" has a device I think John Waters would love -- or has he used it already?

The EMPORIUM grows in power and eerie knowledge every time I read more of it.Someday I hope to read the manuscripts for the whole thing, no matter how chaotic they are.

For many the great plus of this McClatchy-edited volume will be the screenplay for SHADOW OF A DOUBT.It is remarkable how much of it Hitchcock used!And yet while the editorial apparatus tut tuts the contributions made to the screenplay by NEW YORKER hack Sally Benson, I think she helped.She wasn't the carpetbagger some have made her out to be. Her writing is always good, and a thorough study of her work on the final screenplay of SHADOW OF A DOUBT must be undertaken at once.Is Benson still alive?Somebody must know.In the meantime we have this fantastic book will console us. ... Read more

16. American Characteristics: And Other Essays
by Thornton Wilder
Paperback: 320 Pages (2000-03-21)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$17.94
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Asin: 158348387X
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Editorial Review

Product Description
These provacative and illuminating essays by a major figure in American letters range widely in tone and theme, but they are all distinguished by Wilder's penetrating and experienced intelligence and his marvelous intellectual audacity. ... Read more

17. The Skin of Our Teeth: Play in Three Acts (French's Standard Library Edition)
by Thornton Wilder
 Paperback: 146 Pages (1944)
-- used & new: US$16.98
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Asin: B0007DKB3Q
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars "The end of this play isn't written yet."
Ignoring the conventions of time, this playful "message play" follows one family from the days of the glaciers and dinosaurs to a post-apocalyptic, modern world. George Antrobus, the inventor of the wheel, and Maggie, his wife, the inventor of the apron, have two children, Gladys and Henry (whose previous name was Cain). The bossy father, domestic and subservient mother, aggressive and dangerous son, and innocent daughter interact, often humorously, onstage and are also seen through the viewpoint of Sabina, the flirtatious maid. As the play progresses through the eras, Wilder raises questions about civilization and values. George, by Act II, is convinced that the world is made for pleasure and power, but by the final act, after a world cataclysm, the family confronts what is truly important in their lives.

A pet dinosaur and a wooly mammoth, the Boardwalk of New Jersey and the Miss America contest, the fraternal Order of Mammals (of which George is President), and the attempted seduction of George and his fellow Mammals by predatory women all add to the visual appeal of this production. Though the play pretends to be traditional in its dramatic structure, it takes liberties with the audience as the various actors step out of character to address the audience, as does the director. At one point Sabina refuses to play a scene, summarizing it for the audience as the director and George plead with her.

First produced in 1942, the play reflects Wilder's fear that the war then engulfing the world might truly be a war for the future of civilization. His conclusion, which highlights the values of western philosophers, such as Spinoza, Aristotle, and Plato, also reflects his religious beliefs and his belief in the enduring values of (western) literature. "We've come a long way--we're learning," he says, hopefully, but he also reminds us that "the end of this play isn't written yet." Creative and original in its day, the play represents a major moment in American theater. Less innovative now, more than sixty years later, it still offers food for thought in its reminder of enduring values and its questions about what we value and would save from our own lives in a similar cataclysm. Mary Whipple
... Read more

18. The Enthusiast: A Life of Thorton Wilder
by Gilbert A. Harrison
 Paperback: 403 Pages (1986-06)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$12.00
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Asin: 0880640537
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating man but book has no source notes
Thornton Wilder is a fascinating man. Of all the biographies I have read on writers from this era, Thornton Wilder comes across as one of the true real intellectuals but who doesn't take himself so seriously which is a nice combination.

The main frustration I had with this book was the lack of sources - there are NO notes.In 380 pages of biography, there are only a few *asterisks which give the source for that particular bit of info - maybe 20 of these asterisks in the WHOLE book.

Where did all the author's info come from and why wasn't it noted? No bibliography either. Only hint is the author acknowledgement page. The book seems to have been well researched, my complaint is just the lack of resources that might have been interesting to look into.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still Unmatched
Thornton Wilder wrote so beautifully for the stage, and left his own personal, private life, such a blank page, that I don't envy the biographer who has to make something real out of the tatters and postcards he left behind.And yet Gilbert Harrison does a fine job.I didn't think the book told enough when it came out in 1983, but maybe I was expecting more than I should have, for on re-reading this book this past week I was struck over and over by how much indeed Harrison brings to live his evanescent, elusive subject.

Wilder's admirers were always pained, during his lifetime, about how little he actually produced.Why, oh why, did it take him so long to write his three famous plays, and why so little other work?It wasn't as though he was a busy family doctor like William Carlos Williams, or needed to hold down a manual job to make money, for family circumstances seemed comfortable; although Harrison pulls back the curtain and reveals some of the details of Wilder's financial life, in a way more clouded than his sexual history.And we see, just about for the first time, the extent to which Wilder was always writing, always, but he was such a perfectionist that his experiments hardly ever pleased him!Such an oddity, for the plays that came out after his death were just as good as the ones he had produced, and I think as time goes by the magnificent LIFE IN THE SUN will become better and better known, it is totally beautiful; while the short play cycles, including the SEVEN DEADLY SINS and the SEVEN AGES OF MAN, are simply wonderful and everyone should have the two newish compliations of COLLECTED SHORT PLAYS at their bedside.He seemed to know everything about human life, not just the sunny, heartwarming OUR TOWN moments, but also about the chill and the pall that, say, we love reading Auden for, or Sartre's NO EXIT.He was scary, as he proved in the devastatingly nihilistic speeches he gave "Uncle Charlie" in the script he wrote for Alfred Hitchcock, SHADOW OF A DOUBT.Did he hold back on the remaining one act plays (and THE EMPORIUM) because they were possibly too bleak?If so, we now have them to treasure.Did he fail to find happiness in his private life due to homophobia, or perhaps to a crippling shyness which led him to abdicate from the body's demands?Harrison is good at all of these lines of inquiry, but most of all he gives us the sense of a life rich in a hundred ways besides the usual, including the generosity some called saint-like but which, as the wise know, is nothing but a sublimated form of curiosity.The giver wants to see the reaction of those to whom he gives.That's all Dolly Levi really wants, to see real life from the angle of the donor. ... Read more

19. Thornton Wilder, An Intimate Portrait
by Richard H. Goldstone
 Hardcover: 299 Pages (1975-11)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$205.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0841503923
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20. Three Plays By Thornton Wilder; Our Town, the Skin of Our Teeth, the Matchmaker
by Thornton Wilder
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1957)

Asin: B000HCS5DU
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