By Thornton Wilder
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060088927, 432pp.)
Publication Date: April 2003
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Marking the thirtieth anniversary of Theophilus North, this beautiful new edition features Wilder's unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder.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.
Thornton Wilder (18971975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for The Bridge of San Luis Rey, the second of his seven novels, and received the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Our Town in 1938 and The Skin of Our Teeth in 1943. Wilder's hit play The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly! His work is widely read and produced around the world to this day, and his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) remains a classic psycho-thriller. Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org