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Our Town: A Play in Three Acts Hardcover – September 23, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0060535254 ISBN-10: 0060535253

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060535253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060535254
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Pulitzer Prize-winning drama in three acts by Thornton Wilder, produced and published in 1938, considered a classic portrayal of small-town American life. Set in Grover's Corners, N.H., the play features a narrator, the Stage Manager, who sits at the side of the unadorned stage and explains the action. Through flashbacks, dialogue, and direct monologues the other characters reveal themselves to the audience. The main characters are George Gibbs, a doctor's son, and Emily Webb, daughter of a newspaper editor. The play concerns their courtship and marriage and Emily's death in childbirth, after which she and other inhabitants of the graveyard describe their peace. Considered enormously innovative for its lack of props and scenery and revered for its sentimental but at bottom realistic depictions of middle-class America, Our Town soon became a staple of American theater. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

An acclaimed novelist and playwright, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1928), Our Town (1938), and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942). Wilder's other honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.

More About the Author

Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) is an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. His Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, as did two of his four full-length dramas, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Wilder's Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly! He also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them teaching, acting, opera, and film. His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) remains a classic psychological thriller to this day. Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.

Customer Reviews

I believe anyone who reads this book will really enjoy it.
Jeremy Price
The play is very short and simple yet you get the feel of what life is like for the characters.
I have recently begun spending time rereading literature that I first read when in school.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Kenneisha Thompson on May 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Through the use of small town characters and the element of simplicity, Thornton Wilder creates universal themes about the cycle of life that reign eternal even today. The play Our Town tells the story of two simple families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, living in the town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. In three acts, Wider journeys through the cycle of life, from the birth of a new life, all way up to the inevitable. Throughout the play, the reader experiences the great milestones in life that they can relate to, such as new life, first love, long lasting love and the effect of death. The last act holds a special significance. In the last act, Wilder uses the theme of death to show the reader how humans fail to "realize life while they live it." Our Town's simplicity also helps it appeal to a multitude of audiences, whether young or old, past or present. From the characters, to the diction, to the set design, Wilder simplifies everything to help the reader better relate to the story. When writing the dialect for the play, Wilder uses typical country vernacular and has the Stage Manager speak directly to the audience, which makes the reader feel apart of the story. Wilder's sets, or lack there of, allow the reader to use their imagination, but not focus so much on scenery that they miss the message. All in all, Our Town by Thornton Wilder is an exceptional play. With this play, Thornton Wilder tries to get us in general not to live life in a blur and to stop and smell the roses. Anyone can appreciate the contents and themes in this play, no mater what age, race, or gender. It is ideal for easy reading and will leave you with a newfound respect for life.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Laura on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Thornton Wilder's Our Town is an inspiring play about the joy of life. The play depicts the lives of "ordinary people" in the fictional New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners. The play is set in three acts, each representing a different aspect of life entitled daily life, love and marriage, and death. Wilder sets the stage with nothing but two tables and chairs in order to establish the universality of the play. From there, you are transported to a world very similar to your own and watch the lives of two families and a town come together through hardships and happiness. Wilder's love for the past shows through as the setting is in the early 1900's. The play continues as the children of the two families grow up and experience all of the joys and sorrows of life. In the third act, the theme of death is prevalent. The third act pulls together the loose ends created in the first two acts in a philosophical way. A passage from the play that really sums up what Wilder was trying to get across is "Do human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?" The characters in the play realize in the end that people rush through life not taking the time to enjoy every minute of it. They don't just stop and look around at the people, at the scenery, and at the world. Wilder's purpose in writing this novel was to inform people of just that, to live each day to the fullest and have no regrets when it's all over and you look back over your life. I recommend this play for anyone who rushes through life without enjoying the simple pleasures. It is short, it reads fast, but most of all, it says something that everyone needs to hear at one point in their life.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Loveshade on January 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Does Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" refer to the home town of the State Manager and the characters, or does it refer to the home of the audience? I believe it's both.
The play was written in 1938. America was still in the Depression. and people longed for an escape. In the opinion of many film historians, black and white movie-making was at its peak, and its escapes were many. Viewers could see "poor" families who owned two-story houses and had servants; action-adventures heroes who survived cliff-hangers every Saturday; great romances filled with more passion than you could ever see anywhere else; and wartime explosions and gun battles which were still something to flock to on the big screen and avoid in real life. But "Our Town" was none of that. Like the Andy Hardy movie series that began before it and Archie who in comic books was to follow it, ironically in December 1941, it portrayed small town Americana. It was a return to the simple, safe, hometown America that many remembered and no one ever really lived in.
But "Our Town" was also very different. The "realism" that began on stage and then permeated the movie theaters after the experimental days of the pre-Depression wasn't there. The fourth wall had been created, and now was destroyed. Here was a Stage Manager who spoke directly to the audience, skipped through time, told us what had already happened when it would occur years after the scene we were watching, and even brought the dead back to life, at least for a moment.
The form was odd for its time (although in some ways not so different from the presentational, minimal set theatre of Shakespeare's days.
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