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The Eighth Day: A Novel Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060088915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060088910
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was 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 novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven, 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 The 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, the opera, and cinema. His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) remains a classic psycho-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.


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

Easy to read.
puzzleman
The action is interesting, the twists in each character's life are unusual, and will keep your attention.
Gary L. Misch
This is his most ambitious novel, and it won the National Book Award in 1968.
Bomojaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "kkupferstein" on September 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This novel was given to me by a friend and lover years ago, and remains one of the books that has moved me more than any. As he does in his better known works, Wilder manages to touch his reader deeply with the complexity of the human spirit, move us to tears without ever resorting to sentimentality. A powerful exploration of the "American Individual", the family, love and man's search for self and meaning. A must read, and a generous gift to those you love. One cannot help but reach within one's self and do a bit of soul-examining while/after reading this book. Haunting, inspiring and memorable.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By tenordan on August 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Thornton Wilder is best known as a playwright- for Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth and the Matchmaker. He was also an excellent novelist, and his novels should be much more well known. The Eighth Day is one of my all-time favorite books. The plot is exciting, but the beauty of the book is in the great compassion Wilder shows for his fellow humans. In this, it reminds me of Our Town. You will not regret reading this book.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Son of Houston on December 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A triumph of technique, The Eighth Day may be the ultimate achievement of Wilder's novelistic career - in microcosm, a story of the hundred years from 1845 to the Second World War, the novel focuses on two families in one town and the aftermath of a murder. While the writing gets bogged down in verbiage from time to time, the characters are exquisitely drawn, and the tale is gripping and powerfully told, without sentimentality, and completely unpredictable. The murder mystery at the story's heart is, alas, a great big red herring and not particularly satisfying - but those who read the book for its evocative portrayal of a bygone America and its uniquely Wilder-esque turns of phrase will be thrilled and moved.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on April 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Set in a dismal Illinois coal town around the turn of the twentieth century, resident John Ashley is accused of killing Breckenridge Lansing, the money-grubbing, incompetent owner of the coal mine; he is found guilty and sentenced to be executed. But on his way to prison, he is suddenly rescued by six unidentified men and set free. He makes his way to Chile, puts his engineering background and love of mathematics to good use, and eventually makes his way back to the US. Ashley becomes a "man of faith," that faith being defined as a belief in a better, more caring, American community. (A new beginning = the Eighth Day.) One character says, "The [human] race is undergoing its education. What is education? It is the bridge man crosses from the self-enclosed, self-favoring life into a consciousness of the entire community of mankind." The "heroes" of the novel are those who defy the conventions that would keep them from crossing that bridge (Lily Ashley pursues a career as a singer, defying Victorian conventions) and those who wash their hands of the filthy pursuit of materialistic well-being (Roger Ashley becomes a muckraking journalist in Chicago eager to help the poor). The truth of John Ashley's innocence of the crime is revealed at the end (though Wilder tells us he's innocent in the Prologue). An annoying feature of the book is Wilder's blunt moralizing, especially near the end; characters are forced to make these little speeches about "false hopes" and "people changing" that make them suddenly appear remote and snobbish. (I'm not criticizing the message here, only Wilder's methods.) Wilder holds out a great deal of hope for the future of America, though he believes the road ahead is perilous with lots of false turns possible. This is his most ambitious novel, and it won the National Book Award in 1968.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my very favorite novels, and it breaks my heart to see just how few people have heard of it. The engrossing storyline, brilliant characterizations, and Wilder's beautiful writing style make this a joy to read. I recommend it to everyone.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By AliMcJ on May 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
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.
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