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Theophilus North: A Novel Paperback – April 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0060088927 ISBN-10: 0060088923 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (April 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060088923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060088927
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Novel by Thornton Wilder, published in 1973. The last work published during Wilder's lifetime, it has striking parallels to his own life experiences and may be considered a fictionalized memoir of Wilder's idealized artistic and philosophical life. A first-person reminiscence of life among the rich at Newport, R.I., during the summer of 1926, the novel is narrated by the elderly North from a distance of 50 years. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 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 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 films. (His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of 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.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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There's charm in the book and fun and sex, but not much wisdom.
The Concise Critic:
Each chapter can stand on its own so I was able to read it a chapter at a time.
Carolyn
I suspect Mr. Wilder wrote the novel from his journals and notes.
Ron in Western Maryland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Randy Morehouse on October 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
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...
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This novel of a young man just leaving a teaching position and heading "who knows where" is really a Walter Mitty story: this is how I would be if I were as wonderful as I want to be. Purported to be autobiographical, the hero is detective, psychologist and always friend to his acquaintances of all social classes. He cleverly and compassionately resolves all their problems and his own. Not containing the depth of other novels such as Bridge at San Luis Rey, this book is for pleasure.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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 at the time. Maybe I needed to age considerably before I could appreciate Wilder's idea that you do get everything you wish for -- just not on your schedule, and seldom packaged as you may have hoped or expected.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Karen Bryan (zethmayr@itis.com) on July 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a great gift for a recent graduate with creative aspirations; a good "pondering where to steer your life" book. Wilder describes multiple "cities" living under each others' noses in the same geographic venue. It's a look at people with widely varied resources. Those with economic or social resources do not necessarily come out fulfilled. Those without impressive resources sometimes turn out to be wonderfully resourceful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Antrobus on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is as much as a memoir as it is a novel. Although Wilder had been known for playing with form (in both plays and novels) throughout his career, his last book published while he was alive shows him settling down to an extent. This book is about a man named Theophilus North, who is reflecting back on his life and begins writng a series of character sketches from one summer he spent in Newport, Rhode Island. Theophilus North turns out to be a wholly good, if not dispassionate, character that truly tries to help everyone out as he goes around reading to, tutoring, and giving tennis lessons to the richer families of Newport for pay. He goes through several households during his stay and becomes something of a 'Jeeves' character for many in Newport as he is the servant who can get people out of problems.

At the beginning of the book, I tended to agree with several other reviewers that I could really see no point to this book, even though it was pleasant enough. Near the end, though, we finally catch glimpses of those little philosophical undertones that Wilder is famous for in his writings (for those reading the book, notice his thoughts on writing, being an army wife, the role of a servant, etc...). And these are what make the book worthwhile. It's not as well written as Wilder's other work (even though it is still a very well-written piece of work), and is not quite as moving either. But Wilder does not seem to be attempting to write some sort of swan song here. Instead, he's writing a clever piece of nostalgia that does have a certain depth to it, just not one that screams for the attention of the reader like a spoiled child. It's there if you want to explore it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Gibbons on July 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you were a relative of a friend of mine and were graduating from high school or college, you would get this book from me. That may sound risky -- "The old guy just gave me my own copy of Theophilus North." -- but most of them have gone out of their way to tell me what the book meant to them. It is that important.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary W. Dunn on August 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is a classic. It evokes the even-now-present feeling of Newport. I can hear the bell buoys and smell the salt air as I write this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vicki S. Galloway on October 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thanks for having an oldie but goodie available . Amazing how different the writing style was back then.
book was in good condition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


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.

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Theophilus North: A Novel
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