Reviews — From the January 2013 issue

The Chameleon

Thornton Wilder’s multifaceted life and work

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Discussed in this essay:

Thornton Wilder: A Life, by Penelope Niven. HarperCollins. 848 pages. $39.99.

Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater, edited by J. D. McClatchy. The Library of America. 888 pages. $40.

Thornton Wilder: The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Other Novels 1926–1948, edited by J. D. McClatchy. The Library of America. 731 pages. $35.

Thornton Wilder: The Eighth Day, Theophilus North, Autobiographical Writings, edited by J. D. McClatchy. The Library of America. 864 pages. $35.

Poor Thornton Wilder! He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times, produced not one but two high school classics — the short novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) and the play Our Town (1938) — and essentially wrote the book for the phenomenally popular Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! Most of his seven novels became bestsellers, as well as selections of the Book of the Month Club. Throughout his career, Wilder served as U.S. literary ambassador to the world, going on goodwill missions to South America, attending conferences in Europe, and appearing on the cover of Time magazine with the American flag in the background.

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is the author, most recently, of Classics for Pleasure (Harcourt) and On Conan Doyle (Princeton University Press).

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