[Epub] ❧ Theophilus North: A Novel By Thornton Wilder – Agedanna.info
Continuing our f2f discussion group s book film season I suggested this title as I had enjoyed the movie, Mr North, which had been filmed in Rhode Island John Huston actually passed away here during filming and was replaced by Robert Mitchum Anyway I had never read the book nor anything by Wilder so I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this Talk about richness in language, allusion insight into the human condition Theo has a way of understanding human nature that allows him to help the people he meets during his summer sojourn in Newport in the 1920s overcome their problems be they physical, mental or social It was reminiscent of Chocolat in that way Upon re viewing the film I was disappointed in how simplistic and gimmicky it now seemed compared to the feast that was the book But the visuals of Newport were still fascinating for a Rhode Islander. In college, two of my favorite professors offered a special course on Thornton Wilder, which introduced me to his now mostly forgotten novels Theophilus North was a favorite, and I m enjoying re reading it now It recounts the adventures of a Yale graduate, Theophilus North a semi autobiographical protagonist , in Newport, Rhode Island, 1926 Erudite, witty, and wise. I made it about 160 pages before breaking into a brisk skim.Wilder wrote some artful, tightly structured works, and this is not one of them The novel has absolutely no rising action or character development, other than the most unimaginative, tacked on attempt at whaddayacallit kunstleroman And when I say unimaginative and tacked on, I mean it on the very last page someone says to the main character, have you ever thought about being a writer Apart from that the form and content of the novel rattle along for almost 400 pages, blithely indifferent to a 1970s audience who had seen Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, etc write generation defining novels about the same era Theophilus North seems unaware of any of this It makes fun of rich people, sure, but it does so in a simplistic, harmless, childish way The power brokers and tycoons of the gilded age are rendered as harmless, idiotic showpieces, their problems effortlessly overcome by the supernaturally clever Mr North I should add, as other reviewers have, that his solutions aren t that inventive I write all this as someone who works in Newport, RI, where the story is set, and who takes great interest in the town s history and characterization The whole 9 cities of Newport riff, early on in the novel, is really well done yet Wilder seems unwilling to tell us or show us anything of substance about any of those 9 worlds Stock characters, including particularly unimaginative and unrealistic portrayals of the lower social classes, parade around this novel like so many cardboard cutouts Folks will tell you this book is well written, but I find Wilder stuck in his narrator s voice the book is basically written by a pretentious ass.No doubt there are lots of characters and stories here that echo those of the real Newport I looked in vain for Timmy the Woodhooker But they aren t presented in a way that will make you care Maybe the ideal readers for this novel were the 70 year old ladies of 1973 They didn t care much for that Fitzgerald and they don t want to think about the second world war or the 60s upheaval just please tell them clever stories about helpless old rich people in Newport.One of the weirdest things about living in Rhode Island is that you often feel and almost never in a good way that you are living in the 1950s This novel is similarly set back it s an artifact of the 1970s, yet it doesn t seem to belong to its time at all And its stylized fixation on the past doesn t create much than bogus antiquarianism, anyway You can t go back to Brigadoon, and it s just a bunch of shiny happy technicolor people dancing around, anyway most likely nothing like reality. , YMCA . I think that growing up in the 80s has predisposed me to expecting that any comedy about a young man alternately drifting about and making his way in the world will be full of many wacky misunderstandings, possibly involving donkeys snorting cocaine, or John Cusack Or, maybe it s my enjoyment of the Jeeves stories that led me to hope that this book would be an American equivalent of a 20s satire of aristocracy I m all for light and breezy comedies it s refreshing to read a series of amusing stories that lack any kind of biting cynicism I think the main problem I had with this book was that at the beginning, the title character possesses an endearing joie de vivre, and entertains the reader with theories of society that promise a complex story line, but it turns out that these are just introductory fancies Theophilus North occasionally turns a good phrase, but his attitude also comes off as smug and priggish at points, which overshadows his affability. If you ever saw movie Le Fabuleux Destin d Am lie Poulain or just Amelie you pretty much have the idea what s Theophilus North is about and if you don t run to your local DVD store and get it, you will be thanking me It s a story about Yale graduate who drops his teaching job, moves to Newport and starts to secretly interfere in lives of its inhabitants, fixing what s is wrong with them He is like a good angel for different people who are stuck with some problem in their life He does that in very tricky manner so the person who got his help doesn t really know about that or at least is not intimidated by being helped from a stranger Of course he is doing all that in accordance with HIS views of how these lives should look like so there is no room for manicheism in this book What s good is good, what s evil is evil There are 13.5 different stories in the book , they are all interconnected by Theophilus North of course and 5 6 other characters but they are separate from each other , devoted to a certain case nothing criminal in here of dr North Decameron like Obvious flow of this book is how Theophilus North is accepted by other characters Every story filled with situations when he enters the room or meets someone and he is immideatelly adored, liked and trusted People are giving him away all their secrets after several sentences of conversation Basically that s the carcass of this book, main characterstic of its protagonist and although one can assume smth like that s mr.North imagination he is narrator and book is presented as his diary , that s his dream what he could be like or he is not ordinary person he is a good angel and people are treating him as an angel with unconsious love , I still felt uncomfortable when it happened over and over again. 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 , 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 Wow, this is a tough one to review It s a story of a twentysomething named Theophilus North He spends his summer in Newport and finds himself getting involved in the life of its inhabitants In a way it feels like a series of vignettes than a traditional novel Each chapter deals with Theophilus and a new cast of characters I really enjoyed most chapters some were dull some were confusing from start to finish It was definitely an interesting book It has made me curious to read Thornton Wilder, that s for sure It dragged here and there and did feel a bit long, but overall I enjoyed it I m glad I read it. One of my favorite books of all time It s actually really hard to find an original copy of it I found mine on eBay and I think I still have my mom s copy of it. Probably my most favorite book It has a touch of magic and something we can all relate to the endless quest to figure out who we are and how we fit into the world around us.