thornton wilder: between the cracks


He was born in 1897, the same year as William Faulkner, a year after F. Scott Fitzgerald, and two years before Hemingway; he published his first novel in 1926, the same year as Soldiers’ Pay and The Sun Also Rises, a year after The Great Gatsbyand Arrowsmith, and a year before Elmer Gantry, and was immediately hailed as one of the best writers of his generation. He went on to write several more novels, almost all of them critically acclaimed bestsellers, and to win three Pulitzer Prizes, one for fiction and two for drama (he is still the only writer to have won Pulitzers in both categories). One of his novels was among the twentieth century’s great publishing sensations; one of his plays is the most performed American theatrical work of all time; yet another of his stage efforts was the basis for one of the most successful Broadway musicals in history. Some consider him the equal or superior of Hemingway and Fitzgerald as a novelist, and some place him alongside—or above—Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams in the pantheon of American drama. Why, then, can it seem as if Thornton Wilder has fallen between the cracks?

link to the pdf at Hudson Review here.