Thornton Wilder: Contribution as American Writer

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      Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), was a remarkable playwright and a novelist. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin. He was the son of the Calvinistic parents and he attended missionary schools between 1905 and 1909. He completed his high school in California and then attended Oberlin College, Yale and Princeton. His early writings include three small minute plays which later published in The Angel that Troubled the Waters (1928). His first publication was a full-length play The Trumpets Shall Sound (1919) Two years later he won the Pulitzer Prize. For the novel The bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), a complex study of role of destiny or providence in the death of five travelers. The third novel The Woman of Andros (1930) set in ancient Greece, provoked an attack by critics who felt that he ignores the contemporary problems. Heaven’s My Destination (1934) concerns with fortunes of a simple man during the depression. The Ides of March (1948) is a historical novel on the last days of death of Julius Caesar.

      Wilder, is known for his plays Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927). Our Town conveys positive American values. It has all the elements of sentimentality and nostalgia - the archetypal traditional small country town, the kindly parents and mischievous children, such as ghosts, voices from the audience, and daring time shifts keep the play engaging. It is, in effect, a play about life and death in which the dead are reborn, at least, for the moment. During the 1930s Wilder chose to concentrate most of his energies on the theatre. In his plays he mingled realism with experimental modes. He received the second Pulitzer Prize for Our Town (1938) as drama set in a small town of Grover’s’ corners, New Hampshire. The Skin of our Teeth (1942) was also awarded Pulitzer Prize. The next was Matchmaker (1955), a revision of the earlier play The Merchant of Yonkers (1939). Hello Doly (1963) is a musical comedy. His essays on the theatre were published in American characteristics and Other Essays (1979).

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