Tarkington, Booth: Gentle Julia
(researched by Meghan Fleming)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Booth Tarkington. Gentle Julia. Garden City, N.Y. and Toronto: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1922. Copyright Statements: 1922 by Doubleday, Page and Company. 1919 by The Pictorial Review Company 1918 by P.F. Collier and Son Company The 1918 and 1919 copyright dates denote when Collier's and The Pictorial Review released Gentle Julia in a series of short stories. Chapters 1-14 were published from June 1, 1918 to December 14, 1918 in Collier's. Chapters 15-23 were published from June through August of 1919 in The Pictorial Review. Source: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition was published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
199 leaves, pp.[14] 1-200 [2] 201-280 [2] 281-352 [2] 353-375 [2] Additional Pagination Information: Page numbers are located approximately 1 inch from the edge of page and approximately .5 inches down from the top of the page. Illustrated pages are not numbered.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The first edition was not edited nor was it introduced. However, the introductory material in the front of the book does include a listing of 22 other works by the author, a dedication to ìM.L.K.,î and a rather lengthy quotation.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
Illustrated by C. Allan Gilbert and Worth Brehm The book contains four illustrations: one color frontispiece and three black and white illustrations that have been reproduced from drawings, probably done in charcoal or pencil. The illustrations are titled with quotes from the text that are appropriate to the scene they are depicting. The frontispiece is of a young, dark-haired woman dressed in the typical 1920s fashion and is done predominantly in reds, oranges, and yellows. The title, ìJulia,î appears beneath the illustration. All four of the illustrations are done on a lightweight glossy paper stock; the three black and white illustrations are presented on the page in a landscape format and face pp.200, 280, and 352. Source: Gaskellís A New Introduction to Bibliography .
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Type: Serif Caslon Size of Type: 109R Side Margin: 23 mm Top Margin: 13 mm Bottom Margin: 26 mm Page Size: 125 mm (width) by 185 mm (length) Text Size: 85 mm (width) by 135 mm (length) Space between lines: approximately 4 mm. This specific first edition had received remarkably little visible wear, and the large type size and unusual amount of space between lines makes reading easy. On several pages however, the block of text appears to be significantly off-centered and slanted. The chapters are titled by their numbers and are written out in all capital letters (ìCHAPTER SEVENTEENî), with the first letter of the first word of each chapter being exaggerated in larger type. Source: Gaskellís A New Introduction to Bibliography .
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper has a smooth, even texture and is in excellent condition, with a noticeable absence of staining, tearing, and folding (the only fault was a slight water spot on a page). There is some yellowing, due to age. The book is clean-edged.
11 Description of binding(s)
The book is bound in a medium brownish-red trade cloth with an embossed calico grain (no dust jacket). The title is stamped in no-gilt black. Beneath the title, there is the silhouette of a young woman, also stamped in no-gilt black. Transcription of Front Cover: GENTLE | JULIA | BOOTH | TARKINGTON Transcription of Spine: GENTLE | JULIA | TARKINGTON | DOUBLEDAY | PAGE & CO. Source: Gaskellís A New Introduction to Bibliography .
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: GENTLE JULIA | By | Booth Tarkington | [printerís crest measuring 6 mm wide and 7 mm tall] | Illustrated by | C. Allan Gilbert | and | Worth Brehm | Garden City, N.Y., and Toronto | Doubleday, Page & Company | 1922 Verso: Copyright, 1922, by | Doubleday, Page & Company | All Rights Reserved,including that of translation | into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian | Copyright, 1918, by P.F. Collier and Son Company | Copyright, 1919, by The Pictorial Review Company | Printed in the United States | at | The Country Life Press, Garden City, N.Y. | First Edition Source: Gaskellís A New Introduction to Bibliography .
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Though the specific location of the Gentle Julia manuscript could not be located, the majority of Tarkington's papers and manuscripts are housed in a collection at the Princeton University Library. There are smaller Tarkington collections at the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Public Library. Addresses for the different collections: Princeton University Library Princeton, NJ 08540 Indiana Historical Society 140 N. Senate Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46204 Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library 40 E. St.Clair St. Indianapolis, IN 46204 Source: Robbins, J. Albert, ed. American Literary Manuscripts. Athens: U of Georiga P, 1977.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
In the back of the book, there is a library check-out card and a ìdate dueî slip, indicating that this book had belonged to the Roberta Sarah Twyford Memorial Public Library in Parksley, Virginia. The check-out card indicates that it was borrowed three times: in August of 1959, in November of 1959, and in July of 1960. The libraryís name and location is also stamped on the title page. The color frontispiece page has fallen out and lays loosely opposing the cover page.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
In addition to the first edition, Doubleday, Page and Company released The Works of Booth Tarkington in 1922 of which Gentle Julia was vol. XVI. There were two separate editions of this series: an autographed edition of which there were 565 copies printed, and a Seawood edition, which takes its name from the Tarkington family home, called "Seawood," in Maine. Seawood Edition: Physical Description: 18 v.illus., port. 22 cm. Publication Information: Garden City, New York, Doubleday, Page, and Company, 1922-24. Autographed Edition: Physical Description: 27 v. fronts (v. 1: port)illus. 22 cm. Publication Information: Garden City, New York, Doubleday, Page and Company, 1918-32. Sources: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949. WorldCat RLIN National Union Catalog
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were 25,000 copies of the first edition printed. It was printed four more times in the next four months, but quantities for each printing could not be located. Sources: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949. Bibliofind Amazon Publisherís Weekly National Union Catalog
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Wm. Collins Sons and Co. released an edition in London in 1922 (213 p.) Doubleday, Doran, and Co. released an edition for P.F.Collier's eight-volume Hoosier Edition in 1929 (New York, 375 p.). Grosset and Dunlap published an edition (New York, 375 p.) in 1922 and reprinted in in 1924 and 1947. Doubleday, Doran, and Company released a One-by-One Edition in 1932, which had an original statement by Tarkington, entitled "Writing," on the back dust cover. The Literary Guild of New York published an edition in 1922. Hodder and Stoughton published it in London in May of 1922 and reprinted it in 1924 and 1933 (318 p.). Sources: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949. Bibliofind Amazon RLIN WorldCat National Union Catalog
6 Last date in print?
In November 1999, a collection of Booth Tarkingtonís works, including Gentle Julia, will be reissued in a series, published by Classic Books. Sources: Books Out-of-Print Whitakerís Books in Print International Books-in-Print
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Gentle Julia spent a total of 20 weeks on Publisherís Weeklyís Best Seller List, with 8 of those being in the #1 spot. For the calendar year of 1922, it was the overall #3 best seller. Sales figures were not available for Gentle Julia, but, to give a ballpark comparison, the #1 best seller, If Winter Comes by A.S.M. Hutchinson, sold a total of 350,000 copies. Sources: Bestseller Index by Ketih L. Justice 80 Years of Bestsellers Publisherís Weekly
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Other than the information mentioned previously in #7, no sales figures could be found. Sources: Bestseller Index by Keith L. Justice 80 Years of Bestsellers Publisherís Weekly
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Several advertisements were found in Publisherís Weekly preceding the novelís April 28, 1922 publication date, but there were remarkably few advertisements for Gentle Julia after its release (however, it was mentioned in some group ads put out by Doubleday). From an advertisement after its publication: ìUNANIMOUS AGAIN!î followed by a rectangle with excerpts from different reviewers: ìDonít miss this book, but donít try to read it aloud to anyone, You couldnít do it justice, not in its best parts, because no one can speak distinctly who is all broken up with laughing.î -Hildegarde Hawthorne in The New York Times. ìThis is a good book.î - Heywood Broun in the New York World. The ad then states that the author, Booth Tarkington, was voted as the most significant living author. The advertisement closes at the bottom of the page by asking, ìCan WE say more?" Doubleday, Page and Company Featured at the top of the ad is the silhouette of Julia that is also imprinted on the cover of the book. Sources: Publisherís Weekly
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
N/A Sources: Publisher's Weekly
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
There were two motion pictures, both released by the Fox Film Corporation, made out of the novel. The 1923 movie, a silent black and white, was directed by Rowland V. Lee and adapted/written by Donald W. Lee. The 1936 version, directed by John G. Blystone, had Tarkington's input on the screenplay, which was written by Lamar Trotti. However, even with Tarkington's input, the plot, as summarized on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), is significantly different than in the book. The IMDB summarized the plot as "A shy newspaperman [Noble Dill] nearly gives up when his girlfriend [Julia Atwater] falls for the new guy in town [Crum] till [Florence Atwater] sets things right." Both movies can be located at the Museum of Modern Art. Sources: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949. Internet Movie Database The National Union Catalog
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Tauchnitz purchased the rights to an English-on-the-Continent edition of Gentle Julia in 1922 and rereleased it as a foreign edition (the language is not certain - perhaps Spanish) entitled Oh, Florence in 1949. Sources: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949. WorldCat RLIN
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
As stated in Assignment 1, Section 1, Gentle Julia was originally published in short stories that each covered three chapters. Chapters 1-12 were published in Collier's (June 1 - December 14, 1918), and chapters 15-23 were published in The Pictorial Review (June - August 1919). Source: Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
**For biographical overview, please see the entry for Booth Tarkington's The Turmoil, researched by Lisa Payne. In the early years of the twentieth-century, Booth Tarkington enjoyed the success of his break-through novel, The Gentleman from Indiana, published in 1899. He experimented in politics in 1902 and 1903, having been elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, but resigned in 1903 because of illness. In the years following, Tarkington struggled with a drinking problem and was, as Woodress wrote in the introduction to My Amiable Uncle,"fast killing himself with alcohol" (8). His alcoholism resulted in marital problems, and a drinking-induced seizure caused his wife, Laurel Louisa Fletcher Tarkington, to divorce him in 1911. This proved to not only be a low-point for him personally and physically, but professionally as well. His drinking years hadn't been a time of literary production for him, but on January 16, 1912, Tarkington "swore off liquor and started both a physical and spiritual recovery," a recovery that would also lead to his most fruitful literary period (Woodress, Introduction 9). The inspiration for this change in lifestyle was a Miss Susanah Robinson, whom Tarkington had been enamored by ever since having met her at a dinner party. When Susanah refused to even consider his offer of marriage until he stopped drinking, he sobered up quickly. Ten months later, on November 6, 1912, the couple wed in Dayton, Indiana, beginning the richest, most creative phase of Tarkington's career, for which Susanah was, as Fennimore described it, "more than a little responsible" (173). During the decade following their marriage, Tarkington produced twenty-seven plays and novels, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) and Alice Adams (1921). Gentle Julia was a product of this period; however, there is very little written about this particular novel and its formation, perhaps because it was published in the shadows of the Pulitzer works. It is known, however, that the inspiration for the character of Florence Atwater came from the tomboyish Jane Baxter in Tarkington's previous adolescent novel Seventeen. That novel, along with the Penrod books, established Tarkington's reputation as the premier American author of young adult books. His ability to write about teenagers, such as Florence in Gentle Julia, came from his close relationship to his nephews, not from the relationship he had with his daughter. During his divorce in 1911, his wife was given custody of their daughter Laurel for eleven months out of the year, and so Tarkington saw her very rarely. Laurel died in 1922 without ever having had a close relationship with her father. Tarkington's nephews on the other hand, gave him the insight he needed to vividly and accurately portray young people, as he did in Gentle Julia. Works Cited "Booth Tarkington." Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Short Story Writers 1910-1945. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1991. "Booth Tarkington." Gale Literary Databases: Contemporary Authors Online.1999. http://www.galenet.com/servlet/GLD/ Cooper, Frederic Taber. Some American Story Tellers. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1911. Fennimore, Keith J. Booth Tarkington. Twayne's United States Authors Series. New York: Twayne, 1974. Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1949. Sorkin, Adam J. "Booth Tarkington." Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Novelists 1910-1945. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1982. Woodress, James. Booth Tarkington: Gentleman from Indiana. Philadelphia: J.B. Lipincott Co., 1954. Woodress, James. Introduction. My Amiable Uncle: Recollections About Booth Tarkington. By Susanah Mayberry. West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 1983.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When Doubleday, Page & Company released Booth Tarkington'sGentle Julia in the spring of 1922, Tarkington had already established his reputation as one of America's premier novelists. The first two of his majorly successful, adolescent "Penrod" books, Penrod (1914) and Penrod and Sam (1916), had revealed his talents in writing teenage novels and gained him popularity among America's youth and adult population, as well. He was also recognized as a writer of great merit, having won two of the first four Pulitzer Prizes ever given, one for The Magnificent Ambersons in 1919 and the other for Alice Adams in 1922. The critics and readers alike, then, expected another triumph with Gentle Julia, and judging from their reactions, they thought they had received it. Critics were quite accepting of the fact that this novel was not another Pulitzer work nor did it deal with the same Pulitzer-worthy subject matter. "Tho this book is in a far lighter vein than the author's ?Alice Adams,' it is no whit less true to life, less delightfully, even brilliantly, written" (Literary Digest 42). Joseph Collins wrote that " ?Gentle Julia' is not Alice [Adams'] sister." However, the fact that this heroine and novel were completely different from seemed to, if anything, refresh the readers. The main element that was commented on repeatedly was its comic value. Critics wrote, often in hyperbole and flowery language, that every page of the book provoked laughter. " ?Gentle Julia' is probably the funniest book published in years. Every page is charged with the sprightliest humor - humor that provokes contented chuckles, boisterous sudden outbursts, or that long-continued laugher that wets the eyes with tears and veritably cramps the midriff. Clean humor. Good-humored humor," wrote E.C. Adams in the Boston Transcript, April 29, 1922. His opinion was shared by many others, including Hildegarde Hawthorne of the New York Times: "Simple is this story, but it manages to keep you amused and alert every moment, and it rouses you every now and again to loud laughter; sudden ungovernable bursts that will not down. The book is as careless and whimsical as a spring wind and as adorable" (14). Hawthorne touched upon another important element of Gentle Julia in her review: its simplicity. The critics appreciated its simple plot and pure characters, even going as far as Hawthorne to refer to it as a "whimsical...spring wind." Perhaps the critics were viewing the novel in light of the successful "Penrod" books and didn't feel it needed a complex plot or deep meaning to be a worthwhile book. They dubbed it "refreshing and harmless" and lauded it as one of Tarkington's best works (New Republic 31). Though Gentle Julia is a novel primarily about children, adults found it appealing as well because it portrayed an accurate yet nostalgic glance back into their ownchildhood. "It takes you into a land you once knew well and lets you view it from an angle that makes it as funny as it once was serious" (Hawthorne 14). The critics enjoyed Tarkington's comic interpretation of the anecdotes of youth, and recommended this not only for adolescents but also for adults. In all of their lauding and praise, the critics did seem to realize that Gentle Julia was not going to win the 1923 Pulitzer. Their praise and predictions of success for the novel were based on its simple story and comedy; it was a delight to read. That fact, plus a previous, wide-held affection for Mr. Tarkington, gave Gentle Julia a very warm welcome.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When Doubleday, Page & Company released Booth Tarkington'sGentle Julia in the spring of 1922, Tarkington had already established his reputation as one of America's premier novelists. The first two of his majorly successful, adolescent "Penrod" books, Penrod (1914) and Penrod and Sam (1916), had revealed his talents in writing teenage novels and gained him popularity among America's youth and adult population, as well. He was also recognized as a writer of great merit, having won two of the first four Pulitzer Prizes ever given, one for The Magnificent Ambersons in 1919 and the other for Alice Adams in 1922. The critics and readers alike, then, expected another triumph with Gentle Julia, and judging from their reactions, they thought they had received it. Critics were quite accepting of the fact that this novel was not another Pulitzer work nor did it deal with the same Pulitzer-worthy subject matter. "Tho this book is in a far lighter vein than the author's ?Alice Adams,' it is no whit less true to life, less delightfully, even brilliantly, written" (Literary Digest 42). Joseph Collins wrote that " ?Gentle Julia' is not Alice [Adams'] sister." However, the fact that this heroine and novel were completely different from seemed to, if anything, refresh the readers. The main element that was commented on repeatedly was its comic value. Critics wrote, often in hyperbole and flowery language, that every page of the book provoked laughter. " ?Gentle Julia' is probably the funniest book published in years. Every page is charged with the sprightliest humor - humor that provokes contented chuckles, boisterous sudden outbursts, or that long-continued laugher that wets the eyes with tears and veritably cramps the midriff. Clean humor. Good-humored humor," wrote E.C. Adams in the Boston Transcript, April 29, 1922. His opinion was shared by many others, including Hildegarde Hawthorne of the New York Times: "Simple is this story, but it manages to keep you amused and alert every moment, and it rouses you every now and again to loud laughter; sudden ungovernable bursts that will not down. The book is as careless and whimsical as a spring wind and as adorable" (14). Hawthorne touched upon another important element of Gentle Julia in her review: its simplicity. The critics appreciated its simple plot and pure characters, even going as far as Hawthorne to refer to it as a "whimsical...spring wind." Perhaps the critics were viewing the novel in light of the successful "Penrod" books and didn't feel it needed a complex plot or deep meaning to be a worthwhile book. They dubbed it "refreshing and harmless" and lauded it as one of Tarkington's best works (New Republic 31). Though Gentle Julia is a novel primarily about children, adults found it appealing as well because it portrayed an accurate yet nostalgic glance back into their ownchildhood. "It takes you into a land you once knew well and lets you view it from an angle that makes it as funny as it once was serious" (Hawthorne 14). The critics enjoyed Tarkington's comic interpretation of the anecdotes of youth, and recommended this not only for adolescents but also for adults. In all of their lauding and praise, the critics did seem to realize that Gentle Julia was not going to win the 1923 Pulitzer. Their praise and predictions of success for the novel were based on its simple story and comedy; it was a delight to read. That fact, plus a previous, wide-held affection for Mr. Tarkington, gave Gentle Julia a very warm welcome.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
In the early part of the twentieth century, Booth Tarkington was one of the most prolific and popular authors. In 1922, he produced his fifth best-seller, Gentle Julia, which stayed on the best-sellers' list for only a year and was reprinted for the last time in 1933. A modern reader today is likely to never have heard of this blockbuster, though it had all the components that would seemingly make it an enduring novel. The disappearance of Gentle Julia from the bookshelves and from the scope of public knowledge prompts a common question regarding best-sellers: How can a novel have so many strong elements in its favor and still disappear? Though there may not be a clearly defined answer, the theories surrounding Gentle Julia's absence from modern literature propose that what the public makes a best-seller may in fact have little enduring, literary merit. Gentle Julia's short-lived success can be better understood by examining Tarkington's reputation and his works prior to Gentle Julia, the novel's success and literary merit, and the elements that could have contributed to its disappearance. In the early part of the twentieth century, "Booth Tarkington" was a widely-recognized name, and rightly so; he was one of the established literary giants of the era. His resume includes nine best-sellers and two Pulitzer Prize-winning novels (which will be discussed later), and in terms of mere productivity, he produced one hundred-seventy-one stories, nine novellas, twenty-one novels, and nineteen full-length plays. An author with so much work in print had to be recognized by the public, and Tarkington indeed was. Many of his novels, such as Gentle Julia, were first published serially in the major magazines of the day: Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Ladies Home Companion. The publication of his work in magazines familiarized the public with Mr. Booth Tarkington and contributed to his large readership. Publisher's Weekly voted him as "the most significant living author" in 1922, and his success in one genre enabled him to cross-over to another, as he did in play-writing. For the most part, the critics loved Tarkington, and year after year they raved about his "admirable study of character" (Rev. of The Magnificent Ambersons New York Times449), "piercing observation" (Van Doren 125), and "genuine humor" (Adams 14). Though popularity in the critical world does not always equal success on the shelves, Tarkington managed to claim both kingdoms. Readers bought whatever he produced, thereby giving him the nine best-sellers. His popularity brought about financial success and an affluence that managed to survive even the Great Depression. Tarkington himself said of his magazine stories, " ?My prices astonish me. . . .I'm rather sorry for the magazines that pay ?em' " (Woodress 302). Even though Tarkington was writing in an era of other "greats" such as Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling, Sinclair Lewis, Thornton Wilder, Margaret Mitchell, and John Steinbeck (all of whom are still widely read today), critics still deemed him one of, if not the best, as the Publisher's Weekly award reflects. Gentle Julia was ushered in by Tarkington's presence and repute, and standing on the shoulders of the most significant living author of the time, it stood little chance at failure. The fact that it did, as it seemingly should have, climb to the top of the charts proves that an author's reputation is highly integral in establishing a best-seller. Once an author produces enough novels that the public deems "good," or at least good enough to buy, readers assume that most of his works are going to be worthwhile, and a type of widespread cult is formed. A modern reader can see the manifestations of this in the continued success of authors such as Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and John Grisham. Tarkington was one of the first of these cultic authors to produce numerous, successful novels, and the fact that he made best-sellers lists in four different decades stresses the importance of reputation in making a best-seller. Booth Tarkington's first novel, A Gentleman from Indiana, brought his name into the literary world, but the Penrod books and his other adolescent novels firmly established his reputation and forte. Penrod, the number seven best-seller of 1914, and Penrod and Sam, published in 1916, are chronicles of a twelve year-old boy that evoked readers' delight and critics' praise. Each chapter in these books deals with a comic adventure, or misadventure, of the youth Penrod Schofield, and while critics recognized that it was not high art, they were quick to appreciate Tarkington for his skills in comedic amusement. "Mr. Tarkington has written more ambitious stories, but never one more amusing," said the Outlook (Rev. of Penrod 46). Penrod and Sam, the follow-up novel to the first success, was in the same an-adventure-per-chapter format and was again met with favorable reviews. The critics saw within this work, as they did with the first, a sympathetic nostalgia. The Dial said Penrod and Sam made "the reader long for a return of the conscienceless, adventurous age of ten" (Rev. of Penrod and Sam 587). Seventeen, another novel grouped with Tarkington's adolescent stories, is not among the Penrod family but still deals with the follies of youth, more specifically, of youth in love. However, the critics claimed that it would be humorous only to adults who were able to view it in hindsight and not to a person "that is Seventeen himself . . . he will call it ?darned crazy' " (Lynd 1023). Despite the lack of nostalgia, Seventeen was still wildly popular, becoming the number one best-seller of 1916. Its success, as well as the success of the Penrod books, created Booth Tarkington's popularity and reputation as an adolescent novelist, though he would not be content to remain solely within this genre. An important aspect to remember in considering Gentle Julia's success is the two Pulitzer Prize-winning books that preceded Gentle Julia's release. The Magnificent Ambersons, in 1919, and Alice Adams, in 1922, captured two of the first four Pulitzer Prizes ever given for novels. The fact that these awards were given to two of his more serious novels revealed the differences between popularity with critics and popularity with the general public. Though The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams were awarded the Pulitzer, neither of them ever became a best-seller, probably due to their grave nature and subject matter. The Magnificent Ambersons tells the tale of an aristocratic family in a pre-automobile era. The grandson of the family, George Amberson Minafer, believes he is destined to live a gentleman's life, and yet, as the automobile age comes to pass in the town, the family's glory fades away into oblivion, and George is forced to become a common laborer. The somber plot is a stark change from the Penrod stories, published only four years prior, and from Tarkington's other adolescent novels that focuses on levity and humor. The critics were well aware of the difference in style and subject, and yet they considered Tarkington's ability in writing serious stories just as skillful. "It has a depth of feeling and an interplay of life and character which make it a novel in a higher sense than can be ascribed to the vast majority of popular novels," read the review in the November 6, 1918 edition of the Outlook(380). This lofty praise, and Tarkington's popularity on the whole, paved the way for another Tarkington novel to win the Pulitzer in 1922. Alice Adamswas another example of Tarkington's somber side. Its heroine, Alice, is a clever and beautiful girl whose lack of social status prevents her from getting ahead in life. It concludes with her resigning herself to a life as a typist and stenographer, which once again rings of an entirely different tone than Gentle Julia or any of the other adolescent novels. However, Alice Adams is the book that is most widely accepted, even today, as Tarkington's finest and most enduring work. The critics were enamored with it upon its release. " 'Alice Adams' is a novel that taxes the vocabulary of praise," raved the Bookman in the July 1921 issue (449), and other critics agreed, calling it "the product of a master hand" (Edgett 4). Even more so than with The Magnificent Ambersons, this novel made it perfectly clear to the critical world and the general public that Booth Tarkington could write in as sober a style as he could a humorous one. Heywood Broun of the Bookman considered the tale tragic, saying "No more poignant tragedy has been written in the year. The tragic method of ?Alice Adams' sways us utterly because it is a tragedy in which nobody dies, nobody goes mad, nobody commits suicide" (394). The fact that Tarkington's serious novels won him the two Pulitzers does not affect his popularity as an adolescent novelist, however, as seen by Gentle Julia's success the following year. Tarkington did have this separate, serious style, and it was critically acclaimed; this is paramount in importance in understanding the popularity of Gentle Julia. Gentle Julia was a novel that, unlike the Pulitzer books, returned Tarkington to the best-sellers list and showed that while the critics, and people such as the Pulitzer judges, preferred Tarkington as the social commentator, the public preferred Tarkington as the author of humorous, adolescent novels. What held true for Tarkington's career holds true for other best-selling authors as well; if an author has two different genres or styles he or she writes in, it is highly unlikely that they will both be equally appreciated by critics and readers. The fact that Tarkington's Pulitzer books never were best-sellers also demonstrates that what the critic praises, the reader doesn't necessarily buy. Despite their rather unimpressive sales figures, the existence of The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, and their status as Pulitzer Prize-winning novels is an instrumental element in comprehending Tarkington's overall popularity, and more specifically, the success of Gentle Julia. Gentle Julia was a success as soon as it left the printing press, with nearly no negative reviews and several extremely enthusiastic ones. When Collier's and The Pictorial Review released it first serially in 1918 and 1919, it was, as were most of Tarkington's magazine stories, received favorably. Tarkington had been coined "the darling of the large-circulation magazine" (Woodress 298), signifying that his works were enamoring readers in multitudes. When Gentle Julia came out in book form in 1922 then, many readers had already read its serialized version and were eager to buy it in book-length. This novel returned Tarkington to the best-sellers list after a six-year absence and spoke volumes about the readers' preference for simpler, comic stories. Most of the praise for Gentle Julia focused on two elements, the first of which is comedy. Hildegarde Hawthorne of The New York Times warned that the novel "rouses you every now and again to loud laughter; sudden ungovernable bursts that will not let down" and almost every other reviewer agreed (14). Doubleday, Page and Company chose to advertise for it by focusing on its humor; an ad in Publisher's Weekly contains different excerpts from reviews, nearly all of which mention its comic appeal. Another quote from Ms. Hawthorne of The New York Times is printed at the top of the ad, admonishing "[D]on't try to read it aloud to anyone, You couldn't do it justice, not in its best parts, because no one can speak distinctly who is all broken up with laughing." One of the scenes that she is probably referring to is the "walking-party" escapade, when Florence, a young adolescent, decides to relieve her beautiful Aunt Julia of an overflow of suitors who wish to go walking with her. One of the suitors sarcastically remarked to the other that no one had asked the younger Miss Atwater to go walking, and Florence took his implied offer seriously and then begins a desperate attempt at appearing grown-up. As Florence walks past her own front porch with Noble Dill, an older man she idolizes, her mother starts yelling for her to come in, and the embarassed Florence politely ignores her mother and then goes on to explain to Noble exactly how powerful she is in her own family. " ?Oh, I guess I pretty near never do anything I don't want to,' she said. ?I kind of run the house to suit myself. I guess if the truth had to be told, I just about run the whole Atwater family, when it comes to that!' " (Tarkington 65). Her attempts at seeming "mature" get progressively more comical as the scene continues. This is the type of scene that Tarkington was so skillful in creating, and his ability was not lost on the critics nor on the public; Gentle Julia climbed to the best-sellers' list as one of the funniest books of the day, and any modern researcher will be hard pressed to find a review of Gentle Julia that does not at least mention its "[g]enuine humor that scorns all tricks and cheap clowning and falsifications, and merely delights us by telling the unexpected truth" (Adams 14). This is the type of humor that, in traditional Tarkington style, fills the pages of Gentle Julia. The novel was also successful, from a critical point of view, for its masterful characterization. Although the novel does contain several adult characters, such as the title's namesake Aunt Julia, the characters that are the most fully developed are the children. Tarkington puts Florence Atwater, the unruly and imaginative twelve year-old heroine, in a number of conflicts with her same-age cousin Herbert Atwater and his friend Henry Rooter, and these conflicts are what allows the reader, and the critic, to understand the subtleties of the children's characters. The Literary Review of the New York Evening Post said that "no one can surpass [Tarkington] in the delineation of American youth between the ages of ten and twenty. The technique of his treatment of their thoughts, dreams, and actions is perfected and delightfully pliant. He is not merely their humorist, but their inmost sympathizer" (619). This was the general consensus regarding Tarkington's characters; most critics appreciated his creation of a character through details, thoughts, language, and action. The realistic, believable character was a Tarkington trademark, with their believability evoking nostalgia. "[Gentle Julia] takes you into a land you once knew well and lets you view it from an angle that makes it as funny as it once was serious" (Hawthorne 14). A modern reader might think that though Gentle Julia would have some nostalgic value for the occasional adult reader, it was most likely aimed at an adolescent audience, but that is incorrect. Gentle Julia was part of a "noticeable trend . . . [of] novels about very young people written to entertain adults" (Hackett 82). It seems logical that when this trend faded away and adults no longer sought novels written about adolescents that the adolescents themselves would still be interested in novels with young characters. If that was true, however, the adolescent interest in adolescent novels didn't last very long; the last printing of Gentle Julia (except for a collection that came out in November 1999) was in 1933. Since adult interest died down, and obviously adolescent interest was not sufficient enough to keep the book in print for an extended length of time, it is possible that the nostalgic tone of the novel was not as positive of an attribute as the critics first acclaimed it to be. It is possible that what adult critics termed "nostalgia" could be interpreted by an adolescent reader as condescension or mockery; if that is true, then after the trend in adults reading Gentle Julia died off, there wouldn't be an audience left to target the book towards. Regardless of an adolescents' interpretation of the characters, from a critical point of view there is no denying that Tarkington created solid, believable characters in Gentle Julia , and that this mastery of characterization contributed to making it Tarkington's fifth best-seller. Despite its success upon release, Gentle Julia does not top the reading lists of today's English classroom. In fact, few have even heard of Mr. Booth Tarkington himself. How, then, can a book whose writer was voted as "the most significant living author" of the time fade out of public knowledge completely? There may not be a clearly-defined answer, though there are some salient possibilities. One is simply the fact that certain types of literature come in and out of style just as fashions do. Gentle Julia is without a doubt a simple story. The New Republic wrote that it "accords with the seasonal taste for soft, sweet and cool drink. It is refreshing and harmless" (141). While the public whole-heartedly enjoyed this ?harmless' novel in 1922, this preference proved to be, as the New Republic phrased it, a ?seasonal taste.' Although there continued to be novels on the best-sellers list that were not high intellectual works, the concept of the adolescent novel slipped away rathere quickly. At the same time that Tarkington was writing adolescent novels, authors like James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald were creating the high modernist works of the time, such as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, also a novel about adolescence. However, Joyce's work was the flip side of Gentle Julia; instead of offering humor and adventure, it was a complex bildungsroman. Though many of these did not reach best-seller status, it seems as if their presence paved the way for works of the same intellectual nature to become popular. Within a decade, Gentle Julia had most certainly slipped from the best-sellers' list, and novels such as Babbit began to appear there more frequently, perhaps because the public acquired more of a taste for satire. It seems ridiculous to even propose that Gentle Julia could have survived past Tarkington's death in 1946, considering its latest printing was done in England in 1933, especially when the following decades would hail the war novel, the murder-mystery, and the spy novel. It seems highly unlikely that a story concerning a thirteen year-old girl's conflict with two pestering boys could have outsold, or even compared to From Here to Eternity (1951), Peyton Place (1957), or any of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, given society's evolving tastes in literature. Another contributing factor to the novel's disappearance is the language and style in which it was written. Tarkington wrote in a very different voice than modern authors, and in such flowery language that the modern reader is forced to read slowly and look for the action amongst the description. In describing Aunt Julia resting upon the couch, Tarkington writes "So warmly interested in the reading as to be rather pink, though not always with entire approval, this Julia nevertheless, at the sound of footsteps, closed the book and placed it beneath one of the cushions assisting the chaise longue to make her position a comfortable one" (26). Though there is no critical commentary discussing his use of language, it is probable that the excessive clauses hinder a modern reader's enthusiasm for the novel. If this is true, then it reveals a very simple truth about best-sellers, that what ?works' for one generation may not for the next. Because Tarkington wrote in a voice that was very current to his time period, he ran the risk of losing future audiences, which obviously did happen. Not all of Tarkington's contemporaries faded into such oblivion, however. Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence (1920) and Ethan Frome (1911) continue to be in print and to be studied in classrooms. Steinbeck and Joyce, also writing in the same time frame, are still the subject of academic discussion and research. The fact that very few of these "great" novels were best-sellers in their own day reveals that what one generation of readers may make a best-seller may not be considered a great novel in the decades to come. The reverse is also true: although a novel may not be a chart-topper, it still has potential to gradually climb into the canon, as Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man did. Gentle Julia's flame was bright but short-lived; it failed, as did most of Tarkington's works, to outlive its author. This suggests that Tarkington's fans did foster a type of widespread, cultic appreciation, and that in the very nature of the cult, once they lost the object of their veneration (when Tarkington stopped writing), the cult dissipated. The objective researcher is then forced to examine the substance of Tarkingtons' work: was it really as good as people perceived it to be? If so, then why didn't it continue to be read? Gentle Julia was, by Malcolm Gladwell's standards, a blockbuster: a novel that quickly achieved best-seller status and started off with high sales that eventually tapered off. Gladwell writes "People who buy or watch blockbusters have a clear sense of what they are going to get: a Danielle Steel novel is always - well, a Danielle Steel novel" (49). This applies to Gentle Julia, but in a different sense. Gentle Julia was Tarkington's return to the adolescent novel after having written his serious Pulitzer works, and its publication in book format, advertised as an adolescent comedy, prepared the reader for more of what they had previously (as in, before The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams) loved in Tarkington's books. The fact that it had been several years since Tarkington produced one of his popular adolescent comedies made the anticipation and intial sales all that much greater, indicating that once the public latches on to a specific type of an author's writing, it is very difficult for him or her to ?convert' his readers to another style. They will persist to favor the type of book that initially made the writer famous, and while that type may not be remembered in years to come, it will be what sells in the author's day. The failure of the Pulitzer books to achieve best-seller status is evidence that Tarkington's is just such a case. The general public then, is not necessarily a good indicator of what will be considered "quality literature" in the future; the books they buy en masse will most likely not be debated, discussed, and researched a century later. Although there are the authors who achieved best-seller status and whose novels have remained in the canon, there is a distinct correlation between best-sellers and being completely forgotten from public memory; this leaves a good deal of doubt as to the quality of what is currently sitting on the Barnes and Noble "Best Sellers" table. It seems only logical to wonder which blockbusters of today will be forgotten tomorrow. Readers seem to be generationally fickle in their preferences for literature, as is seen by the fact that Gentle Julia, a novel that by all standards was a blockbuster best-seller, has made a quiet and total disappearance from the realm of widely-read literature. Works Cited Adams, E.C. Rev. of Gentle Julia, by Booth Tarkington. Detroit News 2 May 1922: 14. Rev. of Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington. Bookman July 1921: 449. Broun, Heywood. Rev. of Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington. Bookman Dec. 1921: 394. Edgett, E.F. Rev. of Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington. Boston Transcript 1 June 1921: 4. Rev. of Gentle Julia, by Booth Tarkington. Literary Review of the New York EveningPost. 29 Apr.1922: 619. Rev. of Gentle Julia, by Booth Tarkington. New Republic. 28 June 1922: 141. Gladwell, Malcolm. "The Science of the Sleeper." The New Yorker 4 Oct. 1999: 48-55. Hackett, Alice Payne and James Henry Burke. 80 Years of Best Sellers: 1895-1975.New York: Bowker, 1977. Hawthorne, Hildegarde. Rev. of Gentle Julia, by Booth Tarkington. New York Times 30 Apr. 1922: 14. Lynd, Robert. Rev. of Seventeen, by Booth Tarkington. Publisher's Weekly 18 Mar. 1916: 1023. Rev. of The Magnificent Ambersons, by Booth Tarkington. New York Times 20 Oct. 1918: 449. Rev. of The Magnificent Ambersons, by Booth Tarkington. Outlook 6 Nov. 1918: 380. Rev. of Penrod by Booth Tarkington. Outlook 2 May 1914: 46. Rev. of Penrod and Sam by Booth Tarkington. Dial 28 Dec. 1916: 587. Tarkington, Booth. Gentle Julia. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1922. Van Doren, Carl. Rev. of Alice Adams, by Booth Tarkington. Nation 3 Aug. 1921: 125. Woodress, James. "Booth Tarkington." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Ed. James M. Martine. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale, 1991.
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