Tarkington, Booth: The Turmoil
(researched by Lisa Payne)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Newton Booth Tarkington. The Turmoil. New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1914 1915.
The first edition has an inscription (B-P). the B= Feb. and the P= 1915. This was a code from key letters that Harper and Brothers used to identify their first editions. This practice started in 1912. Several years later they also started using the in
scription of "First Edition". This first edition did not have that inscription.
Copyright is held by Harper & Brothers Publishers.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
This is a first American edition published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
191 leaves. pp.[6] 1-4 [5] 6-11 [12] 13-22 [23] 24-34 [35] 36-44 [45] 46-50 [2] 51-57 [58] 59-60[2] 61-67 [68] 69-79 [80] 81-94 [95] 96-106 [2] 107-110 [111] 112-120 [2] 121 [122] 123-133 [134] 135-143 [144] 145-148 [2] 149-155 [156] 157-163 [164] 165-169 [170] 171-176 [2] 177-186 [187] 188-195 [196] 197-204 [205] 206-212 [213] 214-228 [229] 230-236 [237] 238-248 [249] 250-259 [260] 261-264 [2] 265-266 [267] 268-275 [276] 277-286 [287] 288-298 [299] 300-308 [309] 310-312 [2] 313-318 [
319] 320-328 [329] 330-337 [338] 339-348 [349] [1]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There is no introduction. There is, however, a listing of Booth Tarkington's works published by Harper & Brothers. The list includes The Turmoil, The Conquest of Canaan, Beasley's Christmas Party, Cherry, and Beauty and the Jacobin. There is also a listing underneath this list (printed in smaller type) of his works published "elsewhere". These titles include His Own People, In the Arena, Monsieur Beaucaire, Penrod, The Gentleman from Indiana, The Quest of Quesney **This was actually
a printing error that distinguishes this as a first edition (Quest should be the word Guest), Beautiful Lady, and The Two Vanrevels
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This edition is illustrated by C.E. Chambers. These illustrations are from the same plates that were used in the Harpers magazine serial. There is a color frontispiece facing the title page with a protective leaf. The frontispiece has the caption- The Homecoming of Bibbs The subsequent illustrations are black and white and are found facing the following pages: page 50- Caption: She Treated Him As If He Were Some Delicious Old Joke page 60-Caption: "I'm Going Out In His Car with Him To-Morrow Afternoon" page 106- Caption- The Poor Woman Blundered on, Wholly Unaware of What She Had Confessed page 120- Caption- "And You Come to Tell Me That?" page148-Caption- They Looked Up in No Welcoming Manner at Bibb's Entrance page176-Caption- He Seems to Be-Rather Appealing to the -the Sympathies page 264-Caption- They Had Formed a Little Code of Leave-Taking page312-Caption- "But You Don't Know What Work Is, Yet"

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?)
The type is easy to read and it is enhanced by the use of italics for words that are meant to be stressed in context. The type used is serif. The chapter number and the first word in each chapter are all capitol letters. The first letter of the first word in each chapter is in bold type. The measurements of the book are as follows:
The size of the page is 18 1/2 cm. by 12 1/2 cm. The size of the text is 14cm. by 9cm. The The size of the type is 83R.
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 book is printed on white wove paper. The texture of the paper is thick and grainy. In comparison with two editions, thi
s particular copy's paper is in very good condition. It is only slightly discolored.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is red mesh cloth with gilt lettering. The title on the front cover is in a gilt stamped rectangular pattern, within a self-cloth rule box. The rules cross at the corners of the box. The following is a transcription of the cover: THE/TURMOIL/(author's name gilt stamped below panel)/Booth Tarkington
The transcription on the spine is as follows: THE/TURMOIL/(gilt stamped)/(an ornamental design)/BOOTH/TARKINGTON/HARPERS
This edition was issued with a pictorial colored dust wrap. However, this particular copy is missing the dust jacket.
12 Transcription of title page
THE / TURMOIL (within a single rule box) A NOVEL / BY/BOOTH TARKINGTON/AUTHOR OF/"MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE"/"THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN"/"PENROD" ETC./ILLUSTRATED BY/C.E. CHAMBERS/(publisher's emblem)/HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS/NEW YORK AND LONDON/MCMXV * all of the above appears in a single rule box
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The majority of Booth Tarkington's manuscripts are in the Booth Tarkington papers held at Princeton University Library, Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections
Address: One WashingtonRoad, Princeton NJ 08544
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
On page vi. there is a dedication to Tarkington's daughter Laurel. The transcription is as follows: TO/LAUREL *this inscription is set within an illustration of a laurel wreath. Sources for this assignment were the following:
Boutell, H.S. First Editions of Today.(1949) Z 992 B77
Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography(1972) Oxford, England:Oxford University Press. Z1001 G27
Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. sullivan.(1949). A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington 1869-1946. Indianapolis: Indiana historical Society.
National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints
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
There was an advanced printing of "The Turmoil" that was issued in Harper's Magazine in installments from August 1914 through March 1915.
An edition was made using detached pages from the serialized version in Harpers Magazine. This edition was bound with the inscription "Advance copy for private distribution, not for sale. Compliments of Harper & Brothers" This edition was printed on 24 1
/2 cm plates.
A pocket edition was also printed in 1915. It had red limp leather covers and was printed on thin paper. This was an experiment by the publishers to see if there was a demand for this type of edition.
There was a first edition printed by Hodder & Stoughton in 1915. it had 313pgs.
In 1929, Harper & Brothers reprinted The Turmoil on 19 1/2 cm plates under the category of a "Harper's Modern Classic".
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 2,500 copies printed from the first edition.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Grosset & Dunlap: 20cm plate edition in 1915 & 1918.
Grosset & Dunlap issued an edition from the same plates as the first edition in Feburary, 1915. This edition was published by arrangement with Harper & Brothers. This edition only included four of the original C.E. Chambers illustrations.
Grosset & Dunlap issued a photoplay edition in 1924.
Doubleday, Page, & Co.: Issued an edition in 1922, called the "Seawood" edition. It contained 453pgs. Sewood was the name of Mr. Tarkington's home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
A condensed version appeared in "One Hundred Best Novels Condensed" by Clarence W. Barron; copyright 1920. This version was later reprinted by Blue Ribbon books in 1931 under the title "One Hundred World's Best Novels Condensed".
* See question num.13 for international editions.
6 Last date in print?
Last printed in 1943 by Harper & Brothers Publishers. It was printed under Harpers Modern Classics. It was edited and introduced by Elizabeth Baker and Mary Baker. It included a few pages on "Other
novels of American life", as well as "The historical and industrial background of 'The Turmoil' ".
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
I couldn't find the exact number of copies sold. I referenced the book, "80 Years of Bestsellers 1895-1975", and it listed THE TURMOIL as the number one bestseller in fiction for the year 1915.
In GOLDEN MULTITUDES:THE STORY of BEST SELLER'S in the U.S. by Frank Luther Mott, THE TURMOIL is listed as the "better" seller of 1915. This designation means that while it was close, it did not achieve the"best seller" status of MICHAEL O'HALLORAN by
Gene Stratton Porter. MICHAEL O'HALLORAN sold over 900,000 copies.
So, while we don't know the exact number of copies THE TURMOIL sold, we know that the figure was close but not more than 900,000.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
I was not able to find the exact amount by year.
In Tebbel's HISTORY of BOOK PUBLISHING, he says that in 1915 ,"Booth Tarkington's THE TURMOIL was far and away the largest best seller everywhere in the country." However, Tebbel provides no statistics or sales figures.
Publisher's weekly lists THE TURMOIL as the number one bestseller in Feburary of 1915. Publishers Weekly gave them 352 points.
The Bookman also listed THE TURMOIL as the number one in order of demand. It was given a rating of 29, which equaled a 66% share of the market in a survey of 44 cities.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The following ad appeared in Publisher's Weekly in January, 1915. It was a full p
age ad and it was done with big bold type. Very eye catching !!
BOOTH - TARKINGTON'S- Great New Novel- THE TURMOIL- Will Be Published Feburary 11th- Books will be shipped in- advance of publication.- Order promptly- HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK
Another ad appeared in Publisher's Weekly on April 10, 1915. This was almost a full page ad with THE TURMOIL in very large, bold print. The copy was as follows: THE TURMOIL/By Booth Tarkington/is far and away the bset-selling book in America. From Maine to California readers of literary taste, "tired business men" and school-girls are reveling in it. For over three months The Turmoil has not been off the pres
s.
Another as in Publisher's Weekly touted THE TURMOIL as "The Best Selling Book in America"








10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A21019990504205006.jpg
11 Other promotion
I could find no indication of special promotions.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
A film by the same title ,"The Turmoil" was produced by Columbia Pictures in 1916. This was a black and white silent film released on Jan.16,1916. It was five reels and was directed by Edgar Jones. The cast included Valli Valli, George Le Guere, Charles Prince, Florida Kingsley, and Frank De Vernon among others. This was reviewed in
Motog- Oct.2, 1915 pg.664: Motion Picture Weekly- Jan.1,1916 pg.144.; NY Drama Magazine- Jan1,1916 pg.29.
The film was remade by Universal Studios in 1924. It was also a silent film done in black and white and it ran approx. 70 min. The version was directed by Hobart Henley. It starred George Hackathorne, Eleanor Boardman, Emmett Corrigan and Eileen Percy a
mong others.
A review in "Variety" called the 1924 version "a film that any picture audience will enjoy."
I could find no indication that it was ever performed in a play.
Sources: American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures in the U.S. (1911-1920) pg.954
Variety Film Reviews (1921-1925), vol.2 - Dec.31,1924
IMD (Internet Movie Database) : www.imbd.com
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Danish-Norwegian translation in 1918 called "Millionaersonnen Bibbs"; A French translation called "Le Tourbillon" was published in 1927 ( this edition had only 192 pages); and an Italian translation was published in 1938 called "Il Turbine". There was also a Swedish translation published in 1919 and a Dutch translation published in 1924.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
"The Turmoil" was first serialized in Harpers Magazine from August, 1914 to March, 1915. The plates from this printing were used to make advanced issues
"for private distribution only".
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
"The Turmoil", "The Magnificent Ambersons", and "The Midlander" were all published as the" Growth" trilogy in 1930.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Newton Booth Tarkington was born on July 29,1869 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His parents were John Stevenson Tarkington, a judge, and Elizabeth Booth Tarkington, a New England socialite. He was named for his Uncle Newton Booth, who was a Governor of Califor
nia and later a Senator. His ambition early on in life was to be a writer and an illustrator. He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy and attended Purdue University (1890-91) and Princeton University (1891-93), though; he did not receive a formal degre
e. After working for several years as a free lance writer, he finally published his first novel, The Gentleman From Indiana in 1899 at age 30. Tarkington's first publisher was S.S McClure who was later associated with the Doubleday publishing house. The e
ditor Hamlin Garland serialized The Gentleman From Indiana in "McClure's Magazine". This was the first of many of his novels to be serialized. (The Turmoil was serialized in 1914 by "Harper's Magazine.") The Gentleman From Indiana was a highly successful
novel and it gave him the impetus to continue to write. His next work was the popular historical novel, Monsieur Beaucaire, which was published in 1900. Over the course of his career he would write over 40 novels. Many of these novels achieved critical an
d popular acclaim.
Tarkington was considered at his professional peak during the decade of 1914-1924. In 1921, a "Publishers' Weekly" poll named him the "most significant of contemporary authors." In 1922 a similar poll in "Literary Digest" named him the "greatest living Am
erican writer". Later that year, The New York Times listed him as one of the "ten greatest contemporary Americans." It was during this time that he wrote The Turmoil (1915). He wrote two Pulitzer Prize winning novels during this time period as well, The M
agnificent Ambersons (1918) and Alice Adams (1921). Along with novels, Tarkington wrote many successful books for children and young adults that became his best known works. These books include Penrod (1914), Penrod and Sam (1916), Seventeen (1916) and Ge
ntle Julia (1922). Tarkington also was a playwright and he penned or co-wrote over twenty plays. Some of the better known titles were The Man From Home, The Country Cousin, and Clarence.
On a personal note, Booth Tarkington was married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage in 1902 was to Louisa Fletcher. The couple had one daughter, Laurel that died at a young age of pneumonia. Tarkington dedicated, The Turmoil, to Laurel. It was duri
ng this first marriage that Tarkington dabbled in politics. He was a Republican representative for the Indiana State Legislature and he served in 1903 and 1904. His brief career in politics was cut short when he contracted a near-fatal case of typhoid fev
er. He later wrote a collection of short stories based on his brief political life called The Arena. After his marriage to Louise ended in 1911, he married Susannah Robinson in 1912. The couple had no children and remained married until his death in 1946.
During their marriage the couple divided their time between a home in Indianapolis and a home in Kennebunkport, Maine that they called Seawood. There was an edition of The Turmoil published in 1922 by Doubleday, Page, and Co. which was called the "Seawoo
d" edition. Booth Tarkington died on May 19, 1946 in Indianapolis after a two month long illness. His primary papers and most of his manuscripts are housed in a special collection at Princeton University Library.
 
Sources:
 
1) Concise Dictionary of American Biography, 4th edition. 1990. New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, page 1147;
 
2) Fennimore, Keith J.1974. Booth Tarkington. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc.
 
3) Russo, Dorothy Ritter and Thelma L. Sullivan. 1949. A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington.
Indianapolis: The Indiana Historical Society
 
4) Seymour, Martin S. 1996. World Authors 1900-1950. Vol. 4 . New York: H.W. Wilson Company, pages 2608-2609.
 
5) Van Doren, Charles. 1974. Webster's American Biography .New York: G. & C. Merriam Company, page 1019.
 
6) Woodress, James. 1955. Booth Tarkington: Gentleman from Indiana. Philadelphia & New York: J.B.Lippincott Company.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Contemporary Reception:
 
Mr. Tarkington's contemporaries clearly felt that The Turmoil was one of his strongest works and he received much critical praise. I only found a few reviews that contained negative remarks and these were in the context of positive reviews. The praise tha
t was the most important to Mr. Tarkington came from his idol, and later his mentor, W.D. Howells. W.D. Howell's was considered to be the "Father of American Realism" at that time. Mr. Howell's praise of The Turmoil was significant as an indication of Tar
kington's acceptance as a serious writer. Tarkington said of Mr. Howell's praise "Any writer in America would rather have a word from you than from any other man? It has helped my self- esteem as nothing else could?You are responsible for whatever good we
produce." These words of praise formed the basis of an admirable friendship that would last until Mr. Howell's death. In 1945 Mr. Tarkington was touched to receive the Howell's Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
 
Other reviews were as follows:
 
William Lyon Phelps spoke of the book in The Advance of the English Novel in "The Bookman", July 1916 . He is quoted, "The Turmoil is the most ambitious and on the whole the best of Mr. Tarkington's novels; without too much didacticism, it is an unsparing
and honest diagnosis of the great American disease. Its author has proved that he can write a novel full of cerebration without losing any of his charm."
 
Joyce Kilmer (New York Times, Feb. 14, 1915; 20:49) said of Tarkington, "His story, in spite of the modernity of its theme and setting is as simple and fresh as a fairy story."
 
"Mr. Tarkington is neither a realist, nor a romanticist, nor a localist, nor an impressionist, nor any special kind of literary artist, but simply a complete novelist, of that type and temperament which, on the whole, has added most to the world's sum of
imaginative enjoyment and right feeling." North America, March 1915(201:452).
 
ALA Booklist called it "interesting and popular" in their March, 1915 issue (11:317)

"In ?The Turmoil' Mr. Tarkington has done a somewhat better piece of work than in "The Flirt", though not as good as his ?Gentleman from Indiana' or his ?Conquest of Canaan.' If carefully analyzed, or even without very careful analysis, ?Turmoil" betrays
distinct artistic flaws." Springfield Republican, March 11, 1915(Pg.5).
 
The Turmoil was also reviewed in the following sources:
 
The Bookman, March, 1915(41:98)
Boston Transcript, Feb. 13,1915(pg.8)
Dial, April, 1915 (58:265)
Nation, Feb. 18,1915 (100:199)
New Republic, March 13,1915(2:160)
Outlook, March 3,1915(109:542)
Wisconsin Library Bulletin, March 1915(11:89)
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Contemporary Reception:
 
Mr. Tarkington's contemporaries clearly felt that The Turmoil was one of his strongest works and he received much critical praise. I only found a few reviews that contained negative remarks and these were in the context of positive reviews. The praise tha
t was the most important to Mr. Tarkington came from his idol, and later his mentor, W.D. Howells. W.D. Howell's was considered to be the "Father of American Realism" at that time. Mr. Howell's praise of The Turmoil was significant as an indication of Tar
kington's acceptance as a serious writer. Tarkington said of Mr. Howell's praise "Any writer in America would rather have a word from you than from any other man? It has helped my self- esteem as nothing else could?You are responsible for whatever good we
produce." These words of praise formed the basis of an admirable friendship that would last until Mr. Howell's death. In 1945 Mr. Tarkington was touched to receive the Howell's Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
 
Other reviews were as follows:
 
William Lyon Phelps spoke of the book in The Advance of the English Novel in "The Bookman", July 1916 . He is quoted, "The Turmoil is the most ambitious and on the whole the best of Mr. Tarkington's novels; without too much didacticism, it is an unsparing
and honest diagnosis of the great American disease. Its author has proved that he can write a novel full of cerebration without losing any of his charm."
 
Joyce Kilmer (New York Times, Feb. 14, 1915; 20:49) said of Tarkington, "His story, in spite of the modernity of its theme and setting is as simple and fresh as a fairy story."
 
"Mr. Tarkington is neither a realist, nor a romanticist, nor a localist, nor an impressionist, nor any special kind of literary artist, but simply a complete novelist, of that type and temperament which, on the whole, has added most to the world's sum of
imaginative enjoyment and right feeling." North America, March 1915(201:452).
 
ALA Booklist called it "interesting and popular" in their March, 1915 issue (11:317)

"In ?The Turmoil' Mr. Tarkington has done a somewhat better piece of work than in "The Flirt", though not as good as his ?Gentleman from Indiana' or his ?Conquest of Canaan.' If carefully analyzed, or even without very careful analysis, ?Turmoil" betrays
distinct artistic flaws." Springfield Republican, March 11, 1915(Pg.5).
 
The Turmoil was also reviewed in the following sources:
 
The Bookman, March, 1915(41:98)
Boston Transcript, Feb. 13,1915(pg.8)
Dial, April, 1915 (58:265)
Nation, Feb. 18,1915 (100:199)
New Republic, March 13,1915(2:160)
Outlook, March 3,1915(109:542)
Wisconsin Library Bulletin, March 1915(11:89)
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
"THE TURMOIL"- A Historic Reflection or Future Prediction
"Just a matter of gossip: Just as a matter of gossip it may be interesting to note that we have never printed a novel in our magazine (Harpers) which attracted as much attention , in our own home office, as this one of Tarkington's. Everybody
who dared was hugging advance proofs and these were passed from hand to hand until ragged and worn out. It was the same way with the authors: they went out of their ways and broke long habits of silence to write and say how great they thought "The Turmoi
l" was. Mrs. Margaret Deland, Mr. Rupert Hughes, Basil King (author of "The Inner Shrine"), Mrs. Maude Radford Warren, Irving Bacheller- the list could be extended indefinitely; they all recognized here a master hand, an unusual, an enduring work of abso
rbing interest. It seems really the most delicately, daintily beautiful love story, the most poetic love making ever put on paper- and all in the guise of business." This is very high praise for a novel that was written in only 60 days. Of course, those 60 days were filled with almost non-stop intensive writing on the part of Mr. Tarkington. Tarkington felt so strongly the desire to tell this story that he only sto
pped writing long enough to eat and sleep. Tarkington's previous works had been novels with a comic tone. The Turmoil was an attempt to branch out into a new direction and make a strong statement on how he felt about the change sweeping the nation. Th
is story while making a statement portrays the ravaging effects of big business while also depicting a love story. Mr. Tarkington meant for The Turmoil to be an indictment of big business, while at the same time acknowledging that the industrial revolut
ion was an integral part of the country's growth; although one might see it as a necessary evil. Tarkington was aware of the importance of industrialism and capitalism, he just went against the "illnesses" that were spawned from them. It is interesting
that Mr. Tarkington was able to write a novel that would appeal to such a broad audience. Mr. Tarkington was quite adroit in the many literary genres. He wrote novels for children and adolescents (Penrod & Seventeen), comic novels (The Fighting Little
s), and novels that appealed to young women (Alice Adams), as well as his serious novels, i.e. The Turmoil. The Turmoil was the first in a series of novels, including The Magnificent Ambersons, Alice Adams, and The Midlander ,that was considered Mr. Tarkington's major phase. These novels were and still are considered his best works and two of them, (The Magn
ificent Ambersons and Alice Adams) won Pulitzer prizes. Mr. Tarkington started writing in the tradition of his admired colleague W.D. Howells. W.D. Howell's is considered the pioneer of literary realism. It was Howell's use of "literary" or "commonplace" realism that Mr. Tarkington strove to imitate and d
id so with great success. Mr. Howell's was very impressed with The Turmoil and he wrote an analysis of it in the May 1915 issue of Harpers, in a column called the "Editor's Easy Chair". In this essay, Howells wrote the following to praise Mr. Tarkington
's work :"beautifully painted", "The story so powerful in expression abounds in subtle intimations", "triumphant characterization" and "he means for the reader's imagination to complete the work". Mr. Tarkington later said that Mr. Howell's praise meant
more to him than the novel's commercial success and vast popularity. He said Mr. Howells was the only critic alive worth pleasing. James Woodress wrote in his biography of Mr. Tarkington that The Turmoil was "Tarkington's first important novel embodying the creed of literary realism." A review in the NAR, Mar. 1916, best puts into words the essence of Tarkington's novel: "And on
the other hand, one would like to bring out as forcibly as possible the fact that there is in Mr. Tarkington's novels - and in especially in this latest one, The Turmoil-a freshness and reality of interest such as it is within the power of few writers to
produce...To write a novel of contemporary life with its scene in an unbeautiful American manufacturing city; to portray with adequate realism, and in full daylight, the smoke, the dirt, and the people; to refrain from romanticizing scene or psychology; t
o deal with elemental, vital motives, such as love and jealousy and the driving power of modern business ambition; and through it all never to be commonplace or depressing, but always preserve a sense of the joy and interest of life, even enhancing the re
ader's sense of life's richness, livableness, worthwhileness-this would seem to be a task unmistakably requiring fertility of mind, buoyancy of temperament, that healthy and highly developed imagination that works wonders in fiction and in life." I found
this to be one of the most beautiful and flattering book reviews that I have ever read, I can't imagine that Mr. Tarkington would not have felt the same way. It is clear to see from this review why "The Turmoil" was the number one bestseller in fiction
for that time. The Turmoil is a chronicle of an Indianapolis family that is riding the coattails of the new Industrial revolution that is sweeping across the country. Tarkington wrote "The Turmoil" in response to his growing feelings of dismay at what was happening t
o his beloved city, Indianapolis. After several years of living in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Tarkington had come back home to Indianapolis to find that his quiet, beautiful hometown was now on the fringe of a hastily growing industrial center. He felt that the c
ity was becoming extremely noisy, overcrowded, and very dirty. James Woodress wrote that "Tarkington was profoundly shaken by the haste, waste, and insensitivity of the society that he came back to". Mr. Tarkington blamed commercialism and greed for th
e downfall of his beloved city. Mr. Tarkington wrote a letter to a friend and explained, "Commercialism is the savage of the world; it's that stinking dirty brute I'm after, with what entrails I have, in "The Turmoil". Mr. Tarkington especially took exc
eption to the smoke and soot that was ravaging the city. Woodress writes that "the choking, corrupting, and defiling smoke became the dominant symbol in The Turmoil. Tarkington describes this epidemic of smoke as, "leprous enclosures of besooted bare ea
rth where lingered a few patches of sparse grass not yet slain by the acids in the smoke." Booth Tarkington was often compared to his contemporary, Winston Churchill. The two authors had many differences, but both wrote often of the same themes. In 1915, both writers, according to William Lyon Phelps, produced "an indictment of modern Ame
rican conditions in the commercial life of big cities". So of course, Tarkington's The Turmoil would be compared with Churchill's A Far Country. William Lyon Phelp's though that The Turmoil had more humanity. He states that "The Turmoil proves that he
(Mr. Tarkington) is growing in spiritual grace". Some felt that The Turmoil was similar in content to W.D Howell's The Rise of Silas Lapham. Both of these novels portray American tycoons beset with domestic problems. Keith Fennimore states that "The Tu
rmoil is the story of a first generation ascendancy to wealth at the sacrifice of second generation aspirations to culture. In a number of respects, the novel is similar to The Rise of Silas Lapham". There is credence to this comparison, considering tha
t Mr. Tarkington held Mr. Howells in such high esteem.
Conclusion Today the majority of Mr. Tarkington's novels are regarded as inconsequential. His more serious novels are seldom read and he is mostly remembered for his Penrod books, which were written for young adults. However, Mr. Tarkington himself is still regard
ed as a writer of historical importance because he chronicled America's march toward urban industrialization. Specifically, The Turmoil along with the other two novels in the Growth trilogy will always be immensely useful to social historians. Boot
h Tarkington's The Turmoil still stands as a realistic portrait of the effects of the Industrial Age on life in middle America at the beginning of the century. Today The Turmoil is though of as an attack on American materialism, but it is still more rele
vant as a chronicle of the effects of "big business' on small town Middle America. An effect that is still being felt today. As the century is coming to an end, one might look back at his novel and use it as a comparison between the effects of the birth
of the industrial revolution as compared with the birth of the technological revolution that we are starting to live today. Many of the alliterations and images that Mr. Tarkington painted are still relevant today. Some might even argue that commercial
ism, greed and societal decay, the main themes in The Turmoil are more prevalent than ever. In The Reference Guide to American Literature (3rd edition), the editor calls The Turmoil "a very contemporary-sounding indictment of air pollution and civic negle
ct in the pursuit of a dollar." It would be interesting to know how Mr. Tarkington would feel about the happenings in today's age. This book remained popular for many years and was published up until 1927. It was very popular given the fact that so many people could identify with "the turmoil" that was felt within themselves and the Country as the Industrial age and its ramificati
ons and opportunities took hold. It would be impossible not to be conflicted and in turmoil over the promise of a "better life" at the expense of known realities. I feel that, given the subject matter, The Turmoil could still be popular today- if it were rediscovered. Mr. Tarkington's works got left on the sidelines and his reputation has dimmed. However, there is still plenty of sources to consult when doing a
study of Mr. Tarkington. He is still remembered in many circles as an "excellent fictional craftsman and a first rate storyteller".
Sources
Curley,Dorothy N. and Maurice Krame.(1969). A Library of Literary Criticism: Modern American Literature. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishers. pp 246-247
Cyclopedia of World Authors.(1974).Salem Press
Fennimore, Keith J.(1974). Booth Tarkington.New York: Twayne Publishers.
Reference Guide to American Literature.3rd ed.(1994).Detroit and London:St.James Press
Smith, Martin Seymour, Ed.(1996).World Authors 1900-1950, Vol.4. New York:H.W. Wilson Co. pp. 2608-2609
Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol.9, pg.453. Woodress, James.(1955).Booth Tarkington:Gentleman from Indiana.Philadelphia and New York: J.P. Lippincott Company
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