Conroy, Pat: The Prince of Tides
(researched by Lisa French)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Publisher- Houghton Mifflin Company Place- Boston Date- 1986
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
Brownish-gray board cover with blue cloth spine that meets the board at approximately one inch from the spine on both the front and back of the book. Cloth spine is a dotted-line grain. The title of the book is impressed on the front of the cover board.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
290 leaves, pp.i-x xi-xiii, 1-567.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Edited by Nan Talese.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
Dust jacket illustration by Wendell Minor. Dust jacket is covered in protective mylar.
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 book is well-presented. The typography is readable. The typeface is serif. The lines are well spaced. The book is well-printed. On the right side of the book, there is a faint blue line across the edges of the paper. The cover board is slightly bent on the upper right corner of the front side.
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 is very durable and thick enough that the words on the opposite side of the page do not seem to seep through. The book is in excellent condition.But that would be expected since the copy I examined resides in Alderman Special Collections where few hands ever touch its pages.
11 Description of binding(s)
Muslin lining of cloth that is reinforced by an outer shell of cloth. The pages are glued to the binding.
12 Transcription of title page
The | Prince | of | Tides | [four diamonds serve to separate the title from the author's name; the left side of the diamonds are shaded black] | PAT | CONROY | HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY/BOSTON/1986
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
None specified.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
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
The original publisher issued the book in hardcover only.
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?
Houghton Mifflin printed 250,000 copies of the first edition in 1986.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Bantam Doubleday
Dell printed the paperback edition in 1987. Quality paperback books printed a special paper back for their book club.
6 Last date in print?
Houghton Mifflin still prints the hardcover edition. Bantam Doubleday Dell still prints paperbacks. (This information is valid as
of April 1998).
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Houghton Mifflin's Marketing Director Clay Harper said the lifetime sales for the hardcover edition is 240,000 copies (as of 2-20-98). Bantam Doubleday Dell refused to release the number of total copies sold (Publicity Staff Member Mic
helle Toler: 2-20-98).
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Houghton Mifflin's Marketing Director Clay Harper said, on average, they sell between 1,800 and 3,000 copies of the hardcover edition per year (as of 2-20-98). Both Houghton Mifflin and Bantam Doubleday Dell refused to release s
ales figures. But Clay Harper did give me information about the number of copies produced during each printing of the hardcover (2-20-98). 1st 250,000 2nd 50,000 3rd 45,000 4th 2,500 5th 2,500 6th 5,000 7th 3,500 8th 1,500 9th 5,000 10th 2,000
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The first advertisements I was able to locate appeared in The New York Times during the last week of September in 1986. Houghton Mifflin's Marketing Director Clay Harper said his company will normally begin advertising with The New York
Times. Then they place advertisements in other newspapers like The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In the Wingo Family, love is truly a matter of life and death. | THE PRINCE OF TIDES| A NOVEL | PAT CONROY | AUTHOR OF THE GREAT SANTINI | Houghton Mifflin Company | IMMEDIATE BESTSELLER! | 350,000 IN PRINT PRIOR TO PUBLICATION The Wingo Family may just break your heart -- they're sure to steal it. | THE PRINCE OF TIDES | A NOVEL | PAT CONROY | AUTHOR OF THE GREAT SANTINI | Houghton Mifflin Company | At your bookstore now!
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Clay Harper said Houghton Mifflin sent Pat Conroy "on a huge author tour," during which Harper said Conroy became friends with many book sellers. He hit between 15 and 20 cities, making public appearances. Harper said he visited the Today Show
and Good Morning America.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Movie, 1991, The Prince of Tides by United Artists.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Yes. I am waiting to hear back from the Houghton Mifflin's Subsidiary Rights department for the names of the foreign publishers.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A.
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)
Peg Conroy gave birth to her white son on October 26, 1945 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father Don Conroy was a military officer from Chicago. His father job forced the family to move around quite a bit. Conroy att
ended 11 different schools in 12 years. He is the oldest of seven children. In 1967, he graduated from Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina with a B.A. He married Barbara Bolling in 1969 with whom he had a daughter, Megan. Barbara had two other daugh
ters, Jessica and Melissa, by a previous marriage. Pat and Barbara divorced in 1977. On March 21, 1981, he remarried. Lenore Gurewitz is his second wife, and Conroy says she "hung the moon" on the dedication page of The Prince of Tides. Lenore gave Co
nroy two stepchildren: Gregory and Emily. They also parented a daughter together, Susannah. Conway currently has two residencies -- one in Rome and one in San Fransisco. He published his first book, The Boo,in 1970 at the age of 25. Other works include The Water is Wide (1972), The Great Santini (1976), The Lords of Discipline (1980), The Prince of Tides (1986), and Beach Music (1997). His editor is Nan Talese whom he r
efers to as "a splendid editor and a woman of uncommon beauty" in The Prince of Tides. I was unable to find the location of his papers.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When Houghton Mifflin first published Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, critics, for the most part, were impressed, but a little overwhelmed by the "heavy-handed, inflated plot" (NY Times 1986)driving the Wingo f
amily saga. Kyle Kulish of UPI referred to The Prince as a "massive work" that is "slow to build but ... a story that is hard to put down." Judy Bass of the Chicago Tribune credited The Prince as a "brilliant novel that ultimately affirms life, hope and
the belief that one's future need not be contaminated by a monstrous past." Critic after critic praises the detailed picture Conroy paints not just of Southern landscapes, but of "the Southern Way" as well. But The Prince did not please all its critics. Richard Eder of The Los Angeles Times said The Prince was overdone: "Inflation is the order of the day. The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and above al
l, talk too much." And while Brigitte Weeks generally enjoyed the novel, she felt "at times Conroy's intensity and gift for the nightmarishly grotesque become almost overpowering." But she regards Conroy as the creator of "a world full of passion, taki
ng the reader into the soft inner souls of his characters." Perhaps one of the main reasons critics (even those who were unnerved by the violence and exaggeration of The Prince) were drawn to Conroy's tale of rape, abuse and secrets is because it is semi-autobiographical. People, by nature, wonder about the live
s of those around them. In The Prince, Conroy opens the door to his past. Anyone is welcome to look in.
"Powerful" -- UPI "A masterpiece that can compare with Steinback's East of Eden ... Some books make you laugh; some make you cry; some make you think. The Prince of Tides is a rarity: It does all three." -- Detroit Free Press "A big sprawling saga of a novel, the kind Steinback used to write, the kind John Irving keeps writing, the kind you can hole up with and spend some days with and put down feeling that you've emerged from a terrible, wonderful spell." -- San Francisco Ch
ronicle "Compulsively readable" -- Glamour "A seductive narrative, told with bravado, flourishes, portentous foreshadowing, sardonic humor and eloquent turns of phrase ... For sheer storytelling finesse, Conroy will have few rivals." -- Publishers Weekly.
Schickel, Richard. "The prince of tides." Time v.138. 30 Dec 1991. Rozen, Leah. "The prince of tides." People Weekly v.36. 23 Dec 1991. p.18-9. Sanz, Cynthia. "Ring out the belles." People Weekly v.36. 16 Sept 1991. p.101-2. Toolan, David. "The unfinished boy and his pain." Commonweal v.118. 22 Feb 1991 p.127-31. Sweeting, Paul. "A view from a bridge." Publishers' Weekly v.233. 22 Apr 1988 p.53-4. "The Prince of Tides." Ladies' Home Journal v.104. Jan 1987 p.109-13. Koenig, Rhoda. "The Prince of Tides." New York v.19. 27 Oct 1985 p.135-6. Godwin, Gail. "The Prince of Tides." The New York Times Book Review v.91. 12 Oct 1986 p.14. PW Interviews. Publishers Weekly v.230. 5 Sept 1986 p.85-6. Ryan, Walter and William, G. "The Prince of Tides." The American Journal of Psychiatry v.144. Dec 1987 p.1609-10. Weeks, Brigitte. "Pat Conroy: Into the Heart of a Family." The Washington Post 12 Oct. 1996: X1. Godwin, Gail. "Romancing the Shrink." The New York Times 12 Oct. 1986: Section 7, Page 14, Column 1. Eder, Richard. "Richard Eder: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Los Angeles Times 19 Oct. 1986: Book Review, Page 3. Bass, Judy. "A Prince of Pain." Chicago Tribune 19 Oct. 1986: Page 3, Zone C. "Book Reviews." United Press International 21 Oct. 1986: BC Cycle.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When Houghton Mifflin first published Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, critics, for the most part, were impressed, but a little overwhelmed by the "heavy-handed, inflated plot" (NY Times 1986)driving the Wingo f
amily saga. Kyle Kulish of UPI referred to The Prince as a "massive work" that is "slow to build but ... a story that is hard to put down." Judy Bass of the Chicago Tribune credited The Prince as a "brilliant novel that ultimately affirms life, hope and
the belief that one's future need not be contaminated by a monstrous past." Critic after critic praises the detailed picture Conroy paints not just of Southern landscapes, but of "the Southern Way" as well. But The Prince did not please all its critics. Richard Eder of The Los Angeles Times said The Prince was overdone: "Inflation is the order of the day. The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and above al
l, talk too much." And while Brigitte Weeks generally enjoyed the novel, she felt "at times Conroy's intensity and gift for the nightmarishly grotesque become almost overpowering." But she regards Conroy as the creator of "a world full of passion, taki
ng the reader into the soft inner souls of his characters." Perhaps one of the main reasons critics (even those who were unnerved by the violence and exaggeration of The Prince) were drawn to Conroy's tale of rape, abuse and secrets is because it is semi-autobiographical. People, by nature, wonder about the live
s of those around them. In The Prince, Conroy opens the door to his past. Anyone is welcome to look in.
"Powerful" -- UPI "A masterpiece that can compare with Steinback's East of Eden ... Some books make you laugh; some make you cry; some make you think. The Prince of Tides is a rarity: It does all three." -- Detroit Free Press "A big sprawling saga of a novel, the kind Steinback used to write, the kind John Irving keeps writing, the kind you can hole up with and spend some days with and put down feeling that you've emerged from a terrible, wonderful spell." -- San Francisco Ch
ronicle "Compulsively readable" -- Glamour "A seductive narrative, told with bravado, flourishes, portentous foreshadowing, sardonic humor and eloquent turns of phrase ... For sheer storytelling finesse, Conroy will have few rivals." -- Publishers Weekly.
Schickel, Richard. "The prince of tides." Time v.138. 30 Dec 1991. Rozen, Leah. "The prince of tides." People Weekly v.36. 23 Dec 1991. p.18-9. Sanz, Cynthia. "Ring out the belles." People Weekly v.36. 16 Sept 1991. p.101-2. Toolan, David. "The unfinished boy and his pain." Commonweal v.118. 22 Feb 1991 p.127-31. Sweeting, Paul. "A view from a bridge." Publishers' Weekly v.233. 22 Apr 1988 p.53-4. "The Prince of Tides." Ladies' Home Journal v.104. Jan 1987 p.109-13. Koenig, Rhoda. "The Prince of Tides." New York v.19. 27 Oct 1985 p.135-6. Godwin, Gail. "The Prince of Tides." The New York Times Book Review v.91. 12 Oct 1986 p.14. PW Interviews. Publishers Weekly v.230. 5 Sept 1986 p.85-6. Ryan, Walter and William, G. "The Prince of Tides." The American Journal of Psychiatry v.144. Dec 1987 p.1609-10. Weeks, Brigitte. "Pat Conroy: Into the Heart of a Family." The Washington Post 12 Oct. 1996: X1. Godwin, Gail. "Romancing the Shrink." The New York Times 12 Oct. 1986: Section 7, Page 14, Column 1. Eder, Richard. "Richard Eder: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Los Angeles Times 19 Oct. 1986: Book Review, Page 3. Bass, Judy. "A Prince of Pain." Chicago Tribune 19 Oct. 1986: Page 3, Zone C. "Book Reviews." United Press International 21 Oct. 1986: BC Cycle.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
When Houghton Mifflin first published The Prince of Tides in the fall of 1986, the hardcover book hit the bestseller list and held its ground for almost a year. Pat Conroy's agent Nan Talese left Houghton Mifflin
for Doubleday the following year, and Conroy wasn't far behind. The publishing company that Conroy once referred to as "family" on the dedication page of The Prince would never have the opportunity to print the paperback version of his most successful b
ook. Doubleday's paperback edition rivaled the performance of the hardcover on the bestseller list, boasting of almost a year on the charts in its own right. The Prince of Tides met with mixed reactions from critics. Many criticized Pat Conroy's use of exaggerated plot but still admitted to enjoying the book overall. As Kyle Kulish of United Press International said, the novel "becomes a story that is hard t
o put down." And that is true. Even though the tales seem unbelievable -- escaped convicts rape a family, an idealist steals an albino porpoise from an aquarium, and vengeful children put a loggerhead turtle in the bed of their mother's arch nemesis ? t
he book captivates its readers. No doubt, the shenanigans are definitely endless.
But what makes the average reader plow through page after page of melodrama? In part, it is due to The Prince being semi-autobiographical. Conroy created Lila, the mother at the heart of the Wingo family saga, in the image of his own mother. In The Pri
nce, the beautiful Lila allows her superficial desire to belong to society dictate her life. She leads a selfish existence, placing her love for her children second to her love for society. It's as if the audience is looking through a window into Conroy
's life. The voyeur in us cannot resist. In an interview, Conroy said all his characters begin with something from his past: ?I was raised by one of the most beautiful, Machiavellian and craftiest women ever to come out of the South, a woman who had a family history she continuously lied about. My mother was the first fiction writer in the family. She made up her history as sh
e went along and it was always very difficult to tell with mom what was real and what was not real (http://www.bdd.com/)
In an article for the United Press International on October 20, 1986, Jim Lewis relayed a conversation Conroy had with his mother who was dying of cancer: "?Son, am I in your new book?' ?No,' I said. ?You're lyin',' she said. ?Okay, Mom, you're in the new book.'" At this admission, she asked one favor from her son: "Make me beautiful.'
And Conroy paints such a detailed picture of the South that the reader can't help but feel there is much truth to this fiction. He offers insight about surviving childhood and realizations about the meaning of life as if he is writing in a journal, makin
g The Prince more personal than commercial. Conroy narrates his novel in the first person from the perspective of the main character, Tom Wingo. It is this technique that R.Z. Shepherd of TIME calls "first person portentous." The narrator tells the sto
ry with the benefit of hindsight, but there are times when he takes the reader back to the actual moments of his childhood. The narrator interjects during some of these memories with such comments as "I have tried to understand women, and this obsession
has left me both enraged and ridiculous" (94). It seems a little strange that Tom Wingo's recollection of his memories is interrupted with insight. There are no quotes around this statement in the text, as there should be if he is saying this to his sis
ter's psychiatrist Susan Lowenstein. Conroy takes the reader on a journey through a tortured soul. And he "ultimately affirms life, hope, and the belief that one's future need not be contaminated by a monstrous past" (Chicago Tribune 19 Oct. 1986). While most people can't relate to Tom Wi
ngo's account of family brutality, they can still benefit from The Prince's general message: "In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness." As one would expect the book evoked different reactions from reviewers. Judy Bass of The Chicago Tribune said at first, "the Wingos' biography sounds deceptively benign." But what seemed to redeem the book for her was its coverage of "the most prostrati
ng crises in human experience ? death of a loved one, parental brutality, injustice, insanity ? without lapsing into pedantry or oppressive gloom." She was most impressed with the humor she claimed underscored the text. Upon reading the novel, however,
I found much of what she must have interpreted as humor to be bitter sarcasm. Perhaps, this is just a difference of perspective. Bass said Conroy wrote with a "compassion and integrity every reader will savor." For a moment, she sounded like Conroy who
se writing sometimes seems like a restaurant review with its descriptions of food and eating experiences in The Prince.
Richard Eder of The Los Angeles Times could barely reach a conclusion about his feelings toward the book. He confidently remarked that "inside this fat book, a thin book is struggling to get out. It never does?" But he followed this harsh statement wit
h praise for the same quality Bass appreciated in The Prince ? compassion. Eder would agree with Conroy's admission that The Prince is overdone: "Inflation is the order of the day. The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much
, signify too much and above all, talk too much. And, as with the classical American tomato, quantity is at the expense of quality ? Repeatedly, Conroy will bring off a well-told episode and then smother it." Oddly enough, the tone of Eder's review sugg
ested that he fought a strong inclination to just enjoy The Prince despite its overwhelming plot.
Gail Godwin of The New York Times admired the book for its "ambition, invention, and sheer energy." But she warned readers that some may be turned off by the "turgid, high-flown rhetoric" of The Prince. While she doesn't deny Conroy's possession of "ang
uished ambivalence and excessiveness," she concludes that he is a "smart man." She assumes his worst tendencies overpowered him, calling The Prince "embroidered, sentimental, inexact." There are also those critics who approached The Prince of Tides with skepticism for no other reason than Conroy's affinity for similar elements in his books. Brigitte Weeks of The Washington Post said she knew from the very first page of The Prince that
she was in "Conroy country" from the description of the violent father. She seemed to feel that Conroy simply reworked the entire slew of characters in The Prince from his previous novels. But she asserted that the pleasure of reading the novel far outw
eighed the flaws it presented its audience: "one can brush aside its lapses like troublesome flies." Perhaps Weeks best defines Conroy when she labels him a storyteller, for therein lies much of his attraction to readers. Many of Tom Wingo's childhood m
emories seem more like campfire material meant to shock and incite reaction rather than constitute part of a literary masterpiece. When Conroy's most recent novel Beach Music hit the shelves in 1995, critics everywhere used The Prince of Tides as the standard by which to judge it. The Boston Globe's Gail Caldwell declared "Beach Music is not as good a novel as its predecessor, The P
rince of Tides" (25 Jun 1995). But others like Judith Dunford of The Chicago Tribune felt Conroy returned to his success-making trademark in Beach Music by showing his audience "exactly what it feels, smells, tastes, and , above all, smarts like" (16 Jun
1995). After the publication of The Prince, the public became enthralled by Pat Conroy. He said he sometimes regrets having said his works were based on truth because most writers stick to what they know. He said people will meet his father on the street and t
ell him they thought he was dead, for he died in The Great Santini. With the rise in popularity of sensational talk shows and journalists struggling to outdo the outrageousness of their competitors, it's no wonder that The Prince, a book that even Conroy describes as "overdone," enjoyed such lasting popularity. It has so
ld five million copies.
In 1991, Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand starred in the movie version of The Prince. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards. The release of the movie made both hardcover and paperback sales of the book surge once again. In Landon C. Burns' Pa
t Conroy: A Critical Companion, he said that moviegoers were recommending the book to their neighbors as the credits for the movie glided across the screen.
Hopper Leigh reported for The Houston Post in November of 1992 that The Prince of Tides was one of President Bill Clinton's favorite books, along with One Hundred Years of Solitude. His novel even inspired songwriter Jimmy Buffet to write a song based on the The Prince and carrying the same name.
Landon C. Burns groups The Prince with such works as William Styron's Lie Down in Darkness, Reynolds Price's The Surface of Earth, Carson McCuller's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. For Burns, Conroy writes in the tradition of William Faulkner, "Flannery O'Co
nnor, Tennessee Williams, and Robert Penn Warren."
Following publication on The Prince, Conroy became involved in a case between a Charleston high school teacher and Reverend R. Elton Johnson, Jr. Johnson disagreed with Fitzgerald's assignment of The Prince as optional reading for her Advanced Placement
English class of eleventh graders. He demanded that the Charleston School Board require Fitzgerald to take The Prince off her reading list. Conroy wanted to show his support for Fitzgerald. He visited her classroom to talk about fiction writing. In th
e end, the Board said teachers could assign "suitable" texts for their students (Burns 10).
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