Michener, James A.: The Drifters
(researched by Lindsay Clinton)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
James A. Michener. The Drifters; a novel, by James A. Michener. New York: Random House, Inc., 1971. This book was published simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. This book was also published in London in 1971 by Secker and Warburg but it does not appear to be be the same edition. All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Conventions.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding. The cover is entirely black and void of writing. The spine is also black and has white lettering.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
385 leaves, pp. [14][1-3]4-39[40-43]44-80[81-83]84-121[122-125] 126-226[227-229]230-283[284-287]288-361[362-365]366-424[425-427] 428-467[468-471]472-558[559-561]562-634[635-637]638-751[5]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There is a brief introductory paragraph in italics explaining that the book is a novel with invented characters and settings.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations.
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 text is attractive and spacing is adequate. The text that begins each chapter is very small but readily readable. This text is randomly placed on the page in small paragraphs or lines. The greater portion of the novel is in bigger type size, and consequently, in easier to read. Each page measures 8 1/4*5 1/2 in. while the text encompasses 6 11/16*4 1/8 in. (Overall the margins on all sides are about 2 cm.) The type size is 85R and is serif type. Chapter titles are large whereas the chapter number is given in roman numerals and italicized. To the right of each roman numeral is a small symbol, also featured on each page at the top.
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 has light yellowish wove paper with an even, smooth texture. The paper is in relatively good shape with little sign of wear with the exception of several slightly dog-eared pages and several light stains. There is what appears to be a very large water stain encompassing the last hundred or so pages. These pages are not totally flat as a result but slightly wrinkled.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is black cloth in a slightly diagonal rib grain binding. The letters are stamped in white. The front and back cover are bare (with the exception of a sticker to enable the library to identify it on the front). The spine reads: THE DRIFTERS/MICHENER/CLEMONS/ PS/3525/.I19D7/Copy 2
12 Transcription of title page
Title page recto transcription:The/DRIFTERS/A/Novel/by/JAMES/A./MICHENER/ [publisher's crest]/RANDOM HOUSE/New York Title page verso transcription: Copyright 1971 by Random House, Inc.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Collections of Michener's books and manuscripts can be found at Swarthmore College and the University of Hawaii Libraries. The Library of Congress has a large collection of Michener's papers.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
There is a Book Binding Slip between the fourth and fifth pages indicating that this copy of the book has been rebound. The inside cover of this copy is stamped in black with "UNIVERSITY OF/VIRGINIA/CHARLOTTESVILLE/LIBRARIES Written in pencil on the title page verso is the book's call number.
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
According to Publisher's Weekly, Random House published only the original edition. However, there have been several other editions printed; see item number 5 for more information.
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?
The first printing of the book yielded 125,000 copies. It appears as if there was only one printing of this hardcover edition by Random House. Sources Used: Publisher's Weekly 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Other editions listed chronologically: Fawcett Crest in New York, 1971. (768 p.:maps; 18 cm.) Secker and Warburg in London, 1971. Corgi in London, 1972. Fawcett Publications in Greenwich, CN, 1972. (768 p.; map 18 cm.) Fawcett Publications in Greenwich,CN, 1972. Fawcett in New York, 1978. Corgi in London, 1979. (830 p.; 18cm.) Fawcett Crest in New York, 1982. Fawcett, 1983. (Mass Market Paper) Fawcett Book Group, 1986. (Mass Market Paper) Plaza and Jans in Barcelona, 1986. (542p. 23 cm.) Mandarin in London, 1993.
6 Last date in print?
The last American edition was printed in 1986 by Fawcett Book Group. The most recent edition was printed in 1997 in Czeckoslovakian by Knizn klub.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
The last figure given by Publisher's Weekly listed sales at 104,985 in January of 1972. Hackett's 80 Years of Best Sellers states that by 1975 Crest had sold 2,400,000 books in paperback. The total number of copies sold was unavailable.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
The book was published on June 4, 1971. By August 9, 1971 83,040 copies had been sold. This fugure limbed to 96,000 by October 11, 1971. On November 8, 1971 sales totaled 102,000. The last figure given in Publisher's Weekly listed sales at 104,985.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The only advertisement put out by Random House in Publisher's Weekly was a listing of books to be released in spring of 1971. It listed The Drifters as one of their books to be released in April. Publisher's Weekly also listed it as being the Book-of-the-Month Club selection for June. It describes the novel as a chronicle of a "number of drifting youngsters from different parts of the world who gather in Torremolinas, Spain."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Random House submitted an excerpt from the book in the November 1970 Ladies' Home Journal magazine. The front page of the issue states that inside there is a overview of James Michener's new novel. In the actual article, there is a brief introductory paragraph explaining that James A. Michener "author of so many bestsellers" is "excerpted here." It gives a brief characterization of all of the characters and then the article begins with the story of a character named Britta Bjorndahl. The article is from page 161-168 and included within are pictures of each of the six characters. The pictures are large and made to look like passport photos. The print on the first page of the article is normal with the exception of the title which says: THE/DRIFTERS/BY JAMES A. MICHENER. These words are very large and bold and in the same style and font the original dustjacket.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
There is a version of The Drifters published by Books On Tape. It is a B-O-T Library edition made in 1994. There are 25 cassettes, each 1 1/2 hours long. They are read by Larry McKeever.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
There are many translations: Czechoslovakian: Zatoulan generace V Praze: Knizn klub, 1996. Dutch: De bloemenkinderen van Torremolinos Bussum: Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1972. Finnish: Kohtauspaikka torremolinos Helsinki: Suuri Suomalainen Kirjakerho, 1972. Helsingiss: Kustannusosakeyhti Otava, 1972. French: Les d'riveurs: traduit de l'anglais Paris: Stock, 1972. Paris: France Loisirs, 1972. German: Die Kinder von Torremolinos: Roman Klagenfurt: Kaiser, 1971. Munchen: Goldmann Sachbuch, 1985. Reinbeck" Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1973. Vienna: F.Molden, 1970 Wien: F. Molden, 1971. Der Kinder von Torremolinos: roman Munchen: W.Heyne, 1980. Norwegian: Ungdom i drift: roman Oslo: Dreyers Forlag, 1971. Portugese: Filhos de torremolinos Mem Martins: Publica es Europa-America, 1973. Spanish: Hijos de Torremolinos Barcelona: Plaza and Jans, 1973. Barcelona: Plaza and Jans, 1974. Barcelona: Plaza and Jans, 1975. (special edition for El Instituto de Internacional de Cultura) Barcelona: Plaza and Jans, 1986. Swedish: De vinddrivna Stockholm: Rabn & Sjgren, 1972. Turkish: Srklenenler Turkey: Atlin Kitaplar, 1972.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Excerpts appeared in a whole no. of Ladies' home Journal v.87, no. 11, Nov. 1970. The excerpt is from page 161 to 168 with an illustration.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are no sequels or prequels to this book.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
For additional biographical information on James A. Michener's life refer to other selections in the Bestseller Database. James Michener, in a 1967 interview told Rob Newquist that "because man's knowledge of everything is now so vast, it behooves any one person to know virtually everything about at least one thing." (256) One could venture to say that Michener overstepped his own advice. Over the course of his life, Michener absorbed the people, places, and institutions around him and learned everything he could in order to become such a talented writer. The record of Michener's birth has never been found and historians find that his origin is disputable. According to Michener, he was born in 1907 in Mount Vernon, New York. Accounts tell that he grew up under the care of Mabel Michener in an economically unstable, but loving household. As a boy, Michener was at times difficult to handle and was thrown out of elementary school, junior high, high school, and college; however, he was notable for his involvement. (Michener 20) In high school, Michener did well in school while playing basketball, baseball, and tennis; took part in student government and drama; and edited the school paper. He attained a scholarship to Swarthmore and as indicated above, was soon kicked out. His English professor, Dr. Robert Spiller, allowed him back to school reasoning that "no young man who wrote two long term papers in iambic pentameter of a high quality could be that bad." (Michener 20) Dr. Spiller later enabled Michener's first appearance in serious print in the Publication of the Modern Language Association, said to be the most prestigious journal of its day. (Michener 26) Michener was also greatly influenced by Grace Livingston Hill, the first professional writer he had ever met. Although her romantic genre was of little interest to Michener, he admired Hill's output of over 100 books (released at regular intervals bi-annually) and her loyal readership. He only met her twice, but he recalled later with admiration: "I find my self reflecting that fifty years hence my books could well be gathering dust while hers...would reflect the tastes of the Twenty First Century..." (Michener 62) When Michener was not in school during his formative years, he was traveling. He hitchhiked across the country through every state except North and South Dakota, Oregon, and Washington with little or no money in his pocket. His worldly knowledge extended to Asia, Europe, and parts of Africa as he continued to travel. His travels led him to several narrow escapes with death involving deadly plane crashes, several wars, and mysterious circumstances in foreign countries that led him to conjecture that he could never venture back to some of the places he had been. His ideas for his book The Drifters emerged from some of his European and African travels. Michener had traveled around Spain and North Africa. He spent extended periods in Torrelmolinos, Spain which is the main setting of the novel. While in Spain, Michener got to know people in Pamplona quite well and was able to observe the characters that he later used as the basis for the book. (Conversations 168) The Drifters was published in 1971 shortly after his book Kent State was released. This was one of the first times that two books by Michener came out so close together. The Drifters was actually written before Michener began Kent State, but it was released afterward out of convenience. Michener, in retrospect, said in relation to the nearly simultaneous publication, "It was unwise, I suppose, but it didn't do any damage." (Converstions 169) By 1975, he had already written the book he considered to be his favorite: Toko-ri. However, he explained that he thought The Drifters had more intellectual substance and was a book in which he had "created a total world in which his people move credibly." (Conversations) Michener worked with many different publishing houses over the course of his career but when asked about Random House, the publisher of the first editions of The Drifters and Kent State, he explained, "I have a very good contract with Random House; I'm quite satisfied with it. But, nevertheless, the contract does allow them to make a lot of money if a book is a best seller." (Converstions 172) Indeed, The Drifters turned out to be a bestseller, selling over two million copies by 1975. (Hackett 39) It might well have been his impetus for writing his subsequent novel, Iberia, which dealt with many of the same locales. Michener died in 1997 at the age of 90 after living an amazingly diverse and fascinating life. His experiences with people and extensive travel adventures are the material for many of his works. As Michener gains an increased amount of respect, his readership can only hope that he will reach the ideal he admired about his mentor, Grace Livingston Hill: with any luck, James Michener will also "hold a faithful audience even two score years after death...and reflect the tastes of the Twenty First Century." (Michener 60) Sources Used: Ellin Stanley. Conversations with Writers II. Detroit: Gale Research, 1978. Hackett, Alice Payne. 80 Years of Bestsellers: 1895-1975. New York:R.R. Bowker, 1977. Michener, James A. Collectors, Forgers--And a Writer: A Memoir. New York City: Targ Edition, 1983. Newquist, Roy. Conversation. United States: Rand McNally and Company, 1967. http://info.greenwood.com/ http://library.unco.edu/michener/grosecl/booksabt.htm www.jamesmichener.com/michener.michchrn.htm www.jamesmichener.com/michener/michst.2.htm Sources Not Used: www.library.miami.edu/archives/papers/michener.html
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Michener wrote over forty books throughout his literary career, many of them receiving acclaim. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific, and many of his subsequent novels enjoyed the same level of praise. However, The Drifters, which was released more or less during the middle of Michener's career did not follow the example set by its predecessors. Reviewers found it to be unnecessarily long and trite. He was criticized for his generic attempts at creating a storyline and his merely tolerable writing. "Getting them to Spain is not as easy as it sounds in this notice. It takes almost 300 pages of Mr. Michener's novel, by which time the characters introduced earlier have become a little blurred in the memory. There is a leisureliness to the writing that belongs to another age." -Thomas Lask, THE NEW YORK TIMES, June 10, 1971 "The Drifters isn't a long book; it is an interminable one. Stylistically leaden, thematically tangential, it slogs along humorlessly for 751 pages masquerading as the definitive report back to the Middle American parents on what's going on inside their long-haired, freaky kids' heads." -Michael Putney, THE NATIONAL OBSERVER, June 7, 1971 "To enjoy the book, the reader must forgive Mr. Michener his contradictions, fantastic coincidences, and inablility to distinguish between the need for identification and the struggle for human understanding. As one of the characters recommends: 'Forgive him. He's an old man in a new world.'" -Robin Wright, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITER, June 24, 1971 The novel was also overshadowed by its time of release which fell only months after the debut of Kent State: What Happened and Why and Iberia, one of his more well known works. In the SATURDAY REVIEW, D.W. McCullough writes, "The Drifters is something of a guidebook loosely dressed up as fiction; a guide to ...the Iberian peninsula, and to the life-styles of the rebellious young. Mr. Michener has written better about both: in Iberia...and in the recent Kent State."(May 1, 1971) While most reviewers were critical of Michener's epic tale, a handful conceeded that the book might appeal to a less critical audience. Critics commented that he did seem to have a deeper understanding of the plight of 1970s youth and praised him for his pursuit in knowing more about an overlooked generation and his exploration of entertainment for young readers. "Best selling novelist James Michener has laid claim to an unusually insightful understanding of youth..." -Robin Wright, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITER, June 24, 1971 "The statement of philisophic, social, and political problems is diffuse, but obvious and will attract readers who do not require subtlety." -BOOKLIST, July 15, 1971 "It is an interesting trip and Michener is an entertaining as well as knowledgeable guide. The novel has a more serious purpose, however, which is exhaustively to examine the 'youth revolution.' Michener brings to this task narrative skill and a nicely adequate socio-psychological sophistication." -Peter Sourian, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, June 27, 1971 In examining the success of The Drifters, one cannot overlook that despite the lack of favorable reception, this novel did become a best seller and must have been appreciated by more than a couple of readers. The overly negative reception of The Drifters may have shown that this was not Michener's best work, but it did not marr Michener's reputation as a talented writer. Cumulative Reviews: BOOKS AND BOOKMEN 10/71 BOOKLIST 7/15/71 BOOKSELLER 6/15/71 BOOKWORLD 7/18/71 BOOKWORLD 6/4/72 CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITER 6/24/71 KIRKUS REVIEWS 4/1/71 LIBRARY JOURNAL 4/1/71 LIFE 6/4/71 LIFE 12/31/71 NATIONAL OBSERVER 6/7/71 NEW YORK TIMES 6/10/71 NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW 6/27/71 PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY 4/5/71 PUBLISHER'S WEKKLY 3/13/72 SATURDAY REVIEW 5/1/71 SATURDAY REVIEW 5/27/72 SOURCES USED: Booklist v. 67. Chicago: American Library Associaton Publishing Board. July 15, 1971, p.931. Book Review Digest, 1971. Book Review Index, 1971. Brown, F.J.. Books and Bookmen v.17. New York: Bowker. April 1, 1971, p.394. Lask, Thomas. "Live It Up While You Can." The New York Times. June 10, 1971. Putney, Michael. "Form Mr. Michener, No Booze But Lots Of Gab." National Observer. June 7, 1971, p.21. Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, v.31. Sourian, Peter. "The Drifters." The New York Times Book Review. June 27, 1971. Wright, Robin. "Man Adrift in the Generation Gap." Christian Science Moniter. June 24, 1971, p.9. SOURCES NOT USED: Contemporary Literary Criticism, v.1,5,11. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism US News and World Report. Dec 10, 1973, p. 48-55.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Michener wrote over forty books throughout his literary career, many of them receiving acclaim. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific, and many of his subsequent novels enjoyed the same level of praise. However, The Drifters, which was released more or less during the middle of Michener's career did not follow the example set by its predecessors. Reviewers found it to be unnecessarily long and trite. He was criticized for his generic attempts at creating a storyline and his merely tolerable writing. "Getting them to Spain is not as easy as it sounds in this notice. It takes almost 300 pages of Mr. Michener's novel, by which time the characters introduced earlier have become a little blurred in the memory. There is a leisureliness to the writing that belongs to another age." -Thomas Lask, THE NEW YORK TIMES, June 10, 1971 "The Drifters isn't a long book; it is an interminable one. Stylistically leaden, thematically tangential, it slogs along humorlessly for 751 pages masquerading as the definitive report back to the Middle American parents on what's going on inside their long-haired, freaky kids' heads." -Michael Putney, THE NATIONAL OBSERVER, June 7, 1971 "To enjoy the book, the reader must forgive Mr. Michener his contradictions, fantastic coincidences, and inablility to distinguish between the need for identification and the struggle for human understanding. As one of the characters recommends: 'Forgive him. He's an old man in a new world.'" -Robin Wright, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITER, June 24, 1971 The novel was also overshadowed by its time of release which fell only months after the debut of Kent State: What Happened and Why and Iberia, one of his more well known works. In the SATURDAY REVIEW, D.W. McCullough writes, "The Drifters is something of a guidebook loosely dressed up as fiction; a guide to ...the Iberian peninsula, and to the life-styles of the rebellious young. Mr. Michener has written better about both: in Iberia...and in the recent Kent State."(May 1, 1971) While most reviewers were critical of Michener's epic tale, a handful conceeded that the book might appeal to a less critical audience. Critics commented that he did seem to have a deeper understanding of the plight of 1970s youth and praised him for his pursuit in knowing more about an overlooked generation and his exploration of entertainment for young readers. "Best selling novelist James Michener has laid claim to an unusually insightful understanding of youth..." -Robin Wright, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITER, June 24, 1971 "The statement of philisophic, social, and political problems is diffuse, but obvious and will attract readers who do not require subtlety." -BOOKLIST, July 15, 1971 "It is an interesting trip and Michener is an entertaining as well as knowledgeable guide. The novel has a more serious purpose, however, which is exhaustively to examine the 'youth revolution.' Michener brings to this task narrative skill and a nicely adequate socio-psychological sophistication." -Peter Sourian, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, June 27, 1971 In examining the success of The Drifters, one cannot overlook that despite the lack of favorable reception, this novel did become a best seller and must have been appreciated by more than a couple of readers. The overly negative reception of The Drifters may have shown that this was not Michener's best work, but it did not marr Michener's reputation as a talented writer. Cumulative Reviews: BOOKS AND BOOKMEN 10/71 BOOKLIST 7/15/71 BOOKSELLER 6/15/71 BOOKWORLD 7/18/71 BOOKWORLD 6/4/72 CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITER 6/24/71 KIRKUS REVIEWS 4/1/71 LIBRARY JOURNAL 4/1/71 LIFE 6/4/71 LIFE 12/31/71 NATIONAL OBSERVER 6/7/71 NEW YORK TIMES 6/10/71 NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW 6/27/71 PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY 4/5/71 PUBLISHER'S WEKKLY 3/13/72 SATURDAY REVIEW 5/1/71 SATURDAY REVIEW 5/27/72 SOURCES USED: Booklist v. 67. Chicago: American Library Associaton Publishing Board. July 15, 1971, p.931. Book Review Digest, 1971. Book Review Index, 1971. Brown, F.J.. Books and Bookmen v.17. New York: Bowker. April 1, 1971, p.394. Lask, Thomas. "Live It Up While You Can." The New York Times. June 10, 1971. Putney, Michael. "Form Mr. Michener, No Booze But Lots Of Gab." National Observer. June 7, 1971, p.21. Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, v.31. Sourian, Peter. "The Drifters." The New York Times Book Review. June 27, 1971. Wright, Robin. "Man Adrift in the Generation Gap." Christian Science Moniter. June 24, 1971, p.9. SOURCES NOT USED: Contemporary Literary Criticism, v.1,5,11. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism US News and World Report. Dec 10, 1973, p. 48-55.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Published in 1971, The Drifters was born into an era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. James Michener's novel became a best seller within weeks and remained on the best seller list for over eight months. It was welcomed and praised by the generation of young men and women who had experienced Vietnam, had experimented with drugs and sex, and had wanted to do what the drifters had done. However, when looking at the details concerning the time the book was released and reading the overly negative critical reviews, it is any wonder that it sold any number of copies at all. Although The Drifters received poor critical reception, it soared on the best seller lists due to the author's exhaustive knowledge and the appeal of this adventure and its characters to the youth of the early 1970s.
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