Irving, John: Cider House Rules
(researched by Camilla Wells)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
John Irving. The Cider House Rules: A Novel. New York, NY: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1985. The copyright is held by Garp Enterprises, Ltd. (1985) Parallel First Editions: Advanced reading copy from William Morrow & Company -- bound galleys. Franklin Library Limited Edition (Private first edition, signed by author). Uncorrected proof in red wrappers. London: Jonathan Cape, 1985.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition of The Cider House Rules was published in trade cloth binding in May 1985. However, the first paperback bookclub edition (published by William Morrow) also came out some time in 1985.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
280 leaves, pp. [14] 15-560.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The book is not edited or introduced, but several pages proceed the text of the novel (in addition to the title page and publication information). On page one (unnumbered), "THE CIDER HOUSE RULES" is printed in small capitals. On page three (unnumbered), Irving's previous novels are listed under the heading "ALSO BY JOHN IRVING." On page seven (unnumbered), Irving includes a dedication ("For David Calicchio"). On page nine (unnumbered), Irving includes a table of contents On page eleven (unnumbered), the book opens with two introductory quotes. The quotes read: "'Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.' -- Charlotte Bronte, 1847 and 'For practical purposes abortion may be defined as the interruption of gestation before viability of the child.' -- H.J. Boldt, M.D., 1906. "
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This book is not illustrated. There is one small illustration on the dust jacket of the novel -- a bright red apple hanging from a small brown branch with green leaves.
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 general appearance of the book is plain but attractive. The dust jacket is showing some yellowing and and some surface scratches, but the binding of the book is in excellent condition. The text is presented in an attractive manner and is very easy to read. The spacing between the lines (which is a significantly greater space than those in most mass market paperbacks) makes the book easy to read without straining the eyes. The margins seem somewhat small in comparison to the size of the page, but the layout works well, and the text does not appear cramped. The text is extremely well printed, without any smudges or other mistakes, and is holding up well over time. Paper size: 23 1/4 cm X 15 cm Text size: 18 cm X 11 cm Type size: 88R
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 smooth, thick and yellowish, but it is not glossy or slick. The copy that I own is in nearly perfect condition, despite some subtle yellowing in color. The leaves are crisp and are not bent or torn. The copy that I examined in Special Collections at Alderman Library is similar in condition to my copy. The pages are crisper and whiter in color, but there is some black smudging on the bottom right of some of the pages.
11 Description of binding(s)
Front and back covers: Bound in reddish brown cloth of a dotted line grain. Accented with unrefined tan paper. Front cover has artwork (apple hanging from a small branch) stamped in gold. Spine has title, underlined twice, and author's name at top as well as the publisher's name at bottom. All stamped in gold.
12 Transcription of title page
THE|CIDER|HOUSE|RULES|A|NOVEL|[artwork: silhouette of apple hanging from small branch]|JOHN IRVING|WILLIAM MORROW AND COMPANY, INC.|New York
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
All of John Irving's manuscripts are held at the library of the Philips Exeter Academy.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Description of dust jacket: Glossy paper, light yellow in color. Title and author's name are printed on the front in brown font accented in green. Artwork (apple hanging from small branch) separates the two. Located on front inside flap: $18.95 FPT "THE CIDER HOUSE RULES is John Irving's sixth novel. Set in rural Maine in the first half of this century, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch--saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Cloud's, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr. Larch's favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted." Publication information below: "William Morrow & Company, Inc. 105 Madison Avenue New York, N.Y. 10016 Printed in U.S.A." Located on back flap: John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire; he now lives in New York City and eastern Long Island. His previous novels are Setting Free the Bears, The Water-Method Man, The 158-Pound Marriage, The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire. He has received awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. His novels have been translated into fifteen foreign languages." Below: Jacket design by Honi Werner and same publication information found on front flap. Back cover: Large photograph of John Irving surrounded by thin black line. On left side of picture: Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark. ISBN on bottom of back cover. Spine: JOHN IRVING|THE CIDER HOUSE RULES(horizontal type)|[Publisher's insignia]|Morrow
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
As part of a promotional campaign, William Morrow and Company published an advanced reading copy of The Cider House Rules in bound galleys. I was unable to locate a description of this edition.
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 are at least ten impressions of the first edition.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1985 - London: Jonathan Cape - uncorrected proof in red wrappers. 1985 - William Morrow and Company - advanced reading copy. 1985 - Franklin Center, PA: Franklin Library. 1985, 1993, 1997, 2001 - New York, NY: Ballantine Books. 1985, 1999 - New York, NY: Modern Library. 1985 - London: Cape. 1985, 1986 - Toronto; New York: Bantam Books. 1985, 1986, 2000 - London: Black Swan. 1999 - New York: TMB: Hyperion. 2000 - Thorndike, ME: Thorndike Press - Large Print Edition. 2001 - Toronto, Canada: Vintage.
6 Last date in print?
This book is in print as of 2002.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
According to the May 24, 1985 Publishers Weekly hardcover bestsellers list, Cider House Rules had "... 300,000 copies in print and a June 17 publication date." The book, ranking number ten on the bestseller list before officially released, must have had a pre-release date in May of 1985. In "PW Forecasts" of Publishers Weekly from April 5, 1985, the advertisement states "250,000 first printing." 300,000 copies were sold in 1985. With the movie tie-in release of the novel in 1999 (a mass market edition), the book reached number one on the mass market bestseller list with 915,000 copies in print. Sales were up to 90,037 in 2000.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
300,000 copies were sold in 1985. 90,037 copies were sold in 2000 (PW, "Behind the Bestsellers 3-19-2001).
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
In the January 4, 1985 Publishers Weekly , there is an article detailing coming attractions from ten authors. On the second page of the article is a picture of John Irving followed by a brief introduction to the novel. Irving says, "I think this is a more sober book than my previous books. But I also think it is a better story than I've had before." In the February 1, 1985 Publishers Weekly , the spring announcements special edition, William Morrow and Company lists their upcoming titles (by month) on a two-page spread. The first novel listed under the heading "June" is The Cider House Rules. The advertisement reads, "A novel of an orphanage, an apple farm and the state of Maine in the first half of this century by John Irving ..." The February 15, 1985 Publishers Weekly has as its cover the front of the first edition dust jacket. On the following page is an advertisement for the novel. The top half of the page is a large picture of John Irving, and the bottom half states: "The new novel ... is set in rural Maine in the first half of this century. THE CIDER HOUSE RULES tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch--saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Cloud's, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr. Larch's favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted." In the April 5, 1985 Publishers Weekly , the "PW Forecasts" for fiction includes a blurb on The Cider House Rules . According to the article, " ... Irving has a cause here, and it's a timely one; he strongly and cogently advocates a woman's right to have an abortion .... [I]t is [also] a sentimental, poignant love story, involving characters we care about."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
According to the advertisement in the February 15, 1985 Publishers Weekly , the novel had major publicity "including network shows," posters, special bound galleys (pre-released by Morrow), and it was a Book of the Month Club main selection. $200,000 were for the initial advertising campaign.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Books on tape (read by Grover Gardner): Newport Beach, CA: Books on Tape, 1985, 1987. New York: Harper Audio, 1999. Other readings feature the voices of Griffin Dunne, Isabella Rossellini, Frances Sternhagen and Sam Waterston. I could not locate the publication information for these readings. In 1996, The Cider House Rules was dramatized. The writers that translated the book to the stage were Peter Parnell, Jane Jones and Tom Hulce. It was performed in the Seattle Repertory Theatre and starred Ethan Hawke as Homer. Publications resulting from the play: Screenplay for the stage. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2001. The Cider House Rules. Providence, RI: Trinity Reperatory Co., 2001. In 1999, Lasse Hallstrom directed a movie of The Cider House Rules for which John Irving wrote the script. It stars Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire and Charlize Theron. It was produced by Miramax Films in the US. The movie won two academy awards, one for Michael Caine's role as Dr. Wilbur Larch and one for John Irving himself, as the writer of the screenplay. It was also nominated for best art direction - set decoration, best director, best editing, best music - original score, and best picture. Publications resulting from movie: VHS tape. Cagel, Jess. Entertainment Insider Studio Screening: 1999 Movie Holiday Preview. E! Channel Movie Preview, January, 2000 (on the making of the movie). DVD video. Buena Vista Home Video, 1999. VHS tape. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 1999, 2000. VHS tape. Montreal, Quebec: Alliance Atlantic, 1999, 2000. CD - movie soundtrack. Rachel Portman, 1999. Musical score. Cider House Rules: Main Titles. Wilwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2000. Shooting script, 1999. The Cider House Rules: A Screenplay. Hyperion, 1999. The Cider House Rules: A Screenplay. London: Bloomsbury, 2000, 1999. The Cider House Rules. Atlanta: Scriptshop.com.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
There are many translations of the novel. I have listed the first appearance of the book in each language. De regels van het ciderhauis. Holland: Agathon. (no date listed). Le regole della casa del sidro. Milano: Bompiani, 1985. Oman Elamansa Sankari. Finland: Tammi Publishers, 1985. Principes de Maine, reyes de nueva Inglaterra. Barcelona: Tusquets, 1986. L'Oeuvre de Dieu, La Part du Diable. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1986. Ping guo yuan. Taibeishi: Huang guan chu ban she, 1986. Qianyi Mai (translator). AEblemostreglementet. Denmark: Glydenal, 1986. Ib Lindberg (translator). Saida hausu ruru. Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, 1987. Gottes Werk und Teufels Beitrag: Roman. Zurich: Diogenes Verlag, 1988. Takanol-beit ha-sheikhar. Tel Aviv: Zmora-Bitan Publishers, 1988. The Cider House Rules (in Braille). New York: Ballantine, 1993. Regulamin tloczni win. Warszawa : PrÛszynski i S-ka, 1995. Jolanta Kozak (translator). EAA OOII UEAAII (The Cider House Rules). Greece: Nefeli Publications, 1999. Anagnostopoulou Mirto (translator). Siderhusreglene: roman. Norway: Glydenal Norsk Forlag, 1999. Pravila Doma Sidra: roman. Moskva: Vagrius, 1999.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
This novel was not serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are no sequels or prequels to the novel.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Please see John Williams' entry on The Hotel New Hampshire for the biographical overview. After receiving his M.F.A. from the prestigious Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1967, John Winslow Irving published his first novels ? Setting Free the Bears in 1968, The Water-Method Man in 1972 and The 158 Pound Marriage in 1974. These novels were met with critical acclaim for a new author, but they had very low sales. Because he was not able to support his wife, and two small children on his writing alone, Irving took the job of writer-in-residence and wrestling coach at his alma mater, Iowa, in 1972. He stayed there until 1975, at which time he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and gained employment at Mount Holyoke College as an assistant professor of English. During this time, Irving also received the Guggenheim Foundation Grant and taught at the Bread Loaf Writer's Workshop in Middlebury Vermont. In 1978, Irving published a new novel, The World According to Garp. Garp was widely praised by critics and sold 100,000 copies at its first printing, and more than three million in paperback. After this enormous success, John Irving never had to take another teaching position. Irving produced another bestseller, The Hotel New Hampshire, in 1981 before releasing The Cider House Rules in 1985. Unlike his previous novels, Irving did not lean on the "security blankets" of a Viennese setting or dancing bears as a plot device (Harter 126). He worked to write in a more linear manner, unlike his style in Garp and Hotel. He started writing about an orphanage ? a topic close to him as he was raised by his stepfather and never met his biological father. Irving acknowledges a Dickensian influence in The Cider House Rules, even citing David Copperfield in the text of the novel. Along with this influence comes the social commentary for which Charles Dickens was known ? in this novel, Irving chooses the issue of abortion. However, it was more than a year after he began writing The Cider House Rules that he decided to make include the topic. According to Irving, the subject simply seemed to fit. Since Doctor Larch, one of the main characters, is an obstetrician and a pediatrician, "what [other] doctor would be most sympathetic to performing abortions but the doctor who delivered unwanted babies, then cared for them in an orphanage?" (Campbell 107). According to a brief interview in the January 4, 1985 edition of Publishers Weekly, he then began to write The Cider House Rules as a polemic, offering an alternative to the opinions of Ronald Reagan and his supporters, who took a decidedly pro-life stance. Irving has also said that he wrote The Cider House Rules as a history of abortion in America. As Irving says, "I wanted it to seem like something that really happened, not like something I invented" (Harter 133). With its publication in the spring of 1985, The Cider House Rules quickly rose to number one on the Publishers Weekly Bestseller list. To date, it is Irving's most critically respected novel.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When The Cider House Rules was first released in the spring of 1985, it was met with a variety of responses. A surprising amount of these reviews were written about not about The Cider House Rules as a single novel, but rather in relation to Irving's two previous bestselling novels, particularly The World According to Garp. The bulk of reviews were published right after the release of the novel, dwindling considerably after the summer of 1985. The first review of The Cider House Rules was a "PW Forecast" in the April 5, 1985 Publishers Weekly. The review very briefly outlines the plot of the novel and gives it an overall positive review, saying that "? it is a sentimental, poignant love story, involving characters we care about." Subsequent reviews are not as wholly positive as this brief article, meant to be more of an advertisment than serious criticism. The positive reviews of The Cider House Rules mainly focus on its quality as an enjoyable read and not a literary achievement. Many of the reviewers begin by speaking of the strong suits of the novel ? its linear plot, interesting characters and careful research. However, they later refute their positive remarks by speaking of John Irving's lack of meaningful talent. For example, Benjamin DeMott's review in The New York Times begins by saying, "By turns witty, tenderhearted and scarifying, ?The Cider House Rules' is, for me, John Irving's first truly valuable book. The storytelling is straightforward ? not the case with his huge commercial success, ?The World According to Garp' ?". DeMott goes on say that " ? improbabilities abound in the narrative ?. Often the tone wavers; the graphic gives way to ghoulishness or bawdy. And surely no other writer of literary reputation is as absurdly certain as Mr. Irving that the repetition of the words ?tears' and ?kisses' unfailingly summons emotion." The negative reviews repeat the same ideas expressed in the refutations mentioned above, only in a harsher manner. For example, in his review in the May 19, 1985 Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley says, " ? the relentless barrage of mush to which The Cider House Rules subjected me was more than I could bear; at its close I determined to swear off sugar, real or artificial, for at least a month." Unlike, DeMott, Yardley raises Garp far above Irving's more recent novels, saying that The Cider House Rules is "? devoid of the energy and unpredictability that characterizes Garp ?". He goes on to speak of its lack of memorable characters and the boring, sprawling plot. This sentiment is backed by a later review, published in the June 28, 1985 Newsweek, which says, "The Cider House Rules is a thick brick of a book. It deserves to be thrown back through John Irving's window." Overall, the negative reviews seem to focus on the lack of Irving's refinement as a writer, purposefully emphasizing its position as a bestseller, and not an important work of literature. As mentioned before, not any review is entirely warm towards The Cider House Rules. However, some claim that The Cider House Rules marks an important place in Irving's career ? it is a markedly different book from Garp and Hotel, not relying on his old plot devices. As Paul Gray says in Time, "It is impossible to miss Irving's message, but his method of conveying it is ingenious in the extreme ?. Irving's mastery of plot and pacing has never been more engagingly on display." Gray, as well as DeMott, emphasize that The Cider House Rules is an important novel, if not as a great literary masterwork, as a thoughtful polemic and a quite enjoyable story.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
When The Cider House Rules was first released in the spring of 1985, it was met with a variety of responses. A surprising amount of these reviews were written about not about The Cider House Rules as a single novel, but rather in relation to Irving's two previous bestselling novels, particularly The World According to Garp. The bulk of reviews were published right after the release of the novel, dwindling considerably after the summer of 1985. The first review of The Cider House Rules was a "PW Forecast" in the April 5, 1985 Publishers Weekly. The review very briefly outlines the plot of the novel and gives it an overall positive review, saying that "? it is a sentimental, poignant love story, involving characters we care about." Subsequent reviews are not as wholly positive as this brief article, meant to be more of an advertisment than serious criticism. The positive reviews of The Cider House Rules mainly focus on its quality as an enjoyable read and not a literary achievement. Many of the reviewers begin by speaking of the strong suits of the novel ? its linear plot, interesting characters and careful research. However, they later refute their positive remarks by speaking of John Irving's lack of meaningful talent. For example, Benjamin DeMott's review in The New York Times begins by saying, "By turns witty, tenderhearted and scarifying, ?The Cider House Rules' is, for me, John Irving's first truly valuable book. The storytelling is straightforward ? not the case with his huge commercial success, ?The World According to Garp' ?". DeMott goes on say that " ? improbabilities abound in the narrative ?. Often the tone wavers; the graphic gives way to ghoulishness or bawdy. And surely no other writer of literary reputation is as absurdly certain as Mr. Irving that the repetition of the words ?tears' and ?kisses' unfailingly summons emotion." The negative reviews repeat the same ideas expressed in the refutations mentioned above, only in a harsher manner. For example, in his review in the May 19, 1985 Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley says, " ? the relentless barrage of mush to which The Cider House Rules subjected me was more than I could bear; at its close I determined to swear off sugar, real or artificial, for at least a month." Unlike, DeMott, Yardley raises Garp far above Irving's more recent novels, saying that The Cider House Rules is "? devoid of the energy and unpredictability that characterizes Garp ?". He goes on to speak of its lack of memorable characters and the boring, sprawling plot. This sentiment is backed by a later review, published in the June 28, 1985 Newsweek, which says, "The Cider House Rules is a thick brick of a book. It deserves to be thrown back through John Irving's window." Overall, the negative reviews seem to focus on the lack of Irving's refinement as a writer, purposefully emphasizing its position as a bestseller, and not an important work of literature. As mentioned before, not any review is entirely warm towards The Cider House Rules. However, some claim that The Cider House Rules marks an important place in Irving's career ? it is a markedly different book from Garp and Hotel, not relying on his old plot devices. As Paul Gray says in Time, "It is impossible to miss Irving's message, but his method of conveying it is ingenious in the extreme ?. Irving's mastery of plot and pacing has never been more engagingly on display." Gray, as well as DeMott, emphasize that The Cider House Rules is an important novel, if not as a great literary masterwork, as a thoughtful polemic and a quite enjoyable story.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
In 1985, John Irving published his sixth novel and third bestseller, The Cider House Rules. By May of 1985 it had reached both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, and it was a Book of the Month Club Selection (Campbell 107). Until his publication of The World According to Garp, John Irving was a relatively unknown author even though his first two books were reviewed positively. After Garp was published, his life was immediately changed due to the novel's immense popularity. Garp was widely hailed as a dynamic work, considered by many critics to be a work of literature rather than simply a piece of popular fiction. This popularity paved the way for Irving's success with his next novel, The Hotel New Hampshire, a follow-on bestseller that lacks the psychological and emotional depth found in Garp. It is difficult to say whether The Cider House Rules is yet another follow-on bestseller, dependent on Irving's previous popularity or whether it would have been accepted by the public for its own merit. Due to its continued popularity, it is safe to say that Irving's sixth novel is in part so loved because of its intrinsic qualities -- its departure from John Irving's usually scattered plots and cute devices, its Dickensian feel and its exploration of the abortion issue. Though The Cider House Rules may fall into the category of a follow-on bestseller, it is also something of a departure novel, since it shows a true difference in style from Irving's two previous novels. The Cider House Rules is written in a more linear fashion than Garp or Hotel, which both jump back and forth in time throughout the lives of the main characters. For some, this stylistic choice makes the novel easier to follow and more engaging, but for others it is "a little too plain for nearly 600 pages" (Burgess). Irving also writes this novel in the third person omniscient voice, departing from his recent use of the first person, giving the novel a different feel and allowing it to focus on more characters. It still delivers John Irving's signature wackiness and sentimentality the made his other novels so successful, but it is portrayed in a different way, thus appealing to more people and different tastes. Irving's "weakness for the cute and trendy" is still evident in The Cider House Rules, he does not rely on his usual gimmicks found in Garp and Hotel, and even in his later bestseller, A Widow for One Year (DeMott). Dr. Larch and Homer Wells characteristically reflect the sexual defectiveness of all of Irving's main characters (both men are virtually celibate much like Frank in Hotel), and both men have their own catch phrases like those of TS Garp and Frank. Larch's "Wait and see" and "I expect you to be of use," however, are not as ubiquitous or as ominous as the common sentence in Hotel, "Keep passing the open windows." Neither is there a single dancing bear or a trip to Vienna in the entire novel, as there is in The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire or even in Irving's later novel, A Widow for One Year. Thus, The Cider House Rules succeeds in being a departure novel without leaving behind all of what the public loves about Irving -- it still retains his sense of familial love and his sentimentality. Though it stirs some criticism for its differences, with Newsweek referring to it as a "thick brick of a book," it expands its audience while retaining most of its old members (Lewis). In exploring a new style, Irving also draws heavily on a previously established writing style -- that of Charles Dickens, and to a lesser extent, that of Charlotte Bronte. "Irving plots The Cider House Rules with the care, complexity and attention to detail of the nineteenth-century novels he loves," focusing specifically on the idea of the orphan as hero and setting the first part of his novel in an orphanage in the early twentieth century. Irving even gives an open nod to Dickens as he makes him Homer's favorite author: Wilbur Larch was being cautious. He didn't fear for Homer's mind. A boy who has read Great Expectations and David Copperfield by himself, twice each -- and had each word of both books read aloud to him, also twice -- is more mentally prepared than most (39). Not only does Irving acknowledge his Dickensian influence, he also writes his novel to play out in a similar, though updated, manner to that of a Dickens novel. The Cider House Rules possesses comparable tribulations for its main character, Homer Wells, the boy who is never adopted. With those families who attempt to adopt Homer, he encounters extremely difficult situations -- with the first family, he is severely abused because he will not cry, and with another family, his new parents die in an unfortunate rafting accident several days after having brought him home. As a result of these repeated misfortunes, he is returned to the orphanage, St. Cloud's, several times, and he grows to an age at which he is no longer attractive to prospective parents. Like Jane Eyre or David Copperfield, Homer waits to adulthood to thrive in one place. Much of his personality is based around the fact that he is an orphan -- it is the life that he has known and the live to which he eventually returns. This idea is common to successful novels of the nineteenth century, as is the idea of sentimentality. The very idea that Homer returns to his orphanage to take the place of Dr. Larch, also dubbed St. Larch, the obstetrician and abortionist -- the very first chapter of The Cider House Rules is entitled "The Boy Who Belonged to St. Cloud's" -- is extremely sentimental, almost ad nauseam. However, all of these characteristics that made the nineteenth century novel popular, particularly the novels of Charles Dickens, work to make this book appealing in the same way. We read the novel for the feel-good quality of Dr. Larch's fatherly love for Homer Wells, boy who finally realizes that he belongs not to the cider house where he was lured by love and the promise of family, but to St. Cloud's, where he grew up. This very sentimentality makes the novel appealing, right down to the emotional description of Dr. Larch's death: It was a new, full can of ether; perhaps he jabbed the safety pin too roughly into the can, or else he wiggled it around too impatiently. The ether dripped onto the face mask more freely than usual; his hand kept slipping off the cone before he could get enough to satisfy himself. He turned a little toward the wall; that way, the edge of the windowsill maintained contact with the mask over his mouth and nose after his fingers relaxed their grip (515). Irving goes on to describe how Larch's death simply meant he was no longer of use to the orphanage, not disgraced in its sight, "And a man of use, Wilbur Larch had thought, was all that he was born to be" (516). Like the death of David Copperfield's first wife, Dora, in David Copperfield, this scene is meant to move its readers to tears. Just as Dickens wrote to a certain audience to render certain emotional reactions, so Irving writes in a similar manner to elicit similar emotions. He uses the influence of Charles Dickens, an extremely popular author of his own day, to recreate a comparable novel. This type of a novel tends to still be popular, and as a result, Irving's novels with this quality, particularly The Cider House Rules, thrive in the same way that David Copperfield of Great Expectations did and still does. In this way, The Cider House Rules is also a bestseller of nostalgia -- not a historical nostalgia such as in The Virginian by Owen Wister, but rather, a literary nostalgia for a simpler, more sentimental style of writing. Unlike any novel by Dickens, The Cider House Rules is also important among bestsellers because of its discussion of the abortion issue. The World According to Garp similarly explores the issues of the sexual revolution -- single motherhood, rape and issues of sexual identity. This political topic is, however, somewhat outweighed by the story of Garp's family. Unlike Garp, The Cider House Rules makes a political issue its subject, although it was originally not intended to be that way: In one interview, he spoke of how the subject fit, and how he came to make Dr. Larch ? an abortionist as well as an obstetrician and pediatrician: "[W]hat doctor would be most sympathetic to performing abortions but the doctor who delivered unwanted babies, then cared for them in an orphanage?" (Campbell 107). Though Dr. Larch is an ardent backer of the pro-choice stance, his chosen protégé, Homer Wells, is, at first, absolutely not. When Larch asks Homer to take his place after his death, Homer replies with a note saying, "1. I AM NOT A DOCTOR. 2. I BELIEVE THE FETUS HAS A SOUL. 3. I'M SORRY" (513). Homer of course ends up in keeping with the sentiment of the novel, that of "delivering mothers" as Larch says so many times, when he has to deal with a case of incest in the cider house. The pregnant daughter of one of the cider house workers, Rose Rose, comes to him as her last hope. It is at this point that he decides he has no choice but to deliver her from the pain she will know if she delivers a child who is a product of her father's rape. As he begins the operation, he recites the beginning lines of David Copperfield, "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." (529). He draws on his medical expertise and aborts the child, leading to his replacement of St. Larch at the orphanage where he truly belongs. Interestingly, it takes him 529 pages to come to this point in his life, showing his reluctance to give into the idea of a woman's choice over a fetus' soul. This makes the novel approachable for both those who are comfortably set in the idea of a woman's right to choose as well as for those who have reservations about the state of a fetus' soul. Through Larch and Homer, Irving explores both sides of the abortion issue, eventually resolving on the side of pro-choice, but not without a lot of intelligent thought beforehand. Why does such a wishy-washy discussion of abortion make for a popular novel? The answer is simple -- people all over America had were mulling the issue over in their minds in 1985, and still struggle over it today. In 1985, not fifteen years after Roe v. Wade, Ronald Reagan was president and was ardently against abortion. Many Americans feared the retraction of the Supreme Court decision and were hotly arguing about the topic during those years. In The Cider House Rules, John Irving does not attack those who would support Reagan, but gives them something of an ally in Homer who truly believes that abortion is wrong, but, in the end, strives to do the right thing. Irving also plays out detailed, intelligent arguments on the subject between Larch and Homer, working to reflect the quarrels of the day in an intellectual manner. This political issue made the novel interesting not only to Irving fans, but also to those interested in the issue of abortion -- and Irving was able to show it from both sides: Responsive to the ideals and passions that drive both parties - pro-life, pro-choice - the author does not tease himself with delusions that a sunny negotiated accord waits just down the road?. But Mr. Irving draws readers close, in the space of his imagination, to an understanding of essential links ? between factions now seething with hatred for each other. I have to record ? that the novel's potential political consequence - as an approach to reconciliation based on clarification of shared moral objectives - moved me to gratitude as I read (DeMott). The Cider House Rules is a difficult novel to push into one category or another as a bestseller. It could be classified as either a follow-on novel or as a departure novel, drawing on the sentimental qualities of Dickens to give his readers a good cry and a warm smile. However, the "potential political consequence" of The Cider House Rules tended to be, and still is, the main draw for its readers. This is also one of the main reasons why the novel has so endured, in combination with Irving's continued popularity and location on the bestseller list. Though the book has sustained its fair share of negative criticism, from its questionable literary quality to its pro-choice standpoint, the novel has endured and has recently transitioned into an Academy Award winning movie.
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