Wouk, Herman: Youngblood Hawke
(researched by Thomas Yeatts)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Herman Wouk. "Youngblood Hawke." Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962. Copyright: 1962 by Herman Wouk
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First edition in gray cloth on board, stamped in black and gold.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
400 leaves [8] [1-3] 4-83 [84] 85-128 [129-131] 132-265 [266-269] 270-294 [295] 296-416 [417] 418-454 [455-457] 458-533 [534-537] 538-594 [595-597] 598-621 [622] 623-681 [682-685] 686-745 [746] 747-770 [771] 772-783 [9]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
First edition is neither edited nor introduced. However, the book is dedicated on the seventh unnumbered page: This novel is dedicated|to my wife,|with all my love
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
First edition is not illustrated.
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?)
Overall condition and appearance of the book is quite good, considering that it is now 40 years old. Binding is in good condition. Pages appear to have suffered no significant discoloration, if any at all. Side binding has yellowed somewhat from its original tone, as the front and back cover binding are slightly darker in color. Excellent readability. The type is large, clear, and unfaded. No illustrations except a gold stamped image of an ink pen and pocket watch on the front cover. Font type is either 'Romana' or 'EF Roman' (no serifs or cusps) Page size: 232mm x 152mm Top margin: 16mm Bottom margin (from text): 15.5mm Side margin: 14mm Height between ascender and descender of a single line: 4mm Approximate 20 line height: 80-90mm (83R) Line spacing (height between descender of upper line and ascender of lower line): 1mm
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?)
All pages are in excellent condition. No stains, rips, creases, or folds. Corners of pages are remarkably sharp. All pages are moderately thick, and of a smooth and even texture. Pages are of a uniform, off-white, cream color. Because of the uniformity of the color, it appears as if their "off-whiteness" is the desired shade of color, not a result of discoloration.
11 Description of binding(s)
Binding is in good condition with no fray, and minimal wear at the corners. Binding on side is slightly lighter in shade than the front and back. Texture of binding appears to have been smoothed by time and use. Transcription of Binding: FRONT: Herman Wouk (Signature Stamped in Gold)| (Gold Stamped Image of ink pen and pocket watch in lower right-hand corner). BACK: Blank SIDE: YOUNGBLOOD | HAWKE | HERMAN | WOUK (stamped in gold inside a black box; title and author separated by thin gold line) | DOUBLEDAY (stamped in gold at bottom)
12 Transcription of title page
FIRST Title Page (recto): Youngblood Hawke (blank verso) SECOND/MAIN Title Page(recto): YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE | a novel by HERMAN WOUK (half page space) 1962| DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC., GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK SECOND/MAIN Title Page(verso): Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 62-7698 | Copyright 1962 by Herman Wouk | All Rights Reserved | Printed in the United States of America | First Edition NOTE: | The accidental use of the names of living people in a long novel is virtually inevitable | nowadays, when literary manners shut out unrealistic coined names. Moreover the | author in naming scores of characters, now and then pulls a name from the air, and | then finds imbedded in his printed book the first or second names of people he has | known. Any such inadvertences in this work are wholly without meaning. If there are | actual people in the land bearing the full names of any of the phantoms in this work | of fiction, they are unknown to me, and no reference is intended. In this novel there | are no attempted portraits of any actual people, living or dead. Finally, the various | industries which capitalize literature in the United States have seen many minor | changes since the end of the second world war. Some business details of this story, | in the earlier passages, are not the same as they would be today. They are accurate | for the years in which they are represented as occurring. The general picture presented | by the novel is, I believe, a true one as of the present hour.| THE AUTHOR
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
I have been unable to determine the whereabouts, or verify the existance, of the manuscripts for the novel. However, the manuscripts to five of Wouk's historical novels ("Winds of War," "War and Remembrance," "Inside Outside," "The Hope" and "The Glory") are held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Also, many of Wouk's manuscripts for his other novels are being held (as of November 24, 2002) in special collections at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the 6th floor, Butler Library.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
***Dust Jacket Information: FRONT The front of the dust jacket for the first edition has a large graphic of a pen and ink next to a pocket watch. Transcription of front of dust jacket: Youngblood Hawke | by | Herman Wouk | A NEW NOVEL SIDE The side has a smaller version of the front graphic. Transcription of side of dust jacket: Youngblood Hawke | Herman Wouk | DOUBLEDAY BACK The Back of the dust jacket has a large portrait photograph of Herman Wouk by Editta Sherman. Transcription of back of dust jacket: Herman Wouk ***Source - The New York Times Book Review (May 20, 1962) NOTE:Additional leaf marks the seven divisions of the novel, with part number and time frame of narration on right face side (recto), blank left face side (verso).
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
N/A Source: WorldCat
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?
Research has yielded no information alluding to multiple printings of the first edition. In the April 2, 1962 issue of Publisher's Weekly, there is a two-page promotional add that indicates 125,000 copies in the first printing.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1) 1962. Boston : Little, Brown & Company. 783p. 2) 1962. London : Collins. 766p. 3) 1962. New York : New American Library. 878p. 4) 1963. New York : Signet. 883p. 5) 1975. New York : Pocket Books. 878p. 6) 1982. New York : Pocket Books. 7) 1992. William A. Thomas Braille Bookstore. 1988 p. 8) 1992. Boston : Little, Brown & Company. 783p. (reprinting of edition for #2)
6 Last date in print?
As of October 9, 2002, the book is still in print. Editions from the following publishers still available: Little, Brown & Company William A. Thomas Braille Bookstore
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Unknown
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Unknown
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
In the May 20, 1962 issue of The New York Times Book Review there is a two-page spread advertisement on pages 14 and 15. The ad consists of a brief summary of the novel, critical remarks, and a large image of multiple copies of the novel arranged in an arc-like fashion. On the left page is a portrait of Herman Wouk, and on the right page is an image of the Dust Jacket. It might also be noted that Herman Wouk appears on the cover of that particular issue discussing the novel. The headline reads "IT DIDN'T PAY TO STRIKE IT RICH How Success Spelled Artistic Failure Is the Theme of the New Wouk Novel" Select passages from the text of the advertisement: A man...a talent...and the way we | live now...in a magnificent new novel | by the author of The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE is Herman Wouk's long- | est, most ambitious novel. Its implications go | far beyond the literary and theatrical milieu in | which a creative artist may rise and fall in | meteoric succession. Only a novel could express so much that is true | about the way we live now. Only Herman Wouk | could have written Youngblood Hawke - a | novel which succeeds magnificently in conveying that truth. 792 pages; $7.95 wherever books are sold | A BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB SELECTION New York Times Book Review. May 20, 1962.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Cover of Publisher's Weekly - April 2, 1962 (To promote the release of the first edition) Cover art includes portrait image of Herman Wouk and a graphic image of a first edition copy. Text reads: This summer | begins with | HERMAN | WOUK | and | YOUNGBLOOD | HAWKE The add continues on to the back side of cover page and onto the first page (two-page spread). Excerpts read: A Landmark in Book Publishing | A Big, Ambitious Story | A Major National Advertising Campaign is already underway YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE has been sold to Warner Brothers for | $500,000. this giant of a novel has earned well over $1,000,000 before a single trade copy has been sold. Two-Page Ad in Publisher's Weekly - January 1, 1962 (ad precedes the release by approxiamtely 6 months) Art includes a large portrait photograph of Herman Wouk Selections from text read: ANNOUNCING THE NOVEL YOUR CUSTOMERS HAVE | BEEN ASKING FOR SINCE 1955. | COMING IN JUNE ad also contains an excerpt from a letter written last fall by Herman Wouk to his Editor, Lee Barker. The excerpt implies Wouk's confidence in the quality of the novel. Poster promoting the release of "Youngblood Hawke" (Film, 1964) Art contains image of Hawke embracing Jeanne Greene, with manuscript papers falling from his hand. Text reads: YOUNGBLOOD | HAWKE | A WOMAN | COULD | FEEL | HIM | ACROSS | A ROOM ALL THE BLISTER-HEAT OF THE BESTSELLER ON THE SCREEN
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
[Film] Youngblood Hawke. 1964, dir. by Delmer Daves. Cast including James Franciscus, Suzanne Pleshette, Genevieve Page, Eva Gabor, Mary Astor, Lee Bowman, Edward Andrews, Don Porter, Mildred Dunnock, Kent Smith, John Dehner, John Emery, Mark Miller, Hayden Rorke, Werner Klemperer, Berry Kroeger, and Rusty Lane. [Books on Audio-Tape] Youngblood Hawke. Books on Tape, Incorporated. July 1980. English. Volume 1) Unabridged Collector's Edition. 15 cass.(22 hrs. 30 min.) Volume 2) Collector's Edition. 11 cass.(16 hrs. 30 min.) Youngblood Hawke. Books on Tape. 1984-1985. English. 26 sound cassettes (38 1/2 hrs.) [Screenplay] Youngblood Hawke. 1963. Burbank, Calif., Warner Bros. Pictures. English.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
There were multiple translations and reprints in other countries of this book: 1) 1964. Wien Kindler. 857p. (German) 2) 1965. Barcelona : CÌrculo de Lectores. 967p. (Spanish) 3) 1960-1969(?). Stuttgart : Europ?ischer Buchklub. 793p. (German) 4) 1962-1970(?). [S.l.] : im Bertelsmann Lesering. 793p. (German) 5) 1973. Stuttgart : Deutscher B¸cherbund. 799p. (German) 6) 1973. Budapest : ZrÌnyi Katonai KiadÛ. 783p. (Hungarian) 7) 1992. William A. Thomas Braille Bookstore. 1988p. (Braille)
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Not clear as to whether or not the book was serialized.
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)
NOTE: Please consult the entries for The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War for a biographical overview. BRIEF BACKGROUND: Herman Wouk graduated from Columbia in 1934 with a BA in Comparative Literature and Philosophy. In the years after, he held a number of jobs in radio and advertisement, and in 1943, he joined the navy. It was not until 1946 that Wouk became a full-time writer, and his true identity as an artist began to take shape. Like most writers, Herman Wouk explores subject matter in his writing that reflect his life experiences. Having witnessed first hand the trials of the second World War, Wouk sets many of his stories in the environs of wartime. Wouk's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful novels, The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, all chronicle their characters' development through their experiences in World War II. The novels obviously are derived from his experiences as a naval officer on the USS Zane in the Pacific and the USS Southard in Okinawa. Cowardice and responsibility in the face of suffering enter as predominant themes in the novels. An author born of Jewish descent, it is not surprising that the condition of the Jewish people is another focus of Wouk's concern. Wouk's writing reflects a profound love and appreciation of his Jewish heritage. The Eichman trial in Israel, which brought an escaped Nazi general to trial and the Holocaust to the world's attention, played a profound role in the development of his Jewish sensibility. Two of his novels, Marjorie Morningstar (1955) and This is My God (1959), are particularly important landmarks in Wouk's development as a writer addressing the issues of Judaic culture. Marjorie Morningstar chronicles the spiritual development of a young Jewish girl as she comes of age in New York City. Embedded in her personal development are more broad issues concerning the Jewish people as they struggle to maintain a connection with their heritage in the whirlwind of modern society. In a striking departure from his two primary subjects of war and religion, Wouk addresses secular, more material, themes and issues in the years surrounding the writing and publication of Youngblood Hawke. The novel does not touch upon the issues of war or intimate religious sentimentality. In fact, traces of his Jewish heritage are completely absent. In Youngblood Hawke, Wouk chronicles the development of a young, promising writer in a harsh and manipulative business world. His main character thus becomes the vehicle through which Wouk's grievances with the business aspect of the literary world are communicated. Throughout the novel he criticizes the overbearing, manipulative culture surrounding and suffocating his art. His latest literary accomplishments reflect the same attention to his Jewish heritage that was present in his earlier novels. In The Hope (1993) and The Glory (1994), Wouk again addresses the condition of his Jewish people, but in the more politically charged setting of the formation and development of the State of Israel. Today, Wouk maintains a close faith in Judaism, and he is proud of his heritage. "There's a wealth in Jewish tradition, a great inheritance," he says, "I'd be a jerk not to take advantage of it." Biography and Genealogy Master Index (Web) Biography Resource Center (Web) http://www.quotemeonit.com/wouk.html (consulted Oct. 26, 2002) http://www.jewishsightseeing.com/usa/california/san_diego/ucsd/sd6-15-01herman_wouk.htm (consulted Oct. 26, 2002) http://www.bookmagazine.com/archive/issue10/emargolin.shtml (consulted Oct. 27, 2002) http://www.businessknowhow.com/Writers/criticscorner/ccwillive.htm (consulted Oct. 27, 2002)
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Youngblood Hawke could be considered the "great departure novel" in the career of Herman Wouk for a number of reasons. It was not only a departure from his typical subject matter and thematic concepts (see installment for Assignment #3), but it was a departure from the critical reception he was accustomed to receiving. While Youngblood Hawke was a success in book sales, it was a relative failure in the eyes of the critics. In stark contrast to the critically acclaimed war novels like The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance, Youngblood Hawke was generally frowned upon by critics. In the May 20, 1962 issue of The New York Times Book Review, novelist and freelance critic David Dempsey expresses mild praise for the novels merit as an entertaining narrative, but criticizes it for its lack of finesse and "literary grace." A passage from Dempsey's review reads: "Here are vivid American types, raised to the third power yet somehow breathing the breath of their creator rather than the breath of life. Here is dialogue hair-tuned to just the right wave length for each character. Here are plot and subplot; and as cap sheaf on the shock, here is the urgent theme that has so often haunted the American success story - the wasting of power that tragically becomes the price of great achievement" (Dempsey 1). Critic David Boroff also points to the flatness that pervades the novel in his piece in the Saturday Review. "[A] failure in characterization permeates the novel," he remarks, pointing to"the toneless prose, the pasteboard characters, [and] the remorseless prolixy" as significant shortcomings of Wouk's prose. Youngblood Hawke, however, was praised by a few as a novel demonstrating the prowess of a writer with a keen sense for the narrative. Curt Gentry of The San Francisco Chronicle remarked that "Despite [its] weaknesses, this is Herman Wouk's best novel? Wouk has a tremendous narrative gift? In 'Youngblood Hawke,' he uses it wisely, impressively, and well." Boroff's words emphasize: "If 'Youngblood Hawke' has scant literary merit - and, alas, that is the case - it is still a fascinating Baedeker to publishing as a business and to that treacherous no-man's-land where publishing, theatre, and movies intersect? Wouk somehow triumphs over his own ineptitude and carries the reader along in a strong narrative flow." But any praise for the novel could not overshadow the general disappointment. Critics were disappointed by the lack of substance within the novel, by the flatness of the characters and the shallowness of their lives. Critics were also dissatisfied with the emphasis Wouk placed on the novel's love story, a melodrama that they believed diverted attention from the novel's most important theme - Hawke's development as a writer. Most importantly, critics drew attention to what they felt the novel lacked as a work of profound literary accomplishment, by the significant shortcomings that even a strong narrative cannot overshadow. Youngblood Hawke was written in aftermath of The Caine Mutiny, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952, and Marjorie Morningstar, two novels praised for their attention to significant issues like world war and religious identity. There was a general disappointment that Youngblood Hawke failed to address any issues that have had such profound social impact, issues that can make a novel a timeless work of art. "We [the readers] are all too aware?" Dempsey observes, "that the method here, setting its own limits, risks little beyond the story it serves, and that a superb craftsman [Wouk] has yet to make the final leap into his art (38)." Commenting on his own work, Wouk responds to the criticism by saying "Youngblood Hawke was composed wholly within the enduring disciplines of narrative. These do not guarantee lasting merit, nor popularity, nor discriminating praise. Nothing can. But they compel the writer of fiction to be true to his task" (56). Works consulted: Boroff, David. "Hillbilly Literary Tycoon." Saturday Review. May 19, 1962: 36. Chamberlain, John. N Y Her. Trib. Books. May 20, 1962. Dempsey, David. "It Didn't Pay to Strike it Rich." The New York Book Review. Section 7 (May 20, 1962): 1, 38. Gentry, Curt. San Francisco Chronicle. May 20, 1962: 34. Guidry, F. H. Christian Science Monitor. May 24, 1962: 7. Kauffmann, Stanley. New Republic. June 11, 1962. Raven, Simon. Time Magazine. May 18, 1962. Simon, S. L. Library J. May 15, 1962. Smith, W.J. Commonwealth. July 29, 1962. Weeks, Edward. Atlantic 210:109. June 1, 1962. Wouk, Herman. "What's the Reason Why: A Symposium." The New York Book Review. Section 7 (December 2, 1962): 56.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Youngblood Hawke could be considered the "great departure novel" in the career of Herman Wouk for a number of reasons. It was not only a departure from his typical subject matter and thematic concepts (see installment for Assignment #3), but it was a departure from the critical reception he was accustomed to receiving. While Youngblood Hawke was a success in book sales, it was a relative failure in the eyes of the critics. In stark contrast to the critically acclaimed war novels like The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance, Youngblood Hawke was generally frowned upon by critics. In the May 20, 1962 issue of The New York Times Book Review, novelist and freelance critic David Dempsey expresses mild praise for the novels merit as an entertaining narrative, but criticizes it for its lack of finesse and "literary grace." A passage from Dempsey's review reads: "Here are vivid American types, raised to the third power yet somehow breathing the breath of their creator rather than the breath of life. Here is dialogue hair-tuned to just the right wave length for each character. Here are plot and subplot; and as cap sheaf on the shock, here is the urgent theme that has so often haunted the American success story - the wasting of power that tragically becomes the price of great achievement" (Dempsey 1). Critic David Boroff also points to the flatness that pervades the novel in his piece in the Saturday Review. "[A] failure in characterization permeates the novel," he remarks, pointing to"the toneless prose, the pasteboard characters, [and] the remorseless prolixy" as significant shortcomings of Wouk's prose. Youngblood Hawke, however, was praised by a few as a novel demonstrating the prowess of a writer with a keen sense for the narrative. Curt Gentry of The San Francisco Chronicle remarked that "Despite [its] weaknesses, this is Herman Wouk's best novel? Wouk has a tremendous narrative gift? In 'Youngblood Hawke,' he uses it wisely, impressively, and well." Boroff's words emphasize: "If 'Youngblood Hawke' has scant literary merit - and, alas, that is the case - it is still a fascinating Baedeker to publishing as a business and to that treacherous no-man's-land where publishing, theatre, and movies intersect? Wouk somehow triumphs over his own ineptitude and carries the reader along in a strong narrative flow." But any praise for the novel could not overshadow the general disappointment. Critics were disappointed by the lack of substance within the novel, by the flatness of the characters and the shallowness of their lives. Critics were also dissatisfied with the emphasis Wouk placed on the novel's love story, a melodrama that they believed diverted attention from the novel's most important theme - Hawke's development as a writer. Most importantly, critics drew attention to what they felt the novel lacked as a work of profound literary accomplishment, by the significant shortcomings that even a strong narrative cannot overshadow. Youngblood Hawke was written in aftermath of The Caine Mutiny, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952, and Marjorie Morningstar, two novels praised for their attention to significant issues like world war and religious identity. There was a general disappointment that Youngblood Hawke failed to address any issues that have had such profound social impact, issues that can make a novel a timeless work of art. "We [the readers] are all too aware?" Dempsey observes, "that the method here, setting its own limits, risks little beyond the story it serves, and that a superb craftsman [Wouk] has yet to make the final leap into his art (38)." Commenting on his own work, Wouk responds to the criticism by saying "Youngblood Hawke was composed wholly within the enduring disciplines of narrative. These do not guarantee lasting merit, nor popularity, nor discriminating praise. Nothing can. But they compel the writer of fiction to be true to his task" (56). Works consulted: Boroff, David. "Hillbilly Literary Tycoon." Saturday Review. May 19, 1962: 36. Chamberlain, John. N Y Her. Trib. Books. May 20, 1962. Dempsey, David. "It Didn't Pay to Strike it Rich." The New York Book Review. Section 7 (May 20, 1962): 1, 38. Gentry, Curt. San Francisco Chronicle. May 20, 1962: 34. Guidry, F. H. Christian Science Monitor. May 24, 1962: 7. Kauffmann, Stanley. New Republic. June 11, 1962. Raven, Simon. Time Magazine. May 18, 1962. Simon, S. L. Library J. May 15, 1962. Smith, W.J. Commonwealth. July 29, 1962. Weeks, Edward. Atlantic 210:109. June 1, 1962. Wouk, Herman. "What's the Reason Why: A Symposium." The New York Book Review. Section 7 (December 2, 1962): 56.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The creative process often involves taking chances. Sometimes after a period of success (or lack thereof), an artist will attempt to rekindle the creative flame by taking a risk and departing from the worn path of their creative comfort zone. A musician might try composing in a different key; an oil painter might try utilizing watercolor; a writer might explore new genres and/or new thematic concepts. Sometimes the departure proves successful and beneficial to his career, and sometimes it instigates its downward spiral. Sometimes the departure makes only a small splash, passing relatively unnoticed through time. In mid-career, having experienced the whirlwind of fame as a result of the success of his critically acclaimed novel, The Caine Mutiny (1952), Herman Wouk wrote Youngblood Hawke. Coined as Wouk's "try out" novel, his "daring breakthrough," the novel was greatly anticipated by both critics and the reading public, and finally published in 1962. As Wouk biographer Arnold Beichman notes, Youngblood Hawke "represented a tremendous leap from relatively simpler and undemanding novel structures to a vastly more complicated and more ambitious development of plot and character" (Beichman 59). In many respects, Youngblood Hawke (also the name of the novel's main character) is the black sheep of Wouk's literary career. It is one of Wouk's longest novels, second only to his epic wartime novels Winds of War and War and Remembrance. It is Wouk's fifth novel and in many ways it symbolizes the great "risk" of his career. Youngblood Hawke was a firecracker success that enjoyed bestseller status but little critical acclaim. It is a novel that neither elevated nor threatened his career as a writer, a splash that passed relatively unnoticed through time. But even without having made a big splash as a work of timeless literature, even without having attained a status in immortal literary canons, Youngblood Hawke is not without merit. It is a book that, above all else, presents a striking insight into the life of bestselling author (Mazzeno 67). Considering the novel's subject alone, Youngblood Hawke serves as an elaborate illustration of the processes surrounding the creation and marketing of bestselling novels. It follows the path of individuals who are intensely involved in the process of writing, editing, promoting, and marketing bestsellers. The novel also illustrates the nature of the interaction between writers and critics. As Hawke observes, "The literary life resembled politics? at bottom it was a contest of gifted men for popular favor and perhaps for a name in history; and? every bid for high place, such as he [Hawke] was making, had to call forth strong counterattacks" (Wouk 444). The novel intimates the great significance of critical reaction to the financial and artistic success of a book. It also details the complex path that a piece of fiction takes as it cascades through the commercial worlds of film and theater. Perhaps most significantly, it gives great attention to the significant role that financial concerns play in the life of a writer. Youngblood Hawke could be described as a Kunstleroman with a tragic twist, a Portrait of the Artist that ends with the artist's untimely death (Mazzeno 68). Like Stephen Dedalus, Arthur "Youngblood" Hawke is introduced to the reader as an infant in the early stages of his artistic career. He is a bright-eyed twenty-seven year old writer from Hovey, Kentucky with promising writing skill but with measured naivete about the business of publishing. Hawke, like Wouk himself, is admired by both critics and his massive audience for his lengthy narratives and his attention to detail. Also like Wouk, Hawke is engaged in writing serious literature. In the novel, what distinguishes Hawke from his contemporaries is his ability to write serious literature with the mass appeal of bestselling fiction. The novel chronicles the entirety of Hawke's career: the promising critical reception of his first novel (entitled Alms for Oblivion), the whirlwind success of his second (Chain of Command), the mixed reviews of his subsequent works, and his many learning experiences in between as he attempts to build his life and reputation in the sometimes unforgiving literary world. Though Youngblood Hawke was a failure as a work of serious literature, the novel did very well in sales, and was a bestseller in the year it was released. The success that the novel experienced in sales could be attributed to the versatility of its narrative, to its ability to appeal to both "low-brow" and "high-brow" readers. Wouk's prose, though considered by many to be tediously detailed and long-winded, is without poetic embellishment. His writing style is simple and direct, and therefore the text could be understood easily by readers of all backgrounds. Like Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Youngblood Hawke could be interpreted on two different levels; it could be enjoyed simply as entertainment, or it could be more carefully scrutinized as a form of social commentary. Superficially, Youngblood Hawke is simply an entertaining story with a complex plot that details the experiences of a strong, admirable, handsome protagonist, a classic American hero. Interwoven in Hawke's artistic development and his struggle with the business world are two complicated love affairs that, if nothing else, lend themselves to make the story more dramatic, and therefore more entertaining. Hawke himself is the stereotypical, American hero ? a man who is master of his craft, a passionate and well-respected writer, a man's man whose sexual appetite is as large as is his six-foot-four frame. Hawke's only real flaws are his strong work ethic (so intense that it leaves him bed-ridden with exhaustion) and his propensity to spend money frivolously (faster than he can earn it). The novel could potentially be enjoyed by high-brow readers for the commentary that underlies the entertainment. Underlying the story of Hawke's writing career is a scathing criticism and commentary on the business mentalities that govern the publishing industry, that sap the writers of their creative energies, and in effect, defame the art. The evils of money and business matters are embodied in characters like Hawke's Hollywood agent, Ferdie Lax, his single-minded publisher, Jay Prince, and his high school acquaintance and business advisor, Scott "Scotty" Hoag. The novel, also like Joyce's Portrait, juxtaposes the creative, art world with the crass, manipulative business world that controls it. Obviously, Wouk meant to use Hawke's story, and ultimately, the tragic nature of its outcome, as a vehicle to voice his own complaints about the publishing industry (Mazzeno). Wouk illustrates the story of Hawke's artistic development on the volatile ground where the art and business worlds collide. Throughout the course of his career (and the book), Hawke is engaged in two primary activities ? writing his novels and attempting to establish his financial security. Wouk goes to great lengths to illustrate how financial matters endanger art and stifle the functioning of the creative mind. Hawke is constantly trying to eliminate his debts, to reap capital gain from a variety of construction projects, and to establish a complex portfolio of investments that will alleviate any need to worry about his future financial well-being. Hawke's ultimate goal, a goal that can only be achieved after he has attained financial security, is to make a lasting contribution to the literary world, to compose a fifteen volume Comedy that comments on the state of American culture in the 20th century. In his attempts to establish financial security, Hawke seeks legal advice from his lawyer (and college friend) Gus Adam, and he invests in a number of construction projects under the direction of his high school friend, Scott Hoag. At one point, Hawke even tries to launch his own publishing company so that he can publish his own books and thereby circumnavigate some of the tax expense. But in the course of the novel, Hawke's dream is never realized. It is not realized for a number reasons, but mainly because of his many financial troubles that prevent him from attaining the peace of mind and the financial freedom that he needs to create his masterpiece. His many investments prove to create much more trouble than anticipated, and as a result, the quality of Hawke's writing suffers and his career is jeopardized. Hawke learns valuable lessons from his financial troubles; he learns that even old friends can be deceptive and that he will never free himself from the evils of money. Wouk's commentary is most obvious in the parts of the novel when Hawke is in the most dire financial circumstances and is forced to sacrifice his art to preserve his financial stability. On many occasions, Hawke is forced to sell the rights to his novels to movie producers (Jock Maas) and pretentious broadway stars (Georges Feydel) in order to stay afloat. Even when the dramatizations and cinematic interpretations of his stories will surely be mediocre, he still feels compelled to sell because of his financial dilemma. At the low point of Hawke's financial troubles, towards the end of the book, Hawke goes so far as to offer to sell the rights to his promising epic Boone County for a mere $25,000, an astoundingly low price for a story that is potentially worth many times that amount. Ultimately, it is this defamation of his art, combined with the failure of his financial projects and his ruthlessly intense work ethic that instigate his mental instability and his subsequent death. Wouk's statement is obvious - that blood-sucking business moguls are a real threat to good writers, good writing, and timeless art. Whatever commentary Wouk makes on the business world that grips the lives of writers, the novel's merit lies in the accuracy of its depiction of the publishing industry (Beichman 61). It illustrates in great detail how a story, a bestselling novel, echoes through the other spheres of the entertainment industry. In the course of the novel, we observe a bestselling author in action, writing his great novels; we observe how a writer communicates with his editors; we see how a novelist responds to the critical responses; we observe how a writer interacts with the critics and how the critical response affects the attitudes of potential buyers. Ultimately, we see how a bestselling novel unfolds in the creative mind and how it develops in the business world that adopts it. The novel profoundly intimates the inner working, the plumbing, of the entertainment industry. Among the other bestselling novels of 1962, J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey, it seems, is the only one to have achieved some lasting significance, a place in contemporary literary canons. In stark contrast to Youngblood Hawke, Franny and Zooey is a novel without an intense story line. Where Youngblood Hawke boasts a complex plot structure, Franny and Zooey is predominantly a character study. While Youngblood Hawke progresses steadily and chronologically through Hawke's life, Franny and Zooey isolates two specific points in time and leaves huge gaps in what would be a chronological progression. Wouk's primary focus is his story and his comment on the publishing industry; Salinger's primary focus is his characters. The many differences in the two novels, considering also their relative success as works of serious literature, speak to the lasting potential of bestsellers. What determines a bestseller's potential for immortality, it seems, is whether or not the work makes a lasting contribution to literature. That contribution usually manifests itself in more profound literary achievements, in prose that might be considered to be avante garde at the date of publication. In any case, an immortal piece of literature must exemplify some degree of originality. That being said, purely entertaining novels have more work cut out for them because it is more difficult to be a ground breaking writer of pure entertainment. Youngblood Hawke's failure as a serious work of literature (Mazzeno 66) could be a result of its absence of any significant contribution. Perhaps most significantly, what Youngblood Hawke's fate does imply is that a book's status as a bestseller does not, by any means, guarantee lasting significance. Sources Cited: Beichman, Arnold. Herman Wouk: The Novelist as Social Historian. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction, Inc., 1984. Mazzeno, Laurence W. Herman Wouk. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994. Wouk, Herman. Youngblood Hawke. New York: Doubleday, 1962. Sources Consulted: The New York Times Book Review http://www.bookmagazine.com/archive/issue10/emargolin.shtml (website running as of 12/02/02) http://www.businessknowhow.com/Writers/criticscorner/ccwillive.htm (website running as of 12/02/02) Biography Resource Center (Web) Hackett, 80 Years of Bestsellers http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/exhibits/rave_reviews/beyond_other.html (website running as of 12/02/02)
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