Wilder, Thornton: The Woman of Andros
(researched by Katrina Vickerman)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
The first editon was published by Albert & Charles Boni in New York. "The Woman of Andros" was published in 1930.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
Published only in cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
There are 82 leaves. 1-6, 7-162, 163-164. *Also has an orange leaf at beginning and at end of book related to the binding. Pages are numbered in center at bottom of page with a diamond shaped character on each side of the number.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The first edition was not edited or introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The first edition was 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?)
The first edition is 21cm x 13.5 cm. It is publishe
d on thick paper with large type. The book is well printed. The typography is bold and easily readable. The physical presentation of the text is attractive but simple. The borders surrounding the text are slightly unusual. There is a 2.75 cm border between the text and the outer edge of the paper and a 1.75 cm border between the text and the binding. There is a 3.5 cm indent from the top of the page and a 5 cm indent
from the bottom of the page.
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 quality is extremely high. There are no tears or folds in any of the three examined first editions of this book. The paper is thick and durable. The paper is unwatermarked and cut cleanly.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding appears to have been of plain bie
ge cloth (appears slightly more grey right now.) The binding is an embossed calico grain. The title and author are embossed in large gold print on the cover. A woman seated in a chair also appears on the cover in red, separating the title (at top) and
author (at bottom.) The binding is in amazing shape; it has neither frayed nor come loose at all.
12 Transcription of title page
THE I WOMAN I OF I ANDROS I BY I THORNTON WILDER I [3.25 cm x 2.75 cm image in red of a profile of a woman seat in a chair] I MCMXXX--ALBERT & CHARLES B
ONI--NEW YORK
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Special Collections at the University of Virginia has uncorrected proofs of "The Woman of Andros" with a presentation inscription from the author to Earle J. Bernheimer in March 1948. Special Collections at the University of Virginia has three first edition copies. Special Collections also has a special edition copy of the novel which was also published in 1930. This copy was signed by Thornton Wilder and is copy number 124 of 260 tot
al copies.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
*Following the title page there is an inscription: The first part of this novel is based upon the Andria, a comedy of Terence who in turn based his work upon two Greek plays, now lost to us, by Menander. *On the back of the book jacket an advertisement for books recently published by Albert & Charles Boni lists "The Woman of Andros" at a price of $2.50. A short description under the book title reads, "The long awaited successor to The Bridge of San Lu
is Rey
. It is a study in inner life of a few characters passing through circumstances that are commmon to domestic life in all times and places."
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
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were two impressions of the first edition; both were done in February 1930.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
-limited edition of 260 copies signed by the au
thor published by Longmans, Green & Co. 1930 -"The cabala and The woman of Andros" published by Harper & Row 1930 -"The Stories of Thornton Wilder: The Bridge of San Luis Ray, The Cabala, The Woman of Andros" published by Longmans, Green, & Co. 1933, 1934 -Longmans, Green, & Co. 1934 and 1954 -"A Thornton Wilder trio: The cabala, The bridge of San Luis Rey, The woman of Andros." published by Criterion books 1956 -"The Cabala ; The Woman of Andros" published by Harper & Row 1958 -Avon 1958 and 1975 -Penguin Books 1969 -"The bridge of San Luis Rey; The woman of Andros" published by Lythway Press 1974 -"The cabala; The bridge of San Luis Rey ; The woman of Andros" published by Franklin Library 1980
6 Last date in print?
1980
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
No quantitative sales figures avaliable. "The Woman of Andros" remained on the Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Fiction List for twelve weeks; peaking at #l on 12 April 1930 and remained at #1 for four weeks.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Not avaliable. See number 7 above for popularity information.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Advertisement #1: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / THE WOMAN OF ANDROS BY THORNTON WILDER "One of the most exquisitely beautiful and moving things I have read." Edwin Bjorkman "Writing of this temper is rare in American fiction...'The Woman of Andros' is the best book we have had from Thronton Wilder." New York Times "Wilder's third and best." New York-Herald Tribune "A vivid picture of human life in man's relation to his world...A memorable piece of work...There are some phrases in it which are forever unforgettable." "In every page one feels that Wilder is writing for the ages...A creation of beauty." N. Y. Telegram The best selling book in America! / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / This advertisement was found in Publisher's Weekly March 1930.
Advertisement #2: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / THORNTON WILDER'S FIRST NOVEL SINCE THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY. JUST PUBLISHED + $2.50 AT ALL BOOKSTORES "The Woman of Andros" is a story of simple village people and in this offers a striking contrast to Thronton Wilder's earlier novels. His publishers hope and expect that his public will be as delighted with it as they are themselves. Obviousl
y, a new book by Thornton Wilder is an event of first importance in the world of letters, but a very special pleasure is in store for the many thousands who will read it. In thought and execution it is like a finely-cut gem and produces a rare emotion. The story is founded on a situation in Terence's The Andria and the scene is laid on a little island in the Aegean. Love and Death are the predominating themes in the fabric; Thronton Wilder has woven it; and the result is a work of the finest
craftsmanship as well as one of those stories that invade the human heart and mind because they are universal and compelling. William Lyon Phelps says "the style is full of subtle cadences and harmonies," and that "no one but a consumate literary artist could have written the book". And the author himself writes: "The Woman of Andros" asks whether Paganism had any sol
ution for the hopeful inquiring sufferer, and -- by anticipation -- whether the handful of maxims about how to live that entered the world with the message of Christ were sufficient to guide one through the maze of experience." / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / This advertisement is from an Albert & Charles Boni Publishing ad in the 23 February 1930 issue of the New York Time Book Review.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
N/A
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
N/A
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Die Faus aus Andros. Translation by Herbeth E. Herlitschka. Leipzig, Wien, E. P. Tale & Co. Verlag, 1931 an
d 1946 and 1952. La femme d'Andros. Translation by Maurice Remon. Edited by Albin Michel. Paris, 1932. Die Frau aus Andros. Translation by S. Fischer. Frankfurt, 1952. Ta ti ti t an hsi. Translation by Chia-yin Huang. Hsi feng she. Shang-hai, 1949. Una mujer de Andros. Translation by Ernesto Montenegro. Santiago, Chile, 1933. Kobieta z wyspy Andros. Translation by ?. Paanstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. Warszawa, 1960. Az Androsi leaany. Translation by ?. Raevai Kiadaas. Budapest.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Thornton Niven Wilder was born on April 17, 1897 in Madison Wisconsin to Amos P. Wilder and Isabel Niven Wilder. Thornton had a twin who died in childbirth (Wilder, 10). Isabel, the daughter of a Presbyterian mi
nister, was a major impetus in Thornton's intellectual growth and influenced her children in the love of arts (Goldstein, 4). Amos Wilder's patriarchal sternness left life-long pains of unworthiness in Thornton (Goldstone, 146). This sternness fostered
a puritanical childhood environment (Stresau, 3-4). Wilder's education began in Madison for several years until the family moved to Shanghai where the Wilder children attended a mission school for six months due to their father's position as consul gen
eral to Hong Kong. In 1906, Wilder returned to the United States and resumed his education in California. The family again went overseas from 1911-1912 to China where Thornton attended a German and English mission school (Stresau, 4). Upon returning to
California, Thornton attended the Thatcher School and then eventually graduated from Berkeley high school in 1925 (Goldstein, 3). Thornton spent two years of college at Oberlin University in Ohio before transferring to Yale where he attended from 1917-19
18. When young, Thornton had written and staged plays with his siblings; this talent developed into an interest in theater during his years in California and in filling his free time with literary endeavors (Stresau, 6-8). Walter Scott, Dickens, and Tha
ckerey were among the major works read aloud at home when Thornton was a child (Wilder, 9). As a student, Wilder published many works in literary magazines and in 1920 he published his first drama, "The Trumpet Shale Sound" in Yale University Magazine (C
astronovo, 8). Between 1918 and 1919, Wilder took a break from his studies to serve in the U.S. Coast Artillery Corps, the only branch of the services that would accept his poor eyesight (Castronovo, 8). Later to supplement his educational achievements,
Wilder received several honorary doctorates from various institutions (Stresau, 9). After graduation, Wilder traveled to Rome to study archaeology, delivering him from the watchful eye of his father and Yale, which led to several romantic experimentatio
ns resulting in rejection. This rejection fostered the "circumspection and repression" of his later life. Wilder never did marry or form any noteworthy sexual relationships, although he did offer to marry Ruth Gordon, an actress and intimate friend, whe
n she became pregnant with her producer's baby (Goldstone, 148-149). Wilder returned home in 1922 to teach French at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. In 1926, Wilder received his master's degree in French Literature from Yale University. In t
hat same year, Wilder published his first novel "The Cabala" (Castronovo, x). Then in 1927, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" was published, which earned Wilder a Pulitzer Prize for fiction and earned him enough money to stop teaching and take another tour of
Europe, this time with his sister Isabella who was also an author (Goldstein, 9). Upon returning to the states, Wilder constructed a hillside home in Hamden, Connecticut that he referred to as "the house 'The Bridge' built' (Goldstein, 6). Wilder th
en participated in several cross-country lecture tours and a visiting professorship at the University of Hawaii (Castronovo, x). In 1930, Wilder accepted a teaching position at the University of Chicago and he published "The Woman of Andros". Here he be
came friends with Gertrude Stern and increased his public popularity with important friendships with notary figures such as Jean- Paul Sartre and through many invitations to speak and appear at public affairs (Goldstein, 10 & 22-23). Wilder continued his
public appearances and publishing works, especially dramas until his death from a heart attack on December 7, 1975 at his home in Hamden, Connecticut (Contemporary Authors through Virgo).
Castronovo, David. "Thornton Wilder". Ungar. New York: 1986. Goldstein, Malcolm. "The art of Thornton Wilder". University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln: 1965. Goldstone, Richard H. "Thornton Niven Wilder". "Dictionary of Literary Biography. Bruccoli Clark Book. Detroit: 1981. vol 19 part 3 p. 146-152. Stresau, Hermann. "Thornton Wilder". trans. by Greeda Schuntze. Frederick Ungar Pub. New York: 1971. Wilder, Amos Niven. "Thornton Wilder and his Public". Fortress Press. Philadelphia: 1980.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"The Woman of Andros" initially met mixed reviews ranging from one extreme to another. Several critics cited this novel as the best book Wilder had produced. In the "New York Times Book Review", "The Woman of A
ndros" is praised especially with regard to Wilder's "finely-tempered [prose] and his narrative structure" and his success "in bringing his readers into closer rapport with his people." This particular review went on the claim that this third novel surp
asses both "The Cabala" and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey", Wilder's first two novels. Wilder received a Pulitzer Prize for "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in 1928. Wilder based "The Woman of Andros" on Terence's "Andria", but he was not criticized for stealing ideas from Terence's play. Carl Van Doren asserted that "[Wilder] has shaped all his materials to his own design, touched them all with his own colors, set
them all to his own music." Although Wilder's actual adaptation of the earlier play did not meet much criticism, the idea that he based his novel on such a distant time and place from the tragedy of the Great Depression led to a vehement review by Mich
ael Gold. One cannot discuss reviews of Wilder's "The Woman of Andros" without indepthly considering Gold's "rape" of this novel. Even though his radical opinion may not be the majority voice of the public, its sheer intensity caused many contemporary
reviews to be a direct answer to his critique and almost no subsequent reviews to forego mentioning his radical hatred of Wilder's novel. Gold's Marxist Communism argued that it is immoral to base a piece of literature on lofty aestheticism and philosophical musings, instead Gold felt that it was an artist's responsibili
ty to address the prominent social concerns of the day. Each word of Gold's essay is seething with cynicism and sarcasm; each sentence constructed to insure the adequate portrayal of his hatred of Wilder's pretentious style by disdainfully mimicking Wi
lder's flowery rhetoric. Gold asserts that "Wilder's newly fashionable literary religion . . . is a pastel, pastiche, dilettante religion, without the true neurotic blood and fire, a daydream of homosexual figures in graceful gowns moving archaically a
mong the lilies. It is Anglo-Catholicism, that last refuge of the American literary snob." Gold concludes his essay by challenging Wilder: "Let Mr. Wilder write a book about modern America. We predict it will reveal all his fundamental silliness and sup
erficiality, now hidden under a Greek chlamys." There were other negative reviews of Wilder's third novel but none could rival Michael Gold's contemptuous critique. Harlan Hatcher felt "The Woman of Andros" was "an academic piece, it was self-consciou
s, and the reader was seldom permitted to forget that this was fine writing" but Hatcher did compliment Wilder by noting "the distinction of the novel . . . in the perfection of art in scattered passages." R.P. Blackman agreed that the accomplishment of
the novel lay in "certain beautiful sayings, sayings which have at their best an air of being distinguished poetic proverbs." Still, Wilder did receive rave reviews in papers like "The New Statesman" which stated that "this story is listed above the comm
onplace, transfigured into something lucidity fine; it is set apart from the world, like the island Brynos in the Greek Sea . . . every circumstance, from the slow opening sentence to the calm of the end, becomes full of meaning, of clearness and light, a
nd the book seems, within its narrow confines, a perfect whole." Although "The Woman of Andros" was a best selling book, it received much criticism for not dealing with modern American concerns and for not allowing the reader to forget the artistry invol
ved in the language, causing submersion in the plot and characterizations to be difficult. Still, others raved about Wilder's third novel, predicting its popularity to triumph over his earlier Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Bridge of San Luis Rey."
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
"The Woman of Andros" initially met mixed reviews ranging from one extreme to another. Several critics cited this novel as the best book Wilder had produced. In the "New York Times Book Review", "The Woman of A
ndros" is praised especially with regard to Wilder's "finely-tempered [prose] and his narrative structure" and his success "in bringing his readers into closer rapport with his people." This particular review went on the claim that this third novel surp
asses both "The Cabala" and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey", Wilder's first two novels. Wilder received a Pulitzer Prize for "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in 1928. Wilder based "The Woman of Andros" on Terence's "Andria", but he was not criticized for stealing ideas from Terence's play. Carl Van Doren asserted that "[Wilder] has shaped all his materials to his own design, touched them all with his own colors, set
them all to his own music." Although Wilder's actual adaptation of the earlier play did not meet much criticism, the idea that he based his novel on such a distant time and place from the tragedy of the Great Depression led to a vehement review by Mich
ael Gold. One cannot discuss reviews of Wilder's "The Woman of Andros" without indepthly considering Gold's "rape" of this novel. Even though his radical opinion may not be the majority voice of the public, its sheer intensity caused many contemporary
reviews to be a direct answer to his critique and almost no subsequent reviews to forego mentioning his radical hatred of Wilder's novel. Gold's Marxist Communism argued that it is immoral to base a piece of literature on lofty aestheticism and philosophical musings, instead Gold felt that it was an artist's responsibili
ty to address the prominent social concerns of the day. Each word of Gold's essay is seething with cynicism and sarcasm; each sentence constructed to insure the adequate portrayal of his hatred of Wilder's pretentious style by disdainfully mimicking Wi
lder's flowery rhetoric. Gold asserts that "Wilder's newly fashionable literary religion . . . is a pastel, pastiche, dilettante religion, without the true neurotic blood and fire, a daydream of homosexual figures in graceful gowns moving archaically a
mong the lilies. It is Anglo-Catholicism, that last refuge of the American literary snob." Gold concludes his essay by challenging Wilder: "Let Mr. Wilder write a book about modern America. We predict it will reveal all his fundamental silliness and sup
erficiality, now hidden under a Greek chlamys." There were other negative reviews of Wilder's third novel but none could rival Michael Gold's contemptuous critique. Harlan Hatcher felt "The Woman of Andros" was "an academic piece, it was self-consciou
s, and the reader was seldom permitted to forget that this was fine writing" but Hatcher did compliment Wilder by noting "the distinction of the novel . . . in the perfection of art in scattered passages." R.P. Blackman agreed that the accomplishment of
the novel lay in "certain beautiful sayings, sayings which have at their best an air of being distinguished poetic proverbs." Still, Wilder did receive rave reviews in papers like "The New Statesman" which stated that "this story is listed above the comm
onplace, transfigured into something lucidity fine; it is set apart from the world, like the island Brynos in the Greek Sea . . . every circumstance, from the slow opening sentence to the calm of the end, becomes full of meaning, of clearness and light, a
nd the book seems, within its narrow confines, a perfect whole." Although "The Woman of Andros" was a best selling book, it received much criticism for not dealing with modern American concerns and for not allowing the reader to forget the artistry invol
ved in the language, causing submersion in the plot and characterizations to be difficult. Still, others raved about Wilder's third novel, predicting its popularity to triumph over his earlier Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Bridge of San Luis Rey."
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
"The Woman of Andros" was published in 1930 when the Great Depression was taking its toll on American society, just after the stock market had crashed in 1929. The contemporary events occurring during its publica
tion were one of the primary contributing factors to the novel's reception. Although Wilder's popularity after his previous, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" allowed "The Woman of Andros" to initially meet with some popularity
, the novel's faults eventually met with widespread criticism led by Marxist Michael Gold. Gold argued that it is a writer's duty to create literature that deals with contemporary social problems of society and Wilder's third novel, which was set on t
he Greek island of Brynos before the birth of Christ, did not adequately fulfill Gold's requirement. However, the widespread and somewhat rash criticism that Wilder suffered for not dealing with contemporary social problems in "The Woman of Andros" may
have been overly zealous and misrepresentative of the work as a whole.
Wilder's prowess in writing beautiful prose is undeniable. The first paragraph of the novel indicates to the reader that he is about to read beautifully crafted literature - "The earth sighed as it turned in its course; the shadow of night crept gradual
ly along the Mediterranean, and Asia was left in darkness. The great cliff that was one day to be called Gibraltar held for a long time a gleam of red and orange, while across from it the mountains of Atlas showed deep blue pockets in their shining sides
. Triumph had passed from Greece and wisdom from Egypt, but with the coming on of night they seemed to regain their lost honors, and the land that was soon to be called Holy prepared in the dark its wonderful burden." Wilder's flowery language, which G
old suggests reflects Wilder's "snobbery", is deemed by others as aesthetically pleasing. Rex Burbank, however, expresses the sentiments of the majority when he explains that "Wilder's vices generally are his virtues in excess; in "The Woman" the autho
r's skill in fine writing draws undue attention to itself" (Burbank, 57). Especially with Wilder's relatively weak characterizations and lack of dramatic intensity, the reader is often not able to become immersed in the story and to forget Wilder's un
common ability to write beautiful prose.
Although Wilder's writing style is eloquent, its excess becomes apparent in the light of the novel's other deficiencies. The novel did not captivate the reader and at times felt superficial and distant. Both Chrysis and Pamphilus face the agony of los
s and loneliness, yet the reader is neither directed by the narrator or by the author to empathize with the suffering characters. The story seems to be told at a great distance from the small island of Brynos by an outsider rather by the omniscient narra
tor who reveals the thoughts of each character. Upon finishing Wilder's novel, the characters, with the exception of possibly Chrysis, seem to be part of one blur that is obscured by the moral of the tale. Wilder failed to sufficiently develop his char
acters and create plot intensity and instead blatantly stated the philosophical dilemma: that pain and suffering will possibly gain meaning with the prophesized coming of Jesus Christ.
In stating his philosophical theme, Wilder did deal with several timeless issues of humanity, which Gold and other harsh critiques seemed to have overlooked. "The Woman of Andros" considered the issues of pain and isolation in Chrysis and Pamphilus; gene
ration gaps and conflicts between Pamphilus and his traditional father Simo; ill-fated relationships, loss, and triangulated love involving Chrysis, Glycerium, and Pamphilus; and the existence of an omniscient God and the meanings of life through Chrysis.
All of these themes are incorporated into the characterizations and plot, although most are not developed fully. Since, those themes were not adequately shown through the novel's characters, instead, Wilder outrightly states his messages. Wilder's u
ndeveloped themes concerning humanity leave a deficiency in his writing and led to his use of didacticism to inform the reader of his philosophical tenets. The moralizing and detached aspect of the final passages of "The Woman of Andros" leaves the reade
r with a sour taste. The book concludes with the simplification of Wilder's purpose and the prophesizing of the coming of Jesus Christ: "On the sea the helmsman suffered the downpour, and on the high pastures the shepherd turned and drew his cloak clos
er about him. In the hills the long-dried stream-beds began to fill again and the noise of water falling from level to level, warring with the stones in the way, filled the gorges. But behind the thick beds of clouds the moon soared radiantly bright, sh
ining upon Italy and its smoking mountains. And in the East the stars shone tranquilly down upon the land that was soon to be called Holy and that even then was preparing its precious burden." This final paragraph hastily draws different geographies tog
ether attempting to emphasize the commonness of human experience and ends pointing to the answer of the coming of Christ. The way Christ is thrown into this final passage after not holding a strong place through the majority of the story, makes Wilder's
method of relaying his purpose feel heavy-handed and hard to swallow.
In retrospect many critics have admitted to more of the positive aspects of Wilder's third novel, although it is still deemed one of his greatest weaknesses; but the heavy-handed manner in which Wilder wrote "The Woman of Andros" would have been especial
ly difficult to appreciate amidst the suffering of the Great Depression. After Wall Street collapsed in 1929 and the unemployment lines lengthened by the day, American morale was not lifting with Wilder's assertion that pain and suffering should be expl
ainable with the coming of Christ. For those who were starving and unemployed in 1930, Christ had already come but this did not seem to be providing any answer to improve the hunger and social turmoil. It appeared to some that Wilder was indifferent or
unable to cope with the American problems. In Michael Gold's criticism "Wilder: Prophet of the genteel Christ", Gold asks, "Is Mr. Wilder a Swede or a Greek, or is he an American? No stranger would know from the books he has written." Thornton Wilder
is not the only author who has ignored contemporary problems and written a somewhat escapist novel during a time of national turmoil. But what is it that separated Wilder from other escapist writers causing Wilder to seemingly bear the grunt of Marxist a
nd generally socialist criticism?
Eleanor H. Porter's novel "Pollyanna" was published in 1913 in the dark times of the first World War. "Pollyanna" did not expound social reform nor offer profundities concerning the worldwide calamity, yet Porter's novel was warmly greeted with rave re
views and a large public following. Pollyanna created a large-scale reaction that is quite uncommon from even best selling novels. The character of Pollyanna embodied the themes of hope and happiness and, through her "glad clubs", she attempted to sprea
d her happiness and thankfulness to the other members of her community. Pollyanna's message of optimism and cheerfulness was embraced by many individuals in American society who formed their own "glad clubs." Porter's message in her novel seemed to be
that happiness and fulfillment could be found in small aspects of life. "Pollyanna" was definitely not written in the eloquent manner that characterized Wilder's beautiful prose; however, "Pollyanna" surpassed "The Woman of Andros" in its character dev
elopment. It may have been the lovable character of Pollyanna that saved the novel from criticism for its simplicity and slightly naive optimism in the dark times at the onset of World War I. Furthermore, Porter did not entirely escape away from America
n society as Wilder did by reaching back to the times of ancient Greece. "Pollyanna" is set in a small American town that emanated American nationalism and the happiness in the novel allowed the reader to relish a feeling of American exceptionalism. Bot
h "Pollyanna" and "The Woman of Andros" have several weaknesses and were published during hard times when escapist novels ignoring the current social problems could possibly meet with heated criticism. "The Woman of Andros", however, felt the heat of cri
ticism more intently because of its areas of weakness. Criticism, like that of Michael Gold's, was not merely fueled by Wilder's failure to address current, American social conditions. "The Woman of Andros" does not have a lovable character such as Po
llyanna and is not set in a patriotic setting that stirs the reader's sense of nationalism; these weaknesses in Wilder's novel provide no shelter from criticism as they do in "Pollyanna".
After discussing the faults of Wilder's novel - the absence of dramatic intensity, its distance from contemporary social problems, weak characterizations, and the way in which Wilder integrated his Christian themes - it is important to reiterate the stre
ngths of "The Woman of Andros." First and most noticeably, is the uncommon skill Wilder possesses in writing breathtaking prose. Both Harlan Hatcher and R. P. Blackman judicially praise "The Woman of Andros" for containing certain beautiful and poetical
phrases that embody distinguished art. One of the many examples of the novel's esteemed prose is seen in the description of a scene at one of Chrysis's dinner parties. One of Chrysis's guests reprimands her for her profession as a courtesan and dema
nds that she find a more suitable and traditional lifestyle. Chrysis merely "sat gazing at his flashing eyes and admiring his earnestness. There was a certain luxury in having an external mortification added to an inner despair. She was already trouble
d by her recent discomfiture of Niceratus and now chose to be magnanimous. She arose and approached the young fanatic; taking his hand she smiled at him with grave affection, saying to the company: 'It is true that of all forms of genius, goodness has t
he longest awkward age'" (55).
Another accomplishment in this novel was Wilder's ability to transform Terence's ancient play into modern literature. David Castronovo stated that "The Woman of Andros" is "a part of the literature of the 1920s because of its obsessive concern with the
isolated self" (53). Wilder did make several changes in Terence's comedy, including a complete change in the play's happy ending, which made this novel a modern piece.
Wilder's exploration of the private self was also a strength. This exploration was especially interesting while following the sentiments of Chrysis as she searched for meaning to her life. David Castronovo asserted that "the redeeming complexity in her
nature - and, indeed, in the book itself - is that the dark side of human affairs is no more real than the light: the intertwining of pain and pleasure, tragic degeneration and joyous experience, makes life into an ungraspable, endlessly ironic series of
revelations" (54). The exploration of the pain, suffering, and burden of coping with the pursuit of the meaning to existence, seen in Pamphilus and especially Chrysis, is one of the redeeming features of Wilder's novel.
"The Woman of Andros" is undeniably one of Wilder's weaker endeavors. Nonetheless, the novel does have important merits that have been overlooked by superficial readings and rash criticisms. Michael Gold's precept that authors should address contempor
ary social problems is senseless and if adhered to would drastically diminish the scope and quality of literature. "The Woman of Andros" can be enjoyed for its accomplishments - among these are the exploration of the private self and Wilder's beautiful
prose - even though the novel exhibits escapist tendencies.
Materials mentioned above: Blackman, R. P. "Thornton Wilder" The Hound and Horn vol. 111 July 1930" p. 586-89. Burbank, Rex. Thornton Wilder Twayne, 1961. Castronovo, David. "Thornton Wilder". Ungar. New York: 1986. Gold, M. "Wilder: Prophet of the genteel Christ." The New Republic Oct, 22 1930 & The Nation Nov 26, 1930. Hatcher, Harlan. "Poetic versus hard-boiled realism." Creating the Modern American Novel. Farron & Rinehart, 1935: p. 247-261.
Supplemental Material
Sources of supplement reviews referred to above in Section 4: Burbank, Rex. Thornton Wilder Twayne, 1961. Gassner, John. "The Two Worlds of Thornton Wilder." Harper & Row Pub., 1963. Goldstein, Malcolm. "The art of Thornton Wilder". University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln: 1965. Goldstone, Richard H. "Thornton Niven Wilder". "Dictionary of Literary Biography. Bruccoli Clark Book. Detroit: 1981. vol 19 part 3 p. 146-152. Additional Supplement reviews: Book World. June 15, 1975: p. 4. Borish, E. "Thornton Wilder-Novelist: A Re-examination." Revue des langues vivantes XXXVII, No. 2, 1971: 1771-1772. Castronovo, David. "Thornton Wilder". Ungar. New York: 1986. Observer. August 17, 1969: p.22. Stresau, Hermann. "Thornton Wilder". trans. by Greeda Schuntze. Frederick Ungar Pub. New York: 1971. Wilder, Amos Niven. "Thornton Wilder and his Public". Fortress Press. Philadelphia: 1980.
Sources of contemporary reviews referred to above in Section 4: Blackman, R. P. "Thornton Wilder" The Hound and Horn vol. 111 July 1930" p. 586-89. Hatcher, Harlan. "Poetic versus hard-boiled realism." Creating the Modern American Novel. Farron & Rinehart, 1935: p. 247-261. Gold, M. "Wilder: Prophet of the genteel Christ." The New Republic Oct, 22 1930 & The Nation Nov 26, 1930. New Statesman. vol. 35, April 26, 1930: p. 92. "Thornton Wilder's New Tale Has Classic Beauty." The New York Times Book Review. February 23, 1930: p.4. Van Doren, Carl in Books February 23, 1930: p. 1. Additional Contemporary Reviews: B., A.J. Springfield Republican March 16, 1930: p. 7e. Butcher, Fanny. Chicago Daily Tribune February 22, 1930: p. 11. Butcher, Fanny. Cleveland Open Shelf July 1930: p. 110. Carly, Henry Seidel. "Praise All Loving." The Saturday Review of Literature VI. No. 32 (March 1, 1930): 1771-71. Fitts, Norman. Boston Transcript. March 8, 1930: p.3 & Catholic World vol 131, July 1930: p. 504. Gilber, Thomas. Spectator. vol. 144 March 22, 1930: p. 503. Hansen, H. "Thornton Wilder weighed in the evidence of his third novel." Golden Book vol. 11, April 1930: pp. 101-102. Hazlitt, Henry. "Communist Criticism." The Nation CXXXI, No 3412. Nov 26, 1930:583-584. Marshall, Margaret and McCarthy, Mary. "Our Critics, Right or Wrong," The Nation CXLI, No. 3668 Oct. 23, 1935. McFarland, Marjorie. Survey vol. 64, April 1, 1930: p. 50. McNamara, R. "Phases of American Religion in Thornton Wilder and Willa Cather." Catholic World vol 135, May 1932:pp. 641-649. Munson, G. B. in The Atlantic Bookshelf March 1930:p.20 & Booklist. vol. 26, April 1930: p. 283. Phelps, W.L. "Men Now Famous." Delin. vol. 117, May 1930: pp. 17, 94. Robbins, F. L. Outlook February 26, 1930 p. 348. Robbins, F. L. Pittsburgh Monthly Bulletin April 1930: p. 32. Robbins, F. L. Pratt Summer 1930: p. 42. Robbins, F. L. Saturday Review April 5, 1930: p. 422. Times[London] Literary Supplement. March 20, 1930: p. 238. Wilson, Edmund. "Mr. Wilder in the Middle West" The New Republic vol. LXXXI, No. 1050, Jan. 16, 1935: p. 282-83.
You are not logged in. (Sign in)