Upon graduation from Yale in 1920, Thornton Wilder received a fellowship for a year at the American Academy in Rome. Upon observing an archeological excavation of an Etruscan street, he received a graphic impression that mortal human life is part of a lasting continuum of history. This archaeological perspective became an important aspect of his subsequent literary productions.
Although he had won a Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for the immensely successful The Bridge of San Luis Rey, a philosophic novel of fate and of chance, in the 1930s Wilder turned from writing novels to writing plays. Drama, he believed, was less abstract, more immediate, than narrative.In his first important play, Our Town, he introduced an all-knowing Stage Manager who not only told everything but also directed the action. This innovation, along with his ruthless stripping away of conventional scenery and props, was the playwright's most significant contribution to modern literature.
In a note on the play, Wilder wrote, Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind - not in things, not in'scenery'.... The climax of this play needs only five square feet of boarding and the passion to know what life means to us. His plays engage the audience in make-believe by having the actors address the spectators directly, by discarding props and scenery, and often by treating time in an unrealistic manner through such devices as having the same characters appear in different historical periods and using deliberate anachronisms.In 1938, Wilder received the Pulitzer Prize for Our Town. Our Town is firmly rooted in realism yet transcends ordinary life with the awakening of the dead in the final act. The paintings and sketches of our book's illustrator, Robert J. Lee, effectively evoke the mystical dimension of Wilder's play.
For our beautiful edition, Lee fashioned four double-page paintings, one for the title spread and one for each of the three Acts. He also created three full-page monochromes and 18 small sketches for the wide-margined text - all printed in a rosy terra cotta ink. The format was designed by Adrian Wilson, who chose for the text Van Dyck type.
The type was set under Wilson's directions by Mackenzie and Harris of San Francisco. For the printing of the text and line illustrations, we are indebted to The Meriden Gravure Company. The reproduction of the paintings was the joint accomplishment of Rainbows, Inc.
Of Hazardville, Connecticut, which made the plates, and the Holyoke Lithographic Company, which printed them. The paper is Arak, a cream-white antique finish, rag stock made specially for this edition by the Curtis mill in Newark, Delaware, to Adrian Wilson's specifications. The book is bound in tan corduroy, the outerwear material of choice in New England towns in the colder months. It bears an oval leather label stamped in gold leaf. This is number 1249 of 2000 copies, and is signed both by Thornton Wilder and Robert J.
Both the essential eight page Limited Editions Club Monthly Letter and pre-publication announcement are included. The offer is modestly priced for such a monumental production of Wilder's iconic work, with his signature, and should have wide appeal to teachers/scholars/students/ lovers of American literature and drama. Thank you for reading this presentation, and good luck in your searches.
Feel free to contact me with any questions. This item is in the category "Books & Magazines\Antiquarian & Collectible".
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