Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Wolfe, one of the giants of twentieth-century American fiction, is also one of the most misunderstood of our major novelists. A man massive in his size, his passions, and his gifts, Wolfe has long been considered something of an unconscious genius, whose undisciplined flow of prose was shaped into novels by his editor, the celebrated Maxwell Perkins.
In this definitive and compelling biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Herbert Donald dismantles that myth and demonstrates that Wolfe was a boldly aware experimental artist who, like James Joyce, William Faulkner, and John Dos Passos, deliberately pushed at the boundaries of the modern novel.
Donald takes a new measure of this complex, tormented man as he reveals Wolfe's difficult childhood, when he was buffeted between an alcoholic father and a resentful mother; his "magical" years at the University of North Carolina, where his writing talent first flourished; his rise to literary fame after repeated rejection; and the full story of Wolfe's passionate affair with Aline Bernstein, including their intimate letters.
"A comprehensive and absorbing book that both underlines the correspondences between Wolfe's fiction and his life and illuminates the psychological underpinning of his art." The New York Times
"More fully than any other previous biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Donald traces the life and career of the much misunderstood Thomas Wolfe....Donald is likely to win another major prize for this biography." Publishers Weekly
"An eloquently told story and an extraordinary achievement." The Boston Globe
"Supersedes all previous Wolfe biographies in illuminating detail, in empathy for its complex unhappy subject, in sympathy for what he wanted to do, and what he did, as a writer, and in its own literary distinction....A work of great subtlety and sophistication." Washington Post Book World
"Definitive....[A] clear-eyed picture of the great author that does him a kind of justice rarely given to any biographical subject." Kirkus Reviews
"Easily the best biography of an American novelist." Gore Vidal
Includes bibliographical references.