The Magical Campus: University of North Carolina Writings, 1917-1920

Overview


Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Aldo P. Magi, The Magical Campus collects for the first time Thomas Wolfe's earliest published work--including poems, plays, short fiction, news articles, and essays--both signed and unsigned, assembled in chronological order.
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Overview


Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Aldo P. Magi, The Magical Campus collects for the first time Thomas Wolfe's earliest published work--including poems, plays, short fiction, news articles, and essays--both signed and unsigned, assembled in chronological order.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570037344
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,208,616
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Wolfe
Thomas Wolfe
A larger than life figure -- like his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway -- Thomas Wolfe embodied a particularly American vision of the restless and eager writer, taking in the totality of his life experience and turning it into a gigantic, unwieldy vision in prose. With the publication of his semiautobiographical Look Homeward, Angel in 1929, Wolfe announced his dramatic entrance on the stage of modern fiction; but an early death made his exit sadly premature.

Biography

Thomas Wolfe was born on October 3, 1900, among the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, a childhood which he immortalized through the creation of Eugene Gant, the hero of Look Homeward, Angel (1929). Wolfe enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the age of fifteen, determined to become a playwright, but despite the success of his college productions, and later, the plays he wrote during his studies at Harvard University's renowned 47 Workshop, he was unable to interest professional New York producers in his work.

Fearing penury and professional failure, Wolfe was encouraged to turn to the writing of fiction full-time by Aline Bernstein, a set designer for the New York Theatre Guild, with whom Wolfe carried on a five-year affair (and who appears in Wolfe's fiction as the Esther Jack character in The Web and the Rock (1939) and Of Time and the River.) Scribner's legendary Maxwell Perkins was the only editor to appreciate Wolfe's freshman effort, Look Homeward, Angel, and after extensive revisions and collaborative editing sessions, the novel was published in 1929. The largely autobiographical book was received with unequivocal enthusiasm. The residents of Asheville, however, the real-life denizens of this "drab circumstance," rebelled against Wolfe's often-scathing portrayal of his hometown. The public outcry was so great that Wolfe did not return to his hometown for seven years.

Rewarded with commercial success and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Wolfe wrote a second autobiographical saga about the life of Eugene Gant, Of Time and the River, in which Eugene, an aspiring novelist, details his travels to Europe. This time, the critics were torn. Wolfe's apparent formlessness was both a constant source of delight and frustration to critics, many of whom felt that Wolfe was pioneering new literary ground, while others insisted that the overweening passion inherent in Wolfe's rambling narratives betrayed the author's immaturity and solipsism.

Furthermore, Wolfe's intimate collaboration with his editor, Perkins were often derided by contemporaries, who insisted that Wolfe's inability to master novelistic form without significant editorial assistance rendered him artistically deficient. The rancorous extent of the criticism led to Wolfe's eventual break with Perkins, and in 1927, Wolfe signed with Edward C. Aswell at Harper. Yet Aswell had no less significant a role in reshaping and trimming Wolfe's future works than Perkins did previously.

The early part of 1938 found Wolfe in Brooklyn, this time writing with a new social agenda. Agreeing with some of his critics that his earlier work was indeed too egocentric, Wolfe rechristened Eugene Gant as George "Monk" Webber, and embarked on writing a new novel dedicated to exploring worldwide social and political ills. This mammoth undertaking, after gargantuan editorial efforts on the part of Aswell, would be published posthumously, and as two novels, The Web and the Rock (1939) and You Can't Go Home Again (1940), as well as The Hills Beyond (1941), a collection which contained short fiction, a play, and a novella.

Wolfe's development as a novelist was truncated by his sudden death at the age of thirty-eight, yet the progression of his novels showcases Wolfe's ever-evolving capacities as a writer. Navigating his way from self-obsessed chronicler of his own adolescence to sophisticated assessor of the adolescence of America itself, Wolfe was a writer who grew up in step with the country that both made him and maddened him. He died in 1938.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Thomas Clayton Wolfe (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 3, 1900
    2. Place of Birth:
      Asheville, North Carolina
    1. Date of Death:
      September 15, 1938
    2. Place of Death:
      Baltimore, Maryland

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     ix
Foreword   Pat Conroy     xi
Preface   Matthew J. Bruccoli     xv
Acknowledgments     xviii
Wolfe's Editorial Positions     xix
Signed Publications
"A Field in Flanders," 1917     3
"To France," 1917     5
"The Challenge," 1918     6
"A Cullenden of Virginia," 1918     8
"To Rupert Brooke," 1918     13
"The Drammer," 1919     15
"An Appreciation," 1919     18
"The Creative Movement in Writing," 1919     19
Deferred Payment, 1919     22
"Russian Folk Song," 1919     33
The Streets of Durham, 1919     34
The Crisis in Industry, 1919     39
Concerning Honest Bob, 1920     49
"1920 Says Few Words to Carolina," 1920     57
The Return of Buck Gavin: The Tragedy of a Mountain Outlaw, 1919     59
The Third Night: A Play of the Carolina Mountains, 1919     69
"A Previously Unpublished Statement by Thomas Wolfe," 1919     81
"The Man Who Lives with His Idea," 1920     83
Attributions
"Tar Heels Despite Defeat of Last Week Await Virginians," 1919     98
"Ye Who Have BeenThere Only Know," 1919     101
"Useful Advice to Candidates," 1920     103
"The Bibiograph," 1920     104
Appendixes
The Peace Treaty     107
Debate Speeches     121
Class Stunt     133
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