Thomas Mallon and Library of America invite readers to rediscover the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels of a classic American writer on the 150th anniversary of his birth
Much in need of rediscovery today, Booth Tarkington was among the most beloved and widely read writers of his era. In such classic novels as The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, both winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Tarkington displayed a mastery of realism and an astute, strikingly modern feel for psychology, capturing crucial transformations in our national life as they were manifested in changing social customs and in the very landscape itself, altered irrevocably by industrialization and environmental degradation. Out of Tarkington's prolific writings novelist and critic Thomas Mallon has selected three works that show Tarkington at his best. The Magnificent Ambersons, inspiration for Orsen Welles's classic film, is a tour-de-force study in egoism, depicting the fall from grace of George Minafer, wayward scion of the once-unassailable Amberson family. The titular protagonist of Alice Adams, portrayed unforgettably by Katharine Hepburn in what many consider her finest performance, is one of the great heroines of American literature: like Henry James's Isabel Archer and the young women of Edith Wharton's novels, she is a spirited, complicated young woman confronting the limits of her time and place with her own headlong desires. These novels are joined here by the story collection In the Arena: Tales from Political Life, first published in 1905 and then in an expanded edition in 1920. These storieswhich exerted influence on Theodore Roosevelt, inspiring perhaps his most famous speechdraw from Tarkington's political career as a state legislator in Indiana, which lasted briefly but had a profound impact on him. Published to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Tarkington's birth, Novels and Stories contains the most enduring works of a Hoosier luminary and an estimable chronicler of the American Midwest.
About the Author
Booth Tarkington (1869-1946), a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, published the first of his many novels, The Gentleman from Indiana, in 1899. He served a single term in Indiana's House of Representatives in 1902-1903. His long and commercially successful literary career was divided between the writing of fiction and plays. Two of his novels, The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His Penrod books for young adults were widely popular in their time.
Thomas Mallon, editor, is the author of nine novels, including Watergate, Finale, and Fellow Travelers, and seven books of nonfiction. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.