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THEOPHILUS NORTH by Thornton Wilder


A Novel

by Thornton Wilder

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1973
ISBN: 0060088923
Publisher: Harper & Row

Wilder, whether in ancient Rome or Grover's Corners, whether concerned with cosmic laughter or morning pancakes, has worked easily within popular archetypes -- his characters exist in a comfortable dreamy distance yet are as instantly familiar as an image in an attic mirror. Here in this episodic tale of Theophilus North, a youthful Mr. Fixit summering in Newport, R.I., in 1926, the mirror has become a stereopticon slide, and the significance? No more or less, one suspects, than that of a vanished summer's day. North, like the boater-ed Gibson or Tarkington youth afire with importance, but impeccably discreet, glides among the cool porticos of Newport doing good works. He intercepts an unwise elopement, opens prison doors by procuring a dandy device for a housebound elderly incontinent, pairs divided lovers, even cures migraines and talks an old nanny peacefully to her rest. In between Theophilus sparks on the other side of the tracks and mixes tennis lessons and tutoring with firm advice. From demimonde to declasse, Theophilus peddles through the "Nine Cities" of Newport. A gentle, wispy entertainment -- now you see it as an artful reconstruction, now you see it as an indulgence, but an essential factor in determining the readership will be its recognition value for those who remember. . .