Edited by Edwin T. Bowden
Literary Criticism / American / General
353 pp. 6x9
$29.95 paper 978-0-8142-5310-6
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The life of James Thurber (1894–1961) touched many representative areas of the American twentieth century; and in the course of working in and with and for (and sometimes against) the several worlds he at various times inhabited, he produced a body of work that is as impressive in its variety as in its quantity.
Mr. Bowden has provided a bibliography of all known and authentic Thurber items: newspaper stories, columns, and feature articles; short humorous pieces of the kind the New Yorker has designated “the casual”; more formal essays; fables; parodies; short stories in a remarkable variety of forms and moods; book and drama reviews; children’s novels; autobiographical reminiscences; prefaces; plays; short poems; and hundreds of drawings.
For the most part, Thurber wrote short pieces; and, being a professional writer, he tried to get as much mileage out of each as possible. Typically, a short piece would appear first in a periodical, then would be incorporated into one of his books, and finally would become a part of one of the later collected books such as The Thurber Carnival or Alarms and Diversions, from which it might very well be picked up, in turn, for inclusion in an anthology or for a second periodical appearance.
Despite Thurber’s tendency to husband and preserve his creative capital, however, he was also – and perhaps even more typically—creatively prodigal and prolific. He wrote much and he drew much, and he scattered his work widely in magazines and newspapers. Those items he wished to preserve he collected in book form; those that, presumably, he did not, he allowed to be forgotten.
Mr. Bowden’s exhaustive study of the Thurber canon does much to suggest the working habits, the productivity, and the stature of a writer, historian, satirist, humorist, commentator, and critic of his times, in whose full critical assessment this bibliography will serve as an invaluable tool.
Edwin T. Bowden is professor of English at the University of Texas.