Thomas Wolfe: The Weather of His Youth

Thomas Wolfe: The Weather of His Youth

Thomas Wolfe: The Weather of His Youth

Thomas Wolfe: The Weather of His Youth

Excerpt

The present book was begun in the summer of 1951. It grew out of a long-time interest in Thomas Wolfe's novels, one which was adjusted over the course of ten years or so until I realized that what I thought the novels were "about" was considerably different from what had been true in my earlier readings. The chapters that follow are an attempt to analyze some of the implications of this, and I should add that in working the matter out over the course of several years, many of my notions about Thomas Wolfe changed even more radically as the writing progressed. Much of the line of investigation embodied in earlier drafts was eventually relegated into subordinate emphasis, while the meaning of the time structure of the Wolfe novels took on an added importance. It seemed increasingly interesting, too, to understand the relationship between the autobiographical novelist, his material, and his audience. Here, however, there was the risk of moving in a direction away from the Wolfe novels themselves, and toward a problem involving the nature of autobiographical fiction, in which Thomas Wolfe's writings would tend to serve mostly as material for much more generalized concerns. Since this was not the ultimate intention, the discussion of "autobiographical form" has with some misgivings been confined largely to the first chapter.

The recitation of acknowledgements is long. My friend, collaborator and former colleague at the Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Robert D. Jacobs of the University of Kentucky, was of primary help. This is hardly less true of Mr. John Edward Hardy, now of Notre Dame University and for two years a colleague at Johns Hopkins. The role of Mr. Elliott Coleman, chairman of the Writing Seminars of the Johns Hopkins University . . .

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