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Theophilus North

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  522 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The last of Wilder's works published during his lifetime, this novel is part autobiographical and part the imagined adventure of his twin brother who died at birth. Setting out to see the world in the summer of 1926, Theophilus North gets as far as Newport, Rhode Island, before his car breaks down. To support himself, Theophilus takes jobs in the elegant mansions along Oce ...more
Hardcover, 374 pages
Published 1973 by Harper & Row
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Continuing our f2f discussion group's book/film season. I suggested this title as I had enjoyed the movie, Mr. North, which had been filmed in Rhode Island [John Huston actually passed away here during filming and was replaced by Robert Mitchum]. Anyway- I had never read the book nor anything by Wilder so I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this.

Talk about richness in language, allusion & insight into the human condition! Theo has a way of understanding human nature that allows him to
I made it about 160 pages before breaking into a brisk skim.

Wilder wrote some artful, tightly structured works, and this is not one of them. The novel has absolutely no rising action or character development, other than the most unimaginative, tacked-on attempt at whaddayacallit kunstleroman. And when I say unimaginative and tacked-on, I mean it: on the very last page someone says to the main character, "have you ever thought about being a writer?" Apart from that the form and content of the nov
I feel like an old lady at a health resort, reading about a really nice young man, who is so sharp-witted and gentle that one can almost imagine how handsome he is.
(The above is going to be expanded on and spoilers are going to be added).
On the whole, it seems like a book about a self-righteous piece of shit smart-assing around town. This guy is a teacher and went to college, but he seems to have been alert to human condition and has learned how to be smooth to the point of actually helping ment
If you ever saw movie "Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain" (or just "Amelie") you pretty much have the idea what's "Theophilus North" is about (and if you don't - run to your local DVD store and get it, you will be thanking me).
It's a story about Yale graduate who drops his teaching job, moves to Newport and starts to secretly interfere in lives of its inhabitants, fixing what's is wrong with them. He is like a good angel for different people who are stuck with some problem in their life. He
THEOPHILUS NORTH. (1973). Thornton Wilder. ***.
This was the last novel Wilder published before his death in 1975. It is the story of a young man who has just resigned from his job as a teacher at a boys’ school, and sets off for adventure – of what kind he’s not sure. He is twenty-six years old, and the year is 1926. He buys a used car from one of his college chums, and it makes it as far as Newport, R.I. Becasue he has a winning personality, he quickly becomes known and liked in the town, and
Rodger Fields
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I think it is unfortunately titled because the title doesn't really give a clue to the nature of the book.

This is a somewhat autobiographical novel (with the emphasis on 'somewhat') of Thornton Wilder. Theophilus has left a tiresome position as a teacher and, at the age of 29, has the opportunity to spend some time to explore his freedom and his ambitions in the city of Newport in the year 1926.

In the end, Theophilus decides to make an income giving
I think that growing up in the '80s has predisposed me to expecting that any comedy about a young man alternately drifting about and making his way in the world will be full of many wacky misunderstandings, possibly involving donkeys snorting cocaine, or John Cusack. Or, maybe it's my enjoyment of the Jeeves stories that led me to hope that this book would be an American equivalent of a '20s satire of aristocracy.

I'm all for light and breezy comedies; it's refreshing to read a series of amusing
Sam Torode
In college, two of my favorite professors offered a special course on Thornton Wilder, which introduced me to his now mostly-forgotten novels. "Theophilus North" was a favorite, and I'm enjoying re-reading it now...

It recounts the adventures of a Yale graduate, Theophilus North (a semi-autobiographical protagonist), in Newport, Rhode Island, 1926.

Erudite, witty, and wise.
Wow, this is a tough one to review. It's a story of a twentysomething named Theophilus North. He spends his summer in Newport and finds himself getting involved in the life of its inhabitants. In a way it feels more like a series of vignettes than a traditional novel. Each chapter deals with Theophilus and a new cast of characters. I really enjoyed most chapters; some were dull; some were confusing from start to finish. It was definitely an interesting book. It has made me curious to read more T ...more
Probably my most favorite book. It has a touch of magic and something we can all relate to--the endless quest to figure out who we are and how we fit into the world around us.
Stacey Osborne
One of my favorite books of all time. It's actually really hard to find an original copy of it--I found mine on eBay and I think I still have my mom's copy of it.
Barbara VA
I just loved this last book of Mr Wilder's. I heard that it had a Jeeves and Wooster quality to it and while I can see where that may have come from, I do not necessarily agree. I do love those books as well.

Mr. North is a young man that enjoys a summer of 4 months in 1926 Newport. He is not a wealthy man, but not poor either, somewhat in the middle and does not seem to be a fit for Newport. He is a well educated and read man, served during the late war and has the abilty to observe. That is his
Wilder is, without doubt, a great writer with a great skill. Many of his other works bear witness to his talent, but this one is NOT one of them. Sometimes interesting, sometimes insightful, sometimes even funny... But mostly dull. It's your choice whether to read it or not, since the result will be the same.
You will open this book, read all or some of it, close it, and forget about it forever.
I gave it 4 stars only for the artistic talent and, I must say, my personal respect for Wilder.
I only came across Thornton Wider for the first time last year! I love his writing and T.North is a charming and accomplished piece of work. Written at the age of 76 and from a perspective of 50 years, this was the last of Wilder’s works published during his lifetime, this novel is part autobiographical and part the imagined adventure of his twin brother who died at birth. It is written in the first person and I was grabbed from the very first sentence.

Setting out to see the world in the s
Eligah Boykin jr.

This is a great book! It is about a Soldier of Enlightenment who comes to a small New England town ready for action and Adventures in Learning! He explores the 'Nine Cities of Newport' and the author does a lot to enlarge our understanding of the inherent potential of environment and the many levels of perception and understanding it can contain. It helped me to understand how the same place can look completely different to various people as seen through the filter of their life experience.

A r
I didn't love this book as much as I was expecting to. I actually considered giving it 3 stars, but the writing itself is so wonderful that I couldn't give it less than 4 even though I got bogged down in the story a few times. The book started strong and I really liked the first 3/4 or so, but right around the chapter about the deer park, I had to really buckle down and just get through it.

This story is much more sentimental than I thought it would be, given the tone of the other works of his w
Renee Windsor-White
Before there was Harry Potter there was Theophilus North, a young wizard in his own way. This is one of my all-time favorite books and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good story with style and wit. Outstanding!
Brilliant, caring, thrifty, clean-living YaleMan comes to decadent Newport in 1926 and solves all the residents' problems, one by one. The book has some entertaining moments, but I found most of it pretty nauseating. ...more
Bill Shackleford
I read this forty years ago and just finished rereading it. Man, there is such pleasure in Thornton Wilder's tale of Theophilus among the nine cities of Newport R.I in 1926. My favorite was "The Deer Park".
This book will always have a special place in my heart. I pulled it off my high school library's shelf because I needed a book for an assignment and the cover and title looked interesting. There's a part of me that's been half in love with Theophilus ever since. Okay maybe a quarter in love. He's a clever devil with the heart of an angel. Parts of the book don't hold up as well against the test of time, and treat the movie they made of it with suspicion (they tried - but it just isn't quite the ...more
Alison T
This was very well written, probably one of the better written books I've read in a while, but the story itself lacked flow. About halfway through I began wondering if there was any point to the book and now having finished it, it strikes me as a socialite the-life-I-wish-I'd-lived, Secret Lift of Walter Mitty type of book. I have mixed feelings but the writing itself stands in stark contrast to many of the books I've read recently.
Andrew Canavan
Thornton Wilder is a great writer and this is a really interesting, and very different, novel. Theophilus North enters in to the lives of the many faces of Newport, Rhode Island and plays a part in freeing people from the everyday chains that bind them. There are some parts of this novel that are really excellent and many sections that are very evocative of grace and the difference between law and gospel. Give this novel a chance and you'll find yourself hooked.
Absolutely loved the upbeat, dainty spirit of this all-in-good-fun novel. More like a series of short stories about the helplessness of aristocracy who cannot do anything for themselves and the arrogant yet charming protagonist who cleans house for them (metaphorically), the best part of this book was how it brought Newport, Rhode Island to life for me. As a former RI resident, I can honestly say this has been the most interested I have ever been in that state.
I had a very hard time getting interested in the story. It seemed to be a series of not very interesting problems of the rich in Newport, which the protagonist solves in a not very imaginative way. I stuck with it for 142 pages, but since there didn't seem to be any momentum being generated, I quit. The writing itself was excellent, but that was about all the book had to recommend it.
Thorton Wilder can definitely write. And do it well.

Man, do I wish the days of complicated sentences that had a great deal of thought behind them.

You know, instead of self-interested twits like myself trying desperately to prove themselves cleverer than the rest of the pack.

Fun book. Good for archaeology of language. And custom.

Plus, that Wilder dude is pretty sharp.

A heart-warming story about a guy who has no idea what he wants to be "when he grows up". He finds himself as a tutor to the children of the exceptionally wealthy in Newport, RI (circa 1920s). He learns that it doesn't matter where you are going....what matters is where you are. GREAT book.
Elisa Guillaume
well-meaning and humanistic narrator/author, I had enjoyed it a lot when I first read it 20 years ago, but now seems quaint and old fashioned. It is difficult to relate to the preoccupations of Newport's high society in the 20s.
I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not wanting to be Theophilus North. While it works as an overall novel, each little vignette stands out on its own and managed to be both terribly sad and comedic at the same time.
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Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.
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“The past and the future are always present within us.” 3 likes
“It is well to be attentive to successive ambitions that flood the growing boy's and girl's imagination. They leave profound traces behind them. During those years when the first sap is rising the future tree is foreshadowing its contour. We are shaped by the promises of imagination.” 1 likes
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