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The Skin of Our Teeth

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,994 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
A timeless statement about human foibles . . . and human endurance, this beautiful new edition features Wilder's unpublished production notes, diary entries, and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder.

Time magazine called The Skin of Our Teeth "a sort of Hellzapoppin' with brains," as it broke from established
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 15th 2003 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1942)
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A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsDeath of a Salesman by Arthur MillerThe Crucible by Arthur MillerThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Best American Plays
234 books — 369 voters
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Best Play Ever
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Feb 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Our Town, 1938 - Thorny Wilder omits the alcoholism, adultry, incest, perversion, abuse, insanity, theft, corruption in his rose-tinted white, Christian, middle-class humbug that engaged, once upon a time, Americans. Then came 1942, and the fantasist was back again, as the world shook to the most savage war of all. Thorny still wore his rosy specs in this tomfool spoof of come-wot-may Man Shall Always Survive. Only the middle-brows were bewildered. Everyone else saw it as a simpleton's feelgoody ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
به قول عزيزي كه از شكسپير نقل ميكرد:
The violent fire consumes itself fast

نمايشنامه براي دوره اي كه توش نوشته شده خيلي آوانگاره و وايلدر بخاطرش پوليتزر برده ولي
معلومه كه وايلدر هم دچار سرنوشت گوركي و شاو و سامرست موام ميشه اگر تا حالا نشده باشه.
نمايشنامه در سه پرده با اختلاف زماني زياد اتفاق ميفته و مروري بر تاريخ بشريت از زمان آدم تا پايان احتمالي جنگ جهاني دومه ...
پر از المانهاي متادراما و فاصله گذاريه، بازيگرا از نقششون بيرون ميان، كارگردان مياد وسط صحنه و ... و از اين جهت ميشه گفت بايد اجر
Laurence Li
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The one line that sums up the entire play:

"have you milked the mammoth yet?"

Surreal, Meta beyond belief, occasionally harrowing, often hilarious, non-comprehensible half the time...but Wilder is a master at endings, and everything suddenly makes sense in the last ten pages. He's a master of exploring cosmic themes through everyday life.
Nick Ziegler
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the most remarkable artworks I've encountered, and among the most appropriate to the end times we are living through.
First sentence: Announcer: The management takes pleasure in bringing to you--The News Events of the World:

Premise/plot: The Skin of Our Teeth is an always absurd, sometimes amusing, frequently head-scratching play that won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1943. It stars Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, a couple who've been married for 5,000+ years, their two children Henry and Gladys, and their 'maid' Sabina. Each of the three acts has its own peculiar setting. The acts do not seem--to me, at least--to be co
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I’m not sure how much I liked The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder’s second most well-known play..

I should stipulate, reading a play is a very different thing from seeing a play. I don't have much experience reading plays and mentally transmuting the written words and actions to that ancient medium, so take all I say here with a grain of salt. I'm sure the performances would outweigh my imagination.

The Skin of Our Teeth is metaphor many layers deep. The story, such as it is, has the Antrobus
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, so I decided to read more of his works. This play, which breaks the fourth wall many times, revolves around a family and their maid as they face the Ice Age, the Great Flood and a seven year war. The father is George Antrobus (I think it means "human" in Greek) and the mother is Maggie Antrobus. Their children are Henry and Gladys. Sabina is the maid that often "breaks out of character" and becomes the actress playing Sabina, "Miss Somerset."
It's a
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: play
The Skin of Our Teeth is a delightful, confusing mishmash of eras, telling the story of an American family who has weathered the Ice Age, Noah's flood, and war. The parents have been married for over 5,000 years and gave birth to Cain and Abel; the father invented the wheel, the alphabet, and chose Miss Atlantic City 1942. Every page in the book is thick with allusion, from the Muse sisters to the maid Sabina (who was raped; Wikipedia). I'm not sure I understood the half of it, but it was fun to ...more
Adam Krestan
Nov 14, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm not a huge fan of things that exemplify my flaws. This means I generally dislike all things that are self-referential, with the one monumental exception being Monty Python's Flying Circus, but only because they do it in a way that is far more clever than I could ever manage. I have a lot of trouble in daily life, and in my writing, with making the thing I'm saying or writing become about itself. Unrestrained self-reference is one of the many sour fruits of hyper self-awareness. This includes ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily my favorite play, hands down, and Sabina my favorite role. Where else do you get lines that allow you to break the fourth wall like this?!
"I can't invent words for this play, and I'm glad I can't. I hate this play and every word in it."
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a heck of a thing to wander into after only having read "Our Town." My image of Thornton Wilder is blown. I mean: a forties family where the father is inventing the wheel and the alphabet? The family somehow blended up with adam and eve/noah/Napoleon? A maid who is alternatively hysterically putting in her two-weeks notice in face of the coming ice age and breaking character to complain how the play doesn't make sense? An act where they pretend half the cast gets food poisoning and there ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Given the reinterpretation of Wilder's career, and especially the staging of Our Town, wanted a taste of his writing. Interesting to see an Absurdist drama in the US during WWII. Read the Samuel French edition, with all the accompanying details on outfits and stage props and such.

Reading his bio in Wikipedia, also of interest his "relationship" w/ Samuel Steward.

Will read more Wilder. I find it intriguing that the man who wrote such works as "Our Town" and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (albeit e
وائل المنعم
Aug 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Our Town was a great novel, What happened to Wilder in this play!

The Skin of Our Teeth can't be a classic play or a modern one nor a realistic play or a Surreal one. Along with this problem of classified the play, it isn't a good play which one can enjoy reading and not watching, It may be enjoyable on the theatre.

The characters are very shallow, I know they suppose to play as symbols but not like that. One can't read a play focusing only on the meaning of the symbols and their actions.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i love this play but what.
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre
My first encounter with an "absurd" play and I ate it up!!!!
Nicole P
pretty interesing, and a little out introduction to wildrer
Christopher Sutch
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another very entertaining experiment in near-absurdist meta-theater by Wilder. It reads slow to me, but I imagine it would be fun to see performed (though probably the references to contemporary 1942 events and other things might make it impossible or at least difficult to stage today). The message of the play is that people always find ways of continuing on, even in the face of (or after) tremendous natural and human-made disasters, and considering that this was staged near the beginning of Wor ...more
Edward Cheer
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's been a while since I've read anything by Thornton Wilder. I thought Our Town was fine, and was expecting something of similar quality with The Skin of Our Teeth, but my... it's a wholly different experience.

The Skin of Our Teeth is a comedy (I think) that's written by Wilder under the awareness that it's a play and is at times interrupted by human fallibility. The play is interrupted by the actress who plays Sabina twice and the whole third act is put to a stop because 7 actors got food poi
The Skin of Our Teeth is a fantastic parable dealing with humanity's age-old struggle to achieve civilization. The action covers three periods--an ice age, a great flood, and a devastating war--and in each case, humans manage to survive against overwhelming odds.

George Antrobus, is a citizen of the world. He wants to believe in the goodness of humanity and the survival of the race, but often his faith is shaken. A kind and generous man, he insists the starving refugees from the freezing cold en
Julian Munds
Thorton Wilder has these kind of folksy optimism that grinds my gears. He believes everything works out for the better. It's something I have trouble reconciling in his plays. Here it is working in over drive. The lens that is used is that Eastern American Simple country family in extreme circumstances and it seems to be talking about an America that never was. Negating major movements of revolution to side and focusing in on dogmatic institutionalists like Spinoza and Plato, whom he quotes at t ...more
Chase Smith
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had to read this in college and hated it. But I gave it a second star because ten years later there's still a lime that sticks with me; I'm not going to remember it exactly but it's something like "when he looks at her he realizes she has seen every mistake he has ever made," or something along those lines.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I remain convinced that Wilder is one of our most important American writers. Though, unfortunately, he is also one of our most underrated. It's time to put all those sit-com versions of Our Town out of our heads and revisit Wilder for what he is--a pioneer of Modern American theater.
Eleni Demos
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Remarkably interesting story concept of a family that survives through the ages of every war and natural disaster. A great look into the human condition. I found the actors coming out of character so often rather strange but can understand Wilder's use for them in that way.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Kept me thinking, but maybe too much.
Patricia Ferreira
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, theatre
Well, this one is amazing, so out-of-this-world!
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reread this recently. It definitely speaks to our times.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I have so many questions....what happened to the dinosaur and the mammoth....THEY JUST SENT THEM AWAAAAY.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
We had a read through tonight of this for the spring play, I sort of got lost trying to figure out what was happening. I'm sure with time I'll understand more and the rating will go up.
Kari Eliuk
Truly bizarre - I look forward to seeing this as live theatre, both to witness the spectacle of it, and to see if I can better understand what the heck it's about!
Danilo DiPietro
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I love a lot of Wilder's work but this play is difficult, chaotic and doesn't hang together well. Still worth a read.
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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.

For more see
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“I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I didn't even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them--it was that promise.” 60 likes
“Each new child that’s born to the Antrobuses seems to them to be sufficient reason for the whole universe’s being set in motion; and each new child that dies seems to them to have been spared a whole world of sorrow, and what the end of it will be is still very much an open question.” 1 likes
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