Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Biggie: Booth Tarkington

As The Treasury of Laughter Blog winds down – we’re down to less than a dozen writers, less than a hundred pages – we’re going to hit some big names. Big, powerful names. Names of the literary giants who have shaped an age, just like Moe and Homer.

Used under the fair use doctrine for commentary purposes.

Booth Tarkington is one of those names. Like John Updike and William Faulkner, Tarkington is a multiple winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (He won for “The Magnificent Ambersons,” and “Alice Adams,” both of which were made into movies).

That story, of course, is a seminal work in marking the transition of American culture from one that was primarily pastoral to one driven by growth, economy, and power – and brought us the famous old-money line: “Don’t you think being things is rather better than doing things?”

Tarkington, of course, was a doer. Not only did he win two Pulitzer prizes, he also served a term in the Indiana House of Representatives, illustrated many of his own books and many reprints of others’ books, including the 1933 reprint of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and earned two honorary degrees from Princeton.

His books turned to films brought out the doers as well, including Orson Welles, who filmed the Ambersons.

So stay tuned. We’ll read a bit of Tarkington’s “The Quiet Afternoon” in the next installment at The Treasury of Laughter.

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