Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 16

Interviewed by Richard H. Goldstone

Issue 15, Winter 1956

Sketch by Rosalie Seidler, 1956.

A national newsmagazine not very long ago in its weekly cover story limned Thornton Wilder as an amiable, eccentric itinerant schoolmaster who wrote occasional novels and plays, which won prizes and enjoyed enormous but somewhat unaccountable success.

Wilder himself has said, “I’m almost sixty and look it. I’m the kind of man whom timid old ladies stop on the street to ask about the nearest subway station: newsvendors in university towns call me ‘professor,’ and hotel clerks, ‘doctor’.”

Many of those who have viewed him in the classroom, on the speaker’s rostrum, on shipboard, or at gatherings, have been reminded of Theodore Roosevelt who was at the top of his form when Wilder was an adolescent, and whom Wilder resembles in his driving energy, his enthusiasms, and his unbounded gregariousness.

Source: Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 16