Booth Tarkington Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

ph_0111207119-Tarkington.jpg Booth Tarkington Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Although best known as a novelist, Booth Tarkington also enjoyed some success as a playwright, with such works as the stage versions of his novels Monsieur Beaucaire (Beaucaire, pr. 1901, with Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland; adaptation of his novel Monsieur Beaucaire), The Gentleman from Indiana (pr. 1905), as well as The Man from Home (pr. 1907). Tarkington also enjoyed considerable success as a writer of short stories. Two of his stories, “The One-Hundred Dollar Bill” and “Stella Crozier,” were honored with the O. Henry Award in 1923 and 1926, respectively. In addition, Tarkington’s short-story collection “Mr. White,” “The Red Barn,” “Hell,” and “Bridewater” (1935) is one of his most respected. Tarkington also published many magazine pieces in the genres of reminiscences and literary criticism. Chief among these are “As I Seem to Me,” “Mr. Howells,” and “The World Does Move.”


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Few authors have enjoyed such critical and popular esteem as Booth Tarkington experienced during his lifetime. Tarkington won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first in 1918 for The Magnificent Ambersons and the second in 1921 for Alice Adams. In 1933, he received the National Institute of Arts and Letters Gold Medal, and in 1945 he received the William Dean Howells Medal, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tarkington was awarded so many honorary doctorates that he began declining them. He did, however, accept an honorary degree in 1940 from Purdue University, which he attended for one year. Tarkington did not explore new modes of fiction, but he excelled at subtle depictions of character in the realistic mode established by William Dean Howells and Henry James, both of whom he greatly admired.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Fennimore, Keith J. Booth Tarkington. New York: Twayne, 1974. A volume in Twayne’s United States Authors series, this book is an excellent introduction to Tarkington’s life and works.

LeGates, Charlotte. “The Family in Booth Tarkington’s Growth Trilogy.” Midamerica: The Yearbook of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature 6 (1979): 88-99. The family occupies the center of Tarkington’s world, and LeGates’s discussion of it is exemplary.

Mayberry, Susanah. My Amiable Uncle: Recollections About Booth Tarkington. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1983. An important contribution to the biography of Tarkington.

Noverr, Douglass A. “Change, Growth, and the Human Dilemma in Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons.” Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature Newsletter 11 (1981): 14-32. This article treats primarily one novel, but it has value for anyone seeking to understand the major themes of Tarkington’s work.

Woodress, James. Booth Tarkington, Gentleman from Indiana. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1955. An important biography of Tarkington, this volume offers some analysis of the novels. Considered the standard biography by many critics.