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8th Day Paperback – Feb 1 1976


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Mass Market (Feb. 1 1976)
  • ISBN-10: 0380006391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380006397
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.4 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Product Description

About the Author

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. His Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, as did two of his four full-length dramas, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Wilder's The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them teaching, acting, the opera, and films. (His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of Doubt [1943] remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day.) Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
There is a poor John mine is southern Illinois in Coaltown. The mine mechanic is charged with and convicted of the murder of the general manager. The two leading families in the town had been those of the general manager and the mine mechanic. The better man of the two was the mechanic. He had worked with the manager and had given him credit for things he accomplished.
The mechanic is sentenced to death but escapes through the work of an unknown group of men. One of the daughters decides that in order to carry on she and her family must run a boarding house. At the time people feared being relegated to the poor house.
The hopeful find nourishment in marvels. Eventually John Ashley, the condemned man, makes his way to Chile to work in the copper mines. The root of avarice is the fear of what circumstances might bring. Ashley had tried to live in a manner opposite that of his father who was a miser.
After the crisis and while the boarding house was being started, John Ashley's son Roger, age seventeen, moved to Chicago. In the beginning he was a dishwasher. Quickly he moved through jobs as a hotel clerk and an orderly. Roger met some journalists and resolved to become a newspaper man.
He was starved for food of the spirit. Once he was given a ticket to FIDELIO. After being in Chicago eighteen months he became a reporter. Roger met his sister, the musician of the family, in Chicago. His sister Lily's friend, the Maestro, told Roger that works of art are the only satisfactory productions of civilization.
Roger and his sister hit upon a plan to use their real extravagant middle names and last names in their newspaper work and singing respectively to enable their father to contact them. John Ashley had gone to engineering school in Hoboken.
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By Schmerguls on June 11 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book because it won the National Book Award for 1968. For much of the time I was reading I thought it inartfully written, the story line awfully contrived, and often boring. But there is a certain power to the story, and it depicts good people--John Ashley, above all--who should be admired. I guess I am glad I read this book, but I can't say I think it is felicitously written. I concluded the award of the National Book Award to this book was more to honor an old and famous writer than because the book is a great book.
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By A Customer on April 9 1998
Format: Paperback
For me this book began with great promise. Engrossing and mysterious plot, interesting characters, incredibly well written. Suddenly, the main character in whom the author has invested so much of the story disappears completely and subplots eclipse the main plot. To make matters worse the character development becomes predictable and the characters themselves are not very interesting. What happened to the last half of this book?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 63 reviews
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
MOVED Sept. 26 2000
By Kyla K. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This novel was given to me by a friend and lover years ago, and remains one of the books that has moved me more than any. As he does in his better known works, Wilder manages to touch his reader deeply with the complexity of the human spirit, move us to tears without ever resorting to sentimentality. A powerful exploration of the "American Individual", the family, love and man's search for self and meaning. A must read, and a generous gift to those you love. One cannot help but reach within one's self and do a bit of soul-examining while/after reading this book. Haunting, inspiring and memorable.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Unjustly neglected classic Dec 26 1998
By Son of Houston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A triumph of technique, The Eighth Day may be the ultimate achievement of Wilder's novelistic career - in microcosm, a story of the hundred years from 1845 to the Second World War, the novel focuses on two families in one town and the aftermath of a murder. While the writing gets bogged down in verbiage from time to time, the characters are exquisitely drawn, and the tale is gripping and powerfully told, without sentimentality, and completely unpredictable. The murder mystery at the story's heart is, alas, a great big red herring and not particularly satisfying - but those who read the book for its evocative portrayal of a bygone America and its uniquely Wilder-esque turns of phrase will be thrilled and moved.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
a great and sadly neglected book Aug. 10 2001
By tenordan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Thornton Wilder is best known as a playwright- for Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth and the Matchmaker. He was also an excellent novelist, and his novels should be much more well known. The Eighth Day is one of my all-time favorite books. The plot is exciting, but the beauty of the book is in the great compassion Wilder shows for his fellow humans. In this, it reminds me of Our Town. You will not regret reading this book.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
The Eighth Day April 12 2006
By Bomojaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Set in a dismal Illinois coal town around the turn of the twentieth century, resident John Ashley is accused of killing Breckenridge Lansing, the money-grubbing, incompetent owner of the coal mine; he is found guilty and sentenced to be executed. But on his way to prison, he is suddenly rescued by six unidentified men and set free. He makes his way to Chile, puts his engineering background and love of mathematics to good use, and eventually makes his way back to the US. Ashley becomes a "man of faith," that faith being defined as a belief in a better, more caring, American community. (A new beginning = the Eighth Day.) One character says, "The [human] race is undergoing its education. What is education? It is the bridge man crosses from the self-enclosed, self-favoring life into a consciousness of the entire community of mankind." The "heroes" of the novel are those who defy the conventions that would keep them from crossing that bridge (Lily Ashley pursues a career as a singer, defying Victorian conventions) and those who wash their hands of the filthy pursuit of materialistic well-being (Roger Ashley becomes a muckraking journalist in Chicago eager to help the poor). The truth of John Ashley's innocence of the crime is revealed at the end (though Wilder tells us he's innocent in the Prologue). An annoying feature of the book is Wilder's blunt moralizing, especially near the end; characters are forced to make these little speeches about "false hopes" and "people changing" that make them suddenly appear remote and snobbish. (I'm not criticizing the message here, only Wilder's methods.) Wilder holds out a great deal of hope for the future of America, though he believes the road ahead is perilous with lots of false turns possible. This is his most ambitious novel, and it won the National Book Award in 1968.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This is it: the Great American Novel May 27 2009
By AliMcJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Until I had some time on my hands not many good books (read "high-profile") to read in English for entertainment while living overseas, and _The Eighth Day_ came through my hands, Thornton Wilder was just "a 20th century middle american white male traditionalist," to me, a result of over-exposure to the clinically edited versions of "Our Town," presented to us in school and on the big and small screens. The title itself, "The Eighth Day," confounded me and caused me to bypass the book whenever I saw it, thinking it was "a war novel," confusing it with "The Longest Day."

I settled down to give it a go and was unable to put it aside. When I finished reading it, I said -- as it encompassed so many places with a unifying sense of metaphysical connections -- "Look no further. This is it: The Great American Novel. I don't know what the fuss has been about, 'oh who could we pick?'. . . 'it has not yet been written. . .'
Clearly it has been, and has been languishing on library shelves throughout all the bloodless PG-PC interpretations of "Our Town," to which we have been subjected, all in the hopes that the bland versions introduced to us we intrigue us enough to read more on our own. "Our Town" has been presented as our 'been there, done that' exposure to Thornton Wilder:'" a grave disservice, perhaps an intentional burying of a thoughtful, perceptive, and persuasive -- not to mention very very hip -- author under layers of one-size-fits-all theatre.
If you haven't read it, do. It is the kind of book that comes back in bits and pieces -- in scenes remembered as one's own experiences are -- over the years.

Looking at the reviews here already, I was surprised to see that all of us who thoroughly enjoyed reading this book have such close similarity of responses: "candidate for great american novel," "sadly neglected," "memorable," inspiring . . . .
It is a book that is hard to describe, as it is an experience that takes hold in the reader, an experience of scenes we think perhaps were ones we have been in, somewhere, sometime, or of which we have somehow a deeply felt/remembered knowledge.

I don't read many American authors, preferring British authors with a mention for the Booker Prize. Thornton Wilder does it for me -- perhaps closest to Somerset Maugham, yet wholly American (and here we should not be envisioning a flag-waving bumper sticking "patriot"). It is that part of what is really American (forget the pumpkin pies and turkey) that survives in spite of all efforts to eradicate its soul.

The title, _The Eighth Day_, becomes easier to remember and less likely to be confused with "a war novel" when we consider that yes, "on the seventh day, God rested," and all time since then has been the Eighth Day of creation, one in which man -- Kerouac's "Desolation Angels" -- is to be making the most of what has been given him to work with, his purpose in living, acting, working, as another put it, to define God to himself.

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