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Our Town (1938)

by Thornton Wilder

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,496622,148 (3.66)135
This beautiful new edition features an eye-opening Afterword written by Tappan Wilder that includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material. Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.… (more)
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» See also 135 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Thornton Wilder’s iconic depiction of life in an American small town circa 1920. Act One is centered around the mundane, everyday occurrences of life...getting breakfast with the family, doing homework, milk deliveries, newspaper boys tossing the daily read onto the doorstep. Act Two marks an important cornerstone of small town life--a wedding. And, Act Three brings all this living into focus in a poignant way.

What makes reading this all the more moving, is that the way of life described has almost vanished entirely from our world. I remember morning milk deliveries, but my younger sister, separated from me by only six years, would not. Along with the point Wilder is making about appreciating the life you have, he made an unintentional one about appreciating the “kind” of life you have.

Deceptively simple; enduringly rich.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
I suspect I will like this more if I were to watch the play, rather than just read the script. The set design is very basic, which means the actors have to act well in order for the world they portray to become believable for the audience. The narrator (stage manager) plays a heavy role, which means he breaks into the story often, sometimes turning the play into his monologue. Again, this means the narrator needs to be a good actor to make this work. (When I simply read the monologues, I didn't find them that interesting :P But I suspect a good actor can make them endearing.) And I think the main message of this play is that our mundane daily life is to be valued and treasured. For this message to take full effect, the daily routines portrayed on stage needs to be realistic to the audience. In summary, I really should have watched the play, since I couldn't get a sense of the play just from reading the script. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
Great! A meditation on America. Especially potent to read before going to the suburbs. Made me want to listen to Simon and Garfunkel. ( )
  mayalekach | Sep 25, 2021 |
All I knew about this play before reading it was the following: the title was Our Town, it was set in Grover’s Corners, the main character was called the stage manager, and it was written by Thornton Wilder. And honestly that’s the best way to go into this play, without spoilers, because I had no expectations and was totally blindsided by the third act. It seems like the sort of play that is made or broken by the production you see it in or perhaps the teacher who teaches it to you, if it’s taught in school. It’s done with a minimalist set and characters miming a lot of their actions, which may seem silly but seems to have a dramatic reason. Overall, I’m glad to finally have seen what the fuss was about. It was a lot more serious than I thought it would be, and it is certainly worth reading.

I’d like to read more about its development to really appreciate its place in drama history, particularly its breaking of the fourth wall. The foreword in the Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition is a good starting point, but there has to be a book about drama history in general or U.S. drama history in particular that goes into more detail. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 3, 2021 |
Reading a play is never as satisfying as seeing it performed. Nonetheless, at this first reading ever (I know...) it punches an emotional wallop. It is an ode to living in the moment, savoring life, and not looking too far back or forward. Perfect pandemic, sheltering-at-home reading. ( )
  mjspear | Sep 11, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilder, ThorntonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Margulies, DonaldForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
To Alexander Woollcott of Castleton Township, Rutland County, Vermont
First words
This play is called "Our Town."
Quotations
Emily: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?

Stage manager: No. (Pause) the saints and poets, maybe - they do some.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This beautiful new edition features an eye-opening Afterword written by Tappan Wilder that includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material. Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.

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Book description
This short play seems simple at first, but is actually has a lot of depth to it. It is about the typical life in the small and quaint town of Grover's Courner, New Hampshire. The characters are very genuine. The main theme of the book asks what the purpose of life is; I think the message is to enjoy the life you have and to not waste it because it will be over before we know it. Don't take life for granted. Do something with your life. I loved reading this play because of its message and the particular way the play gets that message across.
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