The Lost Boy: A Novella

Thomas Wolfe, Author, James Clark, Introduction by University of North Carolina Press $24.95 (81p) ISBN 978-0-8078-2063-6
Written in 1937 and never before published in unabridged form, this poignant autobiographical novella explores the themes of time and remembrance that Wolfe later amplified in Look Homeward, Angel . The material restored in the new edition includes passages of lush description and a scene that reflects the prejudices of a bygone era. Wolfe's elder brother died in 1904, and the loss left the boys' mother with lasting psychic scars. Wolfe dramatized the tragedy via this polyphonic elegy. In part one, we visit a small North Carolina town through the account of young Grover. His mother, Eliza, narrates part two, describing her ill-fated son's behavior during a train trip to the St. Louis World's Fair. In the third section, a sister recalls the day when Grover contracted typhoid fever. Next, Grover's younger brother (the Wolfe character), fully grown, visits his childhood home. Wolfe searches for memories of himself--``a child, my core, my kernel''--and of his departed brother. A mature lesson emerges from the book's sentimental study of loss: the hope and anticipation of youth soon fades; ``that lost magic would not come again.'' The Lost Boy is a moving valediction and a sure-footed example of Wolfe's stylistic power. Drawings by Ed Lindlof capture the period atmosphere. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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