Thurber, James

Tagged: Art | Author

(1894-1961) US cartoonist, playwright and author, best known for his cartoons (many of them published in The New Yorker [see Slick], where many of his writings also appeared) and for his complexly humorous short stories and pieces, the best assembly of these being perhaps The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze: A Collection of Short Pieces (coll 1935), where his Alternate History spoof, "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox" (6 December 1930 The New Yorker), reached book form; his most famous single story is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (18 March 1939 The New Yorker). His adult fables and fantasies – assembled as Fables for our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated (coll 1939) and Further Fables for our Time (coll 1956) and elsewhere – have some marginal sf interest when they spoof contemporary events in exorbitant terms; his charming children's fantasies have no sf interest, except for The Wonderful O (1957 chap), a mild exercise in Oulipo set on an imaginary inhabited Island taken over by a pirate who for personal (and highly implausible) reasons detests the letter O and attempts to expunge all instances of its use. Thurber's short graphic novel, The Last Flower: A Parable in Pictures (graph 1939), depicts what seems to be a final War, the Post-Holocaust environment that is its immediate consequence, the rise of civilization again, and another war, this final one successful in bringing about the End of the World. [JC]

see also: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

James Grover Thurber

born Columbus, Ohio: 8 December 1894

died New York: 2 November 1961

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