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Tracking the Significance of Thomas Wolfe's "Writing and Living" Purdue Speech: A Detective Story.

An earlier version of this essay was presented as an address at the Thirty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Thomas Wolfe Society, Indianapolis, 19 May 2017 (seventy-nine years to the day since Wolfe presented his Purdue speech).

The speech that Thomas Wolfe gave at Purdue University in 1938 has a strong personal connection for me. I grew up here in Indianapolis, and I went to graduate school about an hour away at Purdue University, where I wrote my PhD dissertation on Thomas Wolfe under the direction of Wolfe scholar Leslie Field. I did not go to Purdue with any plans to study Wolfe, nor had I even read any of his novels. During my time there, the movie Sophie's Choice came out, and it made mention of Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. I decided I should read it, and I fell in love with Wolfe. The following summer I visited Asheville with my parents and took a tour of Wolfe's home. I could barely contain my excitement as I walked through those rooms and connected so many details to Wolfe's novel. I felt as if I had physically entered the novel, and that powerful experience only solidified my devotion to Wolfe. I read all the Wolfe books I could get my hands on.

At that time a friend of mine gave me a newly published book by Wolfe called The Autobiography of an American Novelist, edited by Leslie Field. This book contains two Wolfe essays, "The Story of a Novel" and "Writing and Living," neither of which I had heard of. The collection held two big surprises for me. One was that, according to the dust jacket, Leslie Field was at Purdue! I had never met him. We had a very large English Department--more than 150 graduate students in English--and Professor Field taught mostly undergraduate courses.

The other big surprise was that "Writing and Living" was the name of a speech Wolfe had given right there at Purdue. It was his final public talk, delivered in 1938 at our Literary Awards Banquet just months before his death. The Literary Awards Banquet was still a big deal when I was at Purdue in the mid-1980s. I loved the idea that Wolfe himself had been there. I decided I had to meet Leslie Field, and I also decided, because the time had come to choose a dissertation topic, that I wanted to write about Wolfe.

Professor Field was quite surprised when I showed up unannounced in his office and pleaded with him to direct my dissertation on Wolfe. He was near retirement, directing dissertations was not part of his usual workload, and who was I, anyway? I now realize that, generally speaking, walking up to a complete stranger and asking him to direct your PhD dissertation is a very risky idea. It could have gone very badly for either of us. But I was fortunate. Leslie Field was not only an outstanding Wolfe scholar, but he was also a patient and wise professor. He decided to take a chance on me.

He first did an independent study course with me on Wolfe to make sure that I was really serious, and then he agreed to direct the dissertation, which was the last one he oversaw before his retirement. In the long, wonderful talks we had about Wolfe, Les sometimes talked about the Purdue speech and his efforts to track down the manuscript of it. Leslie Field had come to Purdue in 1956, so he had not been there to hear Wolfe speak, but in the 1950 s the English Department still included a number of people who had heard Wolfe twenty years earlier and remembered the talk. One was William Braswell, who worked with Les to track down the speech and publish it in 1964.

When I heard that the Thomas Wolfe Society's annual meeting would be in Indianapolis in 2017, I went back to that speech and also replayed in my mind some of my conversations with Les about his work on it. Those conversations were thirty years ago, and I couldn't remember everything, so I decided to research it further. Les died in 2012, but I thought about contacting Joyce Field, his widow, to see if she might give me access to some of Les's papers on this speech and other Wolfean issues.

I didn't know whether she would want to bother with this, and I almost didn't contact her, but I am glad I did. She jumped into this enthusiastically, and she immediately began scanning documents and e-mailing them to me as she prepared a big box of Les's papers to send me. What she ultimately sent were letters, manuscripts, and other documents that helped fill in some gaps about Les's work on this speech and that also gave me a peek into Les's work with other Wolfe scholars, such as Richard Kennedy, Hugh Holman, Louis Rubin, Aldo Magi, John Phillipson, and many others. She also included all of Les's notes and correspondence about my own dissertation. Even though those dissertation notes and letters were from almost thirty years ago, reading all that gave me the same twinge of anxiety that I felt at the time. But it once again made me grateful for Leslie Field's careful guidance through that long process.

At one point when she was preparing this box of materials, Joyce sent me a somewhat apologetic e-mail saying the box was ready to send but that it was too heavy for her to carry. She was waiting for someone to help her take it to be mailed. For me, that was like telling a child that Santa Claus had packed so many toys in his bag that he was having trouble stuffing them all down the chimney. I was happy!

I was also happy that our related discussions prompted Joyce to donate Les's papers to the Thomas Wolfe Collection at the University of North Carolina Library. Les Field was an outstanding Wolfe scholar, and I am thrilled that his work will be available to scholars in this library.

Leslie and Joyce Field were married for 59 years. The first Wolfe novel Les owned--Look Homeward, Angel--was given to him by Joyce when the two of them were students at Wayne State University. Les dedicated his final book on Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe and His Editors, to Joyce, and in his preface he writes that his debt to her "goes far beyond possible payment for an inexpensive edition of Look Homeward, Angel. For years we read, studied, and shared Thomas Wolfe. By the time I wrote a master's thesis on Wolfe I could no longer distinguish her ideas from mine" (xvi). Leslie and Joyce Field have made a significant and lasting contribution to the study of Thomas Wolfe.

Thomas Wolfe Comes to Purdue

On 17 May 1938 Thomas Wolfe welcomed his editor, Edward C. Aswell, into his messy room at the Chelsea Hotel in New York and turned over his massive crate of writing, some of which Aswell was to read, and the rest of which he was to store at Harper & Brothers while Wolfe took his trip to Indiana and then to the West. When Wolfe caught the Southwestern Limited train to Indianapolis, he did not know that he was leaving New York City forever (Donald 447-49).

Wolfe arrived in Indianapolis at noon on Wednesday, 18 May, and checked into the Hotel Severin. He got a haircut upon his arrival (Mauldin 129). Aswell had described him as disheveled and unshaven in New York, and Wolfe no doubt did not look any better after an all-night train ride.

The next day, 19 May, Herbert and Janet Muller picked up Wolfe and drove him 60 miles to their home in West Lafayette (Mauldin 129). That evening Wolfe gave his talk to the Annual Literary Banquet at Purdue. He had been offered $300 for this speech, which is the equivalent of about $5,000 today. This invitation had lured Wolfe toward the choice of a Western vacation over other possibilities he had considered. Although he was not all that confident about his speaking ability, he said that for $300, "... I could put on a spirited exhibition of some sort, and produce any variety of strange sounds, some of which, I trust, may be mistaken for eloquence" (qtd. in Donald 446).

The Literary Awards Banquet at Purdue is still a prestigious event with a rich literary history that began in 1928. Some of the speakers in the 1930s who preceded Wolfe included Carl Sandburg, Sherwood Anderson, Thornton Wilder, and Theodore Dreiser. Two years after Wolfe, Robert Frost was the speaker. In subsequent years, speakers included such writers as Katherine Anne Porter, William Carlos Williams, Malcolm Cowley, Lillian Hellman, William Golding, Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, Tennessee Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, Grace Paley, Derek Walcott, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Seamus Heaney, Sherman Alexie, Rita Dove, Zadie Smith, and many others.

As far as we know, no photographs were taken of Wolfe at Purdue or anywhere else during his stay in Indiana. Also, no recording was made at the event. In fact, as far as we know, Wolfe's voice was never recorded at any time in his life, The best description of the evening comes from Professor Braswell, who would work with Les Field twenty-five years later to track down Wolfe's speech and get it published. In 1939 College English published an entertaining article by Braswell titled "Thomas Wolfe Lectures and Takes a Holiday."

Braswell was thirty-one years old when Wolfe came to Purdue. He was a Herman Melville scholar and never became a Wolfe scholar except for the work he did on the Purdue speech. His article, published only a year after Wolfe visited Purdue, is valuable for the small details about Wolfe, the event itself, and the trip to Chicago that Wolfe, Braswell, and others took afterward. Like many who saw Wolfe for the first time, Braswell was struck by how tall the author was (six foot six) and how heavy he was by that time (over 250 pounds in Braswell's estimation). Wolfe was balding on the back of his head, a little paunchy, and stammered in a way that reminded Braswell more of Luke Gant than of Eugene Gant (11). Three hundred people had come to hear Wolfe, and the public address system did not carry his "deep and throaty voice" through the room very well (11).

Wolfe was not a good speaker, Braswell reports, but "he had a rugged force because of the naturalness, the sincerity, and the energy with which he spoke" (11). He spoke without notes. One of the well-known lines from the speech came in a section in which Wolfe discusses the possibility that Hollywood would prostitute him by buying one of his books for the movies. Wolfe said that his "position in the matter is very much that of the Belgian virgin the night the Germans took the town: 'When do the atrocities begin?'" ("Writing" 31). Describing the audience reaction to that line, Braswell writes, "The tight-lipped silence of a few elderly women was a futile rebuke amid the loud laughter that the story touched off" (13).

Wolfe enjoyed drinking and conversing at a reception for several hours after his speech. He left his bow tie on but took off his coat and sat back in an easy chair while he drank a tall Scotch and soda. Braswell said Wolfe "talked perhaps a little more than anyone else," but was also willing to listen to people. One time he paused to listen to the whistle of a passing train and said he always enjoyed hearing them (15). Wolfe talked about the war in Spain and about many contemporary authors. He admired Archibald MacLeish, thought Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms was first rate, admired Theodore Dreiser, and praised Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos (15-16).

Braswell and others were drawn in by Wolfe's friendliness. The author stayed at Purdue for one more day, and by the end of it he invited his new friends to join him on his trip to Chicago, where they could help him spend his $300. Several of them, including Braswell, decided to join him, and they drove by car 125 miles through the night to Chicago. The Chicago trip includes many funny anecdotes, including Wolfe's frequent singing of the "Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it's off to work we go" song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs throughout the trip. Braswell says that when they finally said goodbye to Wolfe at the end of that trip, Wolfe "was the only one in the group who did not seem a little tired; his energy and exuberance gave one no thought of anything but life" (21). Wolfe wrote a thank-you note from Denver a couple weeks later, and after that the next news the Purdue friends received was that Wolfe became critically ill and then died only a few months later.

The Detective Story: Field and Braswell Track Down Wolfe's Purdue Speech

That was 1938. In 1956, Elizabeth Nowell's edition of Wolfe's letters was published, and Leslie Field began his career at Purdue. Field knew that Wolfe had spoken at Purdue eighteen years earlier and was eager to hear the impressions of colleagues who had attended the speech. One fact that all of them confirmed is that Wolfe used no notes during the speech. However, in the newly published letters, Field noticed that Wolfe talked about dictating notes to use for the Purdue lecture. Characteristically for Wolfe, he said that what he had written was far too long for the actual speech, but he didn't plan to use notes anyway (Field, "True Text" 28). In a 3 May 1938 letter to Nowell, who was his agent, Wolfe said he also planned to use material from the Purdue speech for a kind of epilogue to his novel-in-progress--a portion that might be called "You Can't Go Home Again," or "A Farewell to the Fox," or perhaps something else (751). In fact, large chunks of the Purdue speech did end up in this long letter to Foxhall Edwards (based on Maxwell Perkins) in the closing chapters of You Can't Go Home Again.

Four years after Field read these letters and their references to a written version of the speech, Elizabeth Nowell's biography of Wolfe was published. It contained many references to the Purdue speech and quoted extensively from it, indicating she must have possessed a written copy of it. Braswell began receiving inquiries about the speech. This is where the detective part of the story began, as Field and Braswell tried to track down the manuscript of the speech in order to establish a true text that they could publish (Field, "True Text" 29). They could not ask Nowell because she had died in 1958. Field contacted W. H. Bond, curator of the William B. Wisdom Collection of Wolfe's papers at Houghton Library at Harvard, to see if he knew anything about this manuscript. At first the answer was no, but later he found a photostat of a 63-page typescript of the speech (29).

Field and Braswell acquired a copy of that manuscript and realized this was a significant document worthy of publication. It was a key statement of Wolfe's ideas about writing, on par with his work, The Story of a Novel, published a few years before he gave this speech. (1) Seven of the sixty-three numbered pages were missing (pages 18-24). Field and Braswell set out to find those seven pages and also the original typescript from which this photostat was made. Bond eventually found four of the missing pages in the Wisdom Collection, and Braswell later found the other three pages there. All seven pages had been taken from the speech manuscript and placed into the You Can't Go Home Again manuscript (Field, "True Text" 30).

They later found the original typescript in the Wolfe collection at the University of North Carolina Library at Chapel Hill. Now they hoped to find Wolfe's original handwritten copy, if one existed. Wolfe never learned to type, so he employed a number of typists over the years. Field and Braswell decided to track down one of Wolfe's typists to see if she could shed any light on the handwritten manuscript.

This brings us to the part of the detective story that Leslie Field later found funny but a bit embarrassing. I remember him telling me this part and laughing about it during my sessions with him in the 1980s. How do you track down a typist almost twenty-five years after she worked for Wolfe? They knew her name (Gwen Jassinoff when she typed for Wolfe, with a current married name of Mrs. Peter Campbell). They tried Scribner's and Harper, who had no information. Many of the people who had worked most closely with Wolfe, including Edward Aswell and Maxwell Perkins, were no longer alive. Field and Braswell wrote almost 100 letters to people trying to track down this typist.

Then they consulted Myra Champion of Pack Memorial Library in Asheville. Champion is a well-known figure in the Wolfe world. She created the Pack Library Collection of Thomas Wolfe and also annotated her copy of Look Homeward, Angel with biographical notes about characters. After listening to their long tale of tracking down this elusive typist, she asked the simple question, "Have you tried the Manhattan telephone directory?" (qtd. in Field, "True Text" 31).

To their embarrassment, they had not. So they tried that, and sure enough, there were four Mrs. Peter Campbells listed in the phone book. One of them turned out to be the one they were looking for. She revealed that with her, unlike with some previous typists, Wolfe did not write his manuscripts in longhand and then have her type them. Instead, he dictated them directly to her while she typed. There was no handwritten draft of the Purdue speech. Once she typed anything, Wolfe would go over it to make corrections in pencil (31).

Field and Braswell had further work to do on the manuscript to make it publishable. Wolfe had made some handwritten changes that would be necessary for transforming a speech to a Purdue audience into what would become passages in his novel. He had changed the names of real places and people to fictional ones--Pine Rock College for UNC-Chapel Hill, and so on. They also corrected obvious errors in punctuation, spelling, and occasionally word choice that arose from the oral dictation method of recording Wolfe's words.

In 1964 Thomas Wolfe's Purdue Speech: "Writing and Living" was published by Purdue University Studies. The volume includes an introduction, the speech itself, and two appendices--Braswell's College English article about the speech, and an appendix that shows the passages of the speech that were excerpted and edited for You Can't Go Home Again.

The Significance of Wolfe's Purdue Speech

Thomas Wolfe gave two major speeches about writing during his lifetime. The Purdue speech, "Writing and Living," was one, and "The Story of a Novel" was the other. Wolfe delivered "The Story of a Novel" speech at the University of Colorado's Writers' Conference in 1935, three years before he spoke at Purdue. One way to approach the significance of the Purdue speech is to consider how Wolfe's attitudes and message toward writing did--and did not--change in that three-year period. Three years is not all that long in a writer's development, but Wolfe, at least in the way he publicly talked about himself as a writer, had changed considerably.

The two speeches do have some similarities. In both, Wolfe gives descriptions of his early, exalted and romanticized view of "the writer," his awe of authors, and the distance between his own upbringing and that romantic ideal. In the Purdue speech, he says that even after graduating from college it was impossible to tell his family he wanted to be a writer because
   in their consciousness--as well as in my own--"a writer"
   was a very remote kind of person, a romantic figure
   like Lord Byron, or Longfellow ... a very strange, mysterious
   kind of person, who lived a very strange, mysterious
   and glittering sort of life, and who came from
   some strange and mysterious and glittering sort of
   world, very far away from any life or any world that we
   had ever known. (39-40)


In both speeches Wolfe defends his highly autobiographical method, saying in the Purdue speech that "it seems to me every novel, every piece of creative writing that anyone can do, is autobiographical" (50). However, in the Purdue speech he also acknowledges the risks of this method and faults himself for weaknesses in his creation of the Eugene Gant character.

In both speeches Wolfe declares his complete devotion to writing as the center of his existence. Speaking at Purdue of his early days of living in New York, Wolfe says, "there was nothing for me now except myself and work. I suppose the almost religious belief I have in work may date from just this period; for I think it was the fact that I could work that saved me" (45).

Both speeches record, with a mixture of hurt, bewilderment, and humor, the way Wolfe's hometown rejected Look Homeward, Angel. In the Purdue speech he complains that the people of his hometown read the novel as if it were the World Almanac, and thinking that everything in it was intended as literally true.
   ... they became so outraged that they denounced me
   and my book individually and in the mass--from the
   pulpits, from the street corners, and from the public
   press; in letters signed, and in letters anonymous; and
   in threats that included tar and feathers, hanging, gunshot,
   and all other forms of sudden death. (51)


While those are some ways in which the two speeches are similar, on the whole I think these two documents about writing have more differences than similarities in both tone and substance. In terms of tone, in "The Story of a Novel" Wolfe shows an openness and vulnerability about the writing process that he downplays in the Purdue speech. In "The Story of a Novel" Wolfe is overwhelmed by the task before him and needs help, which comes in the form of his editor Maxwell Perkins.

Wolfe admits many things in that speech. He admits that his material had gotten out of control, and he felt despair about where the process might end. He says that the winter of 1933 arrived with what felt like "the final doom of an utter, inevitable, and abysmal failure. I still wrote and wrote, but blindly, hopelessly, unknowingly, like a machine that can't be stopped, that won't run down ..." and on and on he goes with these images of doom (62-63). Perkins intervened in this struggle by calling Wolfe in, taking the manuscript away from him, and telling him he was done. Wolfe writes, "From that moment my spirit was on the mend. It was like being born again" (69). (2)

The Purdue speech includes none of this kind of personal agonizing and drama and struggle, even though the two speeches overlap some in the years of Wolfe's life that they are covering. Between the two speeches, Wolfe had learned a few things. He had been beaten up by some critics because of his revelatory tone in "The Story of a Novel." The most famous example is Bernard DeVoto, who, in his article "Genius Is Not Enough," charged that Wolfe had been too dependent on his editors, had not mastered the artistry that was expected of a true novelist, and was a product of "the assembly line at Scribners'[sic]" (14). These criticisms had stung Wolfe and had been one of the major factors in his break with Scribner's and with Maxwell Perkins.

By the time he wrote the Purdue speech three years later, Wolfe was with editor Edward C. Aswell at Harper. But in this speech, Wolfe makes no mention of editors, no writing desperation and struggle, no agonizing over any difficulty getting his materials under control, even though a couple days earlier, he had just left Aswell an enormous crate full of manuscript pages that were not yet a novel. After Wolfe's death, Aswell would have to edit that manuscript into the two posthumous novels and other publications that came out of it. But Wolfe is much more restrained in this speech about talking about the methods and vulnerabilities of a writer. He had learned that it was not safe to tell too much about that. No one was going to "DeVoto" him this time around, and no one did.

What he does talk about eloquently in the Purdue speech is his growing social and political consciousness. Significant portions of the speech were later used in You Can't Go Home Again, and many Wolfe scholars, such as Hugh Holman, Shawn Holliday, George Hovis, Jon Dawson, Rebecca Godwin, and others, have traced and discussed that movement in Wolfe's writing from purely personal concerns to social concerns. This change came about because of economic and political forces that Wolfe eventually realized he could not and should not ignore, such as the economic collapse in the United States and the rise of Nazism in Germany. In the speech Wolfe says that, up to 1929, he knew almost nothing about the "organized structure" of society, "its systems of finance economy, politics and government--and how they shaped and affected the lives of people" (53). Furthermore, up to that time he did not believe those public issues were the concern of the artist. He says that at that time he believed "that the purpose and the function of the artist was to create, to create what was true and beautiful, without reference to its social implications as regards the world around him ..." (53-54).

Throughout much of the rest of the speech Wolfe traces what jolted him out of that more personal perspective and made him realize that politics and economics were key elements of what he needed to be concerned with as a writer. They were at the core of the human story he wanted to tell. Wolfe relates stories of tragedies in the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929. At first he could hold some of this at a distance, but then, he says, "one morning in November [1930], I awoke ... to find that ruin had come at last to my home town" of Asheville (60). Wolfe was in England, but he read a small item in the newspaper about the failure of the bank in his town. "The bank had gone down, carrying with it the government, the business, the commercial and industrial life of the whole town" (60). As more details emerged, he learned of suicides and ruined lives.

Another part of this social awakening was Wolfe's alarm at what was happening in his beloved Germany when he visited there in 1936. Although he does not go into great detail about this in the speech, he says that he had "become aware of something else in life, as new as morning, and as old as Hell, and now articulated for the first time in a word, regimed now in a scheme of phrases and a system of abominable works" (70).

Wolfe's Purdue speech, "Writing and Living," is an important statement about Wolfe as a writer and the role of the American writer in general. Leslie Field and William Braswell did the literary world a great service in preserving and publishing the speech in the form we have it today.

The Papers of Leslie Field

Leslie Field's papers contain documents that will help Wolfe scholars for generations to come. They give insight into the collaboration between Field and Braswell as they worked on their book about Wolfe's Purdue speech. Their plans moved from handwritten notes to detailed, typed plans. In addition to the Braswell/Field correspondence and notes, the papers include significant items from other Wolfe scholars and figures. One item in particular that caught my attention was a faded and barely legible carbon copy of a 15 December 1938 letter from Wolfe's editor Edward C. Aswell to Professor Albert R. Fulton at Purdue. This was about three months after Wolfe's death and about seven months after Wolfe's visit to Purdue.

The letter is on Harper & Brothers letterhead, and in it Aswell says that he hopes to publish Wolfe's next book the following year, in spring or early fall. He says that a few pages of Wolfe's Purdue speech were found among Wolfe's papers after his death, but the manuscript was not complete. He wondered if Fulton might have a copy. This is the search that Field and Braswell would still be conducting twenty years later.

Field's papers also include a wide variety of letters to and from other prominent Wolfe scholars. I enjoyed reading his correspondence with, for example, Wolfe biographer Andrew Turnbull, Richard Walser, Richard Kennedy, and John Phillipson.

On a more personal note, Field also saved all of the correspondence and other records between him and me about my dissertation, and our cards and letters after it was completed, so it was a pleasure for me to see this again. Looking through all this reminded me of what a patient and helpful mentor Les was through that whole process. This is a draft of Les's 8 May 1991 letter to me, which came a couple weeks after I defended my dissertation and received my PhD, and not long before Les was to retire. It means a lot to me, and says, in part,
   I just wanted to try out the "Dr. Bentz" appellation. I
   hope you have not already become jaded to it. Mostly,
   however, I wanted to say that the "thanks" you sent to
   us recently have two sides. As you know, I'm embarking
   on my retirement. What better gift than a doctoral student
   like you and a dissertation on Thomas Wolfe as a
   sort of swan song.


Studying Wolfe's Purdue speech through the lens of Field's papers allowed me to spend time delving into the work of two men I greatly admire: Thomas Wolfe and Leslie Field. I will always be grateful for the contributions these two made to American literature and for the ways they have enriched my own life.

Notes

(1.) Three different versions of "The Story of a Novel" have been published, with the complete manuscript appearing for the first time in 1983 in The Autobiography of an American Novelist. As Leslie Field notes in his preface to that book, Elizabeth Nowell's edited version of the original manuscript was published in three consecutive issues of The Saturday Review of Literature in December 1935; and for the book version (April 1936), "Wolfe expanded the Saturday Review essays and replaced many, but not all, of the portions that Nowell had originally cut" (ix).

(2.) Both passages from "The Story of a Novel" in this paragraph are quoted from the complete version in The Autobiography of an American Novelist.

Works Cited

Aswell, Edward C. Letter to Albert R. Fulton. 13 Dec. 1938.

Braswell, William. "Thomas Wolfe Lectures and Takes a Holiday." College English, vol. 1, no. 1, Oct. 1939, pp. 11-22. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/370735.

DeVoto, Bernard. "Genius Is Not Enough." The Saturday Review of Literature, vol. 13, no. 26, 25 Apr. 1936, pp. 3+.

Donald, David Herbert. Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe. Little, Brown, 1987.

Field, Leslie. Letter to the author. 8 May 1991.

--. Preface. Wolfe, Autobiography, pp. vii-xi.

--. Thomas Wolfe and His Editors: Establishing a True Text for the Posthumous Publications. U of Oklahoma P 1987.

--. "A 'True Text' Experience: Thomas Wolfe and Posthumous Publication." The Thomas Wolfe Review, vol. 6, no. 2, Fall 1982, pp. 27-34.

Mauldin, Joanne Marshall. Thomas Wolfe: When Do the Atrocities Begin? U of Tennessee P 2007.

Wolfe, Thomas. The Autobiography of an American Novelist. Edited by Leslie Field, Harvard UP, 1983.

--. Letter to Elizabeth Nowell. 3 May 1938. The Letters of Thomas Wolfe, edited by Elizabeth Nowell, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956, pp. 750-52.

--. The Story of a Novel. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936.

--. "The Story of a Novel." Wolfe, Autobiography, pp. 3-89.

--. "Writing and Living." Thomas Wolfe's Purdue Speech: "Writing and Living," edited by William Braswell and Leslie A. Field, Purdue U Studies, 1964, pp. 25-78.

--. You Can't Go Home Again. Harper & Brothers, 1940.

Joseph Bentz is Professor of American Literature at Azusa Pacific University and serves as Articles Editor of The Thomas Wolfe Review. His articles on Wolfe have also appeared in Studies in Short Fiction and the North Carolina Literary Review. He is a three-time winner of the Zelda & Paul Gitlin Literary Prize.

Caption: The room (as it looked in 2017) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where Thomas Wolfe presented "Writing and Living," his Purdue speech, on 19 May 1938. Photograph by Anne R. Zahlan.
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