Philip Wylie: Analysis
There are writers who made a name for themselves because of one or two bestsellers. There are those who became celebrities overnight because of unexpected popularity of one or two works. And then, there are also those who are considered as extraordinary writers, extraordinary because of the extent of the number of their works, the different styles and genres they used. Many or nearly all of their works became strongly popular with the public and has been appreciated not just by their contemporaries during their time but also by those who came long after the literary materials were written and printed.
It is in this league that people like William Shakespeare are lined up. One of the writers who possess this characteristic is American writer by the name of Philip Wylie. Like Shakespeare, Wylie is also a man born with humble beginnings but soon rose to popularity because of the things that he wrote. His works captured the attention of the people and was the main reason why he earned the admiration and respect of the people. Philip Wylie is a gifted writer whose gift is not only found in writing words, but in writing words fast and in voluminous extent.
If there is a writer who can mix quantity with quality, Wylie is definitely one of these kinds of writers, who is an elite breed and comes very seldom. More importantly, many of his works are appreciated based on its contents and its significance which also made Wylie a significant individual, who is loved for his works, for his brains and for the insights he shared with the world through his works. This has made Philip Wylie an important fixture in American literature history and this has merited and made important the investigation and analysis, discussion of his life as well as his writing career.
Wylie, whose full name was Philip Gordon Wylie was a son of Presbyterian father and a native of Massachusetts; he was born in Beverly in particular. He and his family did not stay there for long. They moved to Montclair in New Jersey when Wylie was still young. Wylie was a writer as he was also a man who was interested in many different aspects and topics, which he influenced and helped popularized, including game fishing and the rules governing it, as well as orchid raising.
Wylie’s stature as one of the most respected and well renowned writers of his time was reflective in the fact that after his death via heart attack, his other writings as well as other papers and related possessions were transferred to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections found in the place where he studied, Princeton University, particularly in the school’s library. If he was not as significant as he was, his works would have been disposed, or kept somewhere (Keefer 13).
As a writer, Wylie was a man whose pen never dried out of ink, at least until his death on the 25th of October in 1971. As a writer, he wrote feverishly and extensively. Because of this, he left behind many published works ranging in different literary genre. He wrote short stories as well s articles and columns. He was also a known novelist as well as a writer who focused on providing social criticisms. The diversity of the writing style of Wylie is reflective in the fact that the topics that he wrote about range different topics.
At times, it was about psychology, while in other times there are topics about biology. Physics was also a topic touched by Wylie’s writings, as well as ethnology, among others. A very noticeable characteristic and topic of Wylie’s writings is his anticipation and imagination of the future, his what if stories on the possible scenario and conditions in the future if certain things happened strong enough to create a previously unimagined possibility and reality (Keefer 13). It is not surprising that Wylie became a writer and a successful one at that.
After all, his mother, Edna Edwards, was a writer and a novelist. Although she may have not trained Philip in the craft of writing herself since she was already gone by the time Philip was five years old, he nonetheless inherited the genetics of a true writer. This was important in his discovery and eventual success in this particular field. Besides his pedigree and genetics, environmental factors also impacted his writing and his writing skills. For example, his schooling at Princeton University, no doubt, has positively impacted the process of development of his skill (Bendau 5).
If there is any other proof that there indeed exist an inherited genetic characteristics that strengthens the tendencies for one to be involved in a field similar to that of their parents, perhaps Karen – Philip’s daughter to his first wife – is proof. Karen also became a writer, like her father Philip who was born on the 12th of May 12 in 1902, and like her grandmother Sally. Her mother was Sally Ondek, whom Philip married and divorced a few years later. He would find his new – and final – love interest in Frederica Ballard, a Rushford and New York native, who would die and be buried there.
It was the same place Philip would lay to rest as well. Wylie was a novelist who wrote extensively, producing 26 novels, starting at the close of the 20s up to the early 70s. During the 20s, he was able to publish two novels, namely Heavy Laden in 1928 and Babes and Sucklings the following year. The following decade was a busy one for Wylie in his novel writing, beginning his 1930 print of Gladiator followed by two novels in 1931 – The Murderer Invisible and Footprint of Cinderella (Bendau 5). This was followed by The Savage Gentleman in 1932 and When Worlds Collide in 1933.
In 1934, Wylie was more productive, printing three novels in a span of one year, including After Worlds Collide, The Golden Hoard and Finnley wren. It took Wylie two years to finally release a new novel, entitled Too Much of Everything in 1936, and another two more years for the 1938 novel entitled An April Afternoon. During the 40s, Wylie slowed down in writing novels, producing only three – The other Horseman in 1942, Night Unto Night two years later and Opus 21 in 1949. Wylie had three novels published in 1951 alone – The Disappearance, The Smuggled Atom Bomb and Three to Be Read.
Three years later, Wylie wrote Tomorrow, followed by The Answer the following year and The Innocent Ambassadors two years later. Two novels came out in 1963 – Triumph and They Both Were Naked. This was followed six years later with the novel The Spy Who Spoke Porpoise. By the 70s, Wylie wrote only two novels – The Sons and Daughters of Mom in 1971 and The End of the Dream a year later. Besides these novels, Wylie also wrote several short stories. He was able to write one short story in the 20’s. This was entitled Seeing New York by Kiddie Car which was published in 1926.
It was not until 1945 that Wylie was to have another short story published. It was entitled Jungle Journey which people started reading by 1945 (Keefer 64). The same year saw the release of another short story entitled The Paradise Crater. A year later, Blunder was released, followed by An Epistle to the Thessalonians in 1950. The following year saw the printing of Philadelphia Phase followed four years later by The Answer. There is also the Crunch and Des collection – created and written from 1940 to 1956 but not including the 1990 Classic Stories about Saltwater Fishing.
Crunch and Des was important in Wylie’s role in contributing to the arts, particularly in the art of creating television shows. As the creator of Crunch and Des which was made for television, Wylie’s vision and storytelling impacted American television trends and styles which reflected the artistic contribution – directly and indirectly – by Wylie. Wylie also wrote three non-fictions, two in the 1940s and one in 1968. These are A Generation of Vipers, An Essay on Morals and The Magic Animal, respectively.
These are just some of the works of Wylie, not to mention his essays, his articles and his works in screenplay (Keefer 96). The name Philip Wylie has been significant in the print industry in the US. This is because of the fact that Wylie has been published by numerous reputable publications particularly magazines. The Saturday Evening Post has published Wylie several times, as did Harper’s Magazine, Good Housekeeping and Today’s Health. Other publications which are more exclusive to selected writers also published Wylie.
For example, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as well as American Mercury published Wylie’s articles. If Philip Wylie was viewed as an artist, it would be because of the art he created via his words. He is an artist because of the art that came to life because of his ideas and his words. For example, his work as a screen writer in Hollywood is an artistic endeavor since screen writer is an artistic exercise. The writer makes sure that the execution of the movie and the translation from script to film contains artistic characteristics that are important in defining it as a good movie.
Because of his vision and imagination and the artistic merit of his novels, different movies were made based on Wylie’s novels and stories. Philip Wylie was important in his time because of his contributions as a writer and because of his contributions in other fields of work. He used direct as well as literary writing styles, tools and approaches to criticize particular social problems. This is one of his characteristics as a writer that galvanized his role and importance in the society during his time. There are many works.
A perfect example is his novel entitled The Disappearance which was published in 1951(Keefer 125). What it was and what it criticized was interesting. The story’s plot is about the world waking up without the members of the opposite sex, which meant men lived without women and women are living without men. This is a criticism on social role and gender roles in the society, the pre-set roles that women and men play, and how the society will most probably look when the social structure is changed overnight and unexpectedly.
This writing was an important material considering the fact that this writing came shortly before the movement on women’s rights and gay lesbian consciousness. These are important social changes and social movements. This work was important both to the genre of science fiction, at that time, to social criticism and social movements about and related to gender and gender issues. In his writings, critics and analysts of literary development can see that Wylie, as a writer, provided important foundations for many of the other stories which would become important entities in the popular fiction and literature.
The perfect example is Wylie’s Gladiator (Keefer 46). This story tells about an individual who resorted to pre-natal intervention of medicine and science to create an individual who possess super human strength. This is an era that has not known the likes of Superman and other super heroes with super power. It was Wylie who is among the selected few who already explored the idea of using powerful human beings as a storyline. In the following years, it would spawn into a totally new literary genre in the form of hero-centered graphic novel and comic book stories.
The creator of Superman not even once acknowledged that their creation was inspired by Wylie’s Gladiator. Nonetheless, this only goes to show the imagination of Wylie and how Wylie, in one way or another, was a writer who paved the way for super hero genre and other story styles as well. Despite his popularity, Wylie also has his share of antagonism and hostility from the government and the society in general. Part of Wylie’s skill in writing and his vision was his stories often are dangerous. It incites dangerous thinking among the readers which can be controversial and can even destabilize the society.
For example, his story The Paradise Crater which was published in 1945 was a post World War II fiction story about how Nazi Germany will use atomic bomb to rule the world. This was a very controversial idea. Considering the fact that the US was recently at war with Germany, this kind of imagined scenario is a dangerous literary material, resulting to the house arrest of Wylie shortly after it was published. Although writing was his most significant profession for which he was strongly known for, Wylie was also an individual who worked in other aspects of the society and in other equally productive and dynamic functions.
For example, Wylie’s professional curriculum vitae included his work for the Florida Defense Council in Dade County (Keefer 108). From defense work, art of the complexity of Wylie’s professional life include the branching out in marine science, working as director of the Lerner Marine Laboratory. From this kind of work, Wylie jumped to another kind of work hardly connected to his other nature of work, serving as adviser to the chairman that leads what is known as Joint Congressional Committee for Atomic Energy.
Many other writers talked and wrote about Philip Wylie. Some of them praised Wylie for his gift of writing, for what he has done and for what he has contributed to the literary world and to the history of literature. Others tried to study and understand Wylie’s life and his works, providing explanation based on their analysis regarding the possible implications of Wylie’s work among his contemporary during his time, and after his time as well. Keefer believes that Wylie is a writer who has a gift for creating mind food that is easily to digest.
Unlike other authors who require the reader an understanding first of the life and style of the author, Keefer believes that part of the greatness of Wylie is the fact that his works are easily readable and understandable (Keefer 17). Appreciation comes easy because even though some of the story lines of Wylie’s stories are complex, they are not difficult to read and understand. Wylie comfortably sends his message across effectively and efficiently via his works (Keefer 17).
“The literary works of Philip Wylie, like those of any reputable author, can be understood and appreciated even if the reader knows nothing about the artist’s life (Keefer 17). ” While Keefer talked about Wylie as a talented writer, other authors and writers like Wheeler focused on praising not just the style of Wylie, but also the fact that unlike other writers, Wylie wrote so fast that he was able to finish a lot in a short period of time compared to other writers (Wheeler 16). More importantly, the speed does not compromise the quality of the stories.
The stories are still unique from the others, and thus, remain interesting to the audience or readers who followed Wylie’s works for years. Philip Gordon Wylie was described as “a prolific writer who worked 350 days a year and once wrote a 25000-word novelette in one day (Wheeler 16). ” Wylie indeed was a fast writer, especially in consideration to the fact that technology today and during the 20s-60s is very much different. There are no laptops and Internet and mobile phone and other modern equipment for work, communication and research at the time. Still, Wylie was able to make it happen and create his many different masterpieces.
Still, other writers talk about Wylie’s innate gift that made him unique. There are writers who know how to write. There are writers who can write very good stories. And then there are writers who are simply blessed by the ease by which the writing process comes to them and is accomplished by them. For critics like Bendau, this is one of Wylie’s strongest characteristics – his use of his gift to write with ease and comfort, but not without diminishing creativity (Bendau 4). “I know of no other author for whom writing came as easily as it did to Philip Wylie (Bendau 4).
” The good thing about it is that Wylie made the most out of it by giving back to the world his masterpieces which was strongly appreciated by the people in many parts of the world in many different timelines. There is no doubt that Philip Wylie is an important person as a writer and more. It appears that Philip Wylie was endowed with many talents. More importantly, his many talents were all used by Wylie to its full extent. This made Wylie’s life very productive and allowed Wylie to contribute significantly first in the field of writing and second in other things to which he involved in.
It comes second only to writing, like his interest in fish, plants and other things. Wylie is an artist who paints with words. Wylie is a man whose well of imagination never dried up. He was always alive with fresh new ideas which, directly or indirectly, inspired many aspects found in popular culture today. Works Cited Bendau, Clifford P. Still worlds collide: Philip Wylie and the end of the American dream. California Wildside Press LLC, 1980. Keefer, Truman Frederick. Philip Wylie. California: University of California, 1977. Wheeler, Charles. Essays for explication. Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984.Sample Essay of PaperDon.com