1 minute read

Douglas Woolf Biography

(1922–1992), Fade Out, Huckleberry Finn, Wall to Wall, Ya! and John-Juan, On Us

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Woking Surrey to Æ

American novelist and short-story writer, born in New York, educated at Harvard. He served in North Africa during the Second World War, worked briefly as a screenwriter, then became an itinerant worker, taking time off to write, often in ghost towns or foreign countries. His understanding of the world was far in advance of his society's, which perhaps explains his relative obscurity: long before Don Delillo dealt with the increasing abstraction of American life, Woolf saw that Americans were moving through worlds solely of their own creation. Concentrating on the escape of two elderly men from the entrapments of suburbia, Fade Out (1959) espouses values reminiscent of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. In Wall to Wall (1962), Ya! and John-Juan (1971), On Us (1977), and The Timing Chain (1985) the central characters bear a closer resemblance to Woolf himself but, unlike Jack Kerouac's books, they are not directly autobiographical, though they do share with Kerouac a fast-moving, spontaneous prose. Woolf's short stories and related prose are collected in Signs of a Migrant Worrier (1965) and Future Pre-Conditional (1978). Woolf's work bears testimony to the continuing validity of a great American archetype—the footloose, unassimilable hero, coolly assessing the vicissitudes of his own time and place.

Additional topics