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Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

A few years ago my family and I visited the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, one of the settings of Look Homeward, Angel, Wolfe’s first novel and one of my favorite novels. The following is from the pamphlet:

Thomas Wolfe was perhaps the most overtly autobiographical of this nation’s major novelists. His boyhood in the boardinghouse at 48 Spruce Street colored his work and influenced the rest of his life. His reminiscences were so frank and realistic that Look Homeward, Angel was banned from Asheville’s public library for more than seven years. Today Wolfe is celebrated as one of Asheville’s most famous citizens, and his boyhood home has become a part of the nation’s literary history.

The many exhibits at the visitor center included Wolfe’s hat and Majestic Cabinet Radio (shown below), the folding sofa bed on which slept Julia Wolfe slept while visiting Wolfe in New York City, a ceiling medallion cast by W. O. Wolfe (Wolfe’s father owned a tombstone shop)—even artifacts obtained on excavating the large house’s cistern.

Thomas Wolfe Radio

Also on display are items that Fred Wolfe recovered from the Chelsea Hotel at Wolfe’s death in 1938. These include Wolfe’s suit and the typewriter used by his typist as they worked on The Web and the Rock and You Can’t Go Home Again.

Thomas Wolfe Typewriter

After our tour of the Wolfe home, we stopped briefly at the historic Riverside Cemetery, where Wolfe and his family are buried. William Sydney Porter, also known as O. Henry, is also buried there. On a separate literary note, it was also in Asheville that Zelda Fitzgerald (who once stayed at Julia Wolfe’s boardinghouse) perished in a fire at a mental hospital.

My Top 10 Favorite Novels

Here are my top 10 favorite novels. Admittedly, language limitations have prevented me from reading several of these in the language in which they were originally written, but I list them here nevertheless, as I am no less in love with them as the result of having read translated versions. The list:

  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
  • The Way of All Flesh (Samuel Butler)
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne)
  • Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
  • Malone Dies (Samuel Beckett)
  • Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
  • Confessions of Zeno (Italo Svevo)
  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • Look Homeward, Angel (Thomas Wolfe)