Friday, May 1, 2009
His Family (1918)
I read the first Pulitzer Prize winner, His Family by Ernest Poole, for my first entry into this Pulitzer Project. I see that there have been a couple of very thorough reviews already. The novel is about a widower and his three adult daughters, who each seem to exemplify a "type" of woman of that time. The oldest daughter, Edith, is caught up in her own family. She'll do anything to protect her children and would never consider working outside her family.
Deborah, the middle daughter, probably represents the "new" woman of the time--she works at a school and has thousands of tenement children she is interested in. She is a quintessential do-gooder and probably was a socialist and a suffragist. The youngest daughter represents the pleasure principle. She loves fashion and travel; she marries, has an affair (as does her husband), divorces, and remarries.
The characters never really transcend the stereotypes. I can understand, however, that the Pulitzer Committee perceived this as a novel of ideas and of society.