The 1938 Novel Decision

In 1938, for the first time since 1929, the Novel jury for the Pulitzer Prizes was shuffled around. A little bit. Albert B. Paine, Mark Twain’s biographer, died in April of 1937, and was replaced by Joseph W. Krutch, a critic for the weekly magazine, The Nation. Krutch was placed in the position of chairman, replacing Jefferson Fletcher, who was still retained for the jury, but in the downgraded role.

The jury unanimously nominated John P. Marquand’s The Late George Apley for the prize, calling it “a novel of unusual finish” and admiring the “broad, sympathetic understanding exhibited by the author, who is able to present his personages from their own, as well as from his point of view.

The jury recommended two further novels, “if for any reason this recommendation should be rejected”: The Sound of Running Feet by Josephine Lawrence, and Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts. The jury, in their recommendation letter, further stated they “would like to reiterate its own earnest hope that The Late George Apley will be chosen.”

The Pulitzer Prize Committee accepted the recommendation of the jury, and the Pulitzer Prize for Novel appears to have remained relatively free of controversy or criticism for 1938, at least.

Currently reading: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


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