"I'm not an artist. I'm a painstaking writer who doodles for relaxation."
James Grover Thurber (1894–1961) was an American humor writer and cartoonist. Among his well-known works are the short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and the children's fantasy novels The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O.
In his own time his writing was often associated with The New Yorker magazine where many of his short stories first appeared. Many of Thurber's fictions, such as "Walter Mitty," "A Couple of Hamburgers," and "The War Between Men and Women," deal with the fundamental conflict between men and women, and the romantic vs. practical mindset represented by each, respectively. His works are also colored by his liberal individualist views, in a time when creeping nationalism was threatening personal freedom in many parts of the world -- some not entirely remote -- and are also characterized by a deep sympathy for animals, particularly dogs.
A personal favorite writer of one Keith Olbermann who single-handedly sparked enough popular demand to put Thurber's anthologies back into print in the late '00s, when he revealed that he would read from a book of Thurber's stories to his terminally ill father, who suggested he read some of them on his TV show.
Works by James Thurber with their own trope pages include:
Works inspired by James Thurber with their own trope pages include:
Trope pages with page quotes or page images by James Thurber include:
Other works by James Thurber provide examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal
- Affectionate Parody: Fables for Our Times parodies Aesop's Fables-type moral stories; "The Scotty Who Knew Too Much" parodies the Hardboiled Detective story
- Aint No Rule
- Attractive Bent Species: Clode has trouble with this in The White Deer.
- Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad
- Baleful Polymorph: A central dilemma of The White Deer is whether the deer maiden is an example of this or of benevolent polymorph.
- Beast Fable: quite a few of the Fables For Our Times
- Cassandra Truth
- Completely Missing the Point
- Criminal Doppelganger: "The Remarkable Case of Mr. Bruhl"
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: What the Big Bad in The Wonderful O threatens Littlejohn's parrot with: "I'll squck its thrug till all it can whubble is geep!"
- Engagement Challenge: The White Deer
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Many, particularly The White Deer.
- Gaslighting: "The Unicorn In The Garden", "The Catbird Seat", "The Great Quillow"
- Henpecked Husband: Lots of them, but Walter Mitty is almost certainly the best-known
- Hope Sprouts Eternal: "The Last Flower"
- In Name Only: The film of "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty". It bore little resemblance to the story, and Thurber hated it.
- Mad Dreamer: Walter Mitty.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: "The Great Quillow" involves some townspeople who pull one of these on a giant to get him to leave their village alone.
- Mental Story: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty".
- Mr. Imagination: Walter Mitty, again.
- Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: In the children's book Many Moons, the king's three advisors carry lists of all of the matters they have been consulted on. As each one reads out his list, all have added grocery items their wives wanted the advisors to pick up that day.
- Pirate Parrot: The pirate Littlejohn in The Wonderful O has a parrot that annoys the book's Big Bad (by using words containing the letter "O").
- Power Fantasy: Walter Mitty.
- Put Me in Coach (subverted)
- Refuge in Audacity
- Rhymes on a Dime: The woods wizards in The White Deer
- Sdrawkcab Name
- Spoof Aesop: All over the place
- Tar and Feathers ("What Happened To Charles," one of the Fables For Our Time)
- Twenty Bear Asses: The quests in The White Deer, most notably the quest to obtain a drop of blood from the finger of 1000 kings, which was calculated to be unachievable in one lifetime.
- Unicorn: "The Unicorn in the Garden"
- Youngest Child Wins: The White Deer