The everlasting stillness of the earth now met the intimate, toiling slowness of the train as it climbed up round the sinuous curves, and he had an instant sense of strange, and so familiar—and it seemed to him that he had never left the hills, and all that had passed in the years between was like a dream. Like many Appalachians who leave home, Thomas Wolfe reflected on his home in the mountains, his upbringing throughout his life.
Wolfe wrote with a commanding voice about nostalgia of place and much of his writing, though fiction, feels like his personal reckoning with reality. Wolfe was born in and raised in Asheville, North Carolina but traveled extensively in Europe and lived much of his later life in New York City. He wrote most of his novels in the s and s. He attended the University of North Carolina and Harvard.
Many of the novels draw on his fictional towns based on real places in western North Carolina. He was well- known in literary circles for his long, vividly descriptive novels and outspokenness. His writings are reflections of reality in Appalachia and the feeling of leaving it.
Mountains are a natural central point of nostalgia for most who leave the region. They rimmed in life.
Sex + dating
They were the cup of reality, beyond growth, beyond struggle and death. They were his absolute unity in the midst of eternal change. The Appalachian mountains of North Carolina beautifully outline the city where Wolfe grew up a century ago. His presence is kept alive in the city through memorialization. The major theater, US Cellular Center, where many artists and theater acts play retains his name.
He was once remembered among the classic writers like Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner but has faded from view in recent years. The only popular exception was inwhen the movie Genius explored the relationship and publishing trials between Wolfe and his editor, Maxwell Perkins. A critic wrote in Wolfe witnessed the boom of Asheville, a town that has steadily grown in population since its inception in the late s.
Hidden in plain sight: wnc’s eastern european subcultures
The town and surrounding area, is still growing and struggles to keep up with infrastructure and housing for residents. The city is coming to terms with trouble in gentrification and racial equity which have been longtime issues. Wolfe was a very early critic of racial inequality in the area—which he wrote about often but still fell short of modern sensibilities. He had a severe case of Appalachia haunting even after he left. By God, I shall spend the rest of my life getting my heart back, healing and forgetting every scar you put upon me when I was.
The first move I ever made, after the cradle, was to crawl for the door, and every move I have made since has been an effort to escape. His books were bestsellers in the United Kingdom and Germany. However, his books were banned in Nazi Germany after his criticism of the treatment of the Jews there.
Your asheville tax preparation office
Even in his travels, he carried home like a chip on his shoulder in his memory and writing. A few years after the release of Look Homeward, Angelhis hometown mostly forgave him and he became a local celebrity. Though, by the time he returned to Asheville later in life, he felt like an outsider. Then on a trip to the western United States, Wolfe died at 37 years old due to military tuberculosis and was buried in Asheville. But his memory lives on in Asheville in bookstores and memorials. That strong feeling of push and pull toward home perfectly describes sentiments of many expatalachiansthose folks from Appalachia but since left and sometimes return.
For many who leave, home is a simultaneous place of pride and pain. Subscribe to The Patch, our newsletterto stay up-to-date with new expatalachians articles and news from around Appalachia. Alena Klimas is a writer and cofounder of expatalachians. She also manages the weekly newsletter, The Patch.
Klimas recently moved to Asheville, NC to work on regional development projects with a small consulting firm. She enjoys the vibrant outdoors and beer culture in her new home. About Home Media Newsletter. Via Flickr.
Thomas Wolfe journal seen at local bookstore in Asheville. Liked it?
Take a second to support Alena Klimas on Patreon!