The Hills Beyond, the third and last book culled from the mountain of manuscript left behind by Thomas Wolfe, “contains some of his best, and certainly his most mature, work” (New York Times Book Review). The unfinished novel from which this collection of sketches, stories, and novellas takes its title was Wolfe’s final effort. It tells the story of the Joyner family, George Webber’s maternal ancestors, in pre–Civil War North Carolina and illustrates Wolfe’s fine sense of family traits rooted in a traceable past. “Chickamauga” is the superb Civil War tale that Wolfe received from his great-uncle; “The Lost Boy” renders a second, more tender, treatment of the death of young Grover Gant; and “The Return of the Prodigal” describes Eugene Gant’s imagined and then actual revisit to Altamont when he is a famous author. Together the eleven pieces of The Hills Beyond confirm the passion, energy, and sensitivity that made Wolfe the most promising American writer of his generation.
Richard S. Kennedy (1920-2003) was a professor emeritus of English at Temple University, the biographer of Thomas Wolfe and E. E. Cummings, and the author or editor of numerous other literary works, including Welcome to Our City and The Starwick Episodes, by Thomas Wolfe.
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