Michener, James


Michener, James

▪ American author
in full  James Albert Michener 
born Feb. 3, 1907?, New York, N.Y., U.S.
died Oct. 16, 1997, Austin, Texas

      U.S. novelist and short-story writer who, perhaps more than any other single author, made foreign environments accessible to Americans through fiction. Best known for his novels, he wrote epic and detailed works classified as fictional documentaries.

      Michener was a foundling discovered in Doylestown, Pa.; there is uncertainty about the date and place of his birth. He was adopted by Mabel Michener and raised as a Quaker. In his teens he ran away from home and eventually became a teacher and editor. He served as a naval historian in the South Pacific from 1944 to 1946, and his early fiction is set in this area. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for the collection Tales of the South Pacific (1947), which presented the world of the South Pacific as exotic and foreign yet still part of the brotherhood of man. The anthology was later adapted for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, which itself won a Pulitzer Prize and turned Michener's book into a best-seller.

      Michener's novels were usually massive in scope, and he researched them extensively. Novels such as Hawaii (1959) and The Source (1965) typically open with the earliest history of an area—the geology, flora, and fauna—and ultimately encompass the people who settle and rule there. He sometimes spent years preparing a book, as he did in Spain for Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections (1968). Michener wrote with journalistic skill, aiming to instruct. Although he was criticized for the abundance of detail and facts in his fiction, his books were extremely popular, offering the reader a carefully and elaborately created world. In his later years, Michener turned his interest to American landscapes in Centennial (1974) and Chesapeake (1978). The Covenant (1980) concerns South Africa and the background of apartheid. Another massive opus was Space (1982), in which he tried, with mixed results, to fictionally chronicle the U.S. space program. Mexico (1992) fictionally deals with the problems of contemporary Mexico, partly as seen through the lens of bullfighting. There is also a strong dramatization of Indian slavery in the country's silver mines.

      Not all of Michener's works are fictional. The Fires of Spring (1949) is autobiographical, as is his 1992 memoir, The World Is My Home. His last completed book was A Century of Sonnets (1997).

      Michener in later life was a great philanthropist, contributing millions of dollars to universities and the Authors League Fund. Prior to his death, he donated 1,500 Japanese prints to the University of Hawaii.

Additional Reading
A life of James Michener is John P. Hayes, James A. Michener (1984). Among critical interpretations of his work are A. Grove Day, James Michener, 2nd ed. (1977); George J. Becker, James A. Michener (1983); and Marilyn S. Severson, James A. Michener: A Critical Companion (1996).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michener, James Albert — ▪ 1998       American novelist (b. Feb. 3, 1907, New York, N.Y. d. Oct. 16, 1997, Austin, Texas), launched a 50 year literary career with Tales of the South Pacific (1947), a book that won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for literature. It was later… …   Universalium

  • Michener, James A(lbert) — born Feb. 3, 1907?, New York, N.Y., U.S. died Oct. 16, 1997, Austin, Texas U.S. novelist and short story writer. Michener was a foundling discovered in Doylestown, Pa., and he was raised as a Quaker. From 1944 to 1946 he was a naval historian in… …   Universalium

  • Michener, James A(lbert) — (3 feb. ¿1907?, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.–16 oct. 1997, Austin, Texas). Novelista y cuentista estadounidense. Michener fue abandonado de niño y hallado Doylestown, Pa., y se crió en el seno de una familia cuáquera. De 1944 a 1946 se desempeño como …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Michener,James Albert — Mich·e·ner (mĭchʹə nər, mĭchʹnər), James Albert. 1907 1997. American writer of historical novels, such as Tales of the South Pacific (1947), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, and The Source (1965). * * * …   Universalium

  • James A. Michener — Born February 3, 1907(1907 02 03) Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States …   Wikipedia

  • James A. Michener — James A. Michener …   Wikipedia Español

  • James Albert Michener — James A. Michener, 1991 James Albert Michener (* 3. Februar 1907 in New York City; † 16. Oktober 1997 in Austin, Texas) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • James Michener — James A. Michener, 1991 James Albert Michener (* 3. Februar 1907 in New York City; † 16. Oktober 1997 in Austin, Texas) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • James Albert Michener — James A. Michener James Michener à la cérémonie commémorative du 50e anniversaire de Pearl Harbor en 1991. James Albert Michener (3 février 1907 16 octobre 1997) est un écrivain …   Wikipédia en Français

  • James Michener — James A. Michener James Michener à la cérémonie commémorative du 50e anniversaire de Pearl Harbor en 1991. James Albert Michener (3 février 1907 16 octobre 1997) est un écrivain …   Wikipédia en Français


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