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Wharton, William

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of US painter and author Albert William du Aime (1925-2008), mostly in Paris from about 1960. Though his real name was known for many years, it was not revealed publicly until late in life, so that his pseudonymous writing career could be conducted separately from his career as a painter. Best known for Fabulations with a Magic-Realist colouring, like Birdy (1979) and Dad (1981), he moved gradually into tales whose resolution depends upon their being read as Fantasy. In A Midnight Clear (1982), which is set in World War Two, encounters between American and German troops turn into ceremonial rituals; the book was filmed as A Midnight Clear (1992) directed by Keith Gordon. Tidings (1987) features a protagonist whose overwhelming need to "varnish" the world in order to prevent "heat loss" (see Entropy) culminates in a Christmas ritual that may be literally timeless.

Franky Furbo (1989), like almost all his work, can be read as an intense evocation of du Aime's own life and family, this time in sf terms. The eponymous talking fox – at first presented as a delusional fantasy on the part of William Wiley, author of children's stories featuring this telepathic animal – turns out to be a genuine visitant from the future. Furbo had already saved Wiley in World War Two by hiding him in his redoubt Underground, and now takes on Wiley's human form in order to become the mutant progenitor of the new race to which – in the future – he belongs, and which has inherited the Ruined Earth. By the end of the tale – which takes place once again at Christmas, as so often in Wharton's novels – Time is understood to be circular: everything is saved. The emotional intensity of Wharton's work is extreme, sometimes to the detriment of the tale told, sometimes to very great effect.

From 1996 on, Wharton published several books which, though written in English, appeared in Poland in Polish translation; no English editions have been released. Their fantastic content, if any, has not been established. [JC]

Albert William du Aime

born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 7 November 1925

died Encinitas, California: 29 October 2008


  • Birdy (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1979) [hb/Fred Marcellino]
  • Dad (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1981) [hb/Fred Marcellino]
  • A Midnight Clear (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1982) [hb/William Wharton]
  • Tidings (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1987) [hb/William Wharton]
  • Franky Furbo (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1989) [hb/William Wharton]


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