The Secret Life of Walter Mitty By James Thurber

James Thurber ¼ 1 DOWNLOAD

“After all, we only live once— or do we?”
I liked the movie too but it has been a long time. Ben Stiller read this. Good job.
Edit: 7/26/18
I have to say that one of my favorite literary characters of all time recently referred to another character that ticked him off as ‘ a Walter Mitty’. I was so glad I knew what that meant. For that set of you who have read or are reading the Pendergast series this happens in Blue Labyrinth where the agent has a discussion with a parking cop that I know wishes he could shrink and run away. One more thing NOT to do to Pendergast. Put a ticket on his car. 128 I have something of a weakness for reading books and stories that were later turned into big Hollywood movies, to see how they compare. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was originally published as a short story in New Yorker magazine in 1939. It’s available to read for free online, and won’t take you more than about 10 minutes.

The hapless Walter is a mild-mannered chap who is constantly badgered and criticised by his domineering wife. His self-respect is further dented with a series of minor humiliations he experiences in his dealings with, well, just about everyone. As we all know, the poor chap takes refuge in daydreams in which he casts himself as a series of heroic characters.

In itself, the story seemed to me to be mildly amusing but otherwise unremarkable. It gave rise, of course, not only to two major movies but also to the phrase “a Walter Mitty character” to describe someone who appears to live in a make-believe world. Quite an impact! 128 James Thurber had me rooting for Walter Mitty from sentence number one. Adventure after adventure, Mitty dives in and out of wonderlands to escape his boring life. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty sort of reads like a children's short-story for adults--which is uniquely awesome if you ask me... 128 One Christmas, we were looking for a movie to watch as a family and landed on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller. Each member of our family thoroughly enjoyed it and we enjoyed some lively discussion afterward, still warm in the afterglow of a positive experience.

I decided to follow up by reading the book that had inspired the movie. It's very different. Walter Mitty comes across as a dreamer and henpecked husband using his imagination to escape from his nagging wife into a hero's existence where he's a somebody, such as a pilot flying skillfully through rough weather, or a published surgeon saving an important person's life MacGyver-like with a fountain pen.

His wife demands, I've been looking all over the hotel for you, and follows up with, Why do you have to hide in this old chair? Walter Mitty responds mutters some vagaries and the adds, I was thinking. Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking? To which, she responds, I'm going to take your temperature when I get you home. How sad.

I like the movie better than the book, however, without the book, the movie wouldn't exist. 128 I was inspired to reread this story by a Goodreads friend who recently read it, and I'm glad I did. My first reading was a few years back and was inimpressive. I still don't think the story is particularly impactful.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is about a hen-pecked husband who lives a number of different, gallant lives in his head while he goes about his ordinary life. None of these fantasies ever play out to satisfaction before being interrupted by normal life. I agree with another Goodreads reviewer who said the story is sad. Only I think it is sad specifically because of the ending, and how the story's fantasy/real life pattern concludes. Sad, but this was a bit of fine writing.

I won't say anymore, though, in case you read it! I don't want to ruin it for you!

Also, 2 movies have been made from this story, most recently with Ben Stiller. I haven't seen either one, but I've heard good things and I want to see both of them. That should be Goodreads new motto! Goodreads. Finish a book, discover a series, an anthology, a poetry collection, and four films.

*edit July 2022 I just finished watching the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which is only loosely based on this short story, I would say. Walter Mitty is the basis for the film's protagonist by the same name, to a greater or lesser degree. I loved this film, starring Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty. Though I thought it very different from the short story, I enjoyed it much more for its narrative, themes, and style.

Rating 4 stars
2nd Reading, Finished July 2022
Recommended for fans of short fiction, literary fiction, modern fiction, psychological fiction, mental health fiction 128


This was the shortest audiobook ever, but I loved it! If you've ever wondered what's going on in someone's head, this short story gives you some ideas. Recommended! 128 Meet Walter Mitty.

He's a Husband.

He's a Captain of a Navy ship

He's a toughest man on the trial

He's the man who can a woman from distress and is a hero to all man kind.

He's also worrying his wife, his co-workers, his boss and his shrink.

Walter Mitty has dreams. Dreams of being a hero. But he's not dreaming them in bed, like everyone else is. He's dreaming these events while driving, while shopping, talking to his wife, walking down the street. He sees himself as a hero to everyone, but doesn't really do anything about it. He's just your average Joe that is taking his wife to get her hair done. And while she is getting her hair done, he runs errands. But everyday life, everything that we see, feel, touch, hear generates this scene in his head where he is the hero to the story and he's living it right then and there!! While everyone looks at him like he's weird, he doesn't see what wrong with this!!

As a writer I was thrilled that I am not the only person that this is happening too!!! I can't tell you how many times I will be sitting at the Library that I work at and there will be an event that will take place, or someone says something to me and it triggers a scene playing in my head and I'm living that story out (in my head of course). I am a writer and I am always getting scenarios playing out in my head that sometimes leave me speechless until I am writing that out in my laptop. Sometimes I talk out loud the scenes but hey, I'm a writer it's allowed. (I think....) 128 Shamelessly read in preparation for the movie.

Genuinely excited for this. 128 To every single one out there who's won wars, destroyed enemy ships, rescued the cat in the tree, saved the world, graduated from college, lost a few pounds, fallen in love and had their happy ending... in their minds.

Because daydreaming is underrated.

128 Warning: if you want to know what The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about, you won't find out here. But if you want to hear the terrible joke that our Russian teacher told us in 1974, you've come to the right place.


So there's this Viking, and he figures he's got too old for the raping and looting and pillaging. What's he going to do? Well, he decides he's going to go back to school and get a degree in Eng Lit.

So he goes back to school and the other people kind of like him, it's cool having a Viking in the class. But he seems more and more unhappy as the term wears on. And one day the guy who sits next to him walks past a bar and there's the Viking slumped miserably over a large collection of empty glasses. He looks like he might start bawling at any minute.

His friend is shocked! Ragnar, he says, what's wrong?

It's this damn term paper, says Ragnar. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It's due in tomorrow and I haven't written a word, I don't even know how to start. All I know is raping and looting and pillaging.

Look, says his friend, it's not so bad. Just write whatever came into your head when you read it. Doesn't matter if it's a bit weird. The instructor will say you're 'creative', she's a doll.

Haven't even read it says Ragnar, and he orders another beer.

Now, says his friend firmly, that's enough beer. We're going off to the library and we're going to read The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and you're going to write your term paper and it'll all be fine.

So they go off to the library and Ragnar's friend finds The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and they sit down together and the friend reads it all to him very quietly, so as not to disturb the other people studying there. And then he gets out his iPad and he says okay Ragnar, now tell me what came into your head when you heard that. I'll even write it down for you.

Nothing came into my head, says Ragnar stubbornly.

But something must have come into your head, says the friend. Think, Ragnar, think!

I can't, says Ragnar stubbornly. And so he flunked his course and had to go back to raping and looting and pillaging, even though he was too old and hated it nearly as much as he hated writing term papers on Eng Lit.

You're probably wondering what the moral of this story is, so I'll tell you. It's 128

A henpecked husband copes with the frustrations of his dull life by imagining he is a fearless airplane pilot, a brilliant doctor, and other dashing figures. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty