Short Stories You Must Read: 3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber (1939)


What to expect: A short story first published in The New Yorker in 1939 about a non-descript and ineffectual man who, during the course of a routine visit to town with his domineering wife, has a series of five heroic daydreams triggered by everyday occurrences.

Best known for: Being one of the most widely anthologized short stories in American literature and for it’s adaptation into film, most recently in 2013, where Ben Stiller directed and starred.

Interesting Fact: ‘Walter Mitty’ and ‘Mittyesque’ have been included in the English dictionary to denote ‘An ordinary, often ineffectual person who indulges in fantastic daydreams of personal triumph.’

Best Quote: The best quote is actually the very last line, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the ending. So here’s another gem, “We only live once, Sergeant,” said Mitty, with his faint, fleeting smile. “Or do we?”

Final Words: If you’ve ever imagined yourself to be somewhere or someone else; like an astronaut when you look at the stars, a war hero when you see the news, or an explorer the minute you turn on to a country lane, then you’ll want to read this classic.


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