One Writer's Beginnings

ISBN-10: 0674639278

ISBN-13: 9780674639270

Edition: 1984

Authors: Eudora Welty
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Description: Now available as an audio CD, in Eudora Welty's own voice, or as a book. Eudora Welty was born in 1909 in Jackson, Mississippi. In a "continuous thread of revelation" she sketches her autobiography and tells us how her family and her surroundings contributed to the shaping not only of her personality but of her writing. Homely and commonplace sights, sounds, and objects resonate with the emotions of recollection: the striking clocks, the Victrola, her orphaned father's coverless little book saved since boyhood, the tall mountains of the West Virginia back country that become a metaphor for her mother's sturdy independence, Eudora's earliest box camera that suspended a moment forever and taught her that every feeling awaits a gesture. She has recreated this vanished world with the same subtlety and insight that mark her fiction. Even if Eudora Welty were not a major writer, her description of growing up in the South--of the interplay between black and white, between town and countryside, between dedicated schoolteachers and the public they taught--would he notable. That she is a splendid writer of fiction gives her own experience a family likeness to others in the generation of young Southerners that produced a literary renaissance. Until publication of this book, she had discouraged biographical investigations. It undoubtedly was not easy for this shy and reticent lady to undertake her own literary biography, to relive her own memories (painful as well as pleasant), to go through letters and photographs of her parents and grandparents. But we are in her debt, for the distillation of experience she offers us is a rare pleasure for her admirers, a treat to everyone who loves good writing and anyone who is interested in the seeds of creativity.

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Book details

List price: $19.50
Copyright year: 1984
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 7/21/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 116
Size: 6.75" wide x 9.25" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Eudora Welty, April 13, 1909 - July 23, 2001 One of the most admired American writers, Eudora Welty has steadily gone on writing short stories and novels that are entirely original, sometimes melodramatic, occasionally fantastic, and often concerned with psychological aberration. She has a fine ear for dialogue and a sense of style that elevates her fiction above the ordinary. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, she attended the Mississippi State College for Women before going north to the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University. She worked for a while in advertising, then returned to Jackson to take a government publicity job. She has remained in Jackson since then, living quietly with her family and pursuing a literary career that has brought her several awards and much critical attention. Some of her better-known short stories, frequently anthologized and thus widely taught and studied in classrooms, are "Why I Live at the P.O.," "Death of a Traveling Salesman," "Petrified Man," and "A Worn Path." Although Welty's critical reputation remains largely dependent upon her excellent short stories, she has also written four full-length novels, which have been well received. Delta Wedding (1946) is a densely plotted novel with many characters told from multiple points of view. It explores with intelligence and subtlety problems of domestic relationships and the mixing of social classes. The Ponder Heart (1954), a more simply told story, centers on the murder trial of a man unjustly accused of killing his young wife. With Losing Battles (1970), Welty deals again with the complexities of a large family gathering. The Optimist's Daughter (1972) is the story of tangled relationships between a 71-year-old judge undergoing a critical eye operation in a New Orleans hospital, his daughter, a withdrawn widow summoned from Chicago, and the judge's second wife of "coarse breeding," younger than his daughter. Gradually, this subtle story of father-daughter and husband-wives begins to reverberate with further complications. Howard Moss called the book "a miracle of compression. . . . The best book Eudora Welty has ever written" (N.Y. Times). One Writer's Beginnings (1984), an engaging volume of reminiscences originally given as lectures at Harvard University, had the unusual distinction (for a serious work of literary nonfiction published by a university press) of climbing high on the bestseller lists during 1984. Her other nonfiction includes One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression (1972), A Snapshot Album (1971), and The Eye of the Storm: Selected Essays and Reviews (1977). Welty will perhaps be best remembered for her highly eclectic and original voice, her brilliant style and revealing dialogue, her humane celebration of characters, and her visionary outlook and playful exuberance.

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