Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, May 2, 2019

With a Capital T - A Short Story by Mavis Gallant - first published in Canadian Fiction Magazine -1977

Mavis Gallant on The Reading Life

Gallant dedicated "With a Capital T" to Madeline and Jean-Paul Lemieux.  Jean -Paul (1904 to 1990) is a renown Canadian artist, focusing largely on the Quebec area.  They were married in 1937. (I did not find in my short research a personal connection with Gallant, if you have information on this please share.)

April 11, 1922 - Montreal

1950 - moves to Paris

September 1, 1951- publishes, in The New Yorker, her first short story.  She would go onto publish 116 stories in The New Yorker. ( I greatly enjoy looking at the covers of the issue in which a story was published.)

February 18, 2014 - passes away in her beloved Paris

"With a Capital T" is the last of six linked stories (all included in Home Truths) focusing on Linnet Muir, born in Montreal.  When we first met her she was 18, moving back from New York City to Montreal.  She is self supporting with few family ties and her only social contacts seem to be older men she works with.  World War Two is on and most of the young men are in the service.

In the final story she is twenty-one, working as journalist and is married to a Canadian Soldier serving in Europe.  There is no suggestion Linnet misses her husband, loves him or even really worries about him.  We learn little about him,,not even his first name. I did sense Linnet feels being married makes her a more to be taken seriously woman.  

Her main job seems to be to write captions for pictures.  Linnet has some fun with this. The managers at the paper are all men, they are depicted as quarrelling over who is in charge. Linnet is told never to criticize the government, after all their is a War on! Her politics are classic left wing.

"Churches and schools, banks and prisons, dwellings and railway stations were part of an imperial convallation that wound round the globe, designed to impress on the minds of indigenous populations that the builders had come to stay."

In an interesting interlude Linnet is sent to interview her own grandmother, who fears she is there looking for money.  We learn a little about Linnet's father, who died long ago.

The next two Gallant stories I will post upon are "Overhead in a Balloon" and "Luc and his Father".  The project is scheduled to end in September 2000.  


Suko said...

I should like to read some Gallant short fiction. I enjoyed reading this post.
Have a good weekend.

Buried In Print said...

This was such a short story, that I can see where it wasn't included in the Selected Stories collection which does include all the other Linnet stories. But I do feel like we get a glimpse of her humour and attention to detail that isn't as obvious in some of the longer tales.

How fortunate that you've got access to a couple of the Balloon stories in the next collection. I'm curious about that one, as I don't think I've read any of them.