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

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1982, 682 pages)

I try to organize my reading around projects.  One of my 2013 projects was to read The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.  Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, USA in 1909 and died their in 2001.  She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for The Optimist's Daughter.   Welty never married or had any children.    She did travel extensively in the USA and Europe.   When asked in an interview who the writers who had most influenced her were she mentioned in order Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield, and Virginia Woolf.    Welty was a very accomplished photographer and taught college classes in creative writing.     She was a friend of William Faulkner and Katherine Anne Porter.  She was a close friend of Elizabeth Bowen and stayed at her castle in Ireland.  

I am very glad I read this collection.  I read the Kindle edition which I found perfectly done.  These stories, with a few exceptions, are set in the world in which Welty grew up and spent much of her life, rural Mississippi.  The stories take place in a time when race was of paramount concern, many of the stories do reflect the speech of the times and use racially abusive expressions.  This simply true to life.  Some might see her as a kind of southern Gothic writer focusing on out of place people and that is not wrong.  If you were enrolled in a class in short stories of the American South, she would be assigned along with fellow Mississippi residents, William Faulkner and Katherine Anne Porter.   Of course I liked some of the stories more than others.  Among my favorite are "The Petrified Man", "Lilly Daw and the Three Sisters", "The Hitch  Hikers" and a wonderful set on a train in England taking people to a boat that will take them to Ireland story, "The Bride of Innisfallen".   Some may find the use of southern dialect tiresome but from Welty it is the real stuff.  The stories are very set in time and place, a time that is over and a place unfamiliar to most people.   These are set in small town stories.  I think Elizabeth Bowen said Welty's stories reminded her a lot of life in Ireland.  

Welty's standing is below that of another writer from the American South, Flannery O'Connor.  In the seventy or so Q and A Sessions I have done with Irish writers I asked every one to name some of their favorite short story writers, many mentioned O'Connor but no one mentioned Welty.  Maybe her stories are to set in a place, maybe teachers will not assign her work because of the racial terms the characters use.  

I am very glad I read this collection.  It took me several months of on and off reading to finish it but it was a very rewarding read for me.  

Mel u

1 comment:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I love Miss Welty's stories, but I've not read the entire Collected Stories book. I also a fan of The Petrified Man, but I love A Still Moment (Quiet Moment?) and most of the stories from The Golden Apples, too.