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

Monday, September 28, 2015

"Rodman the Keeper" by Constance Fenimore Woolson 1877 included in Miss Grief and other Stories, edited by Anne Boyd Rioux, forthcoming Feb. , 2016)

                                        1840 to 1894 - USA

Homepage of The Constance  Fenimore Woolson Society

Contains an excellent biographical sketch and a list of her works that can be found online

Homepage of Anne Boyd Rioux

"Roman the Keeper" is a truly great short story.  I have now read four of her, I think, fifty two short stories.  I will endeavor to read her full oevere, not actually that large a body of work.  I had never heard of her until i received a review copy of a perfectly done anthology of her short fiction, Miss Grief and other Stories edited and introduced by Anne Boyd Rioux.  Anyone considering producing an anthology of short stories by an historical author should study this book. Woolson was once a very popular writer but faded from fashion.

As I learned in Rioux's introduction to the story, it is set in a Union (Northen States) Civil War cemetrary like the one in Salisbury, North Carolina.  Emotions still ran very deep in the defeated South against northerners.  Rodman was a soldier for the North in the war.  He advanced to the rank of Colonel and suffered serious wounds.   During the war he lost his fiancé, his family and afterwards his money.  He accepted a job as the keeper, manager, of the cemetrary as he wanted solitude and he somehow sought atonement for the massive war deaths.  Woolson does a just wonderful job of slowly bring Rodman to greater and greater realization.

The century is isolated.  He stops at the well at a nearby house, he thinks it is abandoned and is shocked to find a sick man there.  He was a confederate soldier and they bond over their common experiences.   He sees the man has only the simplest foods so he brings him dinner.  Compressing a lot, he meets the man's only relative left, his younger female cousin.  There is a lot of real depth and brilliance in the depictions of the characters.  I don't want to give away too much.  Some very politically correct readers may rankle at how ex-slaves are portrayed in the story but those were the ways of the times.

I look forward to reading more of her work.

Mel u

No comments: