Printer Friendly

'A Curtain of Green': Eudora Welty's auspicious beginning.

On November 7, 1941, Eudora Welty's first book, the short-story collection A Curtain of Green, was published by Doubleday, Doran, but not without considerable frustration and disappointment for its author. By the time the unknown Welty began sending her work to magazine and book editors, pre-war jitters were forcing publishers and booksellers to rely on proven lists.(1) A perusal of Alice Payne Hackett's best-seller lists for 1930-1945 - compiled from The Bookman, Publisher's Weekly, and Books of the Month (later Bowker Book Guides) - reveals the public's preference for the historical novel (e.g., Anthony Adverse, Drums Along the Mohawk, Northwest Passage, Gone with the Wind); psychological melodrama (e.g., Back Street and Magnificent Obsession); novels with exotic settings and plots (e.g., The Good Earth, Lost Horizon, Night in Bombay); religious novels (e.g., The Robe, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, The Keys of the Kingdom); and family sagas (e.g., Shadows on the Rock, Maid in Waiting, and Grapes of Wrath).(2) By contrast, Welty - whose forte was the short story at a time when the mass market was devouring novels - created fiction on a smaller scale in terms of character and action. Her stories presented atypical protagonists, common and unassuming, who lead quiet, insignificant lives. The portions of their lives which were revealed in her narratives contained little overt action and emphasized character rather than plot and the interior life rather than the exterior world. Welty was writing material that resisted the prescription of the best seller not only in length but also in style and subject.

In the course of six years, at least thirteen publishers rejected a story collection by Welty.(3) Even Ford Madox Ford, who pleaded her case with both British and American publishers, could not break through their reluctance to take on a new, deserving writer. The issue of subordinating artistic merit to economics appeared as the subject of one of the "Travel Notes" articles Ford wrote frequently for the Saturday Review. Using Welty as an example of a worthy new literary talent whose career was being stymied, Ford lambasted the philistine practice of letting business prevail over art. What frustrated him most was the unyielding attitude among editors who were astute at recognizing quality manuscripts: they were unwilling to promote any work, even that of high caliber, which did not cater to the limited tastes of the populace.

Fortunately, in 1939 and 1940 Welty came in contact with Doubleday, Doran editor John Woodburn and New York literary agent Diarmuid Russell - two people who, spurred by their unshakable faith in her talent, relentlessly championed her writing until a major house agreed to take on an unproven writer, unproven at least in terms of mass appeal. To commemorate that 1941 publication of A Curtain of Green and the inauguration of Welty's book publishing career, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich issued in November 1991 a Modern Classic edition of this work,(4) along with Harvest paperbacks of all of her fiction except Losing Battles and The Optimist's Daughter. This fiftieth anniversary milestone occasions a retrospective look at how Welty's first collection came together and was presented to the public, how its critical introduction paved the way for the massive body of Welty scholarship, and how book reviewers received it.

In 1936 John Rood enthusiastically accepted "Death of a Traveling Salesman," Welty's first story, for the June issue of Manuscript: "Without any hesitation, we can say that DEATH OF A TRAVELING SALESMAN is one of the best stories that have come to our attention - and one of the best stories we have ever read. It is superbly done."(5) Two more stories followed in quick succession: "The Doll," appearing in June 1936 in The Tanager (published quarterly by Grinnell College), and "Magic," which ran in the September-October 1936 issue of Manuscript. Between 1937 and mid-1941 Welty placed eleven more stories. "Lily Daw and the Three Ladies," "Flowers for Marjorie," and "The Whistle" ran in Prairie Schooner.(6) "Retreat" appeared in River, a publication out of Oxford, Mississippi, which had a brief run from March through June 1937.(7) Seven stories were published in the Southern Review.(8) While these early appearances in "little" magazines and university reviews were vital to launching Welty's career, she needed wider exposure. By the end of 1940 the Atlantic Monthly had agreed to publish "A Worn Path" in its February 1941 issue, with "Why I Live at the P.O." and "Powerhouse" to follow in April and June, respectively. Breaking onto the national scene made Welty more attractive to other magazine editors. In an interview with Alice Walker, Welty commented on the change of heart mass-circulation editors had: "It wasn't until the Atlantic took [my stories] and published them that the charm was broken. After that, some of the same stories that had been rejected by magazines before were accepted by those same magazines."(9) In addition to the periodical publications, six stories had been anthologized between 1938 and 1941,(10) so that by the time A Curtain of Green came out, readers had been introduced to all of the seventeen works in that collection. One of those stories ("A Worn Path") received the second-place prize in the O. Henry Memorial Award, the publication of The O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1941 coinciding with that of A Curtain of Green. Welty was gradually making a name for herself and setting the stage for public response to her first book.(11)

In Publisher's Weekly for September 20, 1941, the publication announcement for A Curtain of Green read: "These seventeen short stories are a literary discovery of first-rank importance. They have a power and haunting quality which will establish Miss Welty as one of the finest and most unusual writers to come to the fore in many years." Other Doubleday, Doran fiction offerings for that autumn were described quite differently. For instance, one was an "epic" (Years of Illusion by Harold Sinclair); another was a "rich and subtle glimpse into a woman's soul" (Ariadne Spinning by Eleanor Green). Vicki Baum's Marion Alive had "vivid writing, excitement, and rich, human experience." Booth Tarkington's The Fighting littles was described as "the gayest job-jam novel ... ever sold," and Nellise Child's Wolf on the Fold was a "big, rambunctious novel." That Lofty Sky, Henry Beetle Hough's "masterful first novel," promised to be "vastly entertaining." Somerset Maugham's Strictly Personal contained "sheer breathless action" and "brilliant reporting." New Stories for Men - edited by Charles Grayson - with works by "Steinbeck, O'Hara, Sinclair Lewis, Jerome Weidman, T. S. Stribling and a host of other writers" - was supposed to have "sure-fire appeal for men." The language used to describe Welty's collection noticeably refrained from the cliches used to describe popular fiction. Words like first-rank, power, haunting, and unusual made her publication sound intriguing - fiction of a different order.

But even more significant than Publisher's Weekly's choice of words was Katherine Anne Porter's introduction to A Curtain of Green. In 1930 Porter had won critical praise for her own first short-story collection, Flowering Judas. Her literary standing grew with the publication of the 1937 novella Noon Wine and the 1939 collection of short novels entitled Pale Horse, Pale Rider. An introduction by a respected fiction writer in essence sanctioned A Curtain of Green. Assessing Curtain's author as not just a promising new talent but a writer who already displayed substantial artistic maturity within decidedly original fiction, Porter began her introduction by pointing out that Welty's talent was pure, personal, and spontaneous:

She has never studied the writing craft in any college. She has never belonged to a literary group. . . . Nothing else that I know about her could be more satisfactory . . . ; it seems to me immensely right, the very way a young artist should grow, with pride and independence and the courage really to face out the individual struggle; to make and correct mistakes and take the consequences of them, to stand firmly on his own feet in the end.(12)

In judging the influence exerted by formalized teaching of an art as "corrupting and destructive" to an artist's instinctive talent, Porter targeted a private conviction held by Welty that was central to the development of her craft. In a 1948 interview in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Ann Cresswell asked Welty to forecast the future direction of short-story writing. Her response was unequivocal: "It's just as hard to know what is going to happen to writing as it is to know what's going to happen in life. . . . Truthfully, I believe in the individual, and not in the trend. The writer comes first over the trend."(13) When interviewed in 1986 by Albert Devlin and Peggy Prenshaw, Welty commented on how literary groups can stifle artistic freedom:

I guess the thing I don't really like is any kind of group existing for its own sake. I could never have belonged to anything like Bloomsbury. There wasn't any danger! Everything aside - qualifications aside - I just wouldn't have flourished as a writer in a closely interknit group like that, all talking to each other. I'm just interested in people as individuals and caring for individuals so much.(14)

Because she has always eschewed literary affiliations and kept her writing free of aesthetic politics, Welty has nurtured her talent without undue interference from outside demands. By extension, she has been able to look closely and objectively at the craft of writing and thus naturally formulate her own literary theories. In considering how imagination and technical skill work in tandem to produce fiction, she has become a prestigious commentator on fiction writing.

Another of Porter's statements pointed up an issue regarding the motivation of artists: in spite of the pressure of the times, Welty was not enslaved by a "militant social conscience" (p. xv); rather, she was governed by a private ethical system, "an unanswerable, indispensable moral law" that keeps the writer firmly ensconced in the world of "living men" (p. xvi). Welty - who, particularly in the sixties, was questioned about her resistance to writing exposes of the South and the Civil Rights movement - addressed the issue of using fiction as a political forum in the 1965 essay "Must the Novelist Crusade?" She declared:

... writing fiction places the novelist and the crusader on opposite sides. But they are not the sides of right and wrong. ... The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it, and offer it to the reader.... Morality as shown through human relationships is the whole heart of fiction ... And yet, the zeal to reform ... has never done fiction much good.(15)

Although Welty is more committed to humanity than to abstract political systems, her work has never side-stepped the injustices of life or the frequent human incompetencies in response to them. In fact, this commitment to humanity makes her sensitive to the very violations that social reformers have protested against. A Curtain of Green thus contained stories about ordinary people wrestling in sometimes extraordinary circumstances with very human dilemmas. This early reliance on a private aesthetic divorced from literary trends and political correctness revealed that Welty had attained a level of creative maturity uncommon in a novice.

So did other qualities in Curtain. As Porter noted, this collection exhibited a multifaceted artistry that usually did not manifest itself in a single opus, especially in the first major publication of a young writer. Porter cited Welty's versatility and naturalness with language and a style that, on the surface, sometimes appeared simple yet communicated complicated themes about the human condition. She found Welty's technical virtuosity devoid of the pretentiousness that sometimes marred a first work; and she lauded Welty's aesthetic concentration and focus ("no diffusion of interest" [p. xiii]).

But what impressed Porter most of all was Welty's understanding of the flexibility of her chosen genre, an understanding that allowed her to produce such range in subject matter and tonality. In the March 1949 issue of the Atlantic, Welty commented on the freedom of the short-story writer:

A short-story writer can try anything. He has tried anything - but presumably not everything. ... the power and stirring of the mind never rests. It is what this power will try that will most pertinently define the short story. Not rules, not aesthetics, not problems and their solution. It is not rules as long as there is imagination; not aesthetics as long as there is passion; not success as long as there is intensity behind the effort that calls forth and communicates, that will try and try again.(16)

Porter's classification of the stories according to tone and method prepared readers for the diversity in Curtain. She characterized the first group by its "spirit [of] satire" and "grim comedy" (p. xx). Singling out "Petrified Man," Porter discussed this story as a narrative built upon a mundane setting, one which featured characters marked by crudity, frustration, and defensiveness. Welty's tale describes a small-town beauty parlor and its gossips who take a voyeuristic interest in each other's personal lives. Yet, according to Porter, the story was not the product of a writer's mind that was itself impelled by vulgarity or frustration: "Welty has simply an ear sharp, shrewd, and true as a tuning fork. She has given to this little story all her wit and observation, her blistering humor and her just cruelty" (p. xx).

Welty has always coupled objectivity in observing human action with a radar-like ability to hone in on human foibles. Recognizing Welty's intuitive understanding of the human condition led Porter to make a crucial evaluation of the comically perverse characters: "... as painters of the grotesque make only detailed reports of actual living types observed more keenly than the average eye is capable of observing, so Miss Welty's little human monsters are not really caricatures at all, but individuals exactly and clearly presented . . ." (p. xxi).

While Porter's first grouping of stories in Curtain emphasized "grim comedy," her second category consisted of those tales in which

external act and the internal voiceless life of the human imagination almost meet

and mingle on the mysterious threshold between dream and waking, one reality

refusing to admit or confirm the existence of the other. . . . Miss Welty is so successful

at it, it would seem her most familiar territory. (p. xxi)

This statement by Porter was perhaps unconsciously prophetic. Welty's forte has proved to be the interior story which explores two realities: 1) the physical environment which forges a person's life and provides tension between desire and attainment (Welty's belief in the importance of place as something beyond that which gives regional identity); and 2) the individual's perception of and emotional/psychological response to external circumstances. Porter's descriptive category for Welty's second type of story - such as "A Piece of News" and "Old Mr. Marblehall" - invoked Hawthorne's "neutral territory" where the "Actual and the Imaginary" meet.(17) She thus established the precedent for exploring Welty's American Romanticism heritage.

Porter's third grouping of stories indicated conclusively that Welty was not plagued by "self-love, self-pity, self-preoccupation, that triple damnation of too many of the young and gifted" (p. xxii). Porter cited "Old Mr. Marblehall," "Powerhouse," and "Clytie" as proof that Welty had already "reached an admirable objectivity," for in these tales she blended "objective reporting" with "great perception of mental or emotional states" (p. xxii).

One of the most pertinent comments in Porter's introduction came as a warning against falling into the "trap" of novel-writing (p. xviii). Porter rejected the elitist attitude that short-story writing is an inferior art or that one must be a novelist to be recognized as a serious writer. Declaring Welty's apparent distaste for composing longer fiction (a distaste which may account for earlier aborted efforts at writing a novel), Porter validated Welty's undeterred attention to the short story: "There is nothing to hinder her from writing novels if she wishes or believes she can. I only say that her good gift, just as it is now, alive and flourishing, should not be retarded by a perfectly artificial demand upon her to do the conventional thing" (p. xix). Porter concluded that should Welty discover she could not write novels, she was in no degree a lesser artist.

Katherine Anne Porter's introduction - which, accompanied by the Curtain story "The Key," had been distributed to major reviewers and booksellers as a prepublication pamphlet(18) - anticipated, perhaps in some cases shaped, the reactions of book reviewers and served as a springboard for the ensuing critical commentary accorded Welty's first and subsequent books. The reviews singled out those traits that separated A Curtain of Green from the vast body of fiction in vogue during the Depression and war years: the absence of political agenda; non-conventional plotting with emphasis on character rather than incident; a mingling of reality and fantasy pervaded by mood and atmosphere; a wide range of subject matter and tone; an authorial stance that was objective yet understood and could recreate the subjective nature of a character's psyche; a prose style that simultaneously used concrete precision to convey minute realistic detail and metaphorical expression to communicate nuance; extraordinariness of ordinary characters; technical experimentation that took Welty's writing out of the mainstream.

In Author and Agent(19) Michael Kreyling states that although the general reaction to A Curtain of Green was "supportive," Diarmuid Russell thought the response tainted by a tendency to read the stories as regional, particularly as Southern Gothic. Such a concern was legitimate. H. L. Mencken's excoriating 1917 evaluation of the South denounced it as being as "sterile, artistically, intellectually, culturally as the Sahara Desert"(20) a region victimized by the "vast hemorrhage of the Civil War" that had "half exterminated and wholly paralyzed the old aristocracy, and so left the land to the harsh mercies of the poor white trash" (p. 188). Particularly after this scathing indictment of their society, Southern writers had to contend with the tyranny of cultural bias. And one of the most damaging biases was an image of the South as a land of anti-intellectuals, moral reprobates, and psychological grotesques.

Kreyling declares that such a jaundiced regionalism

was precisely not the critical line Russell had hoped for in reviews of the collection,

and the hint that his client was derivative and unoriginal brought him to the simmer.

. ... Welty's first book got reviews tailored to fit Southern writers as diverse

as Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, Porter, and a dozen lesser-known. Reviewers in

Southern newspapers hailed the universality of the stories. Northeastern reviewers

tended to use the one-size-fits-all review. (pp. 80-81)

Understandably Russell would be disappointed. In a letter of September 6, 1940, to Welty, Russell vowed: ". . . all the furious energy we have will be bent on making the miserable crew of editors around the country recognize your worth" (Kreyling, p. 39). Considering the business and emotional investment he had put into his first client's book, Russell would accept nothing less than a glowing response across the board.

Buy Kreyling's comments may mislead readers to assume that Welty was read invariably for her Southernness, as a mere imitation of the then more prominent Southern writers, and as an author of sensational sociological exposes. On the contrary, the majority of reviews congratulated a writer whose originality in subject matter, style and technique transcended her regional ties. Of the approximately twenty reviews appearing in metropolitan and small-town newspapers and literary and mass-circulation magazines, only one (in the Springfield [Massachusetts] Union) accused the collection and Welty of having no literary merit. Fifteen reviewers penned enthusiastic responses; three were somewhat ambivalent; and one - though insisting that the stories revealed the author's "lust for melodrama" - admitted that this publication was "something of a literary event."(21) The first mention of this book appeared in the New Yorker one week after Curtain was distributed. Although little more than a blurb, the New Yorker notice spoke of a "distinguished book" of "deceptively simple" stories about "ordinary people" told in a "far from ordinary" fashion.(22) It brought Welty to the attention of a larger audience than that of the "little" magazines and to a more refined audience than those of wider circulation such as Collier's, Redbook, and Ladies' home Journal, the more popular outlets for contemporary fiction.

The first substantial review followed immediately in the New York Times Book Review.(23) Marianne Hauser wrote that "few contemporary books [had] ever impressed [her] quite as deeply" as Curtain with its "rich and magic world." While noting that this collection of stories - "dark, weird and often unspeakably sad in mood" - offered nothing of the predictable escapist fare, Hauser recognized, as had Porter, that Welty had not infused her work with "personal frustration ... either harshness nor sentimental resignation." Rather, this writer had exhibited a "profound, intuitive understanding of life," allowing her a "simple, natural acceptance of everything, of beauty and ugliness, insanity, cruelty and gentle faith." These stories, unmistakably the product of a "fanatic love of people," needed neither catastrophic events nor international incidents "to create the depths of human suffering." This statement contained an important observation: these stories shared ultimately the same concerns and focus as the politically charged literature of the day and certainly could not be dismissed as trivial or naive.

Hauser also praised the compression, unity, and control of the stories by declaring that Welty had "told more than many an author might tell in a novel" and pointed out a Kafka-esque surrealism in the "intimate fusion of dream and reality." The review continued by advising that although the stories should not be read as regionalist literature, a keen eye should be given to the role of place: "[These stories] could in a way happen anywhere, though certainly not to any one. For the mood and atmosphere of each story form a close unit with its specific characters." Like Porter, Hauser detected in Curtain "a hidden wealth of still greater strength, unexpressed as yet," and she predicted a solid future for Welty in the literary arena.

The New Republic review(24) offered similar accolades. According to novelist and short-story writer Kay Boyle, A Curtain of Green heralded the arrival of "one of the most gifted and interesting short-story writers of our time" (p. 707). Though drawing a somewhat specious parallel between Eudora Welty and Emily Dickinson ("both American women writers of exceptional distinction" who shunned the formal literary world),(25) Boyle heard in these stories "an inner and almost mystical tongue." But she did find one weakness in Welty's style. Taking exception to Porter's praise of Welty's objectivity, Boyle described a "tendency to carry [the] objectivity so far that at times [the] characters are seen from such a distance and at such an angle that they lose all human proportions" (p. 707). However, Boyle saw in Curtain a talent that would allow the young writer to "do whatever she set out to do" (p. 707).

In the Mississippi Literary Review Dale Mullen(26) - responding as much to previous Curtain reviews as to the collection itself - rejected Boyle's criticism of Welty's authorial objectivity. He detected "sympathy" and "friendliness" for even those characters in whom Welty exposed the most unflattering personality traits (p. 22). Portraits were so deftly drawn that the reader could easily recognize them as flesh and blood. When singling out some of his favorites in this collection, Mullen struck at the heart of the complexity that characterizes the Welty canon: "Lily Daw" is both "tender and ruthless"; "Why I Live at the P. O." is at once "frightening and uproariously funny"; "A Memory" is "entrancing" as well as "painful and harsh" (p. 23).

Mullen appreciated the variety of Welty's style and subject matter, but the thematic unity of the collection apparently escaped him: ". . . I feel that a better title could have been found for the book. |A Curtain of Green' hardly seems to indicate [its] tone" (p. 23). What Mullen saw as the governing tone is uncertain; the tone shifts not only from story to story but often within a story. However, an underlying concern unites the tales. Characters wrestle with the ambiguities and contradictions between the external world and their perceptions of what that world is or should be (e.g., the title story and "A Piece of News"). Some inhabitants of Welty's fictional communities strive futilely to communicate (e.g., "The Key," "Keela, the Outcast Indian Maid," and "Clytie"); others harbor real or imagined secrets (e. g., "Old Mr. Marblehall"). These diverse characters fight to pierce through the veil obscuring comprehension - either of the physical world which they struggle to control, or of what lies in the heart of another human being (the search for spiritual camaraderie). The title selection indicates the opaque curtains separating these characters from a sense of emotional completeness.(27) The metaphorical significance of the curtain image may best be understood by Welty's closing remarks in the preface to her photographic collection One Time, One Place (1971):

... a fuller awareness of what I needed to find out about people and their lives

had to be sought for ... through writing stories [rather than through photography].

But ... one day ... I knew ... that my wish, indeed my continuing passion,

would be not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible

shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other's presence,

each other's wonder, each other's human plight. (Eye of the Story, pp.354-355)

In the Chicago Daily Tribune Edith Weigle,(28) calling Welty's debut collection "short stories of great distinction," agreed with her colleagues that this writer's "subtle analysis of character and emotion" was superior to narratives carried by action. More significantly, Weigle approved Welty's analyzing character without intrusive authorial narration that typically passes judgment and dictates reader response. This reviewer described Welty's ability to write "full, minute detail" which brought the reader "face to face" with the characters and produced a prose that was "quiet, at times full of lyric beauty, and always crystal clear," never preachy. That Weigle understood Welty's intention can be seen in One Writer's Beginnings where Welty explains her position on the author's role in a narrative:

My temperament and my instinct had told me alike that the author, who writes at

his own emergency, remains and needs to remain at his private remove. I wished

to be, not effaced, but invisible - actually a powerful position. Perspective, the line

of vision, the frame of vision - these set a distance.(29)

Not until several months after the appearance of A Curtain of Green did anyone articulate the recurring ironic tension that makes these stories all of one thematic piece. Arthur J. Carr's Spring 1942 review in Accent stated explicitly what previous commentators had intuited:

Although the stories range from free-for-all comedy reminiscent of Caldwell ("Why

I Live at the P. O.") to the somber grotesque of family degeneration and suicide

("Clytie") and restrained sentimentality ("The Worn Path"), they are united by the

author's preoccupation with one many-sided theme, a moral paradox: that the meaning

of the action depicted is greater than the persons of the story comprehend.(30),

In another allusion to Kafka, Carr posited that these stories were to be "apprehended as metaphors" for the human condition (p. 189).

In another recommendation for the collection, Gladys Bates praised Welty for not relying on a self-indulgent first-person point of view as a means of personal introspection: "It is encouraging to find a young writer . . . turning to the world around her for people and for plot."(31) Bates found Welty's artistic treatment refreshing and "engrossing"; even when the development of plot allowed it, attempting a simple recounting of the stories in a traditionally linear fashion would do injustice to them. Bates noted, as did Carr, that each story contained more than the external action. But she had one reservation about Welty's method - namely, her "instinctive" attraction to the "odd, grotesque, or sardonic," which Bates suspected would lead some readers to write Welty off as being "too preoccupied with the eccentric and unfortunate."

Poet Louise Bogan, writing for the Nation,(32) recognized in Welty's talent a complexity that should save her from "fall[ing] into line and produc[ing] the bloated characters and smoothed-out situations demanded by |commercial' publications." And she had no doubt that this writer could create longer works of fiction. Yet Bogan did not look past Welty's Southern heritage, paying her a somewhat back-handed compliment:

[She] has instinctively chosen another method which opens and widens the field [of gothicism so prevalent in today's Southern writers] and makes it more amenable to detached observation. She proceeds with the utmost simplicity and observes with the most delicate terseness. She does not try mystically to transform or anonymously to interpret.

Bogan did not allow room for other interpretations of Welty's style beyond that of Southern Gothic. Thus this reviewer undermined her praise of the author's talent by declaring Welty's work as the best of a sub-genre.

Fredrick Brantley's review of Curtain countered such a narrow reading. Concerned that Welty's Southern roots would be an overriding factor in her reception, Brantley turned his review into an in-depth literary discussion by taking a comprehensive look at how Welty's art works. Pointing out that Welty's "central concern" is the "theme of isolation" and the "failure" to communicate, this critic defended Welty's so-called "preoccupation" with social misfits:(33) by necessity Welty had created characters that were perceived as odd, characters suffering an emotional incapacity to respond in a healthy or complete manner to their existence. Brantley also analyzed Welty's symbolic method as the unity of theme and technique and was the first to note her subtle use of myth and folklore.

Two British reviews of Curtain appeared in 1943 and 1947. The first followed the 1943 John Lane/Bodley Head edition. The anonymous reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement lauded Welty as an "original talent": "Hers is an intense, unclouded habit of observation and an emotional allusiveness in communicating what she sees . . . "(34) When Welty succeeded in her narrative style, one was rewarded with a story like "The Hitch-Hikers," in which "the illumination is strong and transforming." However, when the "emotionally significant hint is too widely dispersed" into a "narrative vagueness," the result was the "The Key," which "lack[ed] adequate imaginative definition," and "Lily Daw," which was left "suspended in mid-air."(35) Though the reviewer regarded the frequency of eccentric characters as "a fondness for the afflicted in mind or body and for strange violence of behaviour" that sometimes teetered out of control, he appreciated Welty's ability to "penetrate beneath the surface of the harsh or unprepossessing spectacle with quick, passionate sympathy" to reveal a truth that "yields an arresting image of beauty."

When the first Penguin edition of Curtain came out in England in 1947, L. P. Hartley had fewer reservations about Welty's writing than his TLS colleague had had four years earlier.(36) Her "misfits" were not such shocking oddities when considered in their fictional environment. Hartley, like Hauser, understood the essentiality of the fictional world in creating meaning: Welty "isolates" her characters in a "brilliantly suggested context of time and place . . . and endows them with a helplessness which is both touching and funny." Hartley admitted that occasionally a story lapsed into taxing obscurity with similes that are "too clever and ingenious"; but such opacity was redeemed by "subtle, glancing humour" and "naked tenderness." In fact, Hartley was the only reviewer to point out (six years after the book was first issued) the gentle comic effects in "Keela," effects that mitigate the "impact of the grotesque and horrible."

Not all reviewers admired Welty's first book with the same degree of enthusiasm. In a decidedly noncommittal response to Curtain - described as "concise, well-written" and "unusual" - the blurb in the Booklist for December 15, 1941, made a prediction about Welty's audiences: "A few discriminating readers will enjoy [these stories] very much."(37) Rose Feld gave a somewhat cautious "thumbs-up" to Curtain in the New York Herald Tribune. She began her review with a comment about Porter's introduction:

That Miss Porter should be attracted by the tales ... is not strange for they have a great kinship to her own fine work, possessing a quality of mood which surrounds and gives meaning to the incident. In large measure this is a peculiarly feminine genre represented at its best by writers like Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, Kay Boyle and Katherine Anne Porter.(38)

This statement set the tone for Feld's assessment of Welty's book; whether intentional or not, this reviewer subtly hinted that Porter had given a highly subjective reading to the stories. Naturally, a solicited introduction to any publication is based upon that critic's personal affinity for the work in question. And any reader brings private biases to a piece of literature. Porter readily admitted that she was especially drawn to Welty's stories which explored the interconnectedness of two realities: the physical and the psychological. The significance of Feld's opening remark is that it may account in part for the opposing opinions she and a few others held toward qualities in this collection that some reviewers regarded with unwavering esteem.

Unlike Porter and Hauser - who detected no private emotional involvement in the author's depiction of frustrated characters - and unlike Carr, who saw Welty admirably keeping "a cool distance from her subject while yet analyzing it minutely" - Feld insisted that in "A Visit to Charity" the author's "bitterness embraces" the characters. Similarly, in "A Memory" Feld believed Welty "directed" her own bitterness "against the vulgarity of humanity." This reviewer committed a rather common error: failing to distinguish between the writer and her created fictional world. In all of Welty's stories there is a gentle, and sometimes even caustic, undercutting of the character's perception of his existence that infuses the story with irony. The enormous gap between a character's internal world and the external environment within which he circulates results in a discrepancy between reality and a character's inadequate or inappropriate response to it. Thus we see personalities like Sister in "P. O." or Leota in "Petrified Man," who have led some readers to assume erroneously, as did Feld, that Welty has a "preoccupation with the abnormal and grotesque." But, as James Robert Peery explained in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Welty's "observation, her thinking, her creating have fashioned truth and reality and honest art. In |Petrified' . . . Miss Welty displays the edge of her wit and mastery of the use of grotesquerie in sharpening realism to definite focus."(39)

In terms of narrative style, Feld saw room for improvement. Like the other reviewers, she recognized the artistic merit of Welty's use of mood to instill meaning in the action: ". . . the stories evade retelling. But beyond the incident . . . lies the pressure of atmosphere which gives significance to her characters and her facts. Most of her stories . . . carry the intimacy and intensity of narrow-range observation." Still Feld regarded Curtain as an apprentice work, primarily because she read Welty's method of subordinating incident to atmosphere and character as covering an inability to maintain plot action. Declaring that Welty exhibited a talent that would "eventually" make her a peer of such writers as Porter, Woolf, and Mansfield, Feld saw Welty as an artist in the making, "in process of perfecting a technique which will sustain incident as well as mood."

Two other reviewers shared Feld's reservations about Welty's artistic maturity. The anonymous reviewer in Time(40) credited the unpretentiousness of Welty's "clean, original prose style" which "turns up sharp landscapes and atmosphere, details of costume, action and speech, with flashes of real brilliance." But this reviewer tagged Curtain as a collection preoccupied with "the demented, the deformed, the queer" which created an "insidious" melodrama thought typical of Southern writers. However, the Time review was far more commendatory than that written by Sarah Schiff, who offered no words of encouragement for this young artist. Writing for the Springfield [Massachusetts] Union,(41) Schiff based her opinion primarily on an uncompromising definition of what a real story should be: "a tale that could bear countless retellings before a winter fireplace . . . with . . . exciting adventures, or a thread of narrative interest." Naturally, Schiff would have no part of Welty's writings, which focused on atmosphere and inner turmoil more than on incident: "All the stories have the same slight framework, the same lack of a tellable, motivated plot. . . . they are not stories in the old tradition at all, they are no more than thumb-nail sketches . . . documented only by dialog and terse statement of fact." Schiff failed to see what role dialogue plays in plot development. Welty, whose acute ear for dialect and meaningful intonations of conversation has been a focus of critical scholarship, paraphrased Elizabeth Bowen's insight on the value of dialogue: [It] is really a form of action. Because it advances the plot, it's not just chatter. . . . The building of a conversation is designed to gradually reveal something."(42)

Schiff grudgingly conceded that the story genre had "become more flexible" to accommodate "any short literary work that contains significance enough to have a meaning, even a fleeting, unformulated meaning for its readers." However, she refused Welty a place even in this revised definition: "It is the word |significance' that leaves Miss Welty out." Schiff, evidently not one of the discriminating readers, just did not like the stories.

But with remarkably few exceptions, the reactions to A Curtain Of Green were more than "supportive," as Kreyling reads them; they were, on the whole, resoundingly positive.(43) Despite Diarmuid Russell's concerns that Welty would be regarded as merely a derivative of the more widely known Southern authors, most reviewers recognized her as unique, an "innovator in style and presentation" ("New Southern Writer"). In general, when Faulkner's and Caldwell's names were invoked, the reviewers - even if noting superficial parallels - distinguished Welty's treatment of theme and character from that of her fellow Southerners. In fact, several did not discuss at all the collection as a work by a Southern writer. And four of those who did were Southerners themselves. Far from seeing Welty's regional roots as a restriction on talent and imagination, they touted her Mississippi heritage to counter the stereotypical view of the South as culturally deprived and artistically retarded. Of the thirteen reviews carried in non-southern American publications, seven gave unreserved praise; three praised the stories as fine examples of an up-and-coming writer who - with experience - would find her rightful place among critically acclaimed fictionists; one was rather noncommittal; only two reviewers thought the collection seriously marred. One British reviewer lauded her while the other saw undeniable potential even through what he considered the artistic lapses. Of all these evaluations, Time expressed a predominately negative reaction; but Schiff was the only one to dismiss the collection entirely.

What these initial responses to A Curtain of Green suggest and the ensuing half-century of critical inquiry has substantiated is that this rookie collection of short stories possessed an impressive artistic vitality that ensured aesthetic endurance. But something else can be ascertained from these early reviews that is an important reminder to all of us in the field of literature. Book reviews are more than dictators and registers of contemporary popular tastes, though from a literary-history standpoint, these are legitimate functions. From an academic perspective, reviews are valuable preludes to the scholarship that grows from critical study of a writer's canon. In the case of Welty, reviews of A Curtain of Green anticipated the topics that dominate the body of criticism dealing with her entire oeuvre.

Fredrick Brantley pointed out the basic principles (of theme; symbol, and myth) with which Robert Penn Warren would anchor his 1944 Kenyon Review essay "The Love and Separateness in Miss Welty" (still honored as the official start of serious Welty scholarship). In addition, Brantley listed the themes of A Curtain of Green that have come to identify Welty as a Modernist: "the withdrawal of the individual, the difficulty of a human definition of justice, the search for the myth that will integrate the individual, [and] the impossibility of ultimate human communication" (p. 251). The attention given by some reviewers to the artistic control Welty maintained over a wide variety of tone and subject matter set the stage for critical analyses of the primary theme that unites all of Welty's work: the social and psychological barriers that impede communication and separate people emotionally.

Opposing views expressed in early reviews regarding the relationship between this writer and her fictional world initiated a recurring controversy. With her statement that these stories needed neither catastrophic events nor international incidents "to create the depths of human suffering," Marianne Hauser preceded numerous scholars who have studied Welty's ability to address effectively issues of humanity without embracing a literary or political movement. Edith Weigle's praise of Welty's character analysis - devoid of intrusive authorial comment-unwittingly zeroed in on Welty's concept of the author's "invisible" role in a narrative.

On the other hand, Rose Feld mistakenly assumed that Welty used certain stories to vent her own emotional frustrations, implying her use of fiction as a private platform. But Welty states in One Writer's Beginnings: "Of all my strong emotions, anger is the one least responsible for any of my work. I don't write out of anger. For one thing, simply as a fiction writer, I am minus an adversary - except, of course, that of time - and for another thing, the act of writing in itself brings me happiness" (p. 38). Though admitting that "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" - a story about the 1962 murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson - was "one story that anger certainly lit the fuse of," Welty clarifies the direction of that emotional response: ". . . all that absorbed me, though it started as outrage, was the necessity I felt for entering into the mind and inside the skin of a character who could hardly have been more alien or repugnant to me" (p. 39). In spite of her own denial that she uses her writing to vent personal anxieties and frustrations, a denial confirmed by an emotionally disciplined fiction, some critics continue to insist that Welty's works are motivated by a dissatisfying, repressed life. The most recent case has sparked an adamant response from Ruth Vande Kieft. In "Eudora Welty and the Right to Privacy," Vande Kieft criticizes Carolyn G. Heilbrun - a prominent feminist critic - for insisting that through her nostalgic memoir, One Writer's Beginnings, Welty has masked (either consciously or subconsciously) an unhappy childhood.(44)

The reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement criticized a quality of Welty's style that has become central to fifty years of scholarly inquiry into the Welty canon: the ambiguity of theme and the lack of traditional plot closure. He, along with those reviewers whose readings of Curtain were colored by a narrowly defined notion of plot (as the linear progression of events whereby incident supersedes mood, atmosphere, and presentation of the inner life), anticipated the critical discussions of Welty's obscurantism: that sense of indirection, of vagueness, of the author's reluctance to eliminate a story's shadings. Thus, in an effort to understand Welty's method, several critics have produced excellent analyses of her poetic prose (described first by Weigle as lyrical) while others have discussed her technical innovations and her place within twentieth-century Modernism.

These early reviewers are also responsible for opening the door to investigation into Welty's rich literary heritage. Louise Bogan was the first to recognize what later reviews of Welty's subsequent works noted: affinities between Welty's fictional world and that of Russian writers. In particular, scholars have noted that Welty's art exhibits "Chekhovian elements."(45) Whereas Brantley highlighted Welty's appropriation of myth and fairy tale, Sarah Schiffs opening remarks contributed to a point made by Porter: that Welty shares a connection with the Romantics. Before lambasting the collection, Schiff declared that A Curtain of Green "followed a tradition that had its beginning with Wordsworth" in its "recording on paper those transitory, commonplace occurrences that make up the lives of all of us." Since these early reviews, critics have explored Welty's ties with romanticism as well as her indebtedness to classical mythology, to traditional fairy tales and folklore, and to the Southwest humorists.

An unfortunate misunderstanding about Welty's fiction was prompted by Porter's exaggerated diagnosis of Sister in "Why I Live at the P. O." as a "terrifying case of dementia praecox" (p. xx). Instead of seeing the underlying realism of Welty's physically or emotionally "monstrous" characters, some readers interpreted these personalities as case studies in emotional aberrations. For instance, two reviewers echoed Porter by speaking of Sister's "persecution mania" (TLS) and of the "incipient madness" (Feld) supposedly exhibited by other characters who project unbalanced personalities. Fortunately, Hauser's and L. P. Hartley's understanding that Welty's characters should be judged according to their external environments precipitated the numerous studies of Welty's use of place to "test the validity" of a character's actions and attitudes. Most importantly, critics have reconsidered the initial assessment of Welty's characters as Southern Gothic.

References to Porter's introduction indicate that reviewers held this writer in high esteem as a fictionist and critic of the short story. Boyle commended Porter for saying a "number of profoundly true and sensitive things." Bogan declared that Porter "surveys with much insight the nature and scope of and the dangers attendant upon the specialized talent of the writer of short stories." Feld applauded the prefatory essay as an "excellent" commentary "on the short story and its place in American fiction." It is easy to see that Porter's introduction did what a critical preface should do; it guided readers through their initial readings of the stories in A Curtain of Green. And in a few cases, the reviews were as much a response to Porter's commentary as to the stories directly (e.g., Boyle, Feld, Mullen). The reviews responded to the ideas presented in the introduction: Welty's apoliticism, the degree of her artistic maturity, her ingenuity in using the story genre, the relationship between Welty and her characters, her sensitive perception of the human condition, the evaluation of her character types, her fusion of external and internal environments, and the degree and effectiveness of her objectivity. But the reviewers did more than merely reiterate Porter's critiques. Some pointed out Welty's similarities with Russian writers and Austrian Franz Kafka, the poetic nature of the prose style, the importance of place, the thematic cohesion, and an abstruseness typical of Modernism. Dale Mullen introduced the subject of Welty's revision process in noting differences between "Old Mr. Grenada" and "Old Mr. Marblehall" and between the magazine publication of "Death of a Traveling Salesman" and the Curtain version. Of further value in understanding Welty's art was Time's assessment of Sister as a "first-rate showpiece of American humor" and Hartley's recognition that the effectiveness of "Keela" was due as much to its comedy as its tragedy.

The history of A Curtain of Green has proved that one reviewer was wrong in assuming that Welty's art was too idiosyncratic to create a substantial audience. Eudora Welty has more than succeeded, receiving prestigious honors for her fiction and building an international reputation which would be coveted by any writer. After Curtain her fiction continued to elicit strong responses and earn respect, even from those who found her obscurantism an obstacle. The 1980 landmark publication of The Collected Stories drew together in one convenient place evidence of the versatility, range, and distinctive, governing voice that characterize not only the stories but the novels as well. This heralded collection infused with renewed vigor the critical inquiry into Welty's talent as a short-story writer. It also verified Katherine Anne Porter's judgment that Welty had possessed artistic maturity in the earliest stages of her publishing career. As novelist Hortense Calisher noted in her review of The Collected Stories: "In The Curtain of Green all of a remarkable writer's modes surface, along with their natural references."(46) Robert Towers was even more emphatic about the power of Welty's first collection. Of his reaction to Collected Stories he wrote:

... the most original and interesting stories are clustered, in my opinion, at the

very beginning of the [forty] years of publication, and while some of the later stories

are indeed accomplished, they seem to mark a return to the strength of an earlier

mode rather than an advance into new and challenging territory.(47)

Clearly, Welty's first book initiated a distinguished career in American letters. A Curtain of Green was a phenomenal debut, ushering in a decade that proved a flowering for Welty, who published at almost breakneck speed.(48) Surely any talent of this magnitude warrants special recognition at its golden anniversary.

(1) Welty sent her first submission, a collection of stories and photograph called "Black Saturday," to Smith and Haas in 1935. This manuscript was rejected. In 1937 Weltv sent it to Covici-Friede. Editor Harold Strauss returned it on the grounds that it was not conventional enough, thus "sales would be negligible" (Harold Strauss, letter, November, 1, 1937, Welty Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History). In an interview in Eudora Welty: Photographs, Welty explains that the contests of "Black Saturday" were eventually published in A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, and One Time, One Place (p. xviii). (2) Alice Payne Hackett, Fifty Years of Best Sellers (New York: Bowker, 1945). (3) In addition to Smith and Haas and Covici-Friede, the following publishers refused Welty's stories: W. W. Norton; Reynal and Hitchcock; Houghton Mifflin; Alfred A. Knopf; Harcourt Brace; G. P. Putnam's Sons; Allen and Unwin; Viking; Stokes; Scribner's; Duell, Sloan & Pearce. (4) W. U. McDonaidl Jr., explains that this third American edition, first printing, is a "new typesetting" of the 1947 Harcourt Brace edition of A Curtain of Green "with corrections of minor typographical errors." Noel Polk identifies the 1947 Harcourt as a textually corrupt second American edition, based on the 1943 first British edition (Lane/Bodley Head). For further commentary on the publication history of Curtain, see McDonald's "Works by Welty: A Continuing Checklist," EuWN, 16, no. 1 (1992), 13-14; and Polk's "The Text of the Modern Library A Curtain of Green," EuWN, 3, no. 1-A (1979), 6-8. (5) John Rood, Letter to Eudora Welty, March 19, 1936, Welty Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History. (6) "Lily Day and the Three Ladies," 11 (1937), 266-275; "Flowers for Marjorie," 11 (1937), 111-120; "The Whistle," 12 (1938), 210-215. (7) River, 1, no. 1 (1937), 10-12. (8) "A Piece of News," 3 (1937), 80-84; "A Meidory," 3 (1937), 317-322; "Old Mr. Grenada," 3 (1938), 707-713 (revised and retitled "Old Mr. Marblehall" for the Curtain collection); "A Curtain of Green," 4 (1938), 292-298; "Petrified Man," 4 (1939), 682-695; "The Hitch-Hikers," 5 (1939), 293-307; "Clytie," 7 (1941), 52-64. (9) Alice Walker, "Eudora Welty: An Interview," in Conversations with Eudora Welty, ed. Peggy Whitman Prenshaw (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1984), p. 134. (10) "Lily Daw and the Three Ladies," The Best Stories, 1938, ed. Edward J. O'Brien (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1938), pp. 320-329; "Petrified Man," O. Henry Memorial Award Price Stories of 1939, ed. Harry Hansen (New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1939), pp. 257-275; "A Curtain of Green," The Best Stories, 1939, ed. Edward J. O'Brien (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939), pp. 319-326; "Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden," New Direction in Prose and Poetry, 1940, ed. James Laughlin (Norfolk, Connecticut: New Directions, 1940), pp. 109-117; "The Hitch-Hikers," The Best Short Stories, 1940, ed. Edward J. O'Brien (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1940), pp. 459-475; "A Worn Path," O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1941, ed. Herschel Brickell (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1941), pp. 17-27. (11) In addition to several Curtain reviewers' being familiar with "A Worn Path," some acknowledged that they had been keeping track of this new writer's output. For instance, James Robert Peery revealed that he had been "watching her progress, admiring more and more her undeniable talent, wondering when some astute publisher would collect her stories ... " ("Eudora Welty of Jackson, Mississippi, Displays Rare Talent ill Short Stories," Memphis Commercial Appeal, November 23, 1941, IV, 11). (12) Katherine Anne Porter, "Introduction," A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, by Eudora Welty (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979), pp. xiv-xv. (13) Ann Cresswell, "The Individual, Not the Trend Is Important to Writer, Jackson Author of |Delta Wedding' believes," Jackson Clarion-Ledger, January 18, 1948, Magazine Section, p. 6. (14) Albert J. Devlin and Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, "A Conversation with Eudora Welty, Jackson, 1986," Mississippi Quarterly, 39 (Fall 1986), 454. (15) Eudora Welty, "Must the Novelist Crusade?" in the Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), pp. 147-148. Two decades later in an interview with Barbara Ascher, Welty re-emphasized the proper stance of the fiction writer: A writer has to have strong moral sense. You couldn't write if you yourself didn't have it and know what you were doing. But that's very different from wanting to inoralize in your story. Your own moral sense tells vou what's true and false and how people would behave. And you know what is just and unjust, but you don't point them out. ... I don't think it works in fiction because fiction is dramatic. It's not platform. (Barbara Lazear Ascher, "A Visit with Eudora Welty," Yale Review, 74 [1984], 150). (16) Eudora Welty, "The Reading and Writing of Short Stories, "Atlantic Monthly, March 1949, p. 49. The first part of this two-part essay appeared in the Atlantic for Februarv 1949, pp.54-58. (17) Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (New York and London: Norton, 1988), p. 28. (18) This promotional piece was entitled Eudora Welty: A Note on the Author and Her Work. (19) Michael Kreyling, Author a Agent: Eudora Welty and Diarmuid Russell (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1991). (20) H. L. Mencken, "The Sahara of the Bozart," in A Mencken Chrestomathy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976), p. 184. (21) "New Writer," Time, November 24, 1941, pp. 110-111. (22) Review of A Curtain of Green, New Yorker, November 15, 1941, p. 9. (23) Marianne Hauser, "|A Curtain of Green' and Other New Works of Fiction," New York Times Book Review, November 16, 1941, p. 6. (24) Kay Boyle, "Full-Length Portrait," New Republic, November 24, 1941, pp. 707-708. (25) Of course, Welty - who has always been "underfoot locally" - has never been a social recluse. And though she has deliberately avoided allying herself with literary movements, she has never isolated herself from the literary community, having participated in conferences and lectures, served on arts councils, and written book reviews and introductions to literary publications. (26) Dale Mullen, "Some Notes on the Stories of Eudora Welty," Mississippi Literary Review 1 (November 1941), 21-24. (27) Concerning the name of the book, Kreyling says: "Once the table of contents was settled, a title had to be selected. Both Welty and Russell wanted |The Key and Other Stories.' ... About a month later, John Woodburn ... proposed A Curtain of Green and Other Stories ... (p. 63).

The first edition title page did not carry "and Other Stories." It read A Curtain of Green; printed on the opposite page was A BOOK OF STORIES BY EUDORA WELTY. It is unknown whether an error was made in printing or whether Kreyling has not accounted for a last-minute revision of the title before the book went to press. See Noel Polk's "Eudora Welty: A Bibliographical Checklist," in American Book Collector (Jan.-Feb. 1981): 25; First Printings of American Authors (Detroit, Michigan: Bruccoli Clark/Gale, 1977), 407. (28) Edith Weigle, "Broad Variety of Short Story Fare in These," Chicago Daily Tribune, November 19, 1941, p. 16. (29) Eudora Welty, One Writer's Beginnings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 87. (30) Arthur J. Carr, "Among Recent Books," Accent, 2, no. 3 (1942), 188. (31)"Gladys Graham Bates, "Two Southerncrs," Saturday Review, November 22, 1941, p. 10. Welty does not abandon first-person narrative completelv in Curtain. "A Memory" uses first-person retrospective and "Why I Live at the P. O." is a dramatic monologue. Only "A Memory' can be argued as possibly narrated by Welty's personal voice. (32) Louise Bogan, "The Gothic South," Nation, December 6, 1941, p. 572. (33) Fredrick Brantley, "A Curtain of Green: Themes and Attitudes,' American Prefaces, 7 (Spring 1942), 242-243. (34) "An Original Newcomer," Times Litera Supplement, July 17, 1943, p. 341. (35) When asked by Charles Bunting about the obscurantism that has been a controversial issue among reviewers and scholars, Welty explained:

All fiction writers work by indirection; to show, not to tell; not to make statements about a character, but to demonstrate it in his actions or his conversations or by suggesting his thought, so that the reader understands for himself Because fiction accomplishes its ends by using the oblique. Anything lighted up from the side, you know, shows things in a relief that you can't get with a direct beam of the sun. And the imagination works all around that subject to light it up and reveal it in all of its complications. (Charles T. Bunting, "'The Interior World': An Interview with Eudora Welty," in Conversations with Eudora Welty, ed. Peggy Whitman Prenshaw [Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1984, p. 53) (36) L. P. Hartley, "New Stories," Time and Tide, October 4, 1947, p. 1068. (37) Review of A Curtain of Green, Booklist, December 15, 1941, p. 132.

(38) Rose Feld, Review of A Curtain of Green, New York Herald Tribune Books, November 16. 1941, p. 10.

(39) James Robert Peery, "Eudora Welty of Jackson, Mississippi, Displays Rare Talent in Short Stories," Memphis Commercial Appeal, November 23, 1941, IV, 11. (40) "New Writer," Time, November 24, 1941, pp. 110-111. (41) Sarah Schiff, "Stories Too Green to Burn," Springfield [Massachusetts] Union, January 11, 1942, E, 7. (42) Don Lee Keith, "Eudora Welty: I Worry Over My Stories," in Conversations with Eudora Welty, ed. Peggy Whitman Prenshaw (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1984), pp. 149-150. (43) See also the following: "New Southern Writer Unspoiled by Fads," Kansas City Star, November 22, 1941, E, 14; Albert Goldstein, Review of A Curtain of Green, [New Orleans) Times-Picayune, November 23, 1941, II, 10; Bette Barber, "Novel Can Wait, Says Jackson Author," Jackson Daily News, December 1, 1941, p. 3. (44) Ruth Vande Kieft, "Eudora Welty and the Right to Privacy," Mississippi Quarterly, 43 (1990), 475-484. See Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life (New York: Norton, 1988), pp. 14-15. (45) Jan Nordby Gretlund, "The Terrible and the Marvelous: Eudora Welty's Chekhov," in Eudora Welty: Eye of the Storyteller, ed. Dawn Trouard (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1989), p. 118. (46) Hortense Calisher, "Eudora Welty: A Life's Work," Washington Post Book World, October (47) Robert Towers, "Mississippi Myths," New York Review of Books, December 4, 1980, p.30. (48) Within just eight years Welty had followed up her first book with The Robber Bridegroom (1942), The Wide Net and Other Stories (1943), Selected Stories of Eudora Welty (1943), Delta Wedding (1946), Music from Spain (1948), and The Golden Apples (1949).
COPYRIGHT 1992 Mississippi State University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Peterman, Gina D.
Publication:The Mississippi Quarterly
Date:Dec 22, 1992
Words:9811
Previous Article:To attend to one's own soul: Walker Percy and the Southern cultural tradition.
Next Article:Miller Williams and the Poetry of the Particular.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters