Compelling insights into Welty's last two novels, considered to be among her most exciting in innovative techniques and postmodern existential statement
"It was no idle remark, then, long years ago when the Texan William Goyen said to Frank Lyell, a friend of Miss Welty's and mine, that Welty was the 'matrix of us all'; and in her deep and resounding late novels above all else, that grave and courtly and generous hand-as potent at Virgil's-is still extended to reader and writer, a guide to both the threatening shades and the brilliant peaks of human life. Behind that hand lies a store of wisdom, a force of compassionate vision and memorable incantation, and a genius for craft that are second to none in American fiction …"—Reynolds Price, from the foreword
The Late Novels of Eudora Welty offers fresh and often surprising readings of two of the works considered to be Welty's most exciting both in innovative technique and postmodern existential statement. Fourteen new essays by internationally distinguished critics of Southern literature provide focused appraisals of Welty's last two novels: Losing Battles (1970), a provocative experiment in narration, and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Optimist's Daughter (1972), a profound comment on our time.
While Welty has received much praise for her work as a writer of short fiction, a critic and reviewer, a photographer, and an autobiographer, her career as a novelist has been largely neglected by critics and the reading public alike. This collection seeks to stimulate interest in this thought-provoking aspect of the writer's genius and to serve as a guide for readers and teachers of her late novels.
The contributors are a representative group of experienced American writers and seasoned European Southern-literature scholars who bring a refreshing international perspective to the criticism of Welty's work. The essays offer new and unexpected insights that differ markedly from traditional readings of Welty's late novels.
Editors Jan Nordby Gretlund and Karl-Heinz Westarp contend that to see beyond the South, it is not enough to apprehend the region and be imaginatively nourished by it; a journey of self-discovery is required in order to gain the necessary distance. Welty's late novels triumphantly constitute such a journey from the discovery of her place to self-discovery and vision.
Jan Nordby Gretlund is a lecturer in American literature at Odense University, Denmark, who has held Fulbright Scholarships at the University of South Carolina and the University of Southern Mississippi. An editor of the Scandinavian pages of American Literary Scholarship, he has published widely on contemporary Southern literature. Gretlund is also the author of Eudora Welty's Aesthetics of Place and editor of Southern Landscapes.
Karl-Heinz Westarp is the head of the English department at Århus University, Denmark, and has been a guest professor at Centenary College in Louisiana. With a wide range of interests in literature and theater, Westarp's recent research has focused on the fiction of the American South and has resulted in Flannery O'Connor: The Growing Craft, among other publications.
Gretlund and Westarp previously co-edited Realist Distances: Flannery O'Connor Revisited and Walker Percy: Novelist and Philosopher.
"The Late Novels of Eudora Welty, includes thought-provoking and insightful examinations. This anthology is remarkably well ordered, in both organization and content."—Southern Quarterly
" … these critics illuminate how, through allusion, genre, and her responses to tradition, Welty's stories persistently fascinate us by offering the unexpected."—South Atlantic Review