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Eudora Welty and Politics

Did the Writer Crusade?

edited by Suzanne Marrs edited by Harriet Pollack

Southern Literary Studies

327 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 14 halftones

Literature - American

  Hardcover / 9780807126189 / March 2001

This collection of complementary and interrelated essays by ten well-known Welty critics brings welcome clarification to the controversial subject of Eudora Welty and the political—a topic once presumed to be closed tight. As the essays prove, Welty has been inaccurately assessed by critics from Diana Trilling inThe Nation (1943) to Claudia Roth Pierpont in The New Yorker (1998) as a writer who avoids political, historical, or cultural engagement in her fiction. The better question these essayists explore is not whetherbut how Welty's work is to be understood as political.

Harriet Pollack, Suzanne Marrs, Peggy Prenshaw, Noel Polk, Suzan Harrison, Ann Romines, Rebecca Mark, Barbara Ladd, Sharon Baris, and Danihle Pitavy-Souques place Welty’s seeming rejection of the political in her 1961 essay “Must a Novelist Crusade?” into the cultural and historical context. The essayists look closely at how surprisingly often Welty’s fiction, criticism, and photographs are opaque responses to public political issues—political corruption, racial apartheid, poverty, McCarthyism and the Rosenberg trials, violent resistance to the civil rights movement, and southern reverence for identities of the cultural past.

As the only living author to be re-edited by the Library of America in its great American writers series, Eudora Welty deserves a sound appreciation of her complex oeuvre. Eduora Welty and Politics provides just that, approaching Welty’s work from an all-new point of view to reveal how the writer repeatedly registered a political vision in her work. 

Suzanne Marrs is a professor of English at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and has served as Welty Scholar at the Mississipi Department of Archives and History. A recipient of the Phoenix Award for Distinguished Welty Scholarship, she is the author of The Welty Collection: A Guide to the Eudora Welty Manuscripts and Documents at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and coeditor of Eudora Welty and Politics: Did the Writer Crusade?

Harriet Pollack, an associate professor of English at Bucknell University, is coeditor of Eudora Welty and Politics: Did the Writer Crusade? and editor of Having Our Way: Women Rewriting Tradition in Twentieth-Century America.

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