In One Writer’s Imagination, Suzanne Marrs draws upon nearly twenty years of conversations, interviews, and friendship with Eudora Welty to discuss the intersections between biography and art in the Pulitzer Prize winner’s work. Through an engaging chronological and comprehensive reading of the Welty canon, Marrs describes the ways Welty’s creative process transformed and transfigured fact to serve the purposes of fiction. She points to the sparks that lit Welty’s imagination—an imagination that thrived on polarities in her personal life and in society at large.
Marrs offers new evidence of the role Welty’s mother, circle of friends, and community played in her development as a writer and analyzes the manner in which her most heartfelt relationships—including her romance with John Robinson—inform her work. She charts the profound and often subtle ways Welty’s fiction responded to the crucial historical episodes of her time—notably the Great Depression, World War II, and the civil rights movement—and the writer’s personal reactions to war, racism, poverty, and the political issues of her day. In doing so, Marrs proves Welty to be a much more political artist than has been conventionally thought.
Scrutinizing drafts of Welty’s work, Marrs reveals an evolving pattern of revision increasingly significant to the author’s thematic concerns and precision of style. Welty’s achievement, Marrs explains, confirms theories of creativity even as it transcends them, remaining in its origins somewhat mysterious.
Marrs’s relationship to Eudora Welty as a friend, scholar, and archivist—with access to private papers and restricted correspondence—makes her a unique authority on Welty’s forty-year career. The eclectic approach of her study speaks to the exhilarating power of imagination Welty so thoroughly enjoyed in the act of writing.
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?
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