On Writing

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Modern Library, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 106 pages
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Eudora Welty was one of the twentieth century’s greatest literary figures. For as long as students have been studying her fiction as literature, writers have been looking to her to answer the profound questions of what makes a story good, a novel successful, a writer an artist. On Writing presents the answers in seven concise chapters discussing the subjects most important to the narrative craft, and which every fiction writer should know, such as place, voice, memory, and language. But even more important is what Welty calls “the mystery” of fiction writing—how the writer assembles language and ideas to create a work of art.

Originally part of her larger work The Eye of the Story but never before published in a stand-
alone volume, On Writing is a handbook every fiction writer, whether novice or master, should keep within arm’s reach. Like The Elements of Style, On Writing is concise and fundamental, authoritative and timeless—as was Eudora Welty herself.

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On writing

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This dandy volume collects the seven essays Welty penned on writing between 1949 and 1973. These originally were printed in the 1978 volume The Eye of the Story and are presented solo here for the ... Read full review

Contents

Looking at Short Stories
3
Writing and Analyzing a Story
29
Place in Fiction
39
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Eudora Welty, April 13, 1909 - July 23, 2001 One of the most admired American writers, Eudora Welty has steadily gone on writing short stories and novels that are entirely original, sometimes melodramatic, occasionally fantastic, and often concerned with psychological aberration. She has a fine ear for dialogue and a sense of style that elevates her fiction above the ordinary. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, she attended the Mississippi State College for Women before going north to the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University. She worked for a while in advertising, then returned to Jackson to take a government publicity job. She has remained in Jackson since then, living quietly with her family and pursuing a literary career that has brought her several awards and much critical attention. Some of her better-known short stories, frequently anthologized and thus widely taught and studied in classrooms, are "Why I Live at the P.O.," "Death of a Traveling Salesman," "Petrified Man," and "A Worn Path." Although Welty's critical reputation remains largely dependent upon her excellent short stories, she has also written four full-length novels, which have been well received. Delta Wedding (1946) is a densely plotted novel with many characters told from multiple points of view. It explores with intelligence and subtlety problems of domestic relationships and the mixing of social classes. The Ponder Heart (1954), a more simply told story, centers on the murder trial of a man unjustly accused of killing his young wife. With Losing Battles (1970), Welty deals again with the complexities of a large family gathering. The Optimist's Daughter (1972) is the story of tangled relationships between a 71-year-old judge undergoing a critical eye operation in a New Orleans hospital, his daughter, a withdrawn widow summoned from Chicago, and the judge's second wife of "coarse breeding," younger than his daughter. Gradually, this subtle story of father-daughter and husband-wives begins to reverberate with further complications. Howard Moss called the book "a miracle of compression. . . . The best book Eudora Welty has ever written" (N.Y. Times). One Writer's Beginnings (1984), an engaging volume of reminiscences originally given as lectures at Harvard University, had the unusual distinction (for a serious work of literary nonfiction published by a university press) of climbing high on the bestseller lists during 1984. Her other nonfiction includes One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression (1972), A Snapshot Album (1971), and The Eye of the Storm: Selected Essays and Reviews (1977). Welty will perhaps be best remembered for her highly eclectic and original voice, her brilliant style and revealing dialogue, her humane celebration of characters, and her visionary outlook and playful exuberance.

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