The Sheltered Life

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University Press of Virginia, 1994 - Fiction - 329 pages
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"The Sheltered Life", writes Carol S. Manning in her Afterword to this new paperback edition, is "a jewel of American literature and deserves recognition as a masterpiece of the Southern Renaissance". It is a remarkably unsentimental look at the old South, a society that blindly holds to past values enforced by a strict code of conduct, being overtaken by the new age of industrialization. We see in the families of the Archibalds and the Birdsongs - especially in the character of General Archibald, the quintessential Southern gentleman, and of the celebrated beauty Mrs. Eva Birdsong - how upholding these old Southern ideals denies any opportunity for growth and fulfillment. The only hope is in the General's impetuous young granddaughter, Jenny. By the end of the novel, however, she too has learned that beauty is to be most admired and that deception is moral and civilized - that it is good to tell lies if they make others feel better. Ellen Glasgow's career-long attempt to expose the cruelty of the "cult of beauty worship" and the "philosophy of evasive idealism" that she saw as prevalent in the South's conversations, manners, customs, and literature reaches its zenith in The Sheltered Life. First published in 1932, it was hailed by Alfred Kazin as Ellen Glasgow's "most moving and penetrating novel. Like Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, which it closely resembles in spirit, The Sheltered Life became a haunting study in social decomposition".

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Set in a fictionalised version of her own home town of Richmond in the years leading up to the First World War, Ellen Glasgow’s The Sheltered Life depicts a way of life on the brink of shattering ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Ellen Glasgow was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1873. She received the Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1940, the Southern Authors Prize and the Saturday Review of Literature award for Distinguished Service to American Literature in 1941, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1942. Her other books include Viginia, Barren Ground, Vein of Iron, They Stooped to Folly, In This Our Life, and an autobiography, The Woman Within. Carol S. Manning is Associate Professor of English at Mary Washington College.

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