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Alice Munro (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) PDF

219 Pages·2009·1.29 MB·English
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Bloom’s Modern Critical Views African-American Geoffrey Chaucer Norman Mailer Poets: Volume I George Orwell Octavio Paz African-American G.K. Chesterton Paul Auster Poets: Volume II Gwendolyn Brooks Philip Roth Aldous Huxley Hans Christian Ralph Ellison Alfred, Lord Tennyson Andersen Ralph Waldo Emerson Alice Munro Henry David Thoreau Ray Bradbury Alice Walker Herman Melville Richard Wright American Women Hermann Hesse Robert Browning Poets: 1650–1950 H.G. Wells Amy Tan Hispanic-American Robert Frost Anton Chekhov Writers Robert Hayden Arthur Miller Homer Robert Louis Asian-American Honoré de Balzac Stevenson Writers Jamaica Kincaid Salman Rushdie August Wilson James Joyce Stephen Crane The Bible Jane Austen Stephen King The Brontës Jay Wright Sylvia Plath Carson McCullers J.D. Salinger Tennessee Williams Charles Dickens Jean-Paul Sartre Thomas Hardy Christopher Marlowe John Irving Thomas Pynchon Contemporary Poets John Keats Tom Wolfe Cormac McCarthy John Milton C.S. Lewis John Steinbeck Toni Morrison Dante Aligheri José Saramago Tony Kushner David Mamet J.R.R. Tolkien Truman Capote Derek Walcott Julio Cortázar Walt Whitman Don DeLillo Kate Chopin W.E.B. Du Bois Doris Lessing Kurt Vonnegut William Blake Edgar Allan Poe Langston Hughes William Faulkner Émile Zola Leo Tolstoy William Gaddis Emily Dickinson Marcel Proust William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway Margaret Atwood Comedies Eudora Welty Mark Twain William Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill Mary Wollstonecraft Histories F. Scott Fitzgerald Shelley Flannery O’Connor Maya Angelou William Shakespeare, Franz Kafka Miguel de Cervantes Tragedies Gabriel García Milan Kundera William Wordsworth Márquez Nathaniel Hawthorne Zora Neale Hurston Bloom’s Modern Critical Views ALICE MuNRO Edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom Sterling Professor of the Humanities Yale university Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Alice Munro Copyright © 2009 by Infobase Publishing Introduction © 2009 by Harold Bloom All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For more information contact: Bloom’s Literary Criticism An imprint of Infobase Publishing 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Alice Munro / edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom. p. cm. — (Bloom’s modern critical views) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-60413-587-9 1. Munro, Alice—Criticism and interpretation. I. Bloom, Harold. II. Title. III. Series. PR9199.3.M8Z53 2009 813'.54—dc22 2009014161 Bloom’s Literary Criticism books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at (212) 967-8800 or (800) 322-8755. You can find Bloom’s Literary Criticism on the World Wide Web at http://www.chelseahouse.com. Contributing editor: Pamela Loos Cover designed by Takeshi Takahashi Printed in the united States of America IBT IBT 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This book is printed on acid-free paper. All links and Web addresses were checked and verified to be correct at the time of publication. Because of the dynamic nature of the Web, some addresses and links may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. Contents Editor’s Note vii Introduction 1 Harold Bloom Dance of the Happy Shades: Reading the Signs of Invasion 5 Magdalene Redekop “Every Last Thing . . . Everlasting”: Alice Munro and the Limits of Narrative 29 Katherine J. Mayberry The Art of Alice Munro: Memory, Identity, and the Aesthetics of Connection 41 Georgeann Murphy “It’s What I Believe”: Patterns of Complicity in The Progress of Love 57 Ajay Heble “It Was about Vanishing”: A Glimpse of Alice Munro’s Stories 81 Mark Levene Getting Loose: Women and Narration in Alice Munro’s Friend of My Youth 103 Deborah Heller vi Contents Searching Bluebeard’s Chambers: Grimm, Gothic, and Bible Mysteries in Alice Munro’s “The Love of a Good Woman” 123 Judith McCombs Short Fiction with Attitude: The Lives of Boys and Men in the Lives of Girls and Women 143 Janet Beer Rewriting the Frontier: Wilderness and Social Code in the Fiction of Alice Munro 153 Rowland Smith Intimate Dislocations: Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage 167 Coral Ann Howells Chronology 193 Contributors 195 Bibliography 197 Acknowledgments 201 Index 203 Editor’s Note My introduction praises Alice Munro for narrative exuberance and her accurate sense of what divides women and men. Nevertheless, I ponder her self-imposed limitations of scope and temperament. In a brilliant pioneering study, Magdalene Redekop outlines the pre- cise patterns of compassion and ironic distancing in Munro’s first book of stories. Katherine J. Mayberry examines some of the ways that Munro’s story- tellers discover the limits of narration, while Georgeann Murphy meditates on issues of memory, and Ajay Heble finds in Munro a “poetics of surprise.” “Survival over victory” is stressed as the choice of Munro’s womenfolk by Mark Levene, after which Deborah Heller returns us to Munro’s irony and Judith McCombs investigates mythic origins, including some biblical ones. Janet Beer turns to the subsidiary role of male characters in Munro, while Rowland Smith invokes the frontier code that Munro revises. In this volume’s final essay, Coral Ann Howells melds spatial disloca- tions with Munro’s visions of the complex relations of women with men. vii HAROLD BLOOM Introduction I read through Alice Munro’s Selected Stories (1996) when that splendid volume appeared and have just reread all of it a dozen years later. Her more recent work is unknown to me, but the 545 pages of her culling from seven books of stories are more than enough to suggest her permanence as a writer. She joins the major artists of short fiction of the twentieth century: Landolfi, Calvino, Hardy, Kipling, Maugham, Saki (H.H. Munro), Frank O’Connor, Elizabeth Bowen, Edna O’Brien, Mann, Walser, Andreyev, Bunin, Dine- sen, Schulz, Peretz, Singer, Agnon, Arenas, Cortázar, Gordimer, Wharton, Anderson, Katherine Anne Porter, Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Nabokov, Malamud, Ozick, Abish, Barthelme, and others. I omit the greatest: Henry James, Chekhov, D.H. Lawrence, Kafka, Babel, Borges, Joyce, Faulkner, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald. Those ten stand apart, but Alice Munro is in good company in the era of the short story. She is not a fantasist or a visionary and scarcely a symbolist. Alice Mun- ro’s art is strictly mimetic yet what it imitates is the tangled yarn of that bor- der area where our drives live us. Her sense of a concluded human life avoids retrospection. No one mounts to paradise on her stairway of surprise, and no one consequential (to the reader) drives into perdition. Ordinary unhappi- ness, which in others is not colorful to us, is an achievement for most of her women and many of her men. She is, with Katherine Anne Porter and Edna O’Brien, one of the wise women of the Post-Freudian Evening Land in its long decline. That said, her narrative exuberance seems contrary to her realization “that love is not kind or honest and does not contribute to happiness in any 1

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