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Today in Literature

April 13, 2009

13 April 1909: American author Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi.  Welty published several collections of short stories and six novels.  Welty is frequently anthologized and stands as one of the preeminent voices of the American South.  My favorite Welty stories inc lude “Clytie,” “A Worn Path,” and “Flowers for Marjorie.”

As a prominent author from Missippi during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Welty was often criticised by her Norther peers and critics for refusing to inject her authorial voice into the debate.  Though she opposed the racsim evident throughout the South and especially in her home state, Welty refused to offer her prose as a platform for political debate until June 12, 1963–the day Civil Rights activist Megar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi.

Upon hearing the news, Welty wrote the short story “Where Is The Voice Coming From,” which was published in the July 6th issue of The New Yorker–a mere three weeks after the tragic assassination.

The story is a semi-stream-of-consciousness narrative told by the assassin.  Welty masterfully captures the voice of the Southern, racist murderer and, more importantly, accurately portrays the ignorance, hate, and fear of the Souther racist without coming across as didactic.

Last month’s New Yorker Fiction Podcast featured Joyce Carol Oates reading this story and is very much worth the listen. If nothing else, it is entertaining to hear Oates read the dialogue of a Mississippi man with her New York accent.

Additionally, today is the birthday of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett and Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 16, 2009 8:03 am

    My favorite Welty work is The Golden Apples. Weirdly enough, it reminds me in some ways of Joyce’s Dubliners.

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