Research Papers for Eudora Welty

4515 Words Mar 1st, 2011 19 Pages
Greater than scene … is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any form. —Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings I owe a special debt to Jan Nordby Gretlund for his Eudora Welty’s Aesthetics of Place (Odense, Denmark: Odense University Press; Newark: University of Delaware Press, ¡994). Given his extensive and intensive analysis of Welty’s fiction, which he makes in response not only to that fiction but also to the considerable body of historical and critical work that has been done on it, Professor Gretlund establishes both a scholarly and a critical context upon which my speculative concerns depend. It is in the light of his study that I
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The Swift Bird of Memory, the Breadboard of Art


How wise her memory: “Children, like animals, use all their sense to discover the world. Then the artists come along and discover it the same way, all over again.” That is a wisdom Eliot came to late, closing his poetry in Little Gidding with his own “beginning.” In that late poem he recalls once more the “voice of the hidden waterfall/ And the children in the apple-tree.” Welty makes similar recovery through memory, recalling her delight in discovering the power of the word as the word touches truth through senses in her response to a local place. Hers is neither a Cartesean alienation from reality nor a Kantean abstractionism. “Held in my mouth,” she says, “the moon became a word. It had the roundness of a Concord grape Grandpa took o› his vine and gave me to suck out of its skin and swallow whole, in Ohio.” It was a moment of actual, not fictional, epiphany, in which a confluence of like epiphanies occurred. What is of conspicuous importance to note here is that this necessity of the local, of place, is not determined by history or geography—even though those old moments in old places are brought together into a vivid presence. The truth discovered is discovered again and again by the child becoming adult, whether the place be Jackson, Mississippi, or Logan, Ohio.

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