Ghostly Revenants and Symbolic Sons: Fugitives Return
When Susan Glaspell returned from Greece after Cook's death early in 1924, she found a milieu quite different from the one she had left two years before. Not only had the Provincetown Players become more commercialized, but also much of the avant garde had dissipated into factionalism or frivolity, including the women's movement. 1 Glaspell may have felt like a female Rip Van Winkle, but one who found that society had regressed instead of progressed, or perhaps like a wandering spirit without the ballast of mate or movement. She tried to replace what she had lost through living with Norman Matson, a younger and much less successful writer whose career she tried to promote; in many ways he became a son as well as a lover.
Glaspell's disorientation in the face of her changed world and changed life is manifested in her three major works of the end of the decade: two novels, Brook Evans ( 1928) and Fugitive's Return ( 1929), and her final produced play, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Alison's House ( 1930). The three works have female protagonists who are not literally ghosts but who reproach and admonish the present with the specter of their tragically thwarted lives. Naomi Kellogg Evans of Brook Evans is a living ghost in two of that novel's five books and dead in two others, but her legacy remains alive to her family for two generations. In Fugitive's Return, Irma Lee Shraeder is literally alive throughout the novel, but she is mute
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Publication information: Book title: Susan Glaspell's Century of American Women:A Critical Interpretation of Her Work. Contributors: Veronica Makowsky - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 101.
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