Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame

Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame

Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame

Eudora Welty: Two Pictures at Once in Her Frame

Synopsis

". . . Noe . . . manages to foreground the social construction of the subject she studies, and consequently the values of those who contribute to our understanding of that subject. . . ."¿CANADIAN REVIEW OF AMERICAN STUDIES

Excerpt

We have all seen these perceptual tests: what appear to be two profiles facing each other change in the blink of an eye into the outline of a vase--or a sketch of an old hag turns into an Aubrey Beardsley beauty. Both the profiles and the vase, the hag and the beauty are always "present" in the sketches--that is, the lines which compose them are there--but psychologists assure us that human perception is capable of receiving only one of the images at a time. The premise of this book is that, metaphorically speaking, Eudora Welty can see simultaneously the profiles and the vase, that the vision of the world projected in her work is holistic rather than dualistic.

In Welty's writings, life is not a matter of warring, irreconcilable opposites: subject-object, mind-matter, life-death, good- evil, past-present. Instead, hers is a vision of reality in which the traditional opposites exist in a polar unity. Reality is the whole, and the "parts" of any set are no more divisible, ultimately, than the positive pole of a magnet can be chopped away from the negative or a concave line can be drawn without simultaneously drawing a convex. In this view, one pole does not cancel out its "opposite," but rather is necessary for its existence and can even be seen as its very source, one giving rise to the other in the dynamic relationship that the East associates with the principles of yin and yang.

In The Robber Bridegroom, Welty's historical fairytale (the genre itself an example of her delight in linking the apparently irreconcilable), Welty makes one of her clearest assertions of life's polar unity. In this novella, the planter Clement Musgrove, who is repeatedly described as "innocent" in the ways of the world, displays another kind of wisdom when he speaks of the highwayman with whom his daughter has gone to live:

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.