Alice Munro: Paradox and Parallel

Alice Munro: Paradox and Parallel

Alice Munro: Paradox and Parallel

Alice Munro: Paradox and Parallel

Synopsis

Beginning with her earliest, uncollected stories, W. R. Martin critically examines Alice Munro's writing career. He discusses influences on Munro and presents an overview of the prominent features of her art: the typical protagonist, the development of her narrative technique, and the dialectic that involves paradoxes and parallels.

Excerpt

Halfway through 1986, at the age of fifty-five, Alice Munro has published over eighty stories. Of these, seventy-nine --including some that are to appear in The Progress of Love --are discussed in this book. I have heard it said that it is still too early to judge her work and assess her importance, but I believe that the sooner the business of judgment starts the better, provided always that the writer's work repays attention, and I have never heard anyone argue that Alice Munro's does not.

My study is a fairly straightforward one, conducted with what some would call an old-fashioned critical method, but it is designed to be useful to the common reader. I can set out no simple theoretical basis for what I offer because I believe that adherence to an a priori theory tends to bias or hamper the practice of criticism. My theory is perhaps unconscious and inherent in my process, which is the exacting method of close reading: it requires the reader to be unprejudiced and attentive, and this means, paradoxically, that he must at the same time be passive in order to receive the meanings that are in hints, ironies, and nuances. Only after this will he become active to express his recognition of and response . . .

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