What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell

By Heitman, Danny | The Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell


Heitman, Danny, The Christian Science Monitor


Two great writers share thoughts on their books, their gardens, their dreams, and their deep caring for one another.

In the annals of American literature, Eudora Welty and William

Maxwell each earned blue ribbons for physical longevity. Welty, the

famous Southern novelist, short story writer, and memoirist, died in

2001 at 92; Maxwell, a fiction editor for The New Yorker who was also

an acclaimed writer of fiction, died in 2000 at 91.

Because of their long lives and careers, Welty and Maxwell endure in

popular culture as the silver-haired sages of national letters,

standard-bearers of a literary period that extended from the Great

Depression to recent memory.

One of the nice things about What There Is to Say We Have Said, a

new collection of letters between Welty and Maxwell, is its gentle

reminder that these two writers were young once, too.

4 books I shouldn't have liked - but did

The most unusual letter in the collection is a 1933 missive from

Welty to the editors who presided over The New Yorker before

Maxwell's arrival there. Welty, then 23, had written the magazine

asking for a job, and her letter - an awkward affair in which she

self-consciously tries to mimic James Thurber - has none of the

quiet grace and acute perception that would later become Welty's

signature. As a novice writer who wants to shake off the dust of a

sleepy province and make it big in Gotham, Welty mocks her native

Mississippi as "the nation's most backward state."

Aside from stints in Wisconsin, where she attended college, and New

York City, where she studied and did an internship with The New York

Times Book Review, Welty spent the rest of her life in her hometown

of Jackson, eventually embracing her Southern roots as a wellspring

of her fiction. Maxwell, who drew upon his Midwestern childhood for

his fiction, found a kindred spirit in Welty, and he became an early

and consistent champion of her work from his post at The New Yorker.

Welty's application letter to The New Yorker, a forgivable piece

of juvenilia, is about as embarrassing as this collection gets.

Suzanne Marrs, a friend of Welty's and a sympathetic Welty

biographer, tells readers that she has excluded "a very few

lines" from eight of Maxwell's letters and deleted names of

people mentioned in eight other Maxwell letters "at the reasonable

request of the Maxwell estate," but that represents only a tiny

fraction of the published letters in this volume, which mostly appear

in their entirety.

About the only other mild shocker in the letters is the usually

even-tempered Welty's depressed state, rather late in her career,

at being unable to write fiction, although as literary dark periods

go, her funk seems fairly tame. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.