The Critical Response to Eudora Welty's Fiction

By Laurie Champion | Go to book overview

Eudora Welty

Mary Alice Bookhart

It is not surprising to learn that the local book dealers have found it necessary to order and re-order shipments of Eudora Welty novel, Delta Wedding," since it came off the press the middle of April. It is not enough to borrow a copy from the lending library, read and return, for even without the distinction of bearing the author's autograph, this first full-length novel by Jackson's own Miss Welty is a book to own, to read and re-read.

Written with the same fluent, exquisite prose which characterized her earlier work, but lacking the grimness of some of her short stories and the fantasy of her short novel, The Robber Bridegroom," Delta Wedding is an important contribution to American literature. Not only is it the memorable story of an unforgettable family, but it is a record of a certain era, a certain way of life in a part of this country which is a nation within a nation.

Acclaimed as one of the country's outstanding short story writers, Miss Welty has followed the pattern of the short story in her first novel. With her usual economy of words -- each with a purpose -- Miss Welty presents to her readers a section of life at Shellmound, plantation home of the Fairchild family. There is no detailed background for introduction to the scene, time and characters; instead, the reader, with nine-year-old Laura McRaven (whose mother was a Fairchild), who rode the Yellow Dog up from Jackson, is dropped squarely in the middle of the delta town on a hot September afternoon in 1923, when the family is gathering for the wedding of Dabney Fairchild to Troy Flavin, the overseer. With Laura, the reader is swept along into the excitement of those seven days, meeting the members of the family and initiated into the circle, which is a strong and unbroken one.

In presenting this one section of the life of a gay, extravagant and charming family, Miss Welty follows her custom of writing honestly,

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