The Critical Response to Eudora Welty's Fiction

By Laurie Champion | Go to book overview

The Bride of the Innisfallen

Fred Bornhauser

Let the commentator consider, as a starting point, the two titles side by side. "The Bride of the Innisfallen," though it may be a characteristic story, even a thematically crucial story, can lend to the collection of which it is a part no more than a nominal clue that it is (at best) the key to the rest, or that it is the longest (which it is not), or that it is the author's favorite, or that in the publisher's mind it wraps up a more saleable commodity. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," on the other hand, suggests boldly at the outset the major idea which permeates all the stories collected with it, and indeed makes the inherent point in that collection as collection. It is of course merely an accident, but a happy, convenient one, that one of Miss O'Connor's stories should bear a name so suitable for the book; and an accident that none of Miss Welty's (unless it be by an awkward stretch "No Place for You, My Love") do. But, barring the lucky accident, a reader might with justification often be annoyed by meaningless titles for volumes of shorter fiction, and wish for a mere Collected or Selected or New or even Volumes 1 and 2. . . .

While more than half of Flannery O'Connor's stories are based on what could very well be out of or for public prints, none of Eudora Welty's are. This is not to suggest that the one writer is journalistic and the other not, but to attempt the charting of a public world in fiction as distinguished from a private world in fiction. For a more personal, subjective world is certainly what Miss Welty has created. Amazingly enough, it is this smaller world which is presented on the larger stage. Of the seven stories comprising the present volume, two are concerned with Americans travelling in or to Europe, one with the retelling of a classical legend, one with an episode of the Civil War, one with sophisticated Yankees in modern New Orleans, and two with Mississippi situations best called, in the highest sense of the term,

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