Critical Essays On Short Stories

Critical Essays On Short Stories-41
At 20, he moved to Paris with very little money in his pocket, vowing to himself never to return.

At 20, he moved to Paris with very little money in his pocket, vowing to himself never to return.

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He also began a lifelong habit of passionate, voracious reading, tearing his way at an early age through Dickens, Ruskin, Thomas Hardy, the complete works of Shakespeare -- anything he could lay his hands on.

'' That I understood very little of what I read did not matter much to me,'' he wrote.

'' In my heart I despised news and was confused by opinion,'' he explained.

After a brief assignment in the United States, where he wrote about dirt-poor families in Appalachia and filled notebook after notebook with dialogue, both he and The Monitor had had enough.

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'' I simply wanted to write two or three sentences, even as banal as the advertisement on a sauce bottle, and see them in print with my name beneath them.'' He proved good at it, too, and The Christian Science Monitor published several freelance essays before making him the paper's Ireland correspondent, later sending him to Spain, which was as exotic to him as China.

'' I spoke no Spanish,'' he wrote in '' Midnight Oil.'' '' The only thing I knew about Spain was that it had had the Inquisition and that the Armada had been defeated.'' But Spain was to figure in his imagination for the rest of his life, and his impressions of it led to a book of short stories, '' The Spanish Virgin and Other Stories'' (1930) and to his first travelogue, '' Marching Spain'' (1928), an account of his idiosyncratic walking trip from southern to northern Spain.

The characters that fill them -- erratic, unsure, unsafe, devious, stubborn, restless and desirous, absurd and passionate, all peculiar unto themselves -- hold a claim on us that is not to be denied.

They demand and get our rapt attention, for in their revelation of their lives, the secrets of our own lives come into view.


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