Interview: Eudora Welty - The New York Times

She’s anything but a recluse, as we see when, when asked about her writing habits, she says she can write anytime, anywhere, even in the ...


She’s anything but a recluse, as we see when, when asked about her writing habits, she says she can write anytime, anywhere, even in the front seat of her car, “except the night”. What is wrong with writing at night? “Oh,” like it’s obvious, “I like seeing my friends then. “

Although she is considered a deeply southern writer, Miss Welty points out that her mother was a Virginian but her father was a northerner, of German-Swiss ancestry. (“A Republican,” she adds, mockingly and quietly.) “It was a good family to grow up in. I learned that there wasn’t just one side that was right. “

She graduated from college before the age of 20 (Mississippi State College for Women, University of Wisconsin) and went to Columbia School of Business in New York to study advertising. Back in Mississippi during the early years of the Depression, she worked for newspapers and radio stations, then as director of advertising, “on the road for the WPA,” as she puts it.

In 1941, five years after the publication of her first story, her first collection, “A Curtain of Green”, was released, with an introduction by Katherine Anne Porter. “The strangest thing about posting my first stories is that I never stopped thinking about how lucky I was. I just took it for granted, I sent them away, without any shame or concern. It’s only now, when I think about it, that I’m just in awe. Because I was very lucky. I didn’t know enough to be afraid.

A lesser-known episode of her career is her stint as a staff member of The Times Book Review, which she joined at the invitation of the publisher, Robert Van Gelder, who had admired her first book and had it. interviewed in 1942. She was good at her job, according to a wartime colleague: “Although the only battlefields Eudora probably ever saw,” he wrote recently, “were in Vicksburg and Shiloh , she produced splendid reviews of reports on the battlefields of WWII in North Africa. , Europe and the South Pacific. When a crass Times Sunday editor suggested that a review of the Deep South was perhaps not the most authoritative review for accounts of the distant WWII campaigns, she switched to a pseudonym, Michael Ravenna. Michael Ravenna’s wise judgments were cited prominently in publishers ‘advertisements, and radio networks’ invitations for Mr. Ravenna to appear on their programs had to be politely declined on the grounds that he had been called to the front lines of battle.

Before the end of the war, she decided to go home, to write fiction, and she has lived in Jackson ever since, although in the 1950s she made the first of several trips to Europe: was invited to lecture at Cambridge, and of course was scared to death. But if you’re invited for six weeks, with a year to prepare, I just thought you were a complete jerk if you don’t agree. One of her happiest encounters was with EM Forster, who invited her to lunch. “And the luckiest thing happened: our server was drunk, he came staggering like a Shakespearean clown, and it put us both at ease and made our meeting so easy.”

So how difficult could a meeting with Eudora Welty be? – Walter clemons

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Newsrust - US Top News: Interview: Eudora Welty - The New York Times
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