"Makes a convincing case for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' inclusion in the American literary canon--not as a regional but a national writer."--Anna Lillios, University of Central Florida
"Rawlings emerges here as a confident, robust, and engaged writer, whose strong feelings for her neighbors, Florida's landscape and animals, and above all, the art of writing animate every page. Rawlings's probing intellect, cosmopolitan sensibility, and robust zest for life spice this cornucopia of writing of every type--letters, essays, short fictions, poetry, book reviews, parodies--a collection that, coupled with the copious and revealing footnotes, provides a veritable social and artistic history of the first half of the twentieth century. This book will greatly assist the long-overdue assessment Rawlings has always deserved as a major writer of the twentieth century."--John Wharton Lowe, Louisiana State University
From her first awkward poems and stories, to her finely crafted essays as a newspaper and feature writer, to the gathering brilliance that began from the outset of her Florida Period, highlighted by the Pulitzer Prize for The Yearling in 1939, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings became, in the words of Margaret Mitchell, America's "born perfect storyteller." Arguing that Rawlings has been underestimated and underappreciated as one of the great American writers, Tarr and Kinser present Rawlings's emergence and maturation as an artist. This collection brings together for the first time the work that contributed to her once stellar position as a hero of American letters.
Rawlings's childhood publications in the Washington Post and McCall's Magazine reveal a budding Romantic if not an emerging Transcendentalist determined to pursue humanity's relationship with nature. As a young storyteller she had a compelling interest in fairytales, marked by a sense of the comedic and the sentimental, and always the moral. Many of her early stories and poems, especially those written while she was a student at the University of Wisconsin, also reflect her desire to understand the inherent struggle between male and female, an interest that she continued to pursue as a feature writer for newspapers in Louisville, Kentucky, and Rochester, New York. Her work for the YWCA in New York City further attests to her developing feminist spirit.
Like any writer of worth, Rawlings was self-critical. She was particularly aware of writing as a discipline and as an adult was prone to dismiss her early work as overly wrought. However, as her mature work demonstrates, she owed a great deal to the skills learned in her development as an artist. Rawlings knew that successful writing owed less to inspiration than to hard work, a lesson she experienced repeatedly during the writing of her stories and novels under the guiding hand of her celebrated editor Maxwell E. Perkins. This collection of juvenilia, college writing, newspaper pieces, and stories of life in Florida is an intimate glimpse at an important writer mastering her craft.
Rodger L. Tarr is university distinguished professor, emeritus, at Illinois State University.
Brent E. Kinser is assistant professor of English at Western Carolina University.
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…present[s] a complete picture of Rawlings's development. Library Journal
…a wonderful volume… The Bloomsbury Review