Caroline Gordon’s second novel, Aleck Maury, Sportsman, marks her first experiment with a first-person narrator. Seventy-year-old Alexander Gordon Morris Maury reminisces about his life, from his lonely childhood in Virginia to the solitary future he envisions on Caney Fork in Tennessee. The narrative, divided into eight chapters, seems episodic because in each chapter the focus is on Aleck’s hunting and fishing experiences, with the accounts of his family life relegated to a comparatively minor role. Gordon’s original title was “The Life and Passion of Aleck Maury,” and she always preferred the title of the English edition, Pastimes of Aleck Maury: The Life of a True Sportsman.
Gordon claimed her father provided the background material for this novel, as she induced him to tell her stories about his hunting and fishing experiences. Aleck and his family are closely modeled upon the Gordon family. Aleck’s name reflects his similarity to James Maury Morris Gordon, Caroline Gordon’s father. Classically educated by an inattentive father, Aleck is hired to tutor the children of the large Fayerlee clan, all of whom live at or near Merry Point, a family estate similar to Merrimont, the Meriwether estate near Clarksville, Tennessee. Aleck marries Douglas Fayerlee’s daughter Molly, just as James Gordon married Nancy Minor Meriwether. Their first child, a handsome, blond son named Dick, is his mother’s favorite, as Caroline...
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