Annie Dillard Long Fiction Analysis
Annie Dillard’s writing is difficult to classify. Indeed, readers often gain a far greater knowledge of subjects such as history, theology, natural science, and ethnography from reading her works, fiction as well as nonfiction. The influence of Dillard’s masterpiece Pilgrim at Tinker Creek pervades her fiction, and the inseparability of nature and humanity is a central premise in Dillard’s oeuvre. One of the central characters in The Living, Clare Fishburn, simply could not exist without Washington’s Bellingham Bay. The landscape, the place itself, defines him. Similarly, Lou Maytree, one of the primary characters in The Maytrees, would lose depth and definition entirely without Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.
James Joyce’s 1907 short-story masterpiece “The Dead” comes to mind when reading Dillard’s The Living, which was first written as a short story. In Joyce’s story, no one actually dies, but the characters are Dublin’s “walking dead.” In The Living, many of the unforgettable characters face horrific deaths from disease, drowning, and natural disaster, but they lived full lives. They had lived with the vital life force inherent in the early American settlers who forged west into Whatcom’s gigantic forest on Bellingham Bay in Washington State.
Spanning the second half of the nineteenth century, Dillard’s elegant novel is made up of five...
(The entire section is 1149 words.)
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