James Gould Cozzens Short Fiction Analysis
Although most of the stories collected in Children and Others were originally published between 1930 and 1937, three of them—including James Gould Cozzens’s best, “Eyes to See”—were first published as late as 1964. This fact suggests that his continuing interest in and developing mastery of the short-story form complements and illuminates his career-long devotion to the novel.
Of the five sections into which the collection is divided, the first two, “Child’s Play” and “Away at School,” containing ten stories between them, are perceptive recollections of childhood experiences. Although Cozzens is rigorously impersonal in his fiction, readers may be pardoned for imagining that one of the children of his title is the young Cozzens. We see a little boy turned in on his own imaginative self, and later a student at Durham (modeled on the Kent School, which Cozzens attended)—precocious, self-conscious, and at times frightened. The third section, “War Between the States,” is composed of two Civil War stories. In the late 1930’s, Cozzens assembled material for a Civil War novel but found that he could not write it, and perhaps in the stories the reader sees something of what that novel might have been. The fourth section, “Love and Kisses,” with four stories, examines the complexity of inexorably changing relations between men and women. The seventeenth, last, and longest story, “Eyes to See,” written in 1963, is...
(The entire section is 2082 words.)
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