Jean Stafford Short Fiction Analysis
It is clear from a brief preface she wrote for The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford that Jean Stafford did not wish to be considered a regional writer. Her father and her mother’s cousin had both written books about the West, but she had read neither before she began writing. Moreover, as soon as she could, she “hotfooted it across the Rocky Mountains and across the Atlantic Ocean” and came back to the West only for short periods. Her roots might therefore remain in Colorado, but the rest of her abided “in the South or the Midwest or New England or New York.” The short stories in this collection, which span twenty-five years of her productive life, she grouped under headings that both insisted on the national and international character of her art and echoed universally known writers with whom she clearly wished to associate herself: Henry James, Mark Twain, Thomas Mann.
It is true, as one discovers from the stories themselves, Stafford’s fiction is not limited geographically but is set in such widely separated places as Colorado, Heidelberg, France, New York, and Boston; if, therefore, one thinks of these stories as the result of social observation they do indeed have the broad national and international scope their author claimed for them. Her stories, however—and this may have been as apparent to Stafford as it has been to some of her critics—are not so much the result of observation and intellectual response as they are...
(The entire section is 1820 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Jean Stafford Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!