Joyce Carol Oates American Literature Analysis
In a literary tradition populated by many figures known for a single play or a handful of painstakingly wrought novels, Oates is notable first for her consistently prodigious output. Hundreds of stories and poems, printed and anthologized in a wide variety of publications, and dozens of novels, novellas, plays, essays, prefaces, and reviews have come from her pen, with an equally wide variety of settings, themes, genres, and styles. This productivity has even been a source of some criticism, inspiring suspicions that Oates works too fast and carelessly, that she lacks the basic self-censorship necessary to a writer. Oates, unaffected by criticism, has never slowed her pace. While some of her novels seem more felt than planned, and some of her stories inevitably overlap, Oates is a writer whose meanings can be appreciated cumulatively and whose craft and imagination are beyond question.
A more serious criticism is that her writing, especially in the 1960’s and 1970’s, is too violent, too dark, too obsessed with blood and death. (In 1981, in an essay in The New York Times Book Review titled “Why Is Your Writing So Violent?,” Oates branded such criticism blatantly sexist and asserted the female novelist’s right to depict nature as she sees it.) A typical Oates novel may feature mass murder, rape, suicide, arson, an automobile crash, or an autopsy, portrayed with detachment and graphic detail. Such violence is less a literal portrayal of...
(The entire section is 7820 words.)
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