Ellen Gilchrist Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Ellen Gilchrist has found her most comfortable literary form to be the short story, although her first published work was a collection of poems, The Land Surveyor’s Daughter (1979). She has published novels, written magazine articles and a television play, The Season of Dreams (1968), based on some of writer Eudora Welty’s short stories. Falling Through Space: The Journals of Ellen Gilchrist (1987) is a collection of essays drawn from her journals and presented on National Public Radio.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Ellen Gilchrist’s fiction uses a rich tangle of family relationships and realistic settings, often southern settings. Because of that, Gilchrist has sometimes been considered a regional writer, sometimes a women’s writer, though most reviewers believe that she rises above the limitations those labels imply. Although her subjects are often the messy lives of the wealthy and talented, she creates lively pictures of other types too, male as well as female. Her portraits of children are especially vivid, and although she often writes about the South, she has also used settings from California to Maine. The Season of Dreams won the National Scriptwriting Award from the National Educational Television Network in 1968. Gilchrist won Pushcart Prizes for “Rich” (1979-1980) and “Summer: An Elegy” (1983). In 1984, she won the American Book Award for Victory over Japan, and in 1985, she won the J. William Fulbright Award for literature. The Mississippi Academy of Arts and Sciences honored her in 1985, 1990, and 1991.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Allen, Kimberly G. Review of I Cannot Get You Close Enough, by Ellen Gilchrist. Library Journal 115 (September 15, 1990): 98-99. Praises the work’s complex structure, which Allen describes as confusing but effective. Useful in its examination of the novellas’ overlapping chronology.

Bauer, Margaret Donovan. “Ellen Gilchrist’s Women Who Would Be Queens (and Those Who Would Dethrone Them). The Mississippi Quarterly, 55, no. 1 (Winter 2001/2002): 117-131. Discusses Gilchrist’s portrayal of women, emphasizing her depiction of the 1950’s Southern debutante.

Bauer, Margaret Donovan. The Fiction of Ellen Gilchrist. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999. An excellent book-length study of Gilchrist’s works and prevalent themes. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Gilchrist, Ellen. Interview by Wendy Smith. Publishers Weekly 239 (March 2, 1992): 46-47. The interviewer claims that in her novels, Gilchrist creates an extended family that could no longer be comfortably handled in the short-story form. Discusses characters such as Rhoda Manning, Anna Hand, and others who reappear in Gilchrist’s fiction.

Hoffman, Roy. Review of Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle, by Ellen Gilchrist. The New York Times Book Review, October 22,...

(The entire section is 450 words.)