Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

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Although her whole collection of writing, from her book reviews and her published letters to her short stories and novel, is considered rather small, Katherine Anne Porter, according to many academicians, including Don Graham, in his article ‘‘Katherine Anne Porter’s Journey from Texas to the World, in the Southwest Review, is revered as one of the ‘‘grande dame[s] of American literature.’’ Without a formal education, a family that supported her interests, and a confident stance in regard to her own gifts, Porter was able to dig down into her personal history, where, Graham writes, ‘‘there were never any easy answers,’’ and come up with a ‘‘key to her ability to create stories of lasting value.’’ From this material, mostly taken from the struggles in her youth, Porter found ‘‘hard questions’’ most of which, Graham continues, ‘‘were never solved, but they produced some literature with lasting merit.’’

Most reviewers hold similar sentiments concerning Porter’s writing. She had a unique talent for understanding the emotional impulses behind people’s actions, and it is this element that held her works together. Her works, stated a critic in a 1930 New York Times Book Review of Flowering Judas, the book in which the short story ‘‘He’’ was first collected, are ‘‘technically perfect.’’ The stories in this collection, continues the review, ‘‘are carefully wrought, devoid of clichés, distinguished for their technical originality.’’ In referring to the story ‘‘He’’ specifically, the reviewer found that it escaped ‘‘sentimentality by reason of its careful objectivity.’’

In another 1930s review of Flowering Judas, written by Louise Bogan for the New Republic , Porter is described as a writer who ‘‘rejects the exclamatory...

(The entire section is 432 words.)