Hortense Calisher Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

ph_0111207180-Calisher.jpg Hortense Calisher Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Although Hortense Calisher first became known as a short-story writer, she published several novels and novellas, including False Entry (1961) and In the Slammer with Carol Smith (1997), an autobiography, and articles and reviews for The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, The New York Times, The American Scholar, The New Criterion, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, The Kenyon Review, and The Nation, among others.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Twice a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and once a Hurst Fellow, Hortense Calisher also received an American Specialist’s Grant from the U.S. Department of State, a National Council of the Arts Award, an Academy of Arts and Letters Award, four O. Henry Awards, and National Book Award nominations in 1962 for False Entry (1961), in 1973 for Herself (1972), and in 1976 for The Collected Stories of Hortense Calisher. She was president of the PEN Club and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and she won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989. The artistry of her prose earned her standing as a “writer’s writer,” especially in the carefully structured novellas and short stories.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Aarons, Victoria. “The Outsider Within: Women in Contemporary Jewish American Fiction.” Contemporary Literature 28, no. 3 (1987): 378-393. This essay examines the ways in which female characters portrayed in fiction by Jewish American women reflect the position of women in a male-dominated tradition.

Calisher, Hortense. “The Art of Fiction: Hortense Calisher.” Interview by Allen Gurganus, Pamela McCordick, and Mona Simpson. The Paris Review 29 (Winter, 1987): 157-187. This insightful interview with Calisher explores her various approaches to creative writing.

Calisher, Hortense. Introduction to The Novellas of Hortense Calisher. New York: The Modern Library, 1997. The author explains how a novella differs from a novel.

Hahn, Emily. “In Appreciation of Hortense Calisher.” Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 6 (Summer, 1965): 243-249. A close reading of the early fiction, identifying themes such as the friction between generations, which Calisher explores so sensitively in her stories.

Saturday Review Talks to Hortense Calisher.” Saturday Review 11 (July/August, 1985): 77. In this biographical sketch, based on an interview, Calisher says she considers the Bible a major influence on her style and the New York environment a major force in her artistic development.

Shinn, Thelma J. Radiant Daughters: Fictional American Women. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986. Includes an examination of the female characters in Calisher’s fiction from the short stories collected since 1951 through Mysteries of Motion in 1983. Particularly relates her fiction to contemporary American writers of the 1950’s.

Snodgrass, Kathleen. The Fiction of Hortense Calisher. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1993. Discusses the central dual theme of rites of passage and extradition in Calisher’s fiction. Argues that her style is not something imposed on the subject matter, but the perfect embodiment of this dual theme. The first chapter discusses twelve autobiographical stories, mostly focused on the narrator and protagonist Hester Elkin.