"A very fine book . . . [Westling] provides us with a good deal to ponder not only about the Southern literary experience but also about how we all live."
In Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens, Louise Westling explores how the complex, difficult roles of women in southern culture shaped the literary worlds of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O’Connor. Tracing the cultural heritage of the South, Westling shows how southern women reacted to the violent, false world created by their men—a world in which women came to be shrouded as icons of purity in atonement for the sins of men. Exposing the actual conditions of women’s lives, creating assertive protagonists who resist or revise conventional roles, and exploring rich matriarchal traditions and connections to symbolic landscapes Welty, McCullers, and O’Connor created a body of fiction that enriches and complements the patriarchal version of southern life presented in the works of William Faulkner, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and William Styron.
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