Truth and Vision in Katherine Anne Porter’s Fiction

Darlene Harbor Unrue

Reviews

"The most comprehensive and distinguished work of criticism on Katherine Anne Porter yet to appear. It is to be valued in itself but also as the start of a new era of sophistication in Porter studies."
Studies in Short Fiction

"A valuable contribution to Katherine Anne Porter scholarship. The book presents a clear, authoritative argument for Porter's exacting commitment to truth in her fiction and for a unity of imagery and theme that culminates in Ship of Fools."
South Atlantic Review


"A well-written, thoughtful synthesis of the work of an important American writer."
Library Journal

"Her most extensive and productive research is her use of Porter's papers, mainly housed in the McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland. The many references to Porter's notes and letter do much to enhance Unrue's argument. The end result is a valid study of Porter's work that will prove a useful and welcomed edition to Porter scholarship."
American Literature

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Description
My stories are fragments of a larger plan, Katherine Anne Porter once wrote. And on another occasion she praised a critic who perceived that all her work, from the very beginning, was part of an "unbroken progression, all related."

In Truth and Vision in Katherine Anne Porter's Fiction, Darlene Unrue examines the encompassing themes that underlie Porter's shorter fiction and that combined to create the haunting events of her complex metaphorical novel, Ship of Fools. Porter believed that men and women are compelled toward discovering the truth about their existence, but that the nature of our world makes those truths difficult to discern. In her writing, Unrue finds, Porter explored not only this basic human need to confront the truth, but also the bewilderment and suffering that are so often the results of failing to fulfill that need.

Often in Porter's fiction the movement toward truth is obstructed by the hollow beliefs and illusions that abound in the world—by the seductions of ideology and dogmatic religion, by romantic love or the vision of a golden past. Clinging to such illusions, using them to lend a false coherence to their lives, Porter's characters are led away from the hard realization that truth requires accepting the existence of the unknowable at the center of life, and that what is knowable lies within themselves.

Drawing on essays, reviews, letters, and notes, as well as on the intricate fabric of the fiction, this study traces Porter's pursuit of the truth through the creation of a body of fiction in which, from fragments of life, she could assemble an honest vision of the world.

Page count: 288 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

 



Paper
List price: $29.95
978-0-8203-3354-0
12/1/2008

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Darlene Harbour Unrue is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has written six books on Katherine Anne Porter. Unrue's most recent work, a biography of Porter titled Katherine Anne Porter: The Life of an Artist, won the 2005 Eudora Welty Prize for Excellence in Modern Letters.