The Underground Stream
The Life and Art of Caroline Gordon

Nancylee Novell Jonza


“Jonza belongs to a new generation of historians who have turned their attention to literary biography. The combination of her research skills and her scholarly conscience has helped her to reconstruct in studied detail the genesis of Caroline Gordon’s novels. . . . This newest biography of Gordon tells the story of a southern woman who won her artistic independence against great odds.”
—Thomas A. Underwood, Boston University

“This biography offers a wonderfully human portrait of a restless, scholarly, sensitive spirit.”
Memphis Commercial Appeal

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This biography offers the most complete and accurate portrait to date of the writer Caroline Gordon (1895–1981). Viewing Gordon’s life in the context of female literary tradition, Nancylee Novell Jonza reclaims Gordon’s integrity, individuality, and artistic vision from beneath a self-effacing, sometimes detractive, public image carefully fostered by the artist herself.

Gordon’s nine novels and three short-story collections are a major contribution in their own right to the southern literary renaissance. Despite an enduring readership, however, she still remains in the shadow of her husband, Allen Tate, the Fugitive Poet and Agrarian critic, partially due to her contrived persona of a traditional southern lady turned artist under the tutelage of a gifted, benevolent male writer. Drawing on manuscript drafts, unpublished works, letters, and a significant body of her journalistic writing, Jonza investigates fully the causes and effects of Gordon’s self-mythologizing and covers substantially more ground than the thirty years during which she was closest to Tate.

A little-known Caroline Gordon emerges from The Underground Stream. Her readers are sure to reach a deeper understanding of such aspects of Gordon’s life and her art as her family’s strong matriarchal tradition, her difficulties with pregnancy and motherhood, her conversion to Catholicism, her alcoholism, and her role within a sometimes destructive relationship with Allen Tate.

Page count: 504 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $32.95

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Nancylee Novell Jonza lives in Woodbury, Minnesota.