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Hundreds of stories and poems, printed and anthologized in a wide variety of publications, and dozens of novels, novellas, plays, essays, prefaces, and reviews have come from her pen, with an equally wide variety of settings, themes, genres, and styles.
This productivity has even been a source of some criticism, inspiring suspicions that Oates works too fast and carelessly, that she lacks the basic self-censorship necessary to a writer.
Oates, unaffected by criticism, has never slowed her pace. While some of her novels seem more felt than planned, and some of her stories inevitably overlap, Oates is a writer whose meanings can be appreciated cumulatively and whose craft and imagination are beyond question.
A typical Oates novel may feature mass murder, rape, suicide, arson, an automobile crash, or an autopsy, portrayed with detachment and graphic detail. Her novels often trace the lives of prototypical Americans and can be seen as paradigms of their collective history.
In Bellefleur, she goes further back to trace all of American history through a single family chronicle. As the name suggests, Eden County is a mythical paradise where Oates depicts the American loss of innocence. Oates documents, and at times seems to prophesy, this loss of innocence through a pattern reflecting the American national heritage.
This historical paradigm involves derivation from a strong familial tradition, be it the migrant workers of A Garden of Earthly Delights or the patricians of The Assassins: A Book of Hours; dislocation, often violent and senseless, from that home or tradition; the search for parent figures; the lack of fixed identity; acceptance of the American Dream, with all of its materialistic manifestations; emergence from poverty and anonymity; the obsession that arrives with single-minded pursuits; and the vacuity and transparency of contemporary American modes of being and communicating.
Black Water, inwas a thinly veiled retelling of the tragedy at Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts, where the young Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in the car of Senator Edward Kennedy, while Blonde, which won the National Book Award inwas a fictional reworking of the life of Marilyn Monroe.
One of her most noted novels, them, is drawn quite faithfully from the life experience of a woman Oates knew while teaching in Detroit, and Marya: A number of her works, including the satirical collection The Hungry Ghosts: Whatever the setting and the model for dramatic movement, certain themes are central.
Oates is fascinated with the multiple facets of individual personality, and her characters often undergo dramatic upheavals and transformations which are larger metaphorical expressions of the violence of modern life.
They are constantly questioning who and where they are, constantly feeling detached from their bodies and their immediate experiences of the world.
Nothing is certain or fixed. In such a whirlwind, emotion and sensation are all one can really know and trust; having a name; as the fundamental unit of identity, becomes of paramount importance.
Oates is fascinated with dreams; not only do her characters relate theirs, but also the lines between perception, imagination, and dream or nightmare often become hazy. Because objective reality is unavailable, people become trapped within their own personalities, and connections between them are often tenuous and false.
Her works are sometimes challenging puzzles that require careful attention. She is a skilled technician who uses precise and explicit language and portrays personality through detailed sketching of both interior and exterior reality. Not surprisingly, the imagery Oates employs is often violent: All these elements—the detachment, the ambiguity, the detail, the imagery—combine to create an uncertain world where reality is constantly reconceived and re-imagined through the window of perception, and truth—historical, subjective, and psychic—is ever-changing.
A Garden of Earthly Delights First published: A Garden of Earthly Delights is a novel that portrays the American economic system and the ills suffered both by those who fail and by those who succeed in it. Oates tells the story of Clara, from the day of her birth among migrant laborers to her waning years watching television in a nursing home, and the men—father, lovers, son—who define her life experience.
The title is taken from a dramatic triptych by the fifteenth century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Clara, the third and favorite of his five children, learns to look beyond the distress and misery of their migrant existence and eventually runs off with a virtual stranger to find a better life.
The stranger, an enigmatic drifter named Lowry, sets her up in a small southern town, but he is involved in shady activities and soon disappears, spurning her obsessive love and unknowingly leaving her pregnant.
Clara, a survivor, has attracted the attentions of a wealthy landowner, Curt Revere; she becomes his mistress, leads him to believe he is the father of her child, accepts his boundless generosity, and, with the death of his ailing wife, becomes the second Mrs.
Now established in comfort and wealth, having achieved a perfect vision of the American Dream, Clara consolidates her power. Within this structure, the narrative moves chronologically but with a greatly modulated pace. Oates relates individual scenes or periods in the lives of her characters with slow and careful accuracy and feeling, and then shifts the action months or years ahead, establishing the passage of time casually with age or year references.
Such shifts highlight the suddenness of the events and changes that have occurred. This irregular flow serves to emphasize, as if microscopically, certain telling moments or encounters.
A jaunt into a nearby town where Clara impulsively steals a flag, her first night with Lowry, and her decision to run away are vividly portrayed and establish the fearlessness and pride that will bring tragedy in later life.
She does not love Revere, and she feels a flood of emotion at the sight of Lowry, but her resolution to accumulate power at any cost is too firm, and she sends her former lover—and her only hope for true happiness—away forever. Swan, however, only three years old at the time, is affected by Lowry—by some deep instinct of his own paternity—and the knowledge of that ominous visitor stays with him.
Novel A young man undergoes a series of transformations as he comes to maturity and strives for identity in a dreamlike American landscape. Wonderland bears certain rough similarities to A Garden of Earthly Delights.
It follows three generations of a family through stages of rage, searching, and emptiness. It offers critical comment on the lust for knowledge and power. It spans a particular period of American political and economic history.Your book-smartest friend just got a makeover.
Our most popular lit guides now have twice as much helpful stuff, including writing guides, expanded quotes, and updated quick quizzes. Tell us what you think! Your book-smartest friend just got a makeover. Wagner, Linda W. Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates. Boston, MA: G.
K. Hall, Literary Analysis, Joyce Carol Oates] Powerful Essays words ( pages) Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been Essay - Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockport, New York on June 16, She grew up on a farm with her parents.
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Nov 11, · The sheer abundance of Joyce Carol Oates's fiction has tended to forestall careful critical analysis of individual works, especially of her books . Critical Analysis of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Words 4 Pages. What The World Has Done In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" the author, Joyce Carol Oates, essentially asserts that the nuances of one's personality are not generated from within, but rather Essay Words | 5 Pages.
Nov 11, · Joyce Carol Oates –- (Has written under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith) American novelist, short story and novella writer, poet, dramatist, essayist, author of children's books, critic, and.