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Within the eyes of her contemporaries, Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894) ranked with George Eliot as one of many two best girls writers of the English language. She wrote fiction of outstanding mental energy that outsold these of her male contemporaries Henry James and Willian Dean Howells. James enshrined reminiscences of his lengthy, sophisticated friendship with Woolson in The Beast within the Jungle and The Wings of the Dove, and extra not too long ago Colm Tobin handled the connection in his novel The Grasp. However Woolson’s shut affiliation with James, and her doubtless suicide in Venice, have tended to overshadow her personal literary accomplishments, pigeonholing her as a martyr to the male literary institution. This quantity, probably the most complete gathering of Woolson’s tales thus far, represents the fruits of a long time of restoration work performed by students, and places the main focus again on the work, the place it belongs.
Set variously within the Nice Lakes area, the post-Civil Battle South, and Europe, Woolson’s quick tales typically concern outsiders of 1 type or another–prophets and misfits residing in distant landscapes, uneducated coal miners, impoverished spinsters, uncared for nuns, a haunted caretaker of the lifeless, destitute southerners, and feminine artists pushed to excessive habits as they search the admiration or approval of established (male) critics or writers. Woolson’s minute realism captures each the social texture of her time and the inside emotional lives of those missed and marginalized characters. Most of all her writings startle us with their simmering depth, their sensual descriptions of the atmosphere, and refusal to clean out the ambiguities and tensions that inevitably consequence from human efforts to speak and join. Her fiction is deeply human, resonating with an influence throughout the centuries that makes them remarkably trendy for at the moment’s readers.