By Joan Didion
Writing with the telegraphic swiftness and microscopic sensitivity that experience made her one in all our such a lot individual newshounds, Joan Didion creates a shimmering novel of innocence and evil.A booklet of universal Prayer is the tale of 2 American girls within the derelict valuable American state of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls a lot of the country's wealth and understands almost all of its secrets and techniques; Charlotte Douglas is aware a ways too little. "Immaculate of background, blameless of politics," she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited together with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by way of Didion, her destiny is right away completely specific and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence.
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Kennedy, writing three decades before the outbreak of war, had portrayed the Virginia planter as the heir to such cavalier virtues as pride in family and land, love of honor, respect for bravery, and courtesy toward women, but Kennedy was also prepared to acknowledge that the planter's pastoral existence rested upon the indefensible evil of chattel slavery, for which, he believed, some permanent remedy should be sought. His postwar successors felt less free to be so openly ambivalent. A notable example was the Atlanta journalist Joel Chandler Harris (18481908), who limited his observations about the disparity between the races to symbolic representation in a series of folk tales told by an aging black narrator to the child of his widowed mistress.
For almost two decades, through World War I and its aftermath, those changes were minimal; but thereafter southern writers, almost as if intent on reinventing themselves, began to refract and disperse the conventional image. Preparation for this greater change had started with the Spanish-American War of 1898, when southerners were given an opportunity to join hands with northerners in a common military enterprise. Fortunately, the opportunity was one that required no backing down on the South's part, no overt demonstration of a willingness to rejoin the Union.
And for Glasgow emphasizing human nature meant taking into account that instinct for survival and self-realization in both sexes that had impressed her in her reading of Darwin. The shift was apparent in several of the novels that she wrote during the next two decades: The Battle-Ground (1902), in which the wife of the hero returns with her husband to a devastated Richmond in 1864 and takes sober satisfaction in the prospect of rebuilding, this time as an equal partner in their Page 19 enterprise of living; The Deliverance (1904), in which a brother and sister, destitute after the war but still proud, indulge a senile parent in her inability, or unwillingness, to recognize that she is no longer living in the imagined Eden of antebellum Virginia; and in Virginia (1913), the story of the self-emancipation of a young woman instructed both at home and in a proper finishing school about the behavior expected of her in a male-dominated society.