Translation, Migration, & Gender in the Americas, the Transatlantic, & the Transpacific
5-8 Jul 2017 Bordeaux (France)
Recognition and Reflection in The Golden Apples: The Story-Cycle Novel as Resistance to Narrative Imperialism
Leah Faye Norris  1  
1 : University of California, Santa Barbara

In any account for the eruptive completeness of Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples, this work's seven stories must be read as they are transformed through conjunction. Read as a whole, these narratives construct a “Story-Cycle Novel.” The linearity of traditional novel-forms (structured by a beginning, middle and end, and conceived of by Benjamin as inherently isolated) cannot reflect the trauma of these protagonists' subjectivities as they are carved through the eyes of other seers and mediated by other stories and the stories of other. Taken as a whole, these external viewers constitute a narrative structured by the mirror of community. Virgie Rainey is presented as a primary figure: her potential circumscribed by her relationships with her artist-mother, Miss Eckhart; her blood mother, Katie Rainey; and, later, her mother's coffin. Virgie's ultimate rejection of society and her reluctant placement in the Story-Cycle Novel itself gestures to the realized disjointedness between and among inner selves in a female Bildung. The Golden Apples, story by story, elicits distinctive relational identities that must be taken together to reveal the arcs that make Morgana more than a mirage. In additions to specific echoes and direct connections, the technical separation of stories provides interpretive spaces of silence that draw the narratives together. These ruptures between literary subjectivities, what Welty calls “embodiments, little worlds,” incorporate the experience of divided selves into the structure of this text. This framework, a dialectic of seeing and being seen, stands in contradistinction and speaks back to contemning accounts of the modernist novel as elitist and solipsistic (Jameson). The “Story-Cycle Novel” counters narrative imperialism by including a Bildung that requires not only being by becoming, but, more violently, being known through the mutuality of community. Welty develops an alternate, feminist Bildungsroman through the structure of The Golden Apples, particularly through Virgie Rainey's trajectory, which forges through ruptures and multiplicity into recognized versions, necessary fictions, of wholeness. There is a mirror in the middle, “Moon Lake,” and through these building communities of stories The Golden Apples comes even more alive when it is read as a novel.

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