Peter Taylor's Life in Motion by George S. Lensing Peter Taylor: A Writer's Life. By Hubert H. McAlexander. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2001. 338 pp. $34.95. Allen Tate said of Emily Dickinson that she lived in "the perfect literary situation" in New England. She was able to focus her art at a juncture between Hawthorne's world of Christian redemption, then drawing to a close, and a newer, more Emersonian one in which arose "the conformist idea of respectability among neighbors whose spiritual disorder, not very evident at the surface, was becoming acute." Peter Taylor, one of America's most gifted writers of short stories in the second half of the twentieth century, did not inherit Dickinson's reconfigured New England. His own world fixes on the northern boundary states of the South in the decades following World War II, but it was for him also a "perfect literary situation." An older order of hierarchical class and racial separation defined by rigidly held social mores was collapsing to be replaced by a largely homogeneous, standardized, and morally groundless middle class that was, in fact, misplacing its southern identity. Taylor's greatest work becomes enmeshed in the losses and gains of that
The Southern Literary Journal – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Aug 12, 2003
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