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Penelope Fitzgerald$
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Hugh Adlington

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780746312957

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9780746312957.001.0001

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Short Stories, Poems, Letters

Short Stories, Poems, Letters

(p.101) 5 Short Stories, Poems, Letters
Penelope Fitzgerald

Hugh Adlington

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reviews the most neglected forms of Penelope Fitzgerald’s writing: her short stories, poems and letters. Although Fitzgerald claimed not to be able to write short stories, the evidence of the ten stories collected in The Means of Escape, and of the other eleven uncollected stories that survive, suggests otherwise. The chapter shows how Fitzgerald’s short fiction shares with her novels themes of misunderstanding, disappointment and loneliness. Other continuities include Fitzgerald’s tragicomic wit, art of compression, and taste for the macabre. Yet the chapter also shows how the stories differ from the novels. The sense of disruption of the accepted order of things is concentrated in the stories to the point of menace. The author’s presence, more pervasive and inescapable in the stories than in the novels, obscures the dividing line between author and narrator. By contrast, Fitzgerald’s handful of poems are surprisingly intimate and self-revealing, confronting the reader with a starker, more private version of Fitzgerald’s authorial persona. The letters, written to family, friends, literary editors and writers, provide a different kind of evidence of Fitzgerald’s sharp wit, intelligence and powers of observation.

Keywords:   short stories, poems, letters, The Means of Escape, So I Have Thought of You

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