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Jean Stafford

Jean Stafford photographed for Vogue magazine in 1966. (Adelaide de Menil/Condé Nast via Getty Images)

Major works:
Boston AdventureThe Mountain LionThe Catherine WheelThe Collected Stories of Jean Stafford

“The writing remains precisely honed, the sensibility intelligent and seemingly impartial. Among Stafford’s many strengths as a writer of fiction are a sharp poetic eye for the telling detail . . . and an authorial voice that ranges from the sinewy and vernacular to the coolly detached. If Stafford learned from Mark Twain on the one hand and from Proust, Henry James and Virginia Woolf on the other, these lessons were fully assimilated. In certain of her mature work the author’s voice is both immersed in the narrative and hovering above it, as in a ghostly meditation in which all action, all life, is retrospective.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

“What she does to the American scene is to show it as a landscape with a billboard in the center, a billboard that represents the human encroachment on nature, at times funny, at times sordid, at times pathetic, but at all times the reader’s and the author’s principal concern. She can find salvation in a detail, a word, a patch of color.”
—Louis Auchincloss

“Her protagonists—many of them female, all of them precariously poised, hungry for hope and a sense of belonging, and almost always disappointed in both—stand out for their ironic innocence, or more accurately for their innocent irony. With a childlike calm and clarity, Stafford looked into the abyss.”
—Ann Hurlburt

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