The Canadian Junction: Mavis Gallant’s and Alice Munro’s Narrative Practice
Apart from the obligatory by now reference to Anton Chekhov, Alice Munro’s stories have been over the years more or less cursorily compared with works of Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne (e.g. Citati 2011: 44), Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, Flannery O’Connor (e.g. Gorra 1998, Wilson 2013), William Faulkner (e.g. Wilson 2013), Eudora Welty (e.g. Martin 1987, Besner 2002, McHaney 2013), Willa Cather (e.g. Thacker 1994), and Margaret Atwood (e.g. Hammill 2007: 86–93). Many more comparisons are possible since Munro’s literary kinships and inspirations are multitudinous, but some analogies have clearly been more tempting to readers than others. Surprisingly few scholars have so far, for example, compared Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant, even though they, in a sense, belong together as “Canada’s two leading practitioners of the short story, both of whom had made much of their reputation through the pages of the New Yorker” (Thacker 2011: 467). When their books happened to be published concurrently – as they did in 19791 and 19962 – reviewers felt inclined to yoke the two Canadians together (360), and often found Gallant more accomplished than Munro as a feminist and an artist (361), but scholars have tended to focus either on Munro or on Gallant.
Whereas allusions to Gallant are rare in scholarly analyses of Munro’s fiction, Munro appears occasionally as a point of reference in texts devoted to Gallant. In other words, it seems more common to look at Gallant through the achievement of Munro than the other way around....
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