Historicity in Elizabeth Madox Roberts’ Short Stories: Insights into the Social Terrain and the Sense of Place - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2016

Historicity in Elizabeth Madox Roberts’ Short Stories: Insights into the Social Terrain and the Sense of Place

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Gisèle Sigal

Abstract

The relevance of the concept of historicity is undisputable in Elizabeth Madox Roberts’ (1881-1941) life and works. This theory also calls to mind a universal feature of the human condition in the way it is determined by its historical constituent. Indeed, the Kentucky writer is acutely aware of her own historical nature in a changing society pervaded with economic transformations. She is deeply attached to her native State, and place underpins all her fiction. Likewise, her status both as a writer and a social historian epitomizes a human approach to reach the truth. In her two collections of short stories: The Haunted Mirror (1932) and Not by Strange Gods (1941), she explores local color and regional perspective with a universal touch. Her stories excel in their psychological dimension and in a vivid sense of place on the fringes of the Bluegrass County. Each main character faces a crisis in a coming of age mode: joy and sorrow, psychological and religious crisis, adjustments to the rigors of farm-work, living with close friends and enemies, love and fear of love, traumas that lead to self-development, death and its terrors, and the land and the love of it. Some of her characters are based on family members, friends, and neighbors. They speak a crude vernacular language, and help compose a social history of her region. Roberts analyses the tiny connections inextricably uniting the multiple facets of the human reality to the land, the ones combining each phenomenon to others, each condition to its previous situation and consequence, whatever recent or remote. She tangibly experiences the complexities of the real world and is aware of its structure and of its evolution. Actually, she willingly participates in the basic demand of the human spirit essentially in love with order, simplicity and unity. In this paper, we will first examine the writer’s historical intention which is to represent the past the way it happened, and whose interpretative practice is related to a social praxis. We will then consider her stories’ sociological value based on a keen observation and interpretation of human situations. Eventually, this paper will focus on the immutability of the land that transfigures the main characters in an open inward process where space is reallocated.
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Dates and versions

hal-02326634 , version 1 (22-10-2019)

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  • HAL Id : hal-02326634 , version 1

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Gisèle Sigal. Historicity in Elizabeth Madox Roberts’ Short Stories: Insights into the Social Terrain and the Sense of Place. 18th Annual International Elizabeth Madox Roberts Conference, Pr/Dr Harry Stoneback SUNY, New Paltz, Apr 2016, Springfield, Kentucky, United States. ⟨hal-02326634⟩

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