Critical Insights: Alice Munro
A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Munro and the critical discussions surrounding her work.
Over more than forty years, Alice Munro's reputation has slowly grown to a point where she is today recognized as one of the finest living short story writers. Often compared to Chekhov for her fastidiously structured plots and psychological complexity, she has won the admiration of writers and readers around the world. From her early success with Dance of the Happy Shades to her most recent collections, Munro has steadily proven that short stories can be just as intricate, moving, and formidable as the best novels.
Edited by Charles May, Emeritus Professor of English at California State University, Long Beach, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the Canadian writer. For readers who are studying Munro for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of her life and four essays survey the critical reception of Munro's work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Munro among her contemporaries, and review key themes in her work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other essays that explore topics like Munro's Canadian identity; her aesthetics and narrative devices; the psychology of her characters; and recurrent themes in her work, like secrets, acting, and memory. Works discussed include The Beggar Maid, Friend of My Youth, Runaway, Too Much Happiness, Lives of Girls and Women, The Progress of Love, and The Love of a Good Woman. Among the contributors are Philip Coleman, David Crouse, Robert Thacker, and Alisa Cox.
Rounding out the volume are a chronology of Munro's life and a list of her principal publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this iconic author in greater depth.
Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index