Wednesday, June 01, 2005
A Curtain of Green and Other Stories
From the HBJ Modern Classic series comes Eudora Welty’s A Curtain of Green and Other Stories in hard cover, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, Orlando, Florida (1991). The book gathers seventeen of Welty’s stories in 228 pages and maintains Katherine Anne Porter’s introduction to the original edition of A Curtain of Green published in 1941.
There are storybooks that have an appeal to a vast majority of readers because of the themes, characters, and situations of the stories. The simplicity implicit in such writing is far from being found in A Curtain of Green… though these stories are rich in meaning and the less express modes of human existence. Katherine Porter points out their complexity in her introduction by commenting ‘the approach is simple and direct in method, though the themes and moods are anything but simple.’
But then there are those who evaluate literary pieces on the criterion of the voices given to felt but not expressed realities of experience. These are the stories for such readers. From Lily Daw and the Three Ladies and Why I live at the P.O. to The Key and A Curtain of Green, there is a dormant power, a potential monster of consciousness that suddenly wakes up into real life, or looks this way, by a seemingly trivial event. In The Key it is the clink of a key at a station’s waiting room that gives voice to the oblivion of relationship. In The Whistle it is the sound of the whistle blown to warn of cold that revitalizes an aging couple’s relationship. And in A Curtain of Green a boy’s smile evokes the repressed rage of a widow who has grown a green natural curtain around her garden, woven with the one around her anxious and vindictive consciousness.
At times, the book feels a collage of scenes from some innocent lunatic’s dreams. Nevertheless, it makes a strong case for peeping into one’s own self, while standing outside of it. This depersonalized objectivity gives A Curtain of Green a quasi-philosophical appeal.
The setting of all the stories is a not-so-big town, and all those who have a fancy for the country side life would certainly feel an ambience worth recalling in them.
The print is simple, and the title cover, just a nice jacket designed to look like the gate to a green curtain. What the lost mien of the lady on the title signifies, the readers are to settle themselves.
In one sentence, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories is a book to enjoy in at least two readings; one to pick up the stories and be mazed by them, and the other to enjoy them.