Joyce Carol Oates

The paths of life of some people may be labelled as illustrious or miraculous. Some persons are endowed by God to make such contributions to the society life that cannot be forgotten for centuries if not forever. One of such figures is a talented American writer Joyce Carol Oates. This extraordinarily gifted woman is an extraordinary talented writer. Joyce Carol Oates’ difficult childhood, instructive personal life, and inspiring career path has made her a truly remarkable writer of her time.

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The childhood of this woman was important for her becoming as a prolific author in future. “Born on June 16, 1938 in Lockport, NY”, Oates gaines a love for scribing as a kid (“The Oxford Book” 69). She spends most of her childhood on a farm where harsh times is no wonder. As a result, it is difficult for her to pay enough attention to reading and writing, however, she succeeds in both activities. Oates’ parents support Joyce’s on her becoming a writer in every possible way. As for the other relatives, Oates is very close to her grandmother Blanche Woodside, whose Jewish father committed suicide. Later, the granddaughter refers to the topic Blanche’s life in her novel Gravedigger’s daughter(2007).

Oates’ school years are not an easy one. She goes to the miserable one-room school which her mother attended too in the past. Reading becomes Joyce’s favorite occupation at the very early age. The woman can remember the present of her granny Blanche that is Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, a beloved and influential book of her childhood. As a teenager, she is preoccupied with reading such authors as Dostoevsky, sisters Bronte, Thoreau, Faulkner, and Hemingway, whose impact stays very profound. 14-years old Oates starts writing when her granny gifts her her first typewriter (“The Oxford Book” 69). Later, Joyce has the possibility to attend bigger country schools. As a result, she works for high school newspaper at Williamsvill South High School which she graduates from in 1956 (“the Oxford Book” 69). Oates is the among the members of her family who manages to finish studying.

Her university years give a girl a new insight into her future writing career. As Oates gains scholarship, she enters Syracuse University and becomes a member of Pi Mu,a philatelistic organization. There, she trains in wriitng a multitude of novels and throws them away one after another. This process continues until she becomes greatly influenced by the works of Flannery O’Conner, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann,and Franz Kafka. As a result, she wins the short story contest at nineteen. Later, she receives series of degrees in several universitites when she finally decides to devote her life to writing. Not long after receivning her master’s degree, a girl meets the director of the Vanguard Press, Evelyne Shrift. The latter publishes Oates’ first collection of short stories By the North Gate(1963), considering the beginning writer a genius in her sphere .

In general, “most of her literary activity is within 1963 and the present time” (“The Oxford Book” 69). She writes her first literary piece With Shuddering Fall (1964) in the age of 26 (“The Oxford Book” 69). She wins most of her awards for the short story “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (1966). Only inspired by Bob Dylan’s song “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, Oates decides to write it. The other short story “In the Religion of Ice” (1966) narrates about the difficult life of a talented Jewish student ended with suicide. This story gains her first O’Henry Award. She writes her second novel titled A Garden of Earthly Delightsin 1967. The novel is a part of so-called The Wonderland Quartetthat includes also Expensive People (1968), Them (1969), and, at last, Wonderland (1971). All the three writings “are nominated for the National Book Award, and Oates wins the award for Them in 1970” (“Wonderland” 15). The examination of these works allows the readers “to see that aesthetic, private, and domestic issues […] mix with or even dominate Oates’ political and public concerns” (“Wonderland” 16).

Joyce’s private life influenced her writing career greatly. At the Wisconsin-Madison University she gets acquainted with her future husband Raymond J. Smith. In 1961, the happy couple gets marry. Later, Smith becomes a professor in literature, and founds together with Oates a literary magazine The Ontario Review (1974). Both Oates and Smith try to combine the U.S. and Canada cultural and literature hereditary in this printed source. Later, they found the publishing house titled “The Ontrio Review Books” together. Their marriage was a sort of collaboration where Smith and Oates read the same books, had the similar opinions. As a result, it becomes suicidally difficult for Joyce to accept her husband’s death from pneumonia in 2008. Grief-stricken, she cannot even write at that time. Later, the audience get to acknowledge her autobiographical notes titled Journal and A Widow’s Story, devoted to her ex-husband. The Journal“reveals a young woman deeply in love with her husband and even more deeply in love with her writing, her life’s greatest passion” (Berman 9). In a book, the writer cannot imagine her life without her dear mate. However, nothing seems sinister back in the seventieth and ninetieth when The Journal was being written. When the real tragedy happens, she responds in writing. A Widow’s Story shows another side of Oates as a person, since it was written much further after The Journal after the death of her husband. The emotionally replete, detailed, and lengthy memoir represents “the portrait of a woman deranged by grief and fixated on suicide” (Berman 9). It takes six months after her husband’s death when Oates meets a Professor of Pschychology at Princeton Charles Gross with whom she marries in 2009. Since that time, she begins to examine her emails to enrich the autobiographical documentation and she succeeds.

Her teaching carrer also inspired Oates to write critical works. The thing is that she changes several schools trying to escape severe historical situation such as the Vietnam War or attractive job offers. She moves with her spouse across the Ontario as well to lecture at the Widsnor University. Finally, in 1978, Oates starts teaching at Princeton wher she meets a talented undergraduate Foer who becomes her disciple for years. Later, the latter confesses that Joyce is the first to place confidence into his writing skills. Oates retires from Princeton University in July, 2015. It is important to state that curating Foer’s becoming as a writer and her teaching activity, perhaps, inspires Oates on writing The Faith of a Writer. In this critical work, Joyce mediates over the writing as “the most solitary of arts” (“The Faith of a Writer” 11). The book illuminates Oates’ stylistic trademarks, purpose, and impulse for writing.

Oates’ stylistic trademarks are distinguishing. First, her “characters often try to replace the world with a fiction of their own invention” (Friedman and Fuchs 253). Among them there is a gardener Nora from “Magna Meter” who creates her own reality invaded by her drunken comrades. The writer is inclined to describing self-imposed and controlling characters, whose callousness leads to destruction of their fantasies. Concurrently, she is used to represent feminine voice in an utterly manly manner in her works. For instance, in an ingenious novel Bellefleur, her writing is recognizably a “feminine form of experimentation” (Friedman and Fuchs 251). Her novelty is in the fact that she overcomes the limitations of both orthodox and innovative fiction and develops the feminine and masculine potentials in her books. Similarly, her style is also difficult to classify. According to Dunaev, “she has been variously classified as a naturalist, a “gothic” artist, and a realist in the tradition of Dreiser” (Dunaev 4). As she is not limited to exceptionally feminine or masculine voice in her works, neither is she limited to any genre. Oates’ fictional world is fierce, full of disruption, atrocities, and frights that seem to be as real as daily news. There is no rescue from fierceness in her reality. Even the characters, which look unable to commit any form of atrocity, take part in the acts of violence as victims. The writer’s ultimate desire is to recreate the manias of an average American that leads to “an urge to violence as the answer to all problems” (Dunaev 4). The writing is the only a way to resist the call of death.

Joyce Carol Oates is a truly outstanding writer. Her involvement in reading books as well as support of her parents helped her to become a successful writer in future. Joyce’s teaching path and successful collaboraitons with others has made her an outstanding critic and master of the pen. Oates’ private life has influenced her works greatly as well. Feminine-masculine style of narration, complicated characters, and use of various genres is a great contribution to the Literary Canon. A multitude of literary awards and nominations prove that she is well accepted by the society and acknowledged as professional in her sphere.


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