Ellen Glasgow’s In This Our Life: “The Betrayals of Life” in the Crumbling Aristocratic South

Iulia Andreea Milică 1
  • 1 Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași, , Romania

Abstract

Ellen Glasgow’s works have received, over time, a mixed interpretation, from sentimental and conventional, to rebellious and insightful. Her novel In This Our Life (1941) allows the reader to have a glimpse of the early twentieth-century South, changed by the industrial revolution, desperately clinging to dead codes, despairing and struggling to survive. The South is reflected through the problems of a family, its sentimentality and vulnerability, but also its cruelty, pretensions, masks and selfishness, trying to find happiness and meaning in a world of traditions and codes that seem powerless in the face of progress. The novel, apparently simple and reduced in scope, offers, in fact, a deep insight into various issues, from complicated family relationships, gender pressures, racial inequality to psychological dilemmas, frustration or utter despair. The article’s aim is to depict, through this novel, one facet of the American South, the “aristocratic” South of belles and cavaliers, an illusory representation indeed, but so deeply rooted in the world’s imagination. Ellen Glasgow is one of the best choices in this direction: an aristocratic woman but also a keen and profound writer, and, most of all, a writer who loved the South deeply, even if she exposed its flaws.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Auchincloss, Louis. Ellen Glasgow. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1964.

  • Becker, Allen W. “Ellen Glasgow and the Southern Literary Tradition.” Modern Fiction Studies 5. 4 (Winter 1959-1960): 295-303. JSTOR. Web. 3 May 2018.

  • Bufkin, E. C. “Beyond Defeat: An Epilogue to an Era by Ellen Glasgow, Luther Y. Gore” (Review). The Georgia Review 22. 2 (Summer 1969): 258-262. JSTOR. Web. 18 June 2018.

  • Dominguez-Rué, Emma. “Madwomen in the Drawing Room: Female Invalidism in Ellen Glasgow’s Gothic Stories.” Journal of American Studies 38.3. (Dec. 2004): 425-438. JSTOR. Web. 25 Apr. 2018.

  • Glasgow, Ellen. In This Our Life. Kindle ed. Williamson P, 2013. e-book.

  • Good, Cherry. “The Southern Lady, or the Art of Dissembling.” Journal of American Studies 23. 1 Sex and Gender in American Culture (Apr. 1989): 72-77. JSTOR. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.

  • Goodman, Susan. Ellen Glasgow: A Biography. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1998.

  • Holman, Hugh C. The Roots of Southern Writing: Essays on the Literature of the American South. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1972.

  • Jones, Anne Goodwyn. Tomorrow Is Another Day: The Woman Writer in the South, 1985-1936. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1981.

  • Levy, Helen Fiddyment. Fiction of the Home Place: Jewett, Cather, Glasgow, Porter, Welty, and Naylor. Jackson, MS: UP of Mississippi, 1992.

  • McDowell, Frederick P. W. Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1963.

  • Raper, Julius Rowan. “Ellen Glasgow.” A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American South. Ed. Richard Gray and Owen Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. 403-419.

  • Rouse, Blair. “Ellen Glasgow’s Civilized Men.” Ellen Glasgow: Centennial Essays. Ed. Thomas Inge. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1976. 131-167.

  • Seidel, Katherine Lee. The Southern Belle in the American Novel. Tampa: U of South Florida P, 1985.

  • Stone, Grace. “Ellen Glasgow and Her Novels.” The Sewanee Review 50. 3 (July-Sept. 1942): 289-301. JSTOR. Web. 9 July 2018.

  • Taylor, William R. Cavalier and Yankee: The Old South and American National Character. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.

  • Tracy, Susan J. Representations of Women, Blacks and Poor Whites in Antebellum Southern Literature. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1995.

  • Watson, Ritchie Devon, Jr. Normans and Saxons: Southern Race Mythology and the Intellectual History of the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2008.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Search