Bedquilt and Other Stories

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Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958), the prolific author of more than forty books, including translations, juveniles, and nonfiction, as well as novels and short-story collections, was one of the most popular and engaging American writers of the first half of the twentieth century. Although her work has been unduly neglected for several decades, it is currently enjoying a revival of critical attention. In The Bedquilt and Other Stories, Mark J. Madigan offers the first book-length collection of Fisher's short ...
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Overview

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958), the prolific author of more than forty books, including translations, juveniles, and nonfiction, as well as novels and short-story collections, was one of the most popular and engaging American writers of the first half of the twentieth century. Although her work has been unduly neglected for several decades, it is currently enjoying a revival of critical attention. In The Bedquilt and Other Stories, Mark J. Madigan offers the first book-length collection of Fisher's short fiction in nearly forty years. Composed of eleven short stories and two essays, this colorful collection ranges in subject from New Englanders to the Basques of France to the struggles of African Americans to gain equal rights. Through her stories, many of which received literary awards, Fisher examined the complexities of modern life in the United States and abroad.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
War, greed, love, women's rights, marital discord and race relations are prominent themes in the unaffectedly realist stories of Fisher (1879-1958), once a bestselling novelist (The Brimming Cup, etc.). The 11 stories and two essays reprinted here (all but one from a long out-of-print 1956 anthology) resonate with contemporary relevance. In the title story, an elderly New England spinster, invisible in her brother's home, finally receives recognition for her housework by exhibiting at a county fair the magnificent quilt she spent five years making. In ``Through Pity and Terror...,'' Fisher, who founded a hospital for refugee children in France during WWI, draws on firsthand experience to describe a young mother's struggle to survive as German soldiers ransack her home and her husband's pharmacy. Abhorrence of war also permeates ``The Knot-hole,'' a powerful WWII tale evoking the ordeal of Allied POWs confined for months in a German boxcar. Stories of rural residents of Vermont (the Kansas-born writer's adopted state) probe the depths of feeling beneath their sardonic, laconic exteriors; the same fierce independence animates the Basque folk of the stories based on Fisher's years spent living in southwestern France. In ``An American Citizen'' (1920), an African American elevator operator finds dignity and equal treatment only by moving to France. Though at times sentimental and didactic, Fisher's stories are nevertheless engaging and still timely. (Jan.)
Booknews
This book-length collection of 11 stories and two essays is the first to appear in nearly 40 years, representing a slice of the prolific writer's work. Influential in the first half of the 20th century, her work has been neglected in the second and is enjoying a revival of interest. Fisher's subject matter ranges from New England life, to the French Basques, and to the struggles of African Americans to gain equal rights, and reflects her lifelong involvement in social causes. An introduction and afterword by Mark Madigan (English, U. of Vermont) surveys the writer's life and work, highlighting its graceful and enduring values. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Brad Hooper
A forgotten author who is well worth remembering, Fisher (18791958) was a highly regarded and prolific novelist and short story writer in her heyday, the 1920s through the early 1940s. This selection of 11 of her best stories seeks to restore her name. The placid surfaces of Fisher's stories, achieved by a consummately limpid style, do not blunt their effectiveness as honest explorations of emotional provinces. Racial and social questions are treated with compassion and with a clear-sighted view of the less-than-noble traits in humanity. Fisher's settings are not restricted; she writes as comfortably about war-torn France (World War I, that is) as she does about small-town America. Two autobiographical essays contribute to our understanding of the muse of this excellent story writer of whom lovers of the form should no longer be ignorant.
From the Publisher

"At last, after the forty out-of-print years, this selection out of Dorothy Canfield Fisher's incomparable short fiction comes available, but for new readers the joy of discovery, the joy of revelation--marvel at the breadth, range, richness of yield. More: an introduction to the existence of this important American writer of stature whose achievement, meaning for us now—and beauty—have too long been scarcely known. In essential respects, Dorothy Canfield Fisher's work (and life), as revealed in Mark Madigan's superb introduction and afterword, are not dated. They speak directly to, of, our time, our needs, our central concerns. Joy and gratitude from those of us who have so long loved, been sustained and ever deepened by her and before had only our worn books, our Xeroxing to depend on in our passion to make her work known."—Tillie Olsen

"War, greed, love, women's rights, marital discord and race relations are prominent themes in the unaffectedly realist stories of Fisher (1879-1958), once a bestselling novelist. The 11 stories and two essays reprinted here resonate with contemporary relevance. . . . Though at times sentimental and didactic, Fisher's stories are nevertheless engaging and still timely."—Publishers Weekly

"This new collection reflects the range of Fisher's subjects between 1906 and 1956, from the unexpected triumph of an old maid quilter in New England to the early struggles of Booker T. Washington, the courage of a young French mother during WWI, and the anguish of prisoners of WWII. . . . Highly recommended."
Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826210357
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1995
  • Pages: 256

Meet the Author

Mark J. Madigan is Assistant Professor of English at Nazareth College of Rochester, New York. He is the editor of Keeping Fires Night and Day: Selected Letters of Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on the Text
Chronology
Introduction: The Short Stories of Dorothy Canfield Fisher 1
Prologue: What My Mother Taught Me 12
The Bedquilt 33
Flint and Fire 43
The Heyday of the Blood 59
"Through Pity and Terror..." 69
An American Citizen 100
Gold from Argentina 120
The Saint of the Old Seminary 129
Memorial Day 151
The Knot-hole 161
Sex Education 191
The Washed Window 204
Essay: How "Flint and Fire" Started and Grew 213
Afterword: A Note on the Life and Career of Dorothy Canfield Fisher 223
Bibliography 229
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