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Country Churchyards
     

Country Churchyards

by Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Spencer (Introduction)
 

A great writer's poignant photographs of Mississippi graveyards and memorial stones

For many years Eudora Welty wished to produce a book about country churchyards. Published at long last, in her ninety-first year, this book includes ninety of her photographs along with a conversation in which Welty shares her impressions and her memories of the 1930s and 1940s

Overview

A great writer's poignant photographs of Mississippi graveyards and memorial stones

For many years Eudora Welty wished to produce a book about country churchyards. Published at long last, in her ninety-first year, this book includes ninety of her photographs along with a conversation in which Welty shares her impressions and her memories of the 1930s and 1940s when she rambled through Mississippi cemeteries taking pictures. She recalls poignant and sometimes chilling experiences that occurred.

"I took a lot of cemetery pictures in my life," she said. "For me cemeteries had a sinister appeal somehow." Her camera eye focused on distinctive funerary emblems, statuary, storied urns, and appealing folklife qualities expressed in the gravestones. Just as many pieces of Welty's fiction feature lyrical descriptions of cemeteries and graves in a way that is expressly Weltian, so too do these photographs taken in the cool, sequestered churchyards and graveyards of Jackson, Port Gibson, Churchill, Rodney, Utica, Crystal Springs, Vicksburg, Rocky Springs, and sites near the old Natchez Trace.

They not only document her rambles but also accent the images of regional cemeteries that appear in her stories and novels. This is her unique view of the southern graveyard and of its unusual artworks that arrested her attention -- chains, willows, baskets, angels, lambs, pointing hands, doves, and wreaths. "I like the tombstones showing children asleep in seashells," she says. For her, an absorbed observer, there is charm in the stone motifs and in the sentimental modes of commemorating the dead.

As a contemplative loner she called no attention to herself as she wandered quietly through small-town cemeteries with her camera. Both the country settings and the heart-felt inscriptions on decaying marble heightened her imagination and triggered her creative impulses.

Accompanying the photographs are selected passages about graveyards and funerals from her fiction -- Losing Battles, The Golden Apples and Other Stories, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, and The Optimist's Daughter -- and from her essay "Some Notes on River Country."

In the introduction Elizabeth Spencer, a Mississippi writer who has been a life-long friend of Welty's, explores the photographic images for the meanings they yield, for the light they throw onto Welty's fiction, and for her own memories of their home state's evocative graveyards and burial customs.

Eudora Welty, one of America's most acclaimed and honored writers, is the author of many novels and story collections, including The Optimist's Daughter (Pulitzer Prize), Losing Battles, The Ponder Heart, The Robber Bridegroom, and A Curtain of Green and Other Stories and two collections of her photographic work Photographs and One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression (both from University Press of Mississippi).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578062355
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
04/25/2000
Pages:
111
Sales rank:
835,758
Product dimensions:
8.34(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.68(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, novelist and short story writer Eudora Welty (1909-2001) remains one of our most beloved writers of regional fiction. The winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, she had an uncanny ability to observe the life around her, and bring it to the page. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was the first living author to have her works published by the Library of America. Her house in Jackson has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 13, 1909
Date of Death:
July 23, 2001
Place of Birth:
Jackson, Mississippi
Place of Death:
Jackson, Mississippi
Education:
University of Wisconsin

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