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I Lock My Door upon Myself

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Overview

Originally published in 1990, I Lock My Door Upon Myself is the story of Calla, a beautiful, flame-haired, willful girl living in rural upstate New York in the early years of the 20th century. At 17, Calla is married off to a coarse local farmer. Her chance encounter with an itinerant black water-dowser leads to a passionate, obsessive, and doomed love affair, from which she emerges a celibate recluse.

Written in a painterly style that is utterly compelling, this ...

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1990 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Pages are bright and unmarked. Binding and cover are fine. Book and dust jacket are in new condition. 98 p. Contains: ... Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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New York, New York, U.S.A. 1990 Hard Cover First Edition, First Printing NEW CONDITION. NEW DUST JACKET Hardcover Book //NO REMAINDER MARK//NO PREVIOUS OWNER MARKS OF ANY KIND ... (no names or inscriptions, no bookplate, no underlining, etc) //NOT PRICECLIPPED//NEW MYLAR COVER// Read more Show Less

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Overview

Originally published in 1990, I Lock My Door Upon Myself is the story of Calla, a beautiful, flame-haired, willful girl living in rural upstate New York in the early years of the 20th century. At 17, Calla is married off to a coarse local farmer. Her chance encounter with an itinerant black water-dowser leads to a passionate, obsessive, and doomed love affair, from which she emerges a celibate recluse.

Written in a painterly style that is utterly compelling, this compact yet powerful novel is perfect for anyone wishing to step into the hypnotic fictional world of Joyce Carol Oates. "A poetic ballad of love and death and martyrdom in a turn-of-the-century small town. . . ."--The New York Times.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Love and death and martyrdom in a turn-of-the-century small town....Possesses the power of legend.
San Francisco Chronicle
Beautifully crafted...written much like a folk or fairy tale in its patient,eerie delivery,this novella delicately peers into the heart.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in her recent highly praised novel, Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart , Oates unfolds another tale of ill-starred love between a white woman and a black man. The narrator tells the story of her grandmother, Edith Freilicht, whose secret name was Calla (with its overtones of lily-whiteness). It was bestowed by her own mother, dead in childbirth, and recognized only by her black lover, muscular, charismatic Tyrell Thompson, whose mysterious trade as a dowser (one who finds water with a divining rod) brings him unbidden to her family's New York farm. Set around the turn of the century, this exquisitely crafted, dreamlike novella is the first in Ecco's planned series of fictions on art. In it the author imaginatively fashions her own meaning for Belgian symbolist Fernand Khnopff's painting of the same title (which serves as the cover illustration): the work depicts a striking young woman who leans on a window ledge and fixes pale bewitching eyes on the beholder; a flower stands in the foreground. Windows figure prominently throughout the narrative, as invitations to adventure, openings upon dangerous perspectives, frames for catastrophes. Images of water illuminate the lovers' fates. Oates powerfully creates a hallucinatory and harrowing atmosphere charged with sensuality and destruction. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In turn-of-the-century rural America, willful and elusive Calla, muzzled by an enforced marriage, church, and kin she no longer cares about, chooses a life of inertia and indifference until the arrival of roving black water dowser Tyrell Thompson. She finally sheds the self she has imposed, and her long-subsumed physical and spiritual selves emerge. Oates deftly brings alive character and landscape in prose that reads more like a georgic than like fiction. Color and language as spoken are used as metaphors of liberation. ``If this is a dream it is not my dream for how should I know what the language in which to dream it,'' says new, liberated Calla. This novella shares the same title as a Fernand Khnopff painting and is the first in a series of fictions inspired by art to come from this publisher. Essential to the Oates canon.-- Bibi S. Thompson, ``Library Journal''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880012607
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/1990
  • Series: Fiction on Art Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 98
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates
In a prolific and varied oeuvre that ranges over essays, plays, criticism, and several genres of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has proved herself one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2008

    A reviewer

    The skeleton of the story replicates Ethan Frome, but Ms. Oates telling of the story is not to be missed. The difference between them is the inclusion of racism, a theme that she has dealt with in other novels. I found it hard to identify with Calla in the first half of the book but the ties were bound tightly as the action progressed, in the same way that the river flows quietly until it nears the falls.

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