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Porter, Katherine Anne

(US, 1890–1980)

Porter was a Southerner by inheritance, her fiction informed by her early life in rural Louisiana and Texas, and by experiences as a journalist during the Mexican Revolution. Her stories and novellas were greatly admired for their conscious use of symbol and allegory; some are reminiscent of early Joyce. ‘Maria Concepcion’ is a characteristic early story, depicting murderous jealousy among Mexican peasant women; the title story of her first collection, Flowering Judas (1930, enlarged 1935), also has a Mexican setting. But it is an altogether more sinister tale of revenge, with a famous ending. The central novella in Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939) tells of a love-affair between a soldier and a woman journalist at the time of the 1919 influenza outbreak. It drew upon Porter's own personal background, as did The Old Order: Stories of the Old South (1944). Her only novel, written over two decades, is highly regarded. Ship of Fools (1962) is a large, crowded, and inevitably symbolic story set on a German passenger boat during the 1930s, and features characters of various nationalities struggling together. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1965 for her Collected Stories.

Katherine Mansfield, Carson McCullers, Robert Penn Warren.


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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Pa-Sc)