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Joyce Carol Oates Biography

(1938– ), By the North Gate, With Shuddering Fall, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, Them

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: New from Tartary to Frank O'connor

American novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and essayist, born in Lockport, New York, educated at Syracuse and Wisconsin Universities. Oates began her prolific literary career with By the North Gate (1963), a collection of short stories. Her first novel, With Shuddering Fall (1964), ushers in many of the concerns of her subsequent novels. Set, as is much of her work, in the fictional ‘Eden County’ which is largely modelled on her birthplace, the book explores an obedience and love which might transcend good and evil. Though mainly concerned with the redemptive power of love, madness, violence, and lust also figure in bizarre forms in her fiction. Experimenting with a variety of points of view and styles—realism, gothic horror, metafiction, and parodies of forms—her work frequently explores the corruption beneath the surface of normality, which is both socially and individually generated. Her further novels include A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967); Expensive People (1968); Them (1969); Wonderland (1971), a surrealistic narrative in the manner of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Do with Me what You Will (1973); The Assassins (1975); The Childwold (1976); Son of the Morning (1978); Unholy Loves (1979); Cybele (1979); Bellefleur (1980); and A Bloodsmoor Romance (1982), Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984), and Solstice (1985). Marya: A Life (1986) and the monumental You Must Remember This (1987), both set in upstate New York, are more openly autobiographical. As well as the later novels American Appetites (1989), Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1991), The Rise of Life on Earth (1991), and I Lock My Door upon Myself (1991), she has written many collections of short stories including The Wheel of Love (1970), Marriages and Infidelities (1972), Crossing the Border (1976), Heat: And Other Stories (1991), Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (1994), and Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories (1995). Among her plays are Sunday Dinner (1970), Miracle Play (1974), Presque Isle (1984), and Twelve Plays (1991). She has written much non-fiction and criticism, including The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence (1973); produced such essay collections as Contraries (1981), The Profane Art (1983), On Boxing (1987), and (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities (1988); and edited The Best American Essays Nineteen Ninety-One (1991). She has also published many collections of poetry.

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