Katherie Anne Porter - PowerPoint by wanghonghx


									Katherine Anne Porter

   born , May 15, 1890, Indian Creek,
   Texas, U.S.
   died Sept. 18, 1980, Silver Spring, Md.
   American
    novelist and
    short-story writer,
    a master stylist
    whose long short
    stories have a
    richness of
    texture and
    complexity of
    usually achieved
    only in the novel.
   Porter was educated at private and convent
    schools in the South.
   She worked as a newspaperwoman in
    Chicago and in Denver, Colorado, before
    leaving in 1920 for Mexico, the scene of
    several of her stories.
   “Maria Concepcion,” her first published story
    (1922), was included in her first book of
    stories, Flowering Judas (1930), which was
    enlarged in 1935 with other stories.
   The title story of her next collection, Pale
    Horse, Pale Rider (1939), is a poignant tale
    of youthful romance brutally thwarted by the
    young man's death in the influenza epidemic
    of 1919.
   In it and the two other stories of the volume,
    “Noon Wine” and “Old Mortality,” appears for
    the first time her semiautobiographical
    heroine, Miranda, a spirited and independent
   Porter's reputation was firmly established, but none
    of her books sold widely, and she supported herself
    primarily through fellowships, by working
    occasionally as an uncredited screenwriter in
    Hollywood, and by serving as writer-in-residence at
    a succession of colleges and universities.
   She published The Leaning Tower (1944), a
    collection of stories, and won an O. Henry Award for
    her 1962 story, “Holiday.”
   The literary world awaited with great anticipation the
    appearance of Porter's only full-length novel, on
    which she had been working since 1941.
   With the publication of Ship of Fools in 1962, Porter
    won a large readership for the first time.
   A best-seller that became a major film in 1965, it
    tells of the ocean voyage of a group of Germans
    back to their homeland from Mexico in 1931, on the
    eve of Hitler's ascendency.
   Porter's carefully crafted, ironic style is perfectly
    suited to the allegorical exploration of the collusion
    of good and evil that is her theme, and the
    penetrating psychological insight that had always
    marked her work is evident in the book.
   Porter's Collected Short Stories (1965) won
    the National Book Award and the Pulitzer
    Prize for fiction.
   Her essays, articles, and book reviews were
    collected in The Days Before (1952;
    augmented 1970).
   Her last work, published in 1977, when she
    suffered a disabling stroke, was The Never-
    Ending Wrong, dealing with the Sacco-
    Vanzetti case of the 1920s.
   Katherine Anne Porter's “Flowering Judas,” for example,
    echoes and ironically inverts the traditional Christian legend.
   http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?action=openPageViewer&d
Flowering Judas

   Katherine Anne Porter, whose works took the
    form of novelettes and stories, wrote more in
    the style of the Metaphysical poets.
   Her use of the stream-of-consciousness
    method in Flowering Judas (1930) as well as
    in Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939) had the
    complexity, the irony, and the symbolic
    sophistication characteristic of these poets,
    whose work the modernists had brought into

   ". . .everything I ever wrote in the way of
    fiction is based very securely on something
    real in life."
   This story is modeled on an incident which
    happened to a friend of hers, Mary Doherty,
    during the Obregon revolution in Mexico.
   In a 1965 interview, Porter gave this

   "There was a man. . .who was showing Mary a little
    attention. . . .Goodness knows, nothing could be
    more innocent. But you know, she wasn't sure of
    him; so one day she asked me to come over and sit
    with her because so-and-so was going to come in
    the evening and sing a little bit and talk. She lived
    alone in a small apartment. The way I described the
    place was exactly as it was. There was a little round
    fountain, and what we call a flowering Judas tree in
    full bloom over it. As I passed the open window, I
    saw this girl sitting like this, you see, and a man over
    there singing. Well, all of a sudden, I thought, 'That
    girl doesn't know how to take care of herself.'"

   The beginning of this story--in fact, the first
    paragraph --establishes the tension that is
    developed in the remainder of the story.
   A close examination of it reveals Laura's apparent
    dedication and self-sacrifice in contrast to
    Braggioni's insolent exploitation.
   Notice the off-putting description of Braggioni, but
    also the way that Laura avoids the situation, staying
    away from home as late as she can and then
    stoically enduring his presence.

   This palpable tension between two ways of life is
    developed throughout "Flowering Judas.“
   Gradually, the reader recognizes Laura as a
    character whose spiritual betrayal is far more
    profound than the revolutionary leader's
   The ending of this story does not provide a simple
   It is only in Laura's dream at the end of the story, a
    dream brought on by her recognition that by
    betraying Eugenio she has betrayed herself, that
    she comes to a horrifying understanding of her
    condition: her fear of love, of life.

   She awakes trembling at the sound of her
    own voice, "No!," and is afraid to sleep
   Porter ends the story here; we do not know if
    Laura's realization will save her from what
    she has become.
   Her dream, which as Robert Penn Warren
    wrote, "embodies but does not resolve the
    question," tantalizes us with its implications.
   (notice that his name suggests his
    nature) appears to have betrayed the
    earnest ideals of the movement he leads
    through his love of luxury and his indifference
    to his fellow revolutionaries.
   He so completely savaged by his portrayal
    that it is difficult to take sufficient note of his
    continuing importance in the movement, and
    his necessary emphasis on the movement as
    a whole over mere individual members of it.
   Notice that the very traits which have led to his
    lewdly obese insolence--vanity, arrogance, self-love,
    malice, cleverness, love of pleasure, "hardness of
    heart"--are precisely those which have made him a
    "skilled revolutionist."
   He is, on the other hand, a man capable of certain
    sorts of love; he can sacrifice himself and accept
    sacrifice from others.
   He is capable of both revolutionary and amatory
   His ability to love begins with himself and oozes
    over those with whom he comes into

   The repressed has betrayed Eugenio--first by
    refusing his offer of love, then by delivering to him
    the drugs he uses to commit suicide.
   She has betrayed the children she teaches; even
    though she tries to love and take pleasure in them,
    they "remain stangers to her."
   Most important, perhaps, she betrays herself by
    rejecting "knowledge and kinship in one
    monotonous word. No. No. No," and by disguising
    her sexual coldness as earnest revolutionary

   Laura is afraid; she cannot live; she is "not at
    home in the world." It makes her, finally, a
    "cannibal" of others, a "murderer" of herself.
   When she eats the "warm, bleeding flowers"
    of the Judas tree in her nightmare vision, she
    symbolically participates in a sacrament of
   Laura lives paralyzed.

   Her ideals remain intact, though she must
    sometimes struggle to maintain them.
   Her own taste requires fine handmade lace, a
    revolutionary heresy.
   And she is still, significantly, engaged by the
    faith of her childhood..

   Yet caught between her revolutionary
    sympathies and the sympathies of her own
    past, she finds the experience "no good" and
    ends by merely examining the tinseled altar
    and its presiding "male saint, whose lace-
    trimmed drawers hang limply around his
   In addition, Laura's revolutionary activity is

   She takes messages to and from people
    living in dark alleys; attends fruitless union
    meetings; ferries food and cigarettes and
    narcotics to sad, imprisoned men; she
    "borrows money from the Roumanian agitator
    to give to his bitter enemy the Polish
    agitator."                       soothing things, drugs

   She is found to be comforting and useful, but
    her revolutionary ardor is of little use when it
    comes to leading the revolution.
Point of View

   The reader must be aware of the extent to
    which Braggioni is portrayed in the story from
    Laura's perspective, and although her
    perspective undoubtedly reveals an important
    slice of the truth, it is nevertheless distorted
    by her own ascetic idealism.
Point of View

   Critics of the story have often noted that the
    background facts concerning Laura are distinctly
    similar to those in Porter's own experience: the
    Catholic upbringing, Porter's having been a teacher
    in Mexico, her involvement in revolutionary causes
    there, a stubbornly aesthetic sensibility.
   It is by no means difficult, then to establish a
    biographical basis for "Flowering Judas," but it
    would be a mistake to lose sight of the degree to
    which Porter has transformed the raw data of her
    experience into fiction.

   When Laura eats the "warm, bleeding
    flowers" of the Judas tree in her nightmare
    vision, she symbolically participates in a
    sacrament of betrayal.
   Her love of fine handmade lace suggests her
    conflicts with her past versus her
    revolutionary sympathies.
   “Sacrament” is in Christianity, a rite that is
    considered to have been established by
    Jesus Christ to bring grace to those
    participating in or receiving it. In the
    Protestant Church, the sacraments are
    baptism and Communion. The Roman
    Catholic and Eastern Churches also include
    penance, confirmation, holy orders,
    matrimony, and the anointing of the sick.

   In fact, throughout the story, there is evidence of this
    tension between two ways of life--Laura's avoidance,
    frigidity, and inability to love and Braggioni's
   Braggioni's name suggests his nature: he "bulges
    marvelously in his expensive garments," his mouth
    "opens round and yearns sideways," he "swells with
    ominous ripeness," his ammunition belt is buckled
    "cruelly around his gasping middle" ( pp. 1786-1787).

   Robert Penn Warren's essay, "Irony with a
    Center," is a close reading of a passage from
    "Flowering Judas" --the paragraphs
    beginning with 'Braggioni was your
    friend' and ending with 'you will know that
    Braggioni was your friend'--(pp. 1786-1787).
   Early in the story, Laura seems the idealistic,
    perfect revolutionary and Braggioni the
    disgusting, off-putting character.

   But as the story progresses, it becomes clear
    that Laura is most guilty of betrayal, for she,
    in her inability to give herself, to be intimate,
    to truly give, is guilty of spiritual betrayal.
   Braggioni, disgusting as he is, is guilty of a
    much less crime.
Web Resources

   Katherine Anne Porter
    Read books on/by Katherine Porter at
    world's largest online library.
   Katherine Anne Porter Society
   Literary Manuscripts, UM Libraries
    The Katherine Anne Porter Room
Web Resources

   Katherine Anne Porter
    ... Descendent of Daniel Boone, legendary pioneer
    and explorer, Katherine Anne Porter
    was born in Indian Creek, Texas, but . she grew up
    in Texas and Louisiana. ...
   PAL: Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
   American Masters . Katherine Anne Porter | PBS

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