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By Louise Westling (auth.)

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B. Lewis and Leo Marx have exposed similar contradictions in the pastoral myth of American innocence; Annette Kolodny has analysed the traditional description of the landscape as feminine and its exploitation as rape. 10 Clearly the American novel has been preoccupied with issues that stand outside the main focus of the English novel. From its beginnings with Richardson's Pamela, the English novel has placed women and their domestic world at the centre of its concerns, and many of the great nineteenth-century English practitioners of the novel were women.

As a stylist, Eudora Welty's most characteristic expression is lyrical and impressionistic, but always grounded in precise physical detail. She is a versatile prose writer, however, who can also write with the bare sort of realism we associate with masculine writers like Ernest Hemingway. At the other extreme she can employ an exotic, dreamlike fairy tale mode which reminded some early reviewers ofIsak Dinesen, or a flat caricature or grotesque similar to that used by other Southern writers such as William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor and labelled 'Southern gothic' by critics.

The Ponder Heart (1956) is a comic novella narrated by an eccentric spinster hotelkeeper named Edna Earle Ponder. Her vision of her world is the real subject of the novella (CNVRS, p. 10). The name Edna Earle comes from a popular romantic novel from Welty's youth called St Elmo (OWB, p. 7), and 'Ponder' is a relatively common Mississippi name represented at least ten times in the Jackson telephone book. Welty chose the name for its comic effect and perhaps also for its punning suggestions of ponderousness for Uncle Daniel's exaggerated motivations of generosity.

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