By Harold Bloom (Editor)
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Additional resources for Alice Munro (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
If Wilfred figured in his own stories, as he usually did, there was always a stroke of luck Alice Munro and the Limits of Narrative 33 for him somewhere, a good meal or a bottle of whiskey or some money. (215) While the careful stories of characters like Prue and Wilfred may temporarily keep deep troubles at bay by depriving them of vivid language, these troubles insist on expression, ingeniously finding translation into a different discourse. Prue’s mute rage at Gordon expresses itself in her petty theft of his belongings (“She just takes something, every now and then” ), and Wilfred’s unutterable sadness surfaces in crying fits deep in the night.
The chronological and geographical settings of Munro’s stories roughly reiterate this life pattern of departure and return. Many of the earliest, appearing in Dance of the Happy Shades and Lives of Girls and Women (a novel that is itself a progression of connected stories), are set in the “quasi-pioneer environment”4 of southern Ontario, often depicting the brutality and squalor of life on the edge of a small rural community. Frequently, their point of view is that of a young girl scrutinizing the incomprehensible behavior of adults.
The Chinese image of heaven (Pi), which is shaped like a circle with a hole (analogous with cup or chalice) in the middle” (1962, 116). This circle can be spotted in Munro stories but it is mockingly reproduced. I am thinking, for example, of the “Hole-in-One” doughnut shop in “Providence” (WDY, 136). The grail implies “above all, the quest for the mystic ‘Centre’ ” (Cirlot, 1962, 116), but Munro is writing against the grain of this kind of symbolism. There are no knights at a Round Table here.
Alice Munro (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) by Harold Bloom (Editor)