Tag: Mavis Gallant

  • The Burgundy Weekend by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    This is a wonderfully frustrating story. The awful character of Gilles will probably remind you of someone you have known at least once in your life. He is a caricature, to be sure, but not so much of one that he isn’t immediately recognisable. You will feel as if you are stuck inside a car with him yourself. Once you…

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  • The Cost Of Living by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    This is the kind of subtle story which would make a terrible movie adaptation, except perhaps in the most subtle of hands. One character confronts another for some wrong-doing, and in one fell swoop the wrongdoer manages to sully the waters with ease, simply because she’s had so much practice. PLOT The first big chunk of this story comprises character…

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  • Bernadette by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    The idea of a strange, perhaps untrustworthy housemaid is particularly discomfiting to a middle class who can afford such luxury; we hate to think that we invite our own evil into our comfortable homes. An untrustworthy woman let into the home is a familiar trope in horror stories, and is the basis of Mavis Gallant’s short story “Bernadette”. Sometimes the trope…

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  • Thieves and Rascals by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    “Thieves and Rascals” (1956) by Mavis Gallant is a masterclass in keeping part of the main interest out of the frame. One of the central characters is portrayed as an interesting character and I would like to ‘meet’ her on the page. Instead, as the story ends, I realise we’re not going to meet her at all; this is actually a…

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  • Autumn Day by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    “Autumn Day”, a short story by Mavis Gallant, is interesting for feminist reasons. Think of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique; think of Mad Men’s Betty Draper and compare the idle, childlike helplessness of Cissy, the first person narrator in “Autumn Day”. This is a post WW2 picture of American housewives. The men had just saved everyone’s bacon in the war, or…

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  • A Day Like Any Other by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    This story is interesting to me because of the year it was written. As a modern parent, I hear a lot about how ‘parents these days’ are overprotective of our children, interfering too much in their lives, stunting their emotional development. Yet this is a story of one such mother, and it dates from 1952. Have mothers (in particular) always been…

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  • The Picnic by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    The Picnic by Mavis Gallant is darkly comic, a ‘comedy of manners’, starring an eccentric old French aristocratic woman. The reader is afforded a close-up view into her life via an American family, the Marshalls, Major Marshall being stationed in France after the war. The Comedy of Manners is an entertainment form which satirizes the manners and affectations of a…

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  • Madeline’s Birthday by Mavis Gallant Analysis

    Mavis Gallant died last year, but if she were still around she might not think much of my attempt to dissect her stories in order to learn from them: Gallant is dismissive of analysing or explaining her work, and distrustful of academic attempts to do so. The Guardian, 2009 The same Guardian article says of her work, ‘One of the most…

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