Saturday, May 22, 2010

"The Lottery" and Its Author

I don't remember exactly when I first read the short story "The Lottery," but I know that I was young enough to think it was interesting and a bit confusing. I had to ask questions about the ending because in my mind I could not understand why people would willingly accept this game of choosing who would be killed. Really, why didn't anyone do anything about the practice; you know, social opprobrium? (The question is still urgent for a bunch of things in our world.) So then in school I learned about metaphor, even those that the author did not intend.

Here's an interesting short essay in TNR about "The Lottery" and Shirley Jackson, who wrote it in a single sitting. Now that is more mind-boggling than the short story itself. The essay begins like this:
The idea for “The Lottery,” first published in 1948 and now one of the most widely anthologized works of American fiction, came to Shirley Jackson while she was pushing her baby daughter in her stroller. When they got home, she writes in an essay included in the new Library of America collection of her writings, she put away her groceries, put the baby in a playpen, and in a single sitting wrote the story ...

4 Comments:

Anonymous JDay said...

You should read "The Haunting of Hill House", but do it during the day. It is very scary. All the movie versions completely suck and miss the point.

5/22/2010 1:06 PM  
Blogger fromclay said...

I'll give it a shot. The book, not the movies. Thanks.

5/22/2010 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

I've been hearing so much about this story lately that I'm finally going to read it for the first time - I just found in my Norton Anthology. I don't even want to read this article right now, at the risk of ruining the suspense.

5/23/2010 11:08 AM  
Blogger fromclay said...

Let me know what you think, Pete.

5/23/2010 12:58 PM  

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