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A Tyrannous Eye - Eudora Welty's Nonfiction and Photographs

A Tyrannous Eye

Eudora Welty's Nonfiction and Photographs

By Pearl Amelia McHaney
Hardcover : 9781617039263, 256 pages, 24 b&w illustrations, July 2014
Paperback : 9781496825575, 256 pages, 24 b&w illustrations, August 2019

The first full-length treatment of Welty's criticism and visual work


A Tyrannous Eye: Eudora Welty’s Nonfiction and Photographs is the first book-length study of Eudora Welty’s full range of achievements in nonfiction and photography. A preeminent Welty scholar, Pearl Amelia McHaney offers clear-eyed and complex assessments of Welty’s journalism, book reviews, letters, essays, autobiography, and photographs. Each chapter focuses on one genre, filling in gaps left by previous books. With keen skills of observation, finely tuned senses, intellect, wit, awareness of audience, and modesty, Welty applied her genius in all that she did, holding a tough line on truth, breaking through “the veil of indifference to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s plight. ”

McHaney’s study brings critical attention to the under-evaluated genres of Welty’s work and discusses the purposeful use of arguments, examples, and styles, demonstrating that Welty pursued her craft to a high standard across genres with a greater awareness of context than she admitted in her numerous interviews. Welty consistently dared new styles, new audiences, and new publishing venues in order to express her ideas to their fullest. It is “serious daring,” as she wrote in One Writer’s Beginnings, that makes for great writing. In “Place in Fiction,” Welty asks, “How can you go out on a limb if you do not know your own tree? No art ever came out of not risking your neck. And risk—experiment—is a considerable part of the joy of doing. ”


"Few scholars know as much about Eudora Welty as Pearl McHaney. Fewer still can inhabit Welty's sensibility. In A Tyrannous Eye, McHaney works outward from such unusual suspects as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ernest Hemingway to get inside the creative miracle of Welty's imagination. McHaney delivers the highest compliment you can give a writer: she makes us think just for a moment that Eudora Welty is still here among us. "

- Michael Kreyling, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University