You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

Jesse Stuart

Jesse Stuart: Essays on His Work

J. R. LeMaster
Mary Washington Clarke
Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 176
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Jesse Stuart
    Book Description:

    J. R. LeMaster and Mary Washington Clarke have here assembled a distinguished collection of essays on the works of Jesse Stuart. A prolific writer, Stuart is at home in many different genres; his poetry, his short stories, his novels, and his autobiographical writings are widely known, and his books for children have enjoyed great popularity. Despite the variety of his work and despite the diversity of the ten essayists' points of view, there emerges from this volume a consistent view of a man whose close contact with the land and the people of his region has produced a distinctive body of writing.

    H. Edward Richardson offers us a glimpse of Jesse Stuart at home, freely and earnestly discussing his work and relating it to the scenes about him. This essay forms a background for the other contributors' discussions of Stuart's humor, his use of folklore, and his persistent agrarian point of view. This, the first collection of all new critical essays on Stuart's writings, succeeds admirably in what criticism is supposed to do-making more accessible the important work of a significant writer.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6366-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE (pp. vii-viii)
    H. Edward Richardson

    In November 1966 my wife and I drove up to W-Hollow from the Bluegrass, where Jesse Stuart was then writer-in-residence on the English faculty of Eastern Kentucky University at Richmond. As we left Grayson and passed the Greenbo Lake turnoff on Kentucky Route 1, entering Greenup County—the Greenwood County of his fiction—we knew we were coming into Stuart Country. From a distant county school, Jesse Stuart had once tried to walk the seventeen miles home to Laurel Ridge, as he renamed his native Seaton Ridge. There were six inches of snow on the ground by afternoon when he...

    J. R. LeMaster

    The first number ofThe Fugitivewas published in Nashville in 1922, and the last number in 1925—six years before Jesse Stuart studied at Vanderbilt University. And although the Fugitive association formally ended upon publication ofFugitives: An Anthology of Verse(1928), its disbanding marked the beginning rather than the end for several of the Fugitives. Both Donald Davidson and Robert Penn Warren stayed at Vanderbilt, where Stuart studied under them and actively solicited their advice concerning his own writing. In 1922 John Crowe Ransom made the mistake of reviewing T. S. Eliot’s long poemThe Waste Landunfavorably,...

    Ruel E. Foster

    Jesse Stuart is emerging as one of the leading short story writers of American literature. He is not the grandfather of the short story in this country as Washington Irving was in the nineteenth century, and he is not the brilliant theorist of fiction that Poe was. Nor does he have one or two set masterpieces vibrant with the malaise of our time as does Hemingway in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis MaComber.” However, Stuart does in his best stories what our great fictionists of the last seventy years have done. He creates his...

    Frank H. Leavell

    At the close ofThe Thread That Runs So True,Jesse Stuart tells us that he quit teaching school and bought a farm and two hundred sheep. On August 8, 1939, his thirty-second birthday, he began writing his first novel,Trees of Heaven,a story about love and raising sheep. On October 14 he was secretly married to Naomi Deane Norris. On October 19 he finished the novel, seventy-two days after he had begun it.Trees of Heavenwas published by E. P. Dutton & Co. on April 22, 1940.

    As in most of Stuart’s works, the setting ofTrees...

    John T. Flanagan

    In the October 1973 issue ofEsquire,Arnold Gingrich celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his magazine and reflected on innumerable past volumes and their star contributors.¹ He observed that Jesse Stuart had appeared some fifty-eight times in the pages ofEsquiresince 1938 as the author of both prose and verse; moreover, Stuart’s story “The Split Cherry Tree” had been anthologized more than 150 times, more frequently than Hemingway's “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” Gingrich professed special liking for the tale despite his grudging admission that Stuart’s stories today were “out of synch with our current and recent New Fiction policies.”...

    Wade Hall

    When Jesse Stuart left Vanderbilt University in 1932 to return home to Greenup County, Kentucky, and follow Professor Donald Davidson’s advice to write about his people there, he surely did not anticipate becoming a major American humorist. Nevertheless, in attempting to portray accurately the life of Appalachian Kentucky, he has placed himself squarely (and significantly) in the tradition of native American humor.

    Stuart’s career has not been that of a “funny fellow” —as professional humorists were often called in the nineteenth century. He is not a humorist in the manner of Artemus Ward, Josh Billings, or Bill Arp—or, more...

  10. THE GIFT OUTRIGHT: W-HOLLOW (pp. 103-116)
    Jim Wayne Miller

    In Jesse Stuart’s short story “This Farm for Sale” Dick Stone decides to sell out and move into town. He authorizes his old friend Melvin Spencer, a well-known local real estate agent, to sell his hill farm. Spencer is really a poet, whose poetry has been appearing for years in the county newspaper in the form of advertisements for hill farms. The advertisements are so striking that local people look forward to reading them even when they are not interested in buying a farm. After spending the better part of a day looking over the farm, and taking dinner with...

  11. JESSE STUART’S USE OF FOLKLORE (pp. 117-129)
    Kenneth Clarke

    Assessment of the extent and function of folklore in Stuart’s writing is a task made relatively easy because of his time and place. His writing career has coincided with development of academic folklore studies in major universities, and some aspects of Kentucky folklore have been collected and analyzed more carefully than those of some other regions, making it possible to compare field-collected data with an author’s rendition. In addition, Stuart has been remarkably cooperative with investigators of his life and works, freely responding to inquiries and sometimes volunteering information to aid them in their studies. The fact that a considerable...

    Mary Washington Clarke

    Commentary on Jesse Stuart abounds in hyphenated designations—poet-novelist, farmer-conservationist, humorist-social critic, writer educator. In all his roles the autobiographical impulse is strong, amounting to a compulsion to communicate what life has taught him; and nowhere is this “fury to impart” his experience more compelling than in his writings about schools and teachers.

    Three early book-length studies of Stuart include substantial attention to his career as an educator and the considerable range of his writings about it: Everetta L. Blair,Jesse Stuart: His Life and Works(1967); Mary Washington Clarke,Jesse Stuart’s Kentucky(1968); and Ruel E. Foster,Jesse Stuart...

    Vera Grinstead Guthrie

    As early as 1948 the readers ofClassmate,a Methodist magazine for youth, and ofProgressive Farmer,a southern farm journal, were being introduced to Jesse Stuart as an author of stories suitable for children. Mr. Stuart’s career as a novelist for children did not begin until 1953, however, when McGraw-Hill’s Whittlesey House publishedThe Beatinest Boy.Since that time, six other juvenile novels have been published by the same press:A Penny’s Worth of Character(1954),Red Mule(1955),The Rightful Owner(1960),Andy Finds a Way(I961),A Ride with Huey the Engineer(1966), andOld Ben(1970). Of these,...

  14. THE CONTRIBUTORS (pp. 163-165)