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Tillie Olsen
Special 25th anniversary edition of the landmark survey that revolutionized the view of literary history.

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Paperback Edition
ISBN: 9781558614406
Publication Date: 04-15-2003

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Introduction by Shelley Fisher Fishkin

First published in 1978, Silences single-handedly revolutionized the literary canon. In this classic work, now back in print, Olsen broke open the study of literature and discovered a lost continent—the writing of women and working-class people. From the excavated testimony of authors’ letters and diaries we learn the many ways the creative spirit, especially in those disadvantaged by gender, class and race, can be silenced. Olsen recounts the torments of Melville, the crushing weight of criticism on Thomas Hardy, the shame that brought Willa Cather to a dead halt, and struggles of Virginia Woolf, Olsen’s heroine and greatest exemplar of a writer who confronted the forces that would silence her. This twenty-fifth-anniversary edition includes Olsen’s now infamous reading lists of forgotten authors and a new introduction and author preface.

"What Tillie Olsen has to say . . . is of primary importance to those who want to understand how art is generated or subverted and to those trying to create it themselves." —New York Times Book Review

"Tillie Olsen helps those of us condemned to silence—the poor, the racial minorities, the women—find our voices." —Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior

"[Silences is] 'the Bible.' I constantly return to it." —Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

"As much as I learned from Tell Me a Riddle, I learned even more from Tillie's landmark classic and original essay Silences: When Writers Don't Write, which I read while living in Cambridge in the early seventies, raising a small daughter alone and struggling to write myself." —Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

"Silences helped me to keep my sanity many a day." —Gloria Naylor, author of Mama Day

"Silences will, like A Room of One's Own, be quoted where there is talk of the circumstances in which literature is possible." —Adrienne Rich, author of Diving into the Wreck