“Published Prosperity: Gail Godwin’s Writer’s Memoir,” by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands Journals and memoirs are both self-narratives, but they are written from different viewpoints and for different reasons. Gail Godwin’s journals from the 1960s, The Making of a Writer, take us back to a present when no one could know how things would turn out and before Godwin herself could be […]

“Unpublished Prosperity: Gail Godwin’s Journals of Apprenticeship,” by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands We may think of great writers as fully fledged—born with astonishing powers of perception and creation. Surprisingly, however, research suggests that creativity can be learned and developed, in which case great writers might not be so different from the rest of us after all. Before any kind of breakthrough, they […]

“Craft and Conviction: Gail Godwin’s History of the Heart,” by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands Gail Godwin’s Heart: A Natural History of the Heart-Filled Life stems from a moment in time when Godwin had just re-read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. She had been thinking about a new novel regarding “a woman’s journey into a heart of darkness where she would have to confront her shadow” […]

“Friends in Writing: Bloomian Jealousies in Gail Godwin’s Old Lovegood Girls,” Essay by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands A new novel by Gail Godwin is a treat. To enter the literary world created by Godwin is like stepping into a pleasant townhouse where spacious, sun-dappled rooms open up on the first floor. Then you notice that there are stairs, too, that may lead to other, more complex, secret, […]

Facing and Writing Trauma: Suffering and Survival in Post-traumatic America,” Essay by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands When she was writing her book on trauma in American literature, Laura Castor could hardly have known that another traumatic time in American history would be just around the corner. The corona pandemic could be seen as a trauma on individual, national, and global levels, one that may well lead […]

“Hints of Impermanence: Ghosts and Orphans in Gail Godwin’s Grief Cottage,” by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands Gail Godwin’s new novel Grief Cottage (2017) is set in coastal South Carolina, an area rich in history, legend, and tradition. Evoking a real place and a real environment, Pawleys Island and the Isle of Palms, this novel introduces us to Grief Cottage, a profoundly charged site, a metaphorical rendezvous […]

“Performing Atonement: Regret, Responsibility, and Redemption in Gail Godwin’s ‘Flora,'” by Kerstin W. Shands

Essay by Kerstin W. Shands There is no person so severely punished, as those who subject themselves to the whip of their own remorse. (Seneca) There are things we can’t undo, but perhaps there is a kind of constructive remorse that could transform regrettable acts into something of service to life.  (Godwin 1)   Wistfully […]