Article published in:Keeping Ourselves Alive
[Journal of Narrative and Life History 3:2/3] 1993
► pp. 255–268
Tillie Olsen: Probing the Boundaries Between Text and Context
Abstract Cultural criticism necessitates not only an examination of the context of the writer but also a broader understanding of the ways in which text and context are integrally interrelated. For pursuing these intersections, Tillie Olsen's short fiction in Tell Me a Riddle is particularly exemplary because of its textual richness and its distinctive ways of drawing on historical context. Interviews with Olsen heighten the significance of her particular context in the 1950s and emphasize the shaping effect that circumstances had on her choices in language and form as she wrote this fiction. Two concerns surface as particularly impor-tant: family life and political activism. An inquiry into these two concerns then suggests the complexity of how voice and circumstance, language and social forces, interact—in the writer, in the text, in the reader, and finally in the choices we might make for shaping alternative understandings of cultural change. (Cultural criticism; literary criticism)
Published online: 04 August 2015
Frye, J. S.
Montrose, L. A.
Newton, J. L.