Writing the Proper Story: The Importance of Personal Experience and Inadequacy of Fiction in Alice Munro’s Story “The Ottawa Valley”

Alihodžić, Demir (2016) Writing the Proper Story: The Importance of Personal Experience and Inadequacy of Fiction in Alice Munro’s Story “The Ottawa Valley”. Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 3 (2). pp. 1-6. ISSN 2303-5528


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The tendency among contemporary women writers to look inside themselves for material for fiction is particularly evident in the work of Alice Munro. Munro’s practice of utilizing personal experience in her stories is central to her work, and is therefore identified as an essential element of her fictional aesthetic. In “The Ottawa Valley,” the parallels between Munro’s experiences with her own terminally-ill mother and those of the narrator whose mother has Parkinson’s Disease, are immediately recognizable. Other stories also contain bits and pieces gathered from Munro’s memories; however, she is adamant that her stories should not be seen as strictly autobiographical. Her refusal to allow her work to be described as autobiographical serves as a protective shell into which the author may retreat, and as a reminder that Munro’s stories operate on many levels of reality. In the postscript added to the story, Munro, in the guise of the narrator, deals with the inadequacy of fiction. In several stories the reader is left wondering whether certain events actually occurred or if they were imagined by the teller. This ambiguity between fiction and reality is evident in stories where Munro and/or the characters seem to be second-guessing themselves. For example, the narrator in “The Ottawa Valley” wonders at the end if she has really told a “proper story.” This paper examines the importance of personal experience and inadequacy of fiction in writing by Alice Munro in general, and particularly in reference to her short story “The Ottawa Valley.” The parallels between the narrator’s experiences in “The Ottawa Valley” and Munro’s own experiences with her mother demonstrate that Munro frequently utilizes material from her own life in her stories. Key words: Alice Munro, Postcolonial literature, personal experience, fiction, short story

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: J-FLTAL
Depositing User: Mr. Eldin Milak
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2016 09:22
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2016 02:46
URI: http://eprints.ibu.edu.ba/id/eprint/3274

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