At Home in Loneliness, Loneliness at Home: Domesticity and the Early Short Stories of Richard Yates
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Richard Yates is best known for his 1961 novel Revolutionary Road, which speaks clearly and powerfully to questions of home, escape and ultimate entrapment in the suburban idyll of Eisenhower-era middle-class white America, a bleak examination of an ideal that promised safety, community, and belonging (to those allowed to belong). As fine a novel as Revolutionary Road may be, Yates' short fiction is in ways more compelling and poignant. In pieces that focus on unremarkable, ordinary individuals, it addresses a considerably broader range of experiences of home, isolation and loneliness in the 1950s in dialog with the postwar hegemonic ideal of white suburban middle-class domesticity. The intent of this paper is to critically examine themes of home and alienation in selections from Yates' short story collection Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (1962) – stories written from 1951-1961 and published in various periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly, in order to explore the complexity of 1950s American discourse surrounding home and domesticity, perhaps surprisingly from the pen of a mainstream white male author.
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