Underground Stream, The
Gordon's nine novels and three short-story collections are a major contribution in their own right to the southern literary renaissance. Despite an enduring readership, however, she still remains in the shadow of her husband, Allen Tate, the Fugitive poet and Agrarian critic. Two recent biographical studies of Gordon have partially rectified this situation, which owes much to Gordon's contrived persona of a traditional southern lady turned artist under the tutelage of a gifted, benevolent male writer. Nonetheless, The Underground Stream is the first biography to investigate fully the causes and effects of Gordon's self-mythologizing, as well as the first to extend its coverage substantially beyond the more than thirty years during which she was closest to Tate. Jonza draws on manuscript drafts and unpublished works and letters by Gordon as well as a significant body of her journalistic writing that was unavailable to earlier biographers. From the journalistic writing, in particular, Jonza concludes that Gordon, despite her demurrals, had a fully developed aesthetic criteria, an appreciation for regional literature, and a passion for the literary life long before her association with Tate. Jonza also identifies simultaneous levels of artistry in much of Gordon's fiction - a surface story advancing conservative, patriarchal values and an "underground stream" of feminist concerns. Acutely aware of gender distinctions and barriers to her success as a writer, Gordon often strove for a prose that was not identifiably female or feminine and that used narratives and narrators molded in the southern masculine tradition.