March 12, 1984 12:00 PM

by Eudora Welty

“How many of us, the South’s writers-to-be of my generation, were blessed in one way or another, if not blessed alike, in not having gone deprived of the King James Version of the Bible. Its cadence entered into our ears and our memories for good. The evidence, or the ghost of it, lingers in all our books.” Where that cadence helped enhance the dark themes of Faulkner and Styron, in Welty it brought added depth and color to a tender vision of family ties. This gem of a book is made up of a series of lectures Welty gave last April at Harvard. It includes autobiographical musings on childhood, college and her first job as publicity agent for a federal program (WPA). Eudora inherited her love of books from her mother, Chestina, who as a young girl refused to let her hair be cut until she was promised a set of Dickens’ classics, which she read along with the Bible her whole life. Near the end, Welty gives some examples of how her real-life experiences inspired her stories and novels. Describing a trip, she observes, “Writers and travelers are mesmerized alike by knowing of their destinations.” Readers too will be mesmerized by Welty’s evocative backward glance at her own life and writing. (Harvard, $10)

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