As well as being a very fine novelist, Dorothy Scarborough was a noted early scholar of supernatural literature, a folk song collector, editor and teacher of creative writing at Columbia University, where she counted among her students the Southern Gothic writer, Carson McCullers. Although established as a regional writer in Texas, it appears that Scarborough has so far failed to gain recognition further afield.
In this episode I'm joined by Patricia Pulham, Professor of Victorian Literature at The University of Surrey, to discuss Dorothy Scarborough's remarkable novel, The Wind (1925).
The novel concerns the fate of Letty, a young girl plucked out of a life of ease in Virginia and forced to move to the plains of Sweetwater, Texas at the height of a terrible drought in the 1880s. Letty struggles to acclimatise in this new, hostile environment - its ugly, arid vistas and its harsh manners - but it is the incessant wind that strikes her most deeply. As her isolation increases, she begins mentally to imbue the wind with supernatural power, coming to believe that it intends to destroy her and everything she holds dear.
Over the course of the episode, we consider the reasons why the book has struggled to achieve classic status, its potential as a rich subject of study for the burgeoning field of Eco-Gothic and Eco-Horror, and the folkloric influences at the heart of the novel.
The readings for this episode were provided by Iga Wiśniowska
'Race, Labor, and the Gothic Western: Dispelling Frontier Myths in Dorothy Scarborough's The Wind' by Susan Kollin in MFS Modern Fiction Studies, Volume 46, Number 3, (Fall, 2000)
'When East Meets West: Rethinking the Domestic Heroine and the Western in DorothyScarborough's The Wind' by John C. Orr in Pacific Coast Philology, Vol. 31, No. 1 (1996)
The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction (1917) by Dorothy Scarborough