Alison Lurie

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Alison Lurie
Alison Lurie in 1987
Alison Lurie in 1987
BornAlison Stewart Lurie
(1926-09-03)September 3, 1926
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedDecember 3, 2020(2020-12-03) (aged 94)
Ithaca, New York, U.S.
Occupation
  • Novelist
  • academic
EducationRadcliffe College (BA)
Period1962–2020
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Fiction (1985)
Spouse
Jonathan Peale Bishop
(m. 1948; div. 1985)

Edward Hower
Children3

Alison Stewart Lurie (September 3, 1926 – December 3, 2020) was an American novelist and academic. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her 1984 novel Foreign Affairs. Although better known as a novelist, she wrote many non-fiction books and articles, particularly on children's literature and the semiotics of dress.

Life[edit]

Alison Stewart Lurie was born on September 3, 1926, in Chicago,[1] and raised in White Plains, New York. Her father Harry Lawrence Lurie was a sociologist, and her mother Bernice Lurie (née Stewart) was a journalist and book critic.[2] Her father was born in Latvia and her mother was born in Scotland.[3] Her father served as the First Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds.[4] Due to complications with a forceps delivery, she was born deaf in one ear and with damage to her facial muscles.[5] She attended a boarding school in Darien, Connecticut,[5] and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature.[2]

Lurie met literary scholar Jonathan Peale Bishop while in college,[6] and they married in 1948.[2] Bishop later taught at Amherst College and Cornell University, and Lurie moved along with him. They had three sons and divorced in 1984. She then married the writer Edward Hower. She spent part of her time in London, part in Ithaca, and part in Key West, Florida.[2]

In 1970, Lurie began to teach in the English department at Cornell, where she was tenured in 1979. She taught children's literature and writing. In 1976, she was named the F. J. Whiton Professor of American Literature at Cornell,[7][8] and upon retirement, professor emerita.[9] In 1981, she published The Language of Clothes, a non-fiction book about the semiotics of dress. Her discussion in Language of Clothes has been compared to Roland Barthes' The Fashion System (1985).[10]

Lurie died from natural causes while under hospice care in Ithaca, New York, on December 3, 2020, at age 94.[2][9][11]

Themes[edit]

Lurie's novels often featured professors in starring roles, and were frequently set at academic institutions.[12] With their light touch and focus on portraying the emotions of well-educated adulterers, her works bear more resemblance to some 20th-century British authors (such as Kingsley Amis and David Lodge) rather than to the major American authors of her generation.[13] A 2003 profile of Lurie, styled as a review of her Boys and Girls Forever, a work of criticism, observed that Lurie's works are often "witty and astute comedies of manners".[6] Lurie noted that her writing was grounded in a "desire to laugh at things".[8]

Literary critic John W. Aldridge gave a mixed assessment of Lurie's oeuvre in The American Novel and the Way We Live Now (1983). He notes that Lurie's work "has a satirical edge that, when it is not employed in hacking away at the obvious, is often eviscerating", but also remarks that "there is … something hobbled and hamstrung about her engagement in experience".[14]

Although better known as a novelist, she wrote many non-fiction books and articles, particularly on children's literature and the semiotics of dress.[1]

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

Children's collections[edit]

  • The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales (1975)[17]
  • Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales (1980)[2]
  • Fabulous Beasts[17]
  • The Heavenly Zoo[17]
  • The Black Geese[17]

Non-fiction[edit]

  • The Language of Clothes (1981)[2]
  • Don't Tell the Grown-Ups (1990)[2]
  • Familiar Spirits (2001)[2]
  • Boys and Girls Forever (2003)[2]
  • The Language of Houses: How Buildings Speak to Us (2014):[18]
  • Words and Worlds: From Autobiographies to Zippers (2019)[19]

Awards and honors[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rollyson 2012, p. 133.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Fox, Margalit (December 3, 2020). "Alison Lurie, Tart-Voiced Novelist of Manners, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  3. ^ "Alison Lurie, novelist who dissected human relationships in a time of social change – obituary". The Telegraph. December 4, 2020. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  4. ^ Ivry, Benjamin (December 5, 2020). "How Alison Lurie inherited her Jewish sense of social consciousness". The Forward. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Connelly, Phoebe (December 3, 2020). "Alison Lurie, Pulitzer-winning novelist of mordant wit and boundless empathy, dies at 94". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Wroe, Nicholas (October 25, 2003). "Young at heart". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  7. ^ Aloi, Daniel (September 12, 2013). "Alison Lurie to read short works from a long career". Cornell Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Sarah A. (December 4, 2020). "Alison Lurie obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Italie, Hillel (December 3, 2020). "Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of 'Foreign Affairs,' dead at 94". USA Today. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  10. ^ Edwards 2010, p. 26.
  11. ^ Italie, Hillel (December 3, 2020). "Alison Lurie, prize winning novelist, dead at 94". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  12. ^ "Alison Lurie". Encyclopædia Britannica. December 3, 2020. Archived from the original on March 24, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  13. ^ Gussow, Mel (September 5, 1998). "Comedies of Manners, Laced With Morals". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  14. ^ Aldridge 1983, p. 85.
  15. ^ Levin, Martin (January 16, 1966). "Reader's Report". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  16. ^ Truax, Alice (October 30, 2005). "'Truth and Consequences': Suffering Fools". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  17. ^ a b c d "Alison's Children's Collections". Alisonlurie.com. Archived from the original on July 20, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  18. ^ "The Language of Houses: How Buildings Speak to Us". Publishers Weekly. June 16, 2014. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c Lucas, Tyler (May 18, 2019). "Alison Lurie's newest book finds a new means". Ithaca Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020.
  20. ^ "Alison Lurie". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020.
  21. ^ Chandler, Mark (December 4, 2020). "A Pulitzer winner Alison Lurie dies, aged 94". The Bookseller. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020.
  22. ^ "Academy Members". American Academy of Arts and Letters. Archived from the original on October 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "Alison Lurie". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2020. Archived from the original on December 5, 2020.
  24. ^ MacLeod, Donald (June 21, 2006). "Michael Douglas leads cast of honorary graduates". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020.
  25. ^ "Honorary Graduates of the University of Nottingham" (PDF). University of Nottingham. October 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 4, 2020.
  26. ^ Dawson, Jonathan (August 29, 2012). "Retired Cornell English Professor Named New York State Author". The Cornell Daily Sun. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]