Welty on Wednesday: Joseph Cornell Collage

In the breakfast room of the Eudora Welty House and Garden Museum hangs a letter collage sent to Eudora from artist Joseph Cornell Her short story, “The Winds”, was published in 1942 in Harper’s Bazaar.  Cornell’s text and photomontage were featured in the January 1943 edition of the magazine

 View: Americana Fantastica.

After reading the issue, Eudora wrote to author and fellow Mississippian Charles Henri Ford with her praise.  Ford later forwarded her letter to Cornell and a network of literary appreciation was born.

The cover of View: Americana Fantastica…

Americana Fantastica

Americana Fantastica

Americana Fantastica

Cornell’s pictorial history consisting of Niagara Falls with trapeze and high wire artists, New York City landmarks such as King Kong atop the Empire State Building, Native Americans (perhaps Sitting Bull with a peace pipe?) and edged with drummer, acrobat, thespian, compass, map, ship and anchor would no doubt have been a delight to Eudora.  She had been immersed in surrealism in the 1930s while she was in New York, as is evidenced in her writing of the short story “The Winds” and many others.

After Cornell read “The Winds”, he sent a fan letter back to Welty composed on his signature blue paper.  He has created a cutout brick chimney from which a chimney sweep emerges – its’ cap is flying off and his face is covered with soot.  He carries a yellow butterfly-shaped sheet with the words Dear Eudora Welty typed on it.  Eudora loved it so much that she had it framed and it hung in her breakfast room.  The original of course is in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and a copy now rests in its’ place.

I think that Pearl McHaney, professor at Georgia State University has summed it up:

“…she teaches us to read simultaneously with microscope and telescope…to move beyond realism to surreal places.”



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  1. Grace Henderson says:

    reading Welty’s letters with Maxwell shows her retiring yet vivacious personality. What a delight!

    • mnestorc@aol.com says:

      Yes, you are right. Her personality shines also in the letters with Russell, “Tell About Night Flowers”, delightful!

  2. Pearl McHaney says:

    One reading this post might enjoy my essay: “Forays into the Surreal: Eudora Welty’s ‘The Winds’ and ‘A Sketching Trip’ and Joseph Cornell.” Miranda: Multidisciplinary Peer-reviewed Journal on the English-Speaking World. 7 (December 2012). http://www.miranda-ejournal.eu/sdx2/miranda/article.xsp?numero=7&id_article=Article_24-1175

    • mnestorc@aol.com says:

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your essay with me. I have enjoyed looking into the effect of surrealism on Welty’s writings some more since reading your work and have a fun little post about it!