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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

14. Becoming Visible

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- James Baldwin
- Saul Bellow
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Ralph Ellison
- Bernard Malamud
- Paule Marshall
- Arthur Miller
- N. Scott Momaday
- Grace Paley
- Philip Roth
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Grace Paley (b. 1922)

The Left and the Soviet Union: Is a Broad-Based Left Wing Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners Possible?
[7863] Committee for the Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners, The Left and the Soviet Union: Is a Broad-Based Left Wing Defense of Soviet Political Prisoners Possible? (n.d.), courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Grace Paley Activities
This link leads to artifacts, teaching tips and discussion questions for this author.
Of her early writing, Paley notes, "I didn't yet realize that you have to have two ears. One ear is that literary ear," and the other is "the ear of the language of home . . . the language of your street and your people." Such an intuitive ear helped define her as one of the twentieth century's most noted American writers and "urban chroniclers."

Grace Paley was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City and grew up listening to the stories of her family, sometimes told in English, sometimes in Russian or Yiddish. She attended Hunter College and the Merchants and Bankers Business and Secretarial School, although she never received a degree from either. She attri-butes her political activism to her parents, both of whom were political exiles in Europe and later were active members of a variety of progressive movements. A self-described "combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist," Paley has continued to play an active role in peace, feminist, and anti-nuclear war movements throughout her life. Paley balanced married life, motherhood, and teaching creative writing at such institutions as Sarah Lawrence, Syracuse, and Dartmouth.

Although she began her career as a poet, Paley is best known for her short stories. Her first collection, Little Disturbances of Man (1959), while highly praised by novelist Philip Roth, was not an immediate success. It did help her to establish a steady readership that grew over time and positioned her as a contemporary local-color writer. Her second collection, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), was published fifteen years later. Paley's other collections include Later the Same Day (1985), The Collected Stories (1994), and her most recent, a collection of essays, Just as I Thought (1999). Her insight into the complexities of post-World War II Jewish American urban life is vibrant and telling, her characters opinionated, stubborn, angry, and outspoken. Critic John Leonard notes that her writing combines "a Magical Socialism" with "Groucho Marxism." Through her stories, Paley has been able to capture the cadences and complexities of everyday life and give voice to the causes of those who are both American and part of an ethnic community.

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