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Shirley Jackson (San Francisco, December 14, 1916-North Bennington, August 8, 1965) was an American short story writer and novelist specializing in the horror genre. He was popular during his life and in recent years his work has received increasing attention from critics. He greatly influenced authors such as Joanne Harris, Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, Neil Gaiman and Richard Matheson.
His best known works are possibly “The Lottery” (“The lottery”, 1948, published in Spanish by Ed. Edhasa, 1991), which suggests the existence of a gloomy and submerged underworld in the small cities of the deep America , and “The Haunting Hill House” (“The Curse of Hill House, 1959).” In his critical biography of Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that after the publication of “The Lottery” in The New Yorker magazine, hundreds of shocked letters arrived. from readers to the editorial staff, to the point that Jackson offered a response shortly after in the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Explaining exactly what I expected the story to tell is very difficult, I guess I hoped to establish a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the readers of the story with a graphic dramatization of useless violence and the general inhumanity in their own lives “
The literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, husband of Jackson, wrote in the preface of the posthumous anthology of his work that “she refused to be interviewed, explain or promote her work in any way, or take public positions and be the expert of Sunday’s supplements She believed that her books would speak for her clearly enough over the years. “Hyman insisted that the dark visions found in Jackson’s work was not, as some critics said, a product of his “personal fantasies, even neurotic”, but rather understood “a sensitive and faithful anatomy” of the era of the Cold War in which he lived, “symbols suitable for [an] anguished world of the concentration camp and the Bomb”. Jackson was even able to enjoy the subversive impact of her work, as revealed by Hyman’s claim that she “was always proud that the South African Union banned” The Lottery “and felt that At least they had understood the story. “
Although Jackson claimed to have been born in 1919 due to social pressure to be married to a younger man, the birth records said that she came to the world in 1916. Born in San Francisco, daughter of Leslie and Geraldine Jackson, she and her family lived in the community of Burlingame, California, an opulent middle class suburb that would appear in her first novel “The Road Through the Wall” (1948). His relationship with his mother was tense, because his parents were married young and Geraldine was disappointed to get pregnant immediately from Jackson, as she hoped to “spend time with his handsome husband.” Jackson was often unable to fit in with other children and spent a lot of time writing, to the anguish of his mother. When she was a teenager, her confidence and confidence were damaged because she did not fit in with the beauty standards demanded of her as a woman. After his family moved to Rochester, New York, Jackso went to Brighton High School and received his diploma in 1934. He then attended the nearby University of Rochester, where his parents felt they could keep an eye on her. His classes there and the teachers often judged his writing harshly, so he switched to the University of Syracuse, where he grew up creatively and socially.While studying in Syracuse, Jackson began to get involved in the literary magazine of the campus.
After their marriage and brief stays in New York and Westport, Jackson and Hyman settled in North Bennington, Vermont, where Hyman became a professor at Bennington College, while Jackson continued to publish novels and short stories. For the literary biographical dictionary “Twentieth Century Authors” (1955) by Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycrafts, he wrote:
“I dislike writing about myself or my work, and when I am pressured to contribute autobiographical material I can only give a brief chronological sketch that, of course, does not contain relevant facts.I was born in San Francisco in 1919 and spent the majority from my early life in California, I married in 1940 with Stanley Edgar Hyman, a critic and numismatist, and we lived in Vermont, a quiet rural community with beautiful landscapes and comfortably far from the life of the city.Our main exports are books and children, which we produce in abundance.The children are Laurence, Joanne, Sarah and Barry: my books include three novels, The Road Through the Wall (in English), Hangsaman (in English), The Bird Nest (The nest the bird) and a collection of short stories, The Lottery, Life Among the Savages is a disrespectful memory of my children. “
Jackson and Hyman were known to be original and generous guests, surrounded by literary talents, such as Ralph Ellison, who were both enthusiastic readers whose personal library is estimated to hold 100,000 books. They had four children, who would have their own literary fame as fictionalized versions of themselves in their mother’s short stories.
According to Jackson’s biographers, the marriage was plagued with Hyman’s infidelities. He controlled most aspects of the relationship, forcing Jackson to accept his infidelities and controlling finances (he handed Jackson parts of what she herself earned at his discretion), despite the success of The Lottery and its Later work made him earn much more than him. He also insisted that she raise the children and take care of all the domestic chores. She suffered from this condescending treatment in her role as teacher and ostracized woman who was condemned by the inhabitants of North Bennington, feeling oppressed by her husband and environment. His displeasure at the situation led to an increasing abuse of alcohol, tranquilizers and amphetamines, influencing the issues of much of his later work.
In 1965, Shirley Jackson died of a heart attack while she slept, at the age of 48. She was overweight and smoked a lot, so she had suffered health problems related to these two problems for years. Near the end of her life, Jackson went to the psychologist to treat her severe anxiety, which had kept her at home practically the entire previous year. The doctor prescribed barbiturates at a time when it was considered a safe and harmless drug. For many years before, Jackson received periodic prescriptions for amphetamines to lose weight, which may have inadvertently aggravated his anxiety, leaving him in a circle of prescribed drug abuse in which he took the two medications to counteract the effect of each. Some of these factors, or a combination of the two, may have contributed to your declining health and premature death.
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