Retired English instructor IldikĂł Carrington among first U.S. scholars to illuminate brilliance of Alice Munro, now a Nobel Laureate
Retired NIU English instructor IldikĂł Carrington wasnât a bit surprised when Alice Munro was named recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature earlier this month.
âI am delighted that she won it,â Carrington says.
Back in 1989, Carrington wrote the first American book-length critical study of the Canadian writerâs works. Titled âControlling the Uncontrollable: The Fiction of Alice Munroâ and published by Northern Illinois University Press, the book elucidated Munroâs brilliant talent as a master short story writer and foreshadowed the authorâs rise to the pinnacle of literary success.
âThe very last sentence of my book is: âShe walks on water,â â Carrington says. âThat sounds like blasphemy, but it alludes to the title of one of Munroâs stories, âWalking on Water.â I also meant it to suggest that she is miraculous in her talent.â
Carrington had written a number of literary studies on other authors before being asked by a Canadian publisher to write a book on Munroâs short stories. Two of the manuscriptâs reviewers loved the book, but the third didnât want an American writing about a Canadian author, and the manuscript was rejected. Ironically, Carrington is a naturalized citizen of the United States â she was born in Canada.
âSo I offered the book to NIU Press, and they accepted,â Carrington recalls.
Carrington, who lives in DeKalb, served as an instructor for 44 years in the NIU Department of English before retiring two years ago. From 1967 to 1990, her colleagues included her late husband, George Carrington, an NIU professor of American literature.
In addition to her book, IldikĂł Carrington published 10 scholarly articles on Munroâs later works in Canadian, American and French journals. Munro wrote hundreds of short stories. Among Carringtonâs personal favorites:Â âThe Love of a Good Woman,â âA Wilderness Stationâ and âSave the Reaper.â
Although Carrington never met Munro in person, she feels a close kinship to the author.
âIn some ways our lives were a bit parallel,â Carrington says. âAlice Munro grew up very poor, and so did I. Her father was a farmer, mine a minister. Both of us were born in Ontario during the Depression and went to college on scholarships.â
But it was the truthfulness, sparkling writing and profound insights into human nature that most attracted Carrington to the works of the newly named Nobel Laureate.
âAlice Munro is so honest about what people are like that itâs almost painful to read what she writes,â Carrington says. âI admired this and her brilliant fulfillment of her definition of a short story: âI want to give you intense, but not connected, moments of experience.â â