Miller, Caroline: Lamb in His Bosom
(researched by Mary Unger)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Caroline Miller. Lamb in His Bosom. New York: Harpers and Brothers, 1933. Copyright: Caroline Miller, 1933 No parallel first editions. (sources: 1st ed., WorldCat)
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American edition published in trade cloth binding. (source: 1st ed.)
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
176 leaves, [4] 1-345 [3] (source: 1st ed.)
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
No editor, introduction, or author's notes. Dedicated to "Wi'D and little Bill and Nip 'n' Tuck" (source: 1st ed.)
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
No illustrations or ornamentation, but lines of music with lyrics appear on pages 72, 119, 141, and 264. No copyrights listed for music or lyrics. (source: 1st ed.)
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The book is well printed with readable typography and large margins. Lines are evenly and generously spaced. The text flows smoothly throughout the book, breaking only for the embedded lines of music. Chapters begin at the top of a new page, and chapter headings appear in larger type and are justified with the left margin. The first word (or first few words) of each chapter appear in small capitals. Page numbers (when present) appear in brackets immediately below the last line of text, and are justified with the outer margin. Pages measure 13.5cm x 20.7cm with the following margins: 1.7cm (top), 2.5cm (right), 2.5cm (left), 3.4cm (bottom, from page number). Main text type is Baskerville (89R). All type in black, except title and publisher's imprint on title page, which are both in red. (source: 1st ed., and www.identifont.com)
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Paper is relatively thick, smooth (wove) and white with straight edge and an even, granulated texture. Pages are beginning to yellow and brown around the edges, but are still in impressive shape and extremely readable. This copy is very clean, with no stains, foxing, or tears. (source: 1st ed.)
11 Description of binding(s)
Book is bound in red cloth. Title, author, and ornamentation stamped in gold across the top of the cover. Publisher's insignia stamped in lower, right-hand corner of cover in red. Spine has title, author's last name, ornamentation, and publisher stamped in gold vertically. Transcription of cover (horizontal): LAMB IN HIS BOSOM by Caroline Miller Transcription of spine (vertical): LAMB IN HIS BOSOM | Miller | Harper's End pages are of thicker paper that is colored with off-white and green ornamentation. (source: 1st ed.)
12 Transcription of title page
Recto transcription: LAMB | IN HIS BOSOM | By | Caroline Miller | [publisher's logo] | HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS | New York and London Verso transcription: LAMB IN HIS BOSOM | Copyright, 1933, by Caroline Miller | Printed in the United States of America | FOURTEENTH PRINTING | F-I (source: 1st ed., Gaskell's _A New Introduction to Bibliography_)
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Book manuscript housed in the Frank Daniel collection at the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, GA. (source: WorldCat, ArchivesUSA)
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
This copy is inscribed on the front inside cover by a Frank H. Cothran of Charlotte, North Carolina. His name and address are hand-written on the verso of the cover, while his name is stamped in ink on the inside front and back covers. Inside cover also has the price ($2.50) written in pencil, as well as the number 28 in red pencil or crayon. Transcription of inside cover: Frank H. Cothran | 917 Queens Road | Charlotte, N.C. This copy is in fair condition, although the binding is becoming separated from the end pages, which is causing the back cover to become detached from the binding. Gilt lettering on the cover and spine is beginning to wear away, and is particularly difficult to read on the spine.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Harper & Brothers published a second edition in 1953 (345 p., 20 cm.)
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Publishers' Weekly reports on September 1, 1934 (the one year anniversary of the first edition) that the first edition was in its twenty-eighth "large printing." On October 11, 1934, PW also reports that the first edition had gone through 18 separate printings in three months.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1993, 357 p.; part of the Modern Southern Classics series; afterword by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese. Franklin Center, PA: Franklin Library, A limited ed., 1978, 324 p., [2] leaves of plates: illustrated by Roland Descombes. New York: Pinnacle Books, 1977, 338 p. New York: Avon, 1966, 254 p. New York: Avon Book Division, 1961, 254 p. London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1934, 1933, 345 p. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1934, 339 p. Hamburg: The Albatross, Copyright ed., 1935, 1933, 315 p.; Series: The Albatross Modern Continental Library; v. 253 New York: Windsor Editions, 1933, 345 p. Dunwoody, GA: Norman S. Berg, 1933, 345 p. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1933, 345p., music Dunwoody, GA: Norman S. Berg, 1933, 1966 (?), 345p.
6 Last date in print?
Still in print as of 2006.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
On July 2, 1934, The Hartford Courant reports that Miller has made "$6000 so far" on the novel. [Publishers' Weekly, New York Times, ProQuest database]
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Seems to have been advertised almost exclusively in the New York Times. Part of the "Harper Hit" ad campaign in the New York Times that ran in the Book Review section before the novel won the Pulitzer Prize. Ad campaign shifted after the award was announced. Sample ad transcription before Pulitzer (NYT 9/10/33, BR11): MILLER | LAMB IN HIS BOSOM | by Caroline Miller | "Beautiful, deeply moving, fresh, alive on every page."--Anne Parrish. $2.00 Sample ad transcription, post-Pulitzer (NYT, 5/14/34, p.15): LAMB | IN | HIS BOSOM | By Caroline Miller | WINNER | PULITZER | PRIZE | "In this instance, the Pulitzer Prize does us all a great service. One of the finest books of the year." | -Harry Hansen, N.Y. World-Telegram | $2.50 HARPERS Note that the price of the novel went up by 50 cents between the time of the ads.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Included in a New York Times preview: "Scheduled for Publication During the Summer: A Selected List of the Publishers' Offerings Between Now and the end of September" (NYT, June 18, 1933; BR6) Miller also participated in an interview of the 1933 Pulitzer Prize winners on the radio station WEAF on May 8, 1934. (NYT, "Today on the Radio," May 8, 1934; p. 26)
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
N/A
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Colonos en Georgia: novela Spanish, 1945; Barcelona: Ediciones del Zodíaco; trans. by Juan G. de Luaces; 267 p. Stoere Zwoegers no date (1900-1993?), Dutch; Den Haag: Zuid-Hollandische Uitgevers-Maatschappij; trans by G. van Nes-Uilkens; 400 p. Colons en Géorgie French, 1935; Paris: Hachette; trans by L. Legros; 224 p. Deti zivého boha Czech, 1937; Praha: Julius Albert; 293 p.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Born on August 26, 1903 in Waycross, GA, Caroline Pafford Miller was an American writer who portrayed southern life between the wars during the "renaissance" of Southern literature. Rather than in the romanticism of her peers, Miller wrote her novels and short stories in the style of historical realism, attempting to re-create and accurately portray the past. The daughter of Elias and Levy Zan Pafford, Miller married her former English teacher, William D. Miller, two months after graduating from Waycross High School at the age of seventeen. Together the couple would have three sons (one of whom appears to have died young). As a means of supporting her husband's salary as a teacher, Miller began writing short stories. One of these stories would eventually evolve into her first novel, Lamb in His Bosom. During this period, Miller spent much of her time traveling through the backwoods of Georgia with her three children meeting the characters who would come to populate her novel. In the midst of a different search, that for a publisher, Miller met and befriended the Pulitzer-Prize winner, Julia Peterkin, who read Miller's manuscript of Lamb and forwarded her name (and manuscript) to her own agent. Published by Harper in 1933, Lamb in His Bosom is set in antebellum Georgia, and tells the story of heroine Cean Carver. Miller's first novel a success with critics and also with the reading public. After winning the Pulitzer Prize as well as France's Prix Femina in 1934, Lamb became an instant bestseller. Although a work of fiction, Miller claims Lamb was firmly grounded in family history. Indeed, she even professed that her great-grandfather, who settled in Waycross as a New Light minister during the frontier period, served as her model for the character of Dermid O'Connor. In 1936, Miller divorced her husband and married Clyde H. Ray, Jr., a businessman in the florist industry from Waynesville, NC. Together they had two children, Clyde H. III, and Caroline Patience. Miller continued to write during this time, and even published several short stories throughout the 1940s. Her second and final novel, Lebanon (also set in antebellum Georgia), was published in 1944 by Doubleday, Doran, but earned mixed reviews and was not as well-received (critically or publically) as Lamb in His Bosom. After the publication of Lebanon, Miller faced both personal and professional hardships. Due to family obligations and personal illness (she suffered from arthritis), she was not able to write or publish much work. Her second husband would pass away in 1976. Although Miller worked intently on two book manuscripts in the 1980s, neither would be published. She died on July (some sources erroneously report August) 12, 1992 at the age of 88 at her home in Waynesville, NC. She was survived by three sons (George A. Miller, William D. Miller, and Clyde H. Ray, III), one daughter (Caroline Ray Morgan), 17 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. Miller's manuscript for Lamb in His Bosom is housed in the Frank Daniel collection at the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, GA. Emory Unversity's library also houses a collection of "clippings, typescripts concerning the publication of her first novel, unidentified manuscripts as well as manuscripts of novels, short stories, verse, essays, a master's thesis on Miller, as well as photographs and correspondence" (Emory Library). As of spring 2006, her agent and editor are unknown.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Lamb in His Bosom was met with overall positive reviews from critics when it hit bookstores in the fall of 1933. The novel, Miller's first, was specifically praised for its artistic blend of historical realism and literary merit. For instance, while Forum notes that "There is no lack of adventure or excitement" in the novel, it praises Miller for "her sense of the dignity inherent in simple lives." Touting the novel as more than "an excellent piece of sectional history," the Christian Science Monitor merits the book's literary value, describing it as "a novel in which beauty of expression and understanding of life go hand in hand." Some reviewers also lauded the novel's plot, assuring its audience, as Mary Ross did that "One cannot rest till one knows what happened to these people." Ross continues her praise, explaining that "without melodrama or self-consciousness, the story becomes warm and pleasurable," and that the novel's "unusual turns of simple word and phrase, give it honest beauty" (Books). The Boston Transcript also comments that the novel "is full of skilled and certain craftsmanship," deploying "sensitive" prose while portraying "a backwoods dialect full of beauty." While Miller drew comparisons to contemporaries Gladys Hasty Carroll and Elizabeth Madox Roberts, reviewers particularly singled out Miller's freshness and originality that set her apart from her peers. Louis Kronenberger of the New York Times, for instance, nearly tripped over his own writing in praising the novel. "It has a wonderful freshness about it," he extols, "not simply the freshness of a new writer, but the freshness of a new world." Despite its generally positive reception, Lamb in His Bosom attracted a number of criticisms. Indeed, the novel's harshest criticism comes from one of its greatest admirers, Louis Kronenberger. He writes, "The most serious fault of the book is the way, during the last half, in which it dries up. The sap and poetry go out of it and the daily round becomes unhappily prosaic. The births, the deaths, the marriages are no longer rich chunks out of a unique little world, but mere jottings in a parish register." A similar criticism is voiced in The Saturday Review of Literature. This reviewer notes, "In other passages, however, where the author goes behind her characters, the writing is forced and awkward. ?Lamb in His Bosom' is the story of a succession of births and deaths, of simple people and elemental life. It is deeply felt, but the author conveys her feeling only when she ceases to be a novelist and becomes a poet." While Lamb was received quite well by the critics, the reading public was slow to warm up to the novel. When it first appeared, the novel was a hit mostly in the Southern states. Inciting Southern pride and heritage, Lamb thus topped many local and regional bestseller lists. It was not until Miller was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the novel in 1934, that Lamb gained a larger, more national audience and began appearing on national bestsellers lists. The New Republic event notes how ill equipped the novel is for positive popular reception. The novel, reviewer T.S. Matthews writes, "is too quiet and slow, too backwoodsy to be a best-seller, unless it were very expensively ballyhooed. [ . . . ] The disheartening thing about this kind of novel [ . . . ] is that when you discover them it is almost always by accident, and it almost seems as if they must have been published by accident; for they do not lend themselves easily to blurbs." Sources: Mary Ross, Books, 3 Sept. 1933, p. 2. The Boston Transcript, 20 Sept. 1933, p. 2. W.K.R., The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Sept. 1933, p. 10. Forum, Nov. 1933, 90. T.S. Matthews, The New Republic, 20 Sept. 1933, p. 76. Louis Kronenberger, The New York Times Book Review, 17 Sept. 1933, p. 7. The Saturday Review of Literature, 2 Sept. 1933, p. 10.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Lamb in His Bosom was met with overall positive reviews from critics when it hit bookstores in the fall of 1933. The novel, Miller's first, was specifically praised for its artistic blend of historical realism and literary merit. For instance, while Forum notes that "There is no lack of adventure or excitement" in the novel, it praises Miller for "her sense of the dignity inherent in simple lives." Touting the novel as more than "an excellent piece of sectional history," the Christian Science Monitor merits the book's literary value, describing it as "a novel in which beauty of expression and understanding of life go hand in hand." Some reviewers also lauded the novel's plot, assuring its audience, as Mary Ross did that "One cannot rest till one knows what happened to these people." Ross continues her praise, explaining that "without melodrama or self-consciousness, the story becomes warm and pleasurable," and that the novel's "unusual turns of simple word and phrase, give it honest beauty" (Books). The Boston Transcript also comments that the novel "is full of skilled and certain craftsmanship," deploying "sensitive" prose while portraying "a backwoods dialect full of beauty." While Miller drew comparisons to contemporaries Gladys Hasty Carroll and Elizabeth Madox Roberts, reviewers particularly singled out Miller's freshness and originality that set her apart from her peers. Louis Kronenberger of the New York Times, for instance, nearly tripped over his own writing in praising the novel. "It has a wonderful freshness about it," he extols, "not simply the freshness of a new writer, but the freshness of a new world." Despite its generally positive reception, Lamb in His Bosom attracted a number of criticisms. Indeed, the novel's harshest criticism comes from one of its greatest admirers, Louis Kronenberger. He writes, "The most serious fault of the book is the way, during the last half, in which it dries up. The sap and poetry go out of it and the daily round becomes unhappily prosaic. The births, the deaths, the marriages are no longer rich chunks out of a unique little world, but mere jottings in a parish register." A similar criticism is voiced in The Saturday Review of Literature. This reviewer notes, "In other passages, however, where the author goes behind her characters, the writing is forced and awkward. ?Lamb in His Bosom' is the story of a succession of births and deaths, of simple people and elemental life. It is deeply felt, but the author conveys her feeling only when she ceases to be a novelist and becomes a poet." While Lamb was received quite well by the critics, the reading public was slow to warm up to the novel. When it first appeared, the novel was a hit mostly in the Southern states. Inciting Southern pride and heritage, Lamb thus topped many local and regional bestseller lists. It was not until Miller was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the novel in 1934, that Lamb gained a larger, more national audience and began appearing on national bestsellers lists. The New Republic event notes how ill equipped the novel is for positive popular reception. The novel, reviewer T.S. Matthews writes, "is too quiet and slow, too backwoodsy to be a best-seller, unless it were very expensively ballyhooed. [ . . . ] The disheartening thing about this kind of novel [ . . . ] is that when you discover them it is almost always by accident, and it almost seems as if they must have been published by accident; for they do not lend themselves easily to blurbs." Sources: Mary Ross, Books, 3 Sept. 1933, p. 2. The Boston Transcript, 20 Sept. 1933, p. 2. W.K.R., The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Sept. 1933, p. 10. Forum, Nov. 1933, 90. T.S. Matthews, The New Republic, 20 Sept. 1933, p. 76. Louis Kronenberger, The New York Times Book Review, 17 Sept. 1933, p. 7. The Saturday Review of Literature, 2 Sept. 1933, p. 10.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
An Unlikely Bestseller As the story of a poor woman living in the antebellum South, Lamb in His Bosom at first seems an unlikely candidate for national best selling novel and Pulitzer Prize winner. And yet in her first novel, published by Harper & Brothers on September 1, 1933, novice writer Caroline Miller managed to capture the admiration of literary critics, as well as the interest of national and international reading publics. The novel, which recounts a succession of births, deaths, tragedies, and triumphs in rural Georgia, aroused little initial attention, attracting admirers primarily in the Southern states. Early reports from booksellers, according to Publishers' Weekly, note that Lamb sold well in local, regional bookstores in the South, but was slow to find an audience on the coasts or in major cities such New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. (see "Other Bookstore Favorites," PW 10/7/33, p. 1235). Because the novel strives for a certain historical realism, it was embraced as an important artifact of Southern living. The Christian Science Monitor noted, for instance, the novel's "many keen-sighted descriptions of pre-Civil War life in the pineylands" (10). As invested as the novel was in detailing the simple lives of its characters, it was most prized for its realist account of what it meant to be an American living in the antebellum South. And yet, precisely because of its identity as regionalist fiction, many critics predicted that Lamb in His Bosom would be (at best) an unlikely bestseller. The novel's attraction to Southern readers, they reasoned, would alienate a national audience. Furthermore, instead of a fast-paced novel, Lamb was an eloquent, yet slow-trotting book. In a contemporary review New Republic writer T.S. Matthews lamented it,
is too quiet and slow, too backwoodsy to be a best-seller, unless it were very expensively ballyhooed. [ . . . ] The disheartening thing about this kind of novel [ . . . ] is that when you discover them it is almost always by accident, and it almost seems as if they must have been published by accident; for they do not lend themselves easily to blurbs. (76)
In fact Lamb was not initially "ballyhooed" at all. If it appeared in any advertising by Harper it did so alongside the publisher's current bestseller, The Farm, by Louis Bromfield. As a result of its modest promotion, its little-known writer, and its regionalist subject matter, Lamb in His Bosom would not appear on any national bestseller lists for nearly eight months after its publication. Its ascendancy to the top of the sales chart?when it finally did arrive?would be catalyzed by a very public event. "Who Says Prizes Don't Sell Books?" If Harper began to worry after initial sales that Miller's novel had failed commercially (although there is no evidence to suggest they were banking on the novel as a blockbuster), they were in for a surprise, and indeed a lucrative one at that. On May 7, 1934, Lamb in His Bosom was announced as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize. This event set off a domino effect of publicity and sales. Almost instantly the novel began disappearing off bookstore shelves, and appearing on national bestseller lists. Publishers' Weekly reports it as the third national bestselling piece of fiction on May 26, commenting that "The Pulitzer Prize award jumped it into the best seller class immediately. N.Y., Atlanta, and St. Louis stores report it their best seller for the past week in the Times" (PW 5/26/34, p. 1937). It was declared the number one bestselling novel of June, July, and August 1934, and sat at or near the top of the weekly lists, competing for top spot with Hervey Allen's Anthony Adverse. PW also noted in a blurb in July of 1934 that "After twelve months, one year, the reign of Anthony Adverse is interrupted by the Pulitzer Prize novel. Who says prizes don't sell books?" (PW 7/14/34, p. 145). Lamb's success would eventually lead to a new ad campaign by Harper, but not until November of that year. A bestseller throughout the Christmas season of 1934, Lamb's sales soared. As word of Lamb's critical success spread to the public domain, more and more people began buying the novel. As excitement about the prize began to wane, however, so too, did sales. By February of 1935, only eight months after it won the Pulitzer, Lamb dropped off the national bestseller lists. We can therefore categorize Lamb in His Bosom as the type of bestseller that became so?in part?because of its critical prestige. As a novel that won several awards (including France's Prix Femina Americaine in 1934), it joined the select group of fiction that people felt they should have on their bookshelves (and that was probably often given as a gift). This aura surrounding the book grew especially after it graced the shelves of the White House. In October of 1934, the American Booksellers Association presented the novel as one of 200 supplementary texts given to President and Mrs. Roosevelt (see PW, 10/27/34, p. 1559). By having Lamb on their bookshelves at home, like the President and his wife, many Americans participated in a national tradition. They could cement their identity as a part of a particular culture, as well as own a significant piece of American art. In collecting this novel, then, they quite literally collected cultural capital. Aside from constituting a record of Southern American life and tradition, and in addition to being an important piece of American fiction, Lamb in His Bosom became a bestseller for another reason. By participating in American culture in the midst of the Great Depression, Miller's novel became an important piece in nation building. That is, by employing a certain national nostalgia, the novel allows a country to build a collective identity to help cope with the devastating emotional and economical turmoil of the Depression. Resolution and Independence: To Be an American Perhaps its greatest asset as a piece of fiction is the novel's realistic portrayal of rustic, pioneer life. From the first birth until the last death, Lamb in His Bosom strives for a meticulous account of "the simple life" that remains in harmony with nature. Miller's detailed descriptions of mundane events conjure up romantic and idyllic?though at times harsh and unforgiving?moments before modern times. Indeed it was this realism that many critics lauded. As Louis Kronenberger of the New York Times observed,
It is not as a novel that Lamb in His Bosom is notable, but as a picture. As a novel the book has many defects which cannot escape notice. [ . . . ] But serious though these blemishes are . . . it remains in the mind a wonderfully large and vital picture. Fields and farms and woods and brooks, wild flowers and animals, rich food and potent liquor?one hesitates to decide whether these things shall be called background or the real life and core of the story. (7)
Similar to other realist writers of the time such as Elizabeth Madox Roberts, T.S. Stribling, and Caroline Gordon, Miller uses "the simple life" to portray basic, traditional American values that have perhaps become obscured by the fast-paced, modern life of the 1930s. Miller shows that this lifestyle?invested in basic survival and simple pleasures?provides fertile soil for pure and traditional values of American life such as self-sufficiency, perseverance, courage, dignity, and resolve. During a time when people were out of work and starving to death, those who could afford to read Lamb in His Bosom were transported back to a time when such necessities as food and clothing were not easily accessible, and where survival was not based on money, but on resourcefulness. The novel attempts to articulate a certain, as a Forum review notes, "sense of the dignity inherent in simple lives" (90). It accomplishes this, in large part, through its heroine Cean Carver. As Cean repeatedly bears the emotional and physical pains of giving birth (often alone) as well as death, Miller portrays the pioneers of time (and especially the women) as particularly strong- willed and resourceful. Not only must they bear the pain of childbirth, but they must also bear the pain of death that occurs often, and often gruesomely, throughout the novel. It was this strength Miller identified in her ancestors (who were settlers in antebellum South) that inspired her novel. According to literary scholar Emily Wright,
At the time when she began working on the novel, Miller had married her former high school English teacher and borne three children in only two years. As she later explained to a reporter, at this time she "thought she would break under the strain of trying to take care of [the children] and do the hundreds of other little things any normal wife and mother is called upon to do." According to Miller, it occurred to her that frontier foremothers had managed much larger households under more difficult circumstances, and so, for inspiration, she "turned to the examples set by the pioneer women of Georgia" (qtd. in Bishop 48). (Wright 93)
Miller's characters certainly face their share of hardships throughout the novel. During a devastating drought Cean mourns, "Pa had no more corn than any other body; everybody in this land and country was in the same boat!" (146-47). Elsewhere in the story, Cean learns to appreciate what she has, as little or as simple as it might be:
She ought to thank Godalmighty that things were so easy for her. She was eating her white bread now; both were sent on this earth?fine white bread to enjoy, and bitter black bread to be eaten with hard silence or soft tears. But you had to eat whatever was sent. If you flung it back in Godalmighty's face, you'd live to see the day when you would wish that you hadn't. (75)
As readers during the Great Depression of the 1930s would read the plight of Cean and her family, they would come to appreciate, like Cean, the bread that they had?be it "fine white bread to enjoy" or "bitter black." At least, they would reason, it was bread to be eaten at all. Furthermore, the success of Lamb in His Bosom, can be tied to the historical circumstances of the Depression because of the temporary national embrace of Southern culture during the 1930s. Before this decade of economic hardship, the gap in poverty between the northern and southern regions of the country was wide: the South being the poorer of the two geographies. But during the Depression, all corners of the country were hit hard. The resulting level disparity, as Emily Wright explains, had a direct impact on the acceptance (and even interest) in Southern culture:
But in the 1930s the longstanding economic difference between the region [the South] and the nation receded as economic calamity caused the contemporary national experience to fall in line with the southern historical experience. At this point in time, the "othering" of the South was suspended as the nation looked to the South's past for models of endurance and recovery. [ . . . ] All of these novels [The Store, Lamb in His Bosom, Gone With the Wind, The Yearling] describe southerner's struggles to overcome poverty and defeat, and their favorable reception indicates that during the Depression, the southern historical experience offered inspiration to the nation. (104)
Thus, "regional tales of an earlier America were especially popular," Wright continues, "providing readers an imaginative escape from the trials of the times through a return to a more bucolic and hopeful past, while also reminding them that their foreparents had weathered hard times and emerged triumphant" (104). As a piece of realist, historical fiction, Lamb in His Bosom accomplishes the daunting task of unifying a nation. It is important to note that this "unification" is ideological?not material?based on a reading public that maintains a certain economic status and educational background. Thus, this "unification" can never be complete. However, as limited as this unity is, the novel and its nostalgia remain significant strategies in nation building ? or at least in nation "maintenance." By reminding them that the nation's "foreparents" faced equally (if not more) difficult times and lived through them, Miller's novel allows the generation that weathered the Depression to hope for better days. And to have hope?as well as the belief?that more fortunate times are ahead is a truly American sentiment. Lamb in His Bosom thus both participates in and demonstrates this uniquely American attitude, and in so doing becomes a historical artifact that allows a nation to cope with its (financial, emotional, cultural) wounds. Sources:
  • Forum, Nov. 1933, p. 90.
  • Kronenberger, Louis. "A First Novel of Distinguished Quality." New York Times Book Review 17 Sept. 1933: 7.
  • Matthews, T.S. The New Republic, 20 Sept. 1933, p. 76.
  • Miller, Caroline. Lamb in His Bosom. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1933.
  • W.K.R., The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Sept. 1933, p. 10.
  • Wright, Emily Powers. "The ?Other South' of Caroline Miller: A Case Study in Regional Stereotypes and Canon Formation." Southern Quarterly 40.1 (Fall 2001): 93-108.
  • Several blurbs from Publishers' Weekly (see above parenthetical citations for issue dates and page numbers)
  • Supplemental Material
    Lamb in His Bosom was one of 200 supplemental books presented in 1934 by the American Booksellers to President and Mrs. Roosevelt for the White House Library. The library began in 1930 with an initial presentation of 500 books (which included both fiction and non-fiction works.) [NYT, Publishers' Weekly]
    In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Miller won France's Prix Femina in 1934 for Lamb in His Bosom. [NYT, Publishers' Weekly]
    Inside front cover
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