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In her second novel, Joyce Carol Oates, author of many bestselling novels, including We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, created one of her most memorable heroines, Clara, the beautiful daughter of migrant farmworkers. Intent upon rising above her haphazard life of violence and poverty, Clara struggles for independence while relying on four men to fashion her destiny: her father, a hardened laborer simmering with resentment; Lowry, who rescues the teenage Clara from her family and offers her a first glimpse of love; Revere, the wealthy married man who promises Clara stability; and Swan, Clara’s son, who bears the burden of his mother’s mistaken identity.
For this Modern Library 20th Century Rediscovery edition, Joyce Carol Oates has revised and rewritten three fourths of the novel, originally published in 1966, a feat comparable to Henry James’s revisions of his early novels in 1908, when he was at the height of his artistic powers. With a new Afterword by the author, this is the definitive edition of an early masterpiece by one of our greatest living writers.
“If the phrase ‘woman of letters’ existed, she would be, foremost in this country, entitled to it.” —John Updike