Magazine August 2, 2021, Issue

The Inscrutable Shirley Jackson

A collage of vintage covers of books by Shirley Jackson (L. to R.: Scholastic, The Viking Press, Ace)
The Letters of Shirley Jackson, edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman (Random House, 672 pp., $35)

The great American writer Shirley Jackson’s classic 1948 short story “The Lottery” is a work that can be read, interpreted, and reinterpreted for every season. The basic storyline — telling of the process by which a village selects an ordinary citizen, in this case housewife Tessie Hutchinson, for a collectively administered death by stoning one summer day — is so striking, so strange, that it inevitably invites readers to think metaphorically: “The Lottery” has been credibly said to reflect the cruelties of the Red Scare, the evils of anti-Semitism, and the persistence of a mob mentality.

Perhaps every generation is entitled

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Peter Tonguette — Mr. Tonguette writes about the arts for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, The American Conservative, and other publications.

In This Issue

Introduction

Geopolitics

Economic Competition

Human Rights

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

The Week

The Week

The geopolitical, economic, and ideological competition between the U.S. and China is now out in the open.

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