- The Patterns of Love
by William Maxwell
Robert Maxwell (Keepers, Jr.) was born in the small town of Lincoln,
Illinois, in 1908. His clear and gentle prose would often celebrate the
simplicity of the rural American life he remembered. His works are often
sensitive, thoughtful recollections of simpler times past that evoke a
romantic feeling without an overstated sentimentality. This contrasted
greatly with Maxwell's life in New York City, where he moved in 1936.
Maxwell once said, "I write about the past . . . not because I think it
is better than the present but because of things that happened that I
do not want to be forgotten."
Maxwell worked at The New Yorker magazine from 1936 to 1976.
For most of his time there, he served as fiction editor, working with
celebrated contributors like J. D. Salinger, Maeve Brennan, John Updike,
and Eudora Welty. His approach to editing may cast light on his own exacting
but moderate style of prose: "the prose advances sentence by sentence
in its effects, rather than by paragraphs in which any given sentence
may not carry that much weight." Many critics have praised Maxwell's subtle
style, as well as his "magical narrative and the attractions of his quirky
About the Author
William Maxwell (1908-2000) was born in Lincoln, Illinois, a small town
that, in his words, "was a very pretty town with . . . a great deal of individuality
in the houses, and the people as well." He graduated from the University
of Illinois (B.A., 1930), and Harvard University (M.A., 1931). Maxwell taught
English at the University of Illinois from 1931-1933. In 1936 he joined
the staff of The New Yorker magazine where he would remain until
1976. He married Emily Gilman Noyes in 1945, and had two children. He has
won various awards, including the American Book Award (1982), the Mark Twain
Award (1995), and the Gold Metal for Fiction (1995) from the American Academy
of Arts and Letters.
Maxwell's novels include They Came Like Swallows (1937), his
celebrated The Folded Leaf (1945), and The Chateau (1961).
His short works include The Heavenly Tenants (1946), Stories
(1956), The Old Man and the Railroad Crossing and Other Tales (1966),
Ancestors: A Family History (1971), Over the River, and Other
Stories (1977), Five Tales (1988), Billie Dyer and Other
Stories (1992), All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories
of William Maxwell (1995), and Mrs. Donald's Dog Bun and His Home
Away from Home (1995).
- victrolatype of record player.
- drasticserious or radical in nature, extreme.
- mustystale or moldy in odor.
Use the STUDY GUIDE below as a way to work through the selection
and improve your comprehension of the essay.
Answer the Questions to Consider in the book as a way to deepen
your interpretation of the selection.
1. What kind of life does Arnold lead? How is he different from the Talbots?
2. How many types of love can you define in the story?
3. What do the radishes at the end of the story represent? Why does Arnold
4. What are the "patterns of love"? Do you think Maxwell approves or
disapproves of them? Explain your answer.
Bright Center of Heaven (1934)
They Came Like Swallows (1937)
The Folded Leaf (1945)
The Heavenly Tenants (1946)
Time Will Darken It (1948)
The Chateau (1961)
The Old Man and the Railroad Crossing and Other Tales (1966)
Ancestors: A Family History (1971)
Over by the River, and Other Stories (1977)
So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980)
Five Tales (1988)
Billie Dyer and Other Stories (1992)
All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories of William Maxwell
Mrs. Donald's Dog Bun and His Home Away from Home (1995)
American Short Stories
Sherwood Anderson. Winesburg, Ohio (1919).
Raymond Carver. Where I'm Calling From (1989).
William Faulkner. Go Down Moses (1942).
F. Scott Fitzgerald. Tales of the Jazz Age (1922).
Nathaniel Hawthorne. Mosses from an Old Manse (1946).
Ernest Hemingway. The First Forty-Nine Hours and Other Stories
Henry James. The Passionate Pilgrim and Other Stories (1875).
Gish Jen. Who's Irish? and Other Stories (1999).
Herman Melville. The Piazza Tales (1856).
Flannery O'Connor. Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965).
Tillie Olsen. Tell Me a Riddle (1961, enlarged 1964).
Dorothy Parker. Here Lies (1939).
Edgar Allan Poe. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840).
Katherine Anne Porter. Collected Stories (1965).
Mark Twain. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865).
Alice Walker. You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (1981).
Thomas Wolfe. The Hills Beyond (1941).