Cover image for Barbara Kingsolver : a critical companion
Barbara Kingsolver : a critical companion
DeMarr, Mary Jean, 1932-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 156 pages ; 25 cm.
Barbara Kingsolver: life and works -- Politics and genres -- The bean trees (1988) -- Animal dreams (1990) -- Pigs in heaven (1993) -- The poisonwood Bible (1998).
Reading Level:
1380 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3561.I496 Z64 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Barbara Kingsolver wears the feminist mantle with joyful pride, and her spirited embrace of political themes is contagious. Responding to richly-drawn heroines along their journeys to do right by family and community, readers embrace Kingsolver's political novels, making them bestsellers. From the haunting Arizona landscape of Kingsolver's early trilogy of novels, to the lush African jungle that sets the scene in her latest, The Poisonwood Bible , Kingsolver weaves colorful tapestries with vivid prose, exceptional intelligence, and unexpected humor. DeMarr's comprehensive treatment covers not only Kingsolver's four novels, each with its own chapter, but also discusses with considerable insight her background as a feminist, as a journalist, and, most importantly, as a humanist.

Introducing readers to Kingsolver, DeMarr devotes a chapter to her life and work, showing how the two are deeply intertwined. While Kingsolver's writing is never strictly autobiographical, the well-researched section on politics and genre discusses how experiences in Kingsolver's own life and in her work as a political journalist have influenced her fiction writing. In addition to the celebrated novels that readers have come to love: The Bean Trees , Pigs in Heaven , Animal Dreams , and The Poisonwood Bible , as well as the poems and short stories, DeMarr covers the nonfiction: the essays and political writings. A full chapter analyzes each novel in terms of plot and character development, thematic content, symbolism, and the importance of place and language. Students and fans of Kingsolver will find this work, including its well-organized bibliography, accessible and interesting.

Author Notes

MARY JEAN DEMARR is Professsor Emerita of English and Women's Studies at Indiana State University. She is the author of Colleen McCullough (Greenwood, 1996) and the coauthor of Adolescent Female Portraits in the American Novel 1961-1981 (1983) and The Adolescent in the American Novel Since 1960 (1986).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This useful guide to the works of Barbara Kingsolver (b. 1955) treats her life, political and social interests, and her career as a novelist, journalist, essayist, and writer of both short fiction and poetry. Individual chapters analyze four of her novels--The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven, and The Poisonwood Bible--with attention in each case to plot and character development, theme, setting, style, language, and genre. Selected by a board of librarians and high school teachers of English, Greenwood's "Critical Companion" titles emphasize close and careful readings and are especially useful in beginning undergraduate courses. DeMarr's treatment of Kingsolver's work is admirably balanced and lucid. J. J. Benardete; CUNY Hunter College

Table of Contents

Life and Works Politics and Genres
The Bean Trees Animal Dreams Pigs in Heaven
The Poisonwood