“Biography of a Story”

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In honor of Shirley Jackson’s birthday, the Library of America has shared her “Biography of a Story” about the writing and reception of “The Lottery.” “It is probably the most famous work of fiction ever published in The New Yorker and certainly the magazine’s most controversial, generating letters of protest and bafflement and even a number of subscription cancellations. And it remains one of the most anthologized and influential stories ever written in English, required reading for several generations of high school students and the precursor to hundreds of horror stories and works of dystopian fiction. Since its publication in June 1948, readers, critics, and scholars have quarreled over the story’s ‘meaning.’ Yet perhaps nobody was more surprised by the reaction to “The Lottery” than the author herself.”

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