Stanley Elkin

Stanley Elkin (1930-1995) was an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Elkin was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Chicago. He did both his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving a B.A. degree in English in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1961 for his dissertation on William Faulkner. He was a member of the English faculty at Washington University in St. Louis from 1960 until his death, and battled multiple sclerosis for most of his adult life. 

During his career, Elkin published ten novels, two volumes of novellas, two books of short stories, a collection of essays, and one (unproduced) screenplay. His extravagant, satirical fiction revolves around American consumerism, popular culture, and male-female relationships, which is portrayed in innumerable darkly comic variations. Characters and especially prose style take full precedence over plot. His language is extravagant and exuberant, baroque and flowery, taking fantastic flight from his characters' endless patter. 

Always bordering on the outlandish, Elkin's work did not earn him the widespread popularity given many of his peers. It was, however, greeted enthusiastically by critics and fellow writers and brought him numerous literary awards, including a National Book Critics Circle Award for George Mills (1983) and for Mrs. Ted Bliss (1995).

Go here to explore the finding aid for the Stanley Elkin Papers and other Elkin resources at Washington University.

Modern Literature Collection: The First Fifty Years