William Saroyan - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Stories about William Saroyan

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Picture of William Saroyan, author of My Heart's in the Highlands, The Time of Your Life, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, and The Human Comedy; twentieth century American Literature
Photographed by Paul Kalinian 1976 (c)
William Saroyan   (1908 - 1981)
Category:  American Literature
Born: 1908
Fresno, California, United States
Died: 1981
Fresno, California
Related authors:
Robert Burns
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William Saroyan - LIFE STORIES
No articles are presently listed for William Saroyan.
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An Armenian Trilogy
My Name Is Saroyan
by William Saroyan, James H. Tashjian (Editor)
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze: And Other Stories
The Human Comedy
The Man With the Heart in the Highlands & Other Early Stories
anthology, fiction
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A Daring Young Man: A Biography of William Saroyan
by John Leggett
Critical Essays on William Saroyan
by Harry Keyishian (Editor)
literary criticism
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A Literary History of the American West
Find an extension collection of essays on oral tradition, literary historiography, genre, the Cowboy in novels and short fiction, ethnic expression American literature, the West in contemporary radio, film, television and print, and other topics. Includes articles on Willa Cather, Robert Bly, Jack London, John Steinbeck, William Saroyan, Theodore Roethke, and many others. Highly recommended.

"William Saroyan emerged as a writer during the Great Depression, while America was in the throes of a national loss of faith and questioning of values. Although many critics had trouble accepting his optimistic, original stories, readers did not. He was powerfully pro-human. He talked and wrote about the human spirit. That Saroyan also did such things as turn down his Pulitzer Prize certainly did little to raise his stock among insiders. His behavior, like some of his writing, seemed downright unliterary. As novelist Herbert Gold wrote following Saroyan's death, 'He didn't want to be the greatest Armenian-American writer in the world. He wanted, very boyishly, just to knock everyone's eyes out with beauty and fun and delight.'"
Armenian House
A biography explores the importance Saroyan attaches to his Armenian heritage.

"'Although I write in English, and despite the fact that I'm from America, I consider myself an Armenian writer. The words I use are in English, the surroundings I write about are American, but the soul, which makes me write, is Armenian....' ... When Saroyan died in 1981 he was buried in Fresno – his native town; but according to his will, a part of his heart was buried in far-away Armenia, at the feet of Ararat, not far from lake Van and town of Bitlis – the homeland of his parents."
Essay: "A Critical Re-Evaluation"
A lengthy study analyzes the once dramatic decline of Saroyan's reputation (which the author attributes to his abrasive personality and tense relation with critics), and the writer's recent resurgence as "an authentic, singular American genius."

"William Saroyan was a flawed, passionate man, a complicated mixture of virtue and vice whose great talent magnified all aspects of his personality. Tashjian makes one other major point, observing that 'Saroyan is only ''enigmatic'' to those who cannot . . . understand what his Armenian heritage meant to him.'"
Find a 1997 transcript titled "Times of Our Lives" in which Richard Rodriguez, editor at the Pacific News Service, discusses his love and appreciation for the work of William Saroyan.

"When I was a student at Stanford, a generation ago, the name of William Saroyan was never mentioned by any professor in the English Department. William Saroyan apparently was not considered a major American talent. Instead, we undergraduates set about the business of psychoanalyzing Hamlet and deconstructing Lolita. In my mind Saroyan belongs with John Steinbeck, a fellow small town Californian and of the same generation. He belongs with Thornton Wilder, with those writers whose aching love of America was formed by the Depression and the shadow of war."
The Man, The Writer
A website about Paul Kalinian's documentary film about the Pulitzer Prize winning Armenian-American writer, playwright, and humanitarian. Includes information about the making of the film, a biography, a selection of Saroyan quotes, and links to a number of articles.

"Saroyan writes humanely and powerfully, with restless enthusiasm. His major themes are aspiration, hope and honesty; materialism and success mean nothing. His works show the basic goodness of all people, especially the obscure and naive and the value of life. He once observed that he needed to write, 'Because I hate to believe that I'm sick or half dead, because I want to get better; because writing is my therapy.' In the last book published during Saroyan's lifetime, Obituaries, he wrote: 'My work is writing, but my real work is being.'"
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November 28, 2015
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