In this first general theory for the analysis of popular literary formulas, John G. Cawelti reveals the artistry that underlies the best in formulaic literature. Cawelti discusses such seemingly diverse works as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors, and Owen Wister's The Virginian in the light of his hypotheses about the cultural function of formula literature. He describes the most important artistic characteristics of popular formula stories and the differences between this literature and that commonly labeled "high" or "serious" literature. He also defines the archetypal patterns of adventure, mystery, romance, melodrama, and fantasy, and offers a tentative account of their basis in human psychology.
In the continuing redefinition of the American West, few recent writers have left a mark as indelible as Cormac McCarthy. A favorite subject of critics and fans alike despite—or perhaps because of—his avoidance of public appearances, the man is known solely through his writing. Thanks to his early work, he is most often associated with a bleak vision of humanity grounded in a belief in man's primordial aggressiveness.
McCarthy scholar Barcley Owens has written the first book to concentrate exclusively on McCarthy's acclaimed western novels: Blood Meridian, National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain. In a thought-provoking analysis, he explores the differences between Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy novels and shows how those differences reflect changing conditions in contemporary American culture.
Owens captures both Blood Meridian's wanton violence and the Border Trilogy's fond remembrance of the Old West. He shows how this dramatic shift from atavistic brutality to nostalgic Americana suggests that McCarthy has finally given his readers what they most want—the stuff of their mythic dreams.
Owens's study is both an incisive look at one of our most important and demanding authors and a penetrating analysis of violence and myth in American culture. Fans of McCarthy's work will find much to consider for ongoing discussions of this influential body of work.
Elements of popular culture, such as literature and films, are major industries. If scholars are to fully understand how popular culture evolves and functions, techniques for dealing with the impact of business need to be factored into the analysis.
Using the history of the cowboy story from 1820 to 1970 as an extended example, Alf H. Walle combines popular culture scholarship with marketing theory to provide a hybrid analysis. Wall examines major authors and genres of Western American literature and film; he also explores why certain respected authors were unable to significantly impact the cowboy story even though their innovations were embraced by later generations. Finally Wall provides a hybrid analysis combining business and popular culture theory in an overarching analysis.
Suggesting that better understanding of conflicts between Anglo and Latin America can come from the study of their contrasting popular fictions, the author compares the traditional attachment in Latin America to government by a strong man—a caudillo—to the diametrically opposed expansionist frontier ideology of the United States—the cowboy—who makes space safe for Anglo colonization.
For most North Americans—Canadians as well as Americans—the term "Western" evokes images of the frontier, brave sheriffs and ruthless outlaws, good cowboys and bad Indians. As Arnold E. Davidson shows in this groundbreaking study, a number of Canada’s most interesting and experimental Western writers parody, reverse, or otherwise defuse the paraphernalia of the classic U.S. Western. Lacking both a real and imagined frontier—Canadian settlers rode trains into the new territory, already policed by Mounties—the writers of Canadian Westerns were set a different task from their American counterparts and were subsequently freed to create some of the most complex and engrossing fiction yet produced in Canada. Davidson details the evolution of the U.S. and Canadian Western forms, tracing the divergence between the two as Canadian writers responded to their unique historical circumstances by reinventing the West as well as the Western and establishing a new literary landscape where author and reader could work out new possibilities of being. Surveying a range of texts by Canada’s most innovative writers, with special attention to women writers and Native stories of Coyote, he provides close readings of novels by Howard O’Hagan, Sheila Watson, Robert Kroetsch, Aritha van Herk, Anne Cameron, Peter Such, W. O. Mitchell, Beatrice Culleton, and Thomas King. A unique study, Coyote Country offers at one and the same time a theory of Canadian Western fiction, a history of crosscultural paradigms of the West as manifested in novels, and an intensive reading of some of Canada’s best literature.
A significant and innovative contribution to Austin studies. How did an Illinois Methodist homesteader in the West come to create one of the most significant cosmological syntheses in American literature? In this study, Hoyer draws on his own knowledge of biblical religion and Native American cultures to explore Austin's creation of the "mythology of the American continent" she so valued. Austin lived in and wrote about "the land of little rain," semiarid and arid parts of California and Nevada that were home to the Northern Paiute, Shoshone, Interior Chumash, and Yokut peoples. Hoyer makes new and provocative connections between Austin and spiritual figures like Wovoka, the prophet of the Ghost Dance religion, and writers like Zitkala-sa and Mourning Dove, and he provides a particularly fine reading of Cogowea.
Tongue-Oil Timothy, as unflappable as he is unconscionable, swindles Wasatch Sam in a villainous poker game. Amazed prospectors discover a full-grown silver man deep in a mountain tunnel. Old Pizen, a horse so mean that he was almost poison to himself, is wagered by his own owner in the fight of his life. The travelling stones of Pahranagat, when scattered about the ground, immediately huddle together like eggs in a nest. Highly eccentric but shrewd, itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow raises the devil. A cheery voiced goblin frog points the way toward the great Comstack silver lode. These tongue-in-cheek creations join Bendix Biargo, the Seven Nimrods of the Sierras, a Female World-Ranger, and Dan De Quille's other unforgettable characters to make the pioneers and Comstockers come alive once more.
“In addition to his accomplishments as a talented novelist, a thorough historian, and an excellent essayist, Frank Waters is that rare breed of man who has merged heart and mind early in his life and moved forward to confront ultimate questions. This dilemma of faith and heritage, religion and identity, and commitment and comfort has never been resolved intellectually. Even with profound faith and rigorous discipline of self, mystics have found it difficult to resolve through action and prayer…I look at the life and writing of Frank Waters…and find…a remarkable journey of inquiry spanning nearly a century and illuminating questions which I did not think possible to formulate.”
—Vine Deloria, Jr., editor
Contributors to this volume are Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., Bobby Bridger, Steven Wall, Will Wright, William Eastlake, Larry Evers, David Jongeward, Max Evans, Win Blevins, Barbara Waters, Rudolfo Anaya, Thomas J. Lyon, Joe Gordon, Robert Kostka, Charles Adams, Father Peter J. Powell, Quay Grigg, Alexander Blackburn, and T. N. Luther.
When the wounded bear he faced on a mountain ledge that day turned aside, James Curwood felt that he had been spared. From this encounter he became an avid conservationist. He wrote relentlessly—magazine stories and books and then for the new medium of motion pictures. Like many authors of his time, he was actively involved in movie-making until the plight of the forests and wildlife in his home state of Michigan turned his energies toward conservation.
A man ahead of his time, and quickly forgotten after his death in 1927, his gift of himself to his readers and to nature has finally come to be appreciated again two generations later.
In Mark Twain and the American West, Joseph Coulombe explores how Mark Twain deliberately manipulated contemporary conceptions of the American West to create and then modify a public image that eventually won worldwide fame. He establishes the central role of the western region in the development of a persona that not only helped redefine American manhood and literary celebrity in the late nineteenth century, but also produced some of the most complex and challenging writings in the American canon.
Coulombe sheds new light on previously underappreciated components of Twain’s distinctly western persona. Gathering evidence from contemporary newspapers, letters, literature, and advice manuals, Coulombe shows how Twain’s persona in the early 1860s as a hard-drinking, low-living straight-talker was an implicit response to western conventions of manhood. He then traces the author’s movement toward a more sophisticated public image, arguing that Twain characterized language and authorship in the same manner that he described western men: direct, bold, physical, even violent. In this way, Twain capitalized upon common images of the West to create himself as a new sort of western outlaw—one who wrote.
Coulombe outlines Twain’s struggle to find the proper balance between changing cultural attitudes toward male respectability and rebellion and his own shifting perceptions of the East and the West. Focusing on the tension between these goals, Coulombe explores Twain’s emergence as the moneyed and masculine man-of-letters, his treatment of American Indians in its relation to his depiction of Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the enigmatic connection of Huck Finn to the natural world, and Twain’s profound influence on Willa Cather’s western novels.
Mark Twain and the American West is sure to generate new interest and discussion about Mark Twain and his influence. By understanding how conventions of the region, conceptions of money and class, and constructions of manhood intersect with the creation of Twain’s persona, Coulombe helps us better appreciate the writer’s lasting effect on American thought and literature through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
"This book seamlessly combines biography and criticism. [Lanigan] adeptly analyzes Austin's life...and also offers insightful analyses of Austin's writing. Like other females of her period, she received too little recognition for her original prose style and social critiques. Thanks to Song of a Maverick, we hear Mary Austin's voice more clearly and appreciatively." —Carol J. Singley in American Literature
"[Lanigan] provides illuminating sociological background and lucidly marshals the existing biolgraphical data." —Choice
"Mary Hunter Austin was a well-known and respected author and activitst in her lifetime but is little known in ours. In this excellent biography...[Lanigan] chose to focus on a few central relationships in Austin's life, to explore in some depth a few central texts, and to understand the interior life of her subject. She has done a splendid job." —Ann J. Lane in the Journal of American History
In 1927, at the peak of his career, Zane Grey bought a three-masted schooner, which he sailed to the Galapagos Islands, later journeying to Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji.
As colorful as his characters were, so too was their creator. A consummate explorer, Zane Grey toured the world, was an acclaimed expert on salt- and freshwater fishing, and incorporated the sights and sounds he witnessed into his writings.
As a companion to his biographical work of Grey’s literary life, Zane Grey: Romancing the West, author Stephen J. May now gives as a remarkable look into another aspect of Grey’s existence, the side little known but central to the measure of the man.
Maverick Heart makes use of Grey’s own memoirs and letters to give an enlightening portrait of this larger-than-life American character and a telling insight into one of the key shapers of the cultural heritage of our country.
Called the King of the Pulps, Frederick Schiller Faust, aka Max Brand, wrote nearly 400 Westerns from The Untamed to Destry Rides Again—a total of more than 220 books in this genre. Yet Max Brand also created Dr. Kildare (of books, films, and television) and wrote under twenty-one pseudonyms, in another dozen genres. This book removes the mask, with deeply personal memoirs from family, friends and fellow writers, taking us through his orphaned boyhood on the brutal ranches of California, his frustrating decades in Italy, as both a classical poet and a fast-action pulpist, to his heroic death as a war correspondent on the World War II battlefields. Faust’s life story is augmented by a complete bibliography of his work—over a thousand books, stories, and films—plus the first listing of works about Faust.
Walter Van Tilburg Clark, author of the classic novel The Ox-Bow Incident, was one of the West’s most important literary figures, a writer who contributed mightily to the tradition of viewing the West realistically and not through the veil of myth and romance. As a comparatively young man, he published three novels and a collection of short stories, then remained almost silent for the rest of his life, the victim of a paralyzing case of writer’s block. Now Jackson J. Benson, one of the country’s foremost literary biographers, has produced the first full-length biography of this brilliant, enigmatic, and ultimately tragic figure. Based on widely scattered sources—personal papers and correspondence; interviews with family members, friends, and others; and Clark’s unpublished stories and poems—Benson’s biography focuses on Clark’s intellectual and literary life as a writer, teacher, and westerner. Benson masterfully balances his engaging account of the experiences, people, and settings of Clark’s life with a penetrating examination of his complex psyche and the crippling perfectionism that virtually ended Clark’s career, as well as offering up a thoughtful assessment of Clark’s place in Western writing. In these pages, Clark lives again, a warm, complex, and ultimately anguished human being. Benson’s remarkably astute and sensitive biography is destined to be the book that readers and researchers consult first for information about this major western writer.
Ever since the first interactions between Europeans and Native Americans, the “West” has served as a site of complex geographical, social and cultural transformation. American literature is defined, in part, by the central symbols derived from these points of contact. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Western frontier was declared “closed,” a demise solidified by Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1893). At the same time, “naturalism” was popularized by the writings of Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, Jack London, Willa Cather, and the photographs of Edward Curtis. Though very different artists, they were united by their common attraction to the mythic American West.
As she investigates the interactions of representations of the West, Lawlor effortlessly melds literary studies, American studies, and history. She traces the cultural conception of the American West through its incarnations in the “westernism” of Daniel Boone and James Fenimore Cooper and the romanticism of the expansive frontier they helped formulate. Simultaneously, however, the influence of evolutionism and the styles of French naturalism began to challenge this romantic idiom. This naturalistic discourse constructed the West as a strictly material place, picturing a limited and often limiting geography that portrayed regional identity as the product of material “forces” rather than of individualistic enterprise.
With subtle, probing language, Lawlor explains how literary and artistic devices helped shape the idea of the American West and the changing landscape of the continent at the turn of the last century.
The Six-Gun Mystique Sequel
John G. Cawelti University of Wisconsin Press, 1999 Library of Congress P96.W48C393 1999 | Dewey Decimal 700.4278
The Six-Gun Mystique Sequel is a revised and considerably expanded edition of The Six-Gun Mystique, a pioneering study of the Western as a popular genre that has been widely influential since its original publication in 1970.
In this expanded version, Cawelti revises his analysis of the structural characteristics of the Western novel and film, synthesizing much of the rich discussion of the Western genre that has appeared since The Six-Gun Mystique's original publication. To this structural analysis he adds a new account of the genre's history and its relationship to the myths of the West that have played such an influential role in American history. The Six-Gun Mystique Sequel concludes with an exploration of the continuing influence of Western themes and symbols on many aspects of postmodern American culture, and an assessment of the critical tradition that has developed around the Western genre. The appendices of the book are also revised and expanded to include useful lists of the most important Western novels and films, as well as the best critical and historical studies of different aspects of the genre.
Wallace Stegner, a major American novelist and conservationist, is interviewed by Etulain, a renowned Western scholar, in a series of discussions. Originally published in 1983 and entitled Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature, this book is the ultimate Stegner interview. New foreword by Stewart Udall.
Mary Austin's The Land of Little Rain (1903) and Lost Borders (1909), both set in the California desert, make intimate connections between animals, people, and the land they inhabit. For Austin, the two indispensable conditions of her fiction were that the region must enter the story "as another character, as the instigator of plot," and that the story must reflect "the essential qualities of the land."
In The Land of Little Rain, Austin's attention to natural detail allows her to write prose that is geologically, biologically, and botanically accurate at the same time that it offers metaphorical insight into human emotional and spiritual experience. In Lost Borders, Austin focuses on both white and Indian women's experiences in the desert, looks for the sources of their deprivation, and finds them in the ways life betrays them, usually in the guise of men. She offers several portraits of strong women characters but ultimately identifies herself with the desert, which she personifies as a woman.
Raised by devout Mormon parents, Vardis Fisher drifted from the faith after college. Yet throughout his long career, his writing consistently reflected Mormon thought. Beginning in the early 1930s, the public turned to Fisher's novels like Children of God to understand the increasingly visible Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His striking works vaulted him into the same literary tier as William Faulkner while his commercial success opened the New York publishing world to many of the founding figures in the Mormon literary canon. Michael Austin looks at Fisher as the first prominent American author to write sympathetically about the Church and examines his work against the backdrop of Mormon intellectual history.
Engrossing and enlightening, Vardis Fisher illuminates the acclaimed author's impact on Mormon culture, American letters, and the literary tradition of the American West.
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was, in the words of historian T. H. Watkins, "a walking tower of American letters." Winner of the Pulitzer prize and the National Book Award for fiction, founder of the Stanford Writing Program, recipient of three Guggenheim fellowships and innumerable honorary degrees, Stegner was both a brilliant writer and an exceptional teacher.Wallace Stegner and the Continental Vision brings together leading literary critics, historians, legal scholars, geographers, scientists, and others to present a multifaceted exploration of Stegner's work and its impact, and a thought-provoking examination of his life. Contributors consider Stegner as writer, as historian, and as conservationist, discussing his place in the American literary tradition, his integral role in shaping how Americans relate to the land, and his impact on their own personal lives and careers. They present an eclectic mix of viewpoints as they explore aspects of Stegner's work that they find most intriguing, inspiring, and provocative: Jackson J. Benson on the personal qualities that so distinctively shaped Stegner's writings Walter Nugent on the historical context of Stegner's definition of the West T. H. Watkins on Stegner's contributions to the modern conservation movement Terry Tempest Williams on Stegner's continuing importance as an "elder" in the community of writers he nurtured Other contributors include Dorothy Bradley, John Daniel, Daniel Flores, Melody Graulich, James R. Hepworth, Richard L. Knight, Curt Meine, Thomas R. Vale, Elliott West, and Charles F. Wilkinson.Wallace Stegner and the Continental Vision is an illuminating look at Stegner's many and varied contributions to American literature and society. Longtime admirers of Stegner will appreciate it for the new perspectives it provides, while readers less familiar with him will find it a valuable and accessible introduction to his life and work.
Beginning in 1849, Alfred Doten recorded his life in minute detail for more than 54 years. His revealing daily accounts of the West's lusty mining frontier included tales of lynching, vigilante justice, shootings in the street, grand opera and theatre, stock manipulations, seances, musical soirees, and general "jollifications." Clark selected and edited the most valuable portions of Doten's massive diaries. He said he knew of no other account, fact or fiction, that so graphically presented the tragic course of a single representative life through the violent transformations brought about by the California Gold Rush and the Nevada Silver Boom.
Ranging from the novels of James Fenimore Cooper to Louis L'Amour, and from classic films like Stagecoach to spaghetti Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars, Mitchell shows how Westerns helped assuage a series of crises in American culture. This landmark study shows that the Western owes its perennial appeal not to unchanging conventions but to the deftness with which it responds to the obsessions and fears of its audience. And no obsession, Lee Mitchell argues, has figured more prominently in the Western than what it means to be a man.
"Elegantly written. . . . provocative . . . characterized by [Mitchell's] own tendency to shoot from the hip."—J. Hoberman, London Review of Books
"[Mitchell's] book would be worth reading just for the way he relates Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child to the postwar Western."—The Observer
"Integrating a careful handling of historical context with a keen eye for textual nuances, Mitchell reconstructs the Western's aesthetic tradition of the 19th century."—Aaron M. Wehner, San Francisco Review
With much recent scholarship polarizing frontier novels into “popular” and “literary” camps, The Word Rides Again challenges the critical orthodoxy that such works have little in common, arguing instead that formulaic Western fictions can subtly (and even subversively) share cultural concerns with more highbrow brethren. Each chapter focuses on a writer who has traditionally been classified as either popular or artistic, reading a representative fictional work against prevailing scholarly trends. In this manner, Bret Harte’s sentimental stories become gender-bending experiments in which women assume male roles and even enjoy lesbian relationships. Owen Wister’s The Virginian is transmuted from a misogynistic diatribe into a complex meditation on the peculiarly American relation of violence to male identity. And even Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, rather than the apotheosis of a religious leader, becomes a somewhat standard version of the popular frontier story.
The Word Rides Again represents a significant departure from more traditional studies of frontier literature. It reaffirms the continuum between popular and literary texts and explores the ways that frontier novels have echoed, endorsed, and extended each other from the inception of the genre.
Worlding the Western views the fiction of the Western United States as a focal point for a reexamination of the consequences of the exceptionalism and closed borders of the Trump Era. At a time of bounded individualism, new nativism, climate emergency, and migration crises, author Neil Campbell argues that fiction offers opportunities to challenge the dark side of globalization. He proposes worlding as a different and more open form of politics.
Diversity, disparity, and opposition are central to the dynamic frictional fiction considered in this book. The American West provides a powerful test case in which these features are present and yet, historically, have often been masked or denied in the rush toward unanimity and nation building. Worlding is, therefore, a positive, critical concept through which to view the notion of a single world under pressure.
Zane Grey was a disappointed aspirant to major league baseball and an unhappy dentist when he belatedly decided to take up writing at the age of thirty. He went on to become the most successful American author of the 1920s, a significant figure in the early development of the film industry, and a central player in the early popularity of the Western.
Thomas H. Pauly's work is the first full-length biography of Grey to appear in over thirty years. Using a hitherto unknown trove of letters and journals, including never-before-seen photographs of his adventures--both natural and amorous--Zane Grey has greatly enlarged and radically altered the current understanding of the superstar author, whose fifty-seven novels and one hundred and thirty movies heavily influenced the world's perception of the Old West.
One of the century’s most enduring American writers, Zane Grey left a legacy to our national consciousness that far outstrips the literary contribution of his often predictable plots and recurring themes. How did Grey capture the attention of millions of readers and promote the Western fantasy that continues to occupy many of the world’s leisure hours? This study assesses the Zane Grey phenomenon by examining Grey’s romantic novels in the context of his life and era.
Grey, whose roots were in Zanesville, Ohio, was the son of a dentist and practiced dentistry himself in his early adulthood. He threw over that life for one of adventure, traveling throughout the world in search of excitement, a course that ultimately led him to become one of America’s most popular authors. But he also was dogged by depression and inertia that affected his ability and will to work.
In Zane Grey: Romancing the West, author Stephen J. May traces the career of Grey by analyzing the development of his novels and popularity and the degree to which that shaped his world.
The book also investigates Grey’s personal life—from his fling with Hollywood to his passion for deep-sea fishing—illuminating the literature that shaped America’s vision of itself through one of its most enduring and cherished myths.