From the Mississippi west to the Pacific, from border to border north and south, here is the first thorough overview of novelists, historians, and artists of the modern American West. Examining a full century of cultural and intellectual forces at work, a leading authority on the twentieth-century West brings his formidable talents to bear in this pioneering work. Etulain casts a wide net in his new book. He discusses novelists from Jack London to John Steinbeck, and on to Joan Didion. He covers historians from Frederick Jackson Turner to Earl Pomeroy and Patricia Nelson Limerick, and artists from Frederic Remington and Charles Russell to Georgia O'Keefe and R. C. Gorman. The author places emphasis on women painters and authors such as Mary Hallock Foote, Mary Austin, Willa Cather, and Judith Baca. He also stresses important works of ethnic writers, including Leslie Marmon Silko, Rudolfo Anaya, and Amy Tan.
How has the West come to be realized in the American consciousness? This is the question Etulain answers in his often pedantic critical analysis. He identifies three movements among historians, novelists and painters of the last century that have formed our collective vision of the West: the "frontier" school (followers of Frederick Jackson Turner); the "regionalists" (those anxious to evoke a sense of place); and the "postregionalists" (emphasizing gender, ethnic and environmental themes). These three divisions of thought have shaped the myths of the West from a rough-and-tumble (and male dominated) "Wild West" to the multicultural, urbanized, modern West of today. The author puts figures like Steinbeck and O'Keeffe into the context of the ideologies of their time. Etulain has written and edited many books on the region, and this well-researched volume clearly marks him as something of an authority in the field of Western historiography. But his attempt to make this analysis accessible to the general reader is not entirely successful. His prose is clotted by convoluted sentences and the kind of academic jargon that will make some readers' skin crawl Illustrated. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Winner of the Western Heritage Award and the WHA Caughey Prize"This well-researched volume clearly marks him as something of an authority in the field of Western historiography." —Publishers Weekly"An excellent survey of the last century of fiction, history and art surrounding the image of the American West." —Midwest Book Review"Pure Etulain. . . . Indispensable for anyone sharing an interest in the growth of the West in history and imagination!" —Book Talk, New Mexico Book League
Richard W. Etulain is a professor of history and the director of the Center for the American West at the University of New Mexico, where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, most of which focus on the history and literature of the American West.