The Ox-Bow Man: A Biography of Walter Van Tilburg Clark

The Ox-Bow Man: A Biography of Walter Van Tilburg Clark

by Jackson J. Benson


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Walter Van Tilburg Clark was one of the West's most important literary figures. Author of the classic novel The Ox-Bow Incident, he hlped to change American literature by making the West a legitimate subject for serious fiction. As a comparatively young man, he published three compelling novels and an acclaimed 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Based on widely scattered sources-personal papers and correspondence; Clark's unpublished stories and poems; and interviews with family members, friends, and others-Benson focuses on Clark's intellectual and literary life as a writer, teacher, and westerner, masterfully balancing his engaging account of the experiences, people, and settings of Clark's life with a penetrating examination of Clark's complex psyche and the crippling perfectionism that virtually ended his career. He also offers a thoughtful assessment of Clark's place in Western writing. In these pages, Clark and his world live again, a warm, complicated, anguished human being in a modern West lively with change and rich in friendship and cultural excitement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874176919
Publisher: University of Nevada Press
Publication date: 07/27/2006
Series: Western Literature Series
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsXI
Chapter 1From Maine to Nevada1
Chapter 2Two Major Influences-Robert Cole Caples and Robinson Jeffers19
Chapter 3Marriage, Children, and Cazenovia Central School43
Chapter 4The Ox-Bow Incident and the Western Novel68
Chapter 5Writer of Stories, Poems, and Letters88
Chapter 6The Ox-Bow Movie and The City of Trembling Leaves104
Chapter 7Back to Nevada and The Track of the Cat126
Chapter 8Virginia City and The Watchful Gods and Other Stories150
Chapter 9Away from Home-Frustration and Longing176
Chapter 10From Iowa City, to Omaha, and to Columbia, Missouri193
Chapter 11Two Resignations, Son and Father210
Chapter 12Alone in Missoula and in Palo Alto233
Chapter 13The Move to Montana and Uncompleted Writing Projects254
Chapter 14On to Mill Valley and to Teaching at San Francisco State278
Chapter 15Back to Nevada and Becoming Alf Doten301
Chapter 16Teaching and Telling Stories in Reno329
Chapter 17The Doten Journals and Declining Health353
Chapter 18The Sweet Promised Land of Nevada377
Notes and Documentation393

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