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Reviews 305 tain important women characters shown enduring and sometimes prevailing over the privations, danger, violence, and ironies of the west. My favorites of these seven are “Flame on the Frontier” and “Lost Sister,” both dealing with white girls captured by Indians. They seem to me the equal of the better stories of Bret Harte or O. Henry. B e n ja m in C a p p s, Grand Prairie, Texas Great Western Short Stories. Edited by J. Golden Taylor. Introduction by Wallace Stegner. (Palo Alto, California: The American West Publishing Company, 1967. xxv + 572 pages, $11.50.) Jaded by anthologies, the average academician finds it difficult to believe that the world has need for yet another compilation. But here is a volume with its own charisma, a claim I can substantiate from direct observation. I found it difficult, during recent weeks, to keep J. Golden Taylor’s anthology in my own possession. Whenever I placed it on a flat surface—in my office or at home—a colleague or guest would pick it up, and, after brief exam­ ination, proclaim with wild enthusiasm a desire to read it, to borrow it, and (in enough cases to please Professor Taylor and his publisher) to buy it. My own preoccupation with the book prevented my loaning it on half a dozen occasions, and my preoccupation was not generated solely by the physical presence of the book; for I have been awaiting its publication ever since Professor Taylor first described his plan to me three or four years ago. The plan was an eminently sensible one, and the result is a clear tribute to the thoroughness with which Professor Taylor set out to provide a col­ lection which would truly represent “the scope of western life and the thematic variation of western writing at its best.” From the hundreds of stories he considered, he selected thirty and grouped them under ten headings (“Mountain Men and Troopers,” “Farmers and Townspeople”) that reflect the diverse human types who form part of the Western experience. In surveying the field, Professor Taylor sought suggestions from scores of writers and readers of Western fiction, but he applied always his own keen literary judgment in making the final selection. His anthology thus is as impressive in its display of the writer’s craft as it is in its exploration of regional themes. Although Great Western Short Stories includes much that one would expect to find included in such a volume (stories by Crane, Twain, Steinbeck, 306 Western American Literature Cather), its happiest function is to direct our attention to little-known stories. Jarvis Thurston’s “The Cross,” for example, is a moving study of the modes of restlessness in two generations and of the cultural, religious, regional, and temperamental impulses that both diversify and congeal the members of a family and a society. In “The Outsider,” Juanita Brooks explores the isola­ tion of a Mormon community in the Nevada desert and studies the impact of a stranger from the East on the widening perceptions of a young girl. “The Last of the Grizzly Bears” by Ray B. West, Jr., “Science at Heart’s Desire” by Emerson Hough, “Open Winter” by H. L. Davis, and “To the Mountains” by Paul Horgan are also uncommonly fine stories that stand up well along side such familiar titles as Clark’s “Hook,” Crane’s “The Blue Hotel,” and Porter’s “María Concepción.” This anthology has been well served by the publisher. Large, clean pages, quality paper, large type, and fine illustrations by Western artists Charles M. Russell, Frederick Remington, Charles Nahl, and E. W. Kemble make it an aesthetic experience of the first order. Wallace Stegner has contributed a provocative introduction entitled “History, Myth, and the Western Writer” in which he sees the polarization of past and present as a theme that is too pervasive and too limiting in Western writing. In what amounts to a chal­ lenge to the Western writer, Stegner calls for a literature of broader sig­ nificance that recognizes the connections betwen past and present. Those who teach Western American Literature will regret a price that practically prohibits the use of the volume as a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 305-306
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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