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Reviews 111 much of the writing in The Midland was better than that which appeared in contemporary magazines, and he shows that Frederick’s patience, encour­ agement, and demands paid off: most observers of the American literary scene had a high regard for the journal. At the same time, Reigelman admits that Frederick’s predilections were sometimes too provincial; he had little regard for Henry James and T. S. Eliot, and he seemed unwilling to criticize anything about the Midwest. Reigelman’s monograph is smoothly written and persuasively argued. He provides a useful introduction to the role of one little magazine in the regional literary movement between the two world wars. Had the author chosen not to be so brief and had he made more comparisons with such journals as Prairie Schooner, Southwest Review, and Frontier, he would have added a great deal to an already useful study. RICHARD W. ETULAIN, Idaho State University Selected Writings of Joaquin Miller. Edited with Introduction and Notes by Alan Rosenus. (Eugene: Urion Press, 1977 [c. 1976]. xv + 268 pages, $9.95.) For several decades scholars have paid little attention to the life and writings of Joaquin Miller. Except for O. W. Frost’s recent volume in the Twayne series, Miller has not been the focus of much recent scholarship. But this situation is not unusual; to many students, western local color writers such as Bret Harte, Miller, Mary Hallock Foote, and Stewart Edward White seem for some reason not worthy of serious study. Alan Rosenus is committed to changing this negative attitude toward Miller. In addition to producing a useful essay on Miller in a recent issue of Western American Literature and reprinting Miller’s Unwritten History: Life Among the Modocs on his Urion Press, Rosenus has put together this volume of Miller’s early prose. In a brief introduction to the collection, the editor declares that Miller’s first non-fiction is superior to much of his writing after he returned from London in the 1870s and better than most of his poetry. Nearly all the material printed here has been previously published but also out of print for at least forty years and some for as much as a century. Selected Writings includes sixteen readable stories that Miller wrote about Oregon, Idaho, and California, two revealing sections from a diary and journal, three chapters from Miller’s autobiographical volume Overland in a Covered Wagon, and an essay entitled “Utopia.” The stories and the pages from the California diary indicate Miller’s sympathies for Indians and his attachment to land and pastoral life. The other sections in the 112 Western American Literature collection exhibit his interests in physical culture, Indian languages and lore, and the history of Idaho and Oregon. Oregonians may especially appre­ ciate his distinctions between the acquisitiveness of Californians and the preservationist ideas of Oregonians. In his stories, Miller succeeds in depict­ ing the beauty of the early Pacific Northwest and the verdancy of Oregon, but he also personifies the ambivalences of a man loving and disliking the frontier. In fact, the person who appears in these writings is ambitious and uncertain — yearning for wealth and reputation and yet unwilling to cut his ties to his much-loved Oregon. And a few signs emerge of the pressures that would dominate Miller in his later years; especially the drive to succeed — indeed, he became so obsessed with the need for success that he could later abandon women (Red and white), engage in destructive wars against Indians, and despoil the scenery he praised. While Rosenus’ book is useful in reintroducing readers to some of Miller’s early prose, the volume would have been more beneficial had he chosen to provide a full-scale introduction and more extensive notes on individual selections. Additional background information would help those unacquainted with Miller’s life; the abbreviated introductory comments will leave readers at a loss to understand how these writings are related to the major events of Miller’s life and times. Moreover, other questions might have been raised in dealing with the individual works: what experiences did Miller draw upon in writing his essays (some, but not enough, of this information is given...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 111-112
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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