In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

374 WesternAmerican Literature into the fabric of the story so that there is no seam, just as past, present, and future meld together in a person’s experience of a place. Geary particularly favors us with excerpts from the writings ofClarence Dutton, who accompanied John Wesley Powell in his exploration of the area in 1875. The richness ofthis book isfar too great to express in these few lines. In one section, Geary voices the contemporary Westerner’s ambivalence about water. He decries the practices that deplete our groundwater, but expresses awe at the beautiful green transformation caused by irrigation water. He ponders the differences between inhabiting a landscape and visiting it; the influence of romanticism on our views of how land should be managed; and the difficult times various ethnic groups have had learning to live together. Excellent notes and an index help the reader who wants to make a study of the region. Geary describes the plateaus and their inhabitants lovingly but without illusions. For him, these high landscapes are real—he grew up there, and he has studied them. They are populated by rocks, plants, animals, and humans, and they are his community, with all itsjoys and sorrows. They are notjust picture postcards, or highway view points, or fishing spots, or picturesque mining towns. When I first started reading the book, I was extremely disappointed in the quality of the photographs. They could have been much better, sometimes in the shooting, always in the reproduction. But one would not want this narrative to be accompanied by big, gorgeous, full-color photographs. This is a book about stories, about the complexities of place that go well beyond a beautiful vista. So, in a way, the pictures—small, black and white, sometimes a little hard to read like family snapshots—are somehow appropriate, like visual footnotes thatjust suggest what can be found if one looks more deeply. The one thing I longed for was a great map. There is a map, but as I read the text, Iwanted a better one. I wanted to see a detailed topographic map with overlays showing roads, towns, explorers and settlers’ routes, and all the other things mentioned in the narrative. This is an important book in landscape writing. Its mix of genres resulting in a clearer picture ofplace will appeal to serious students oflandscape aswell as to tourists and natives of the high plateau country and its environs. ELAINE THATCHER Western StatesArtsFederation Mapping theInvisible Landscape:Folklore, Writing, and the Sense ofPlace. By Kent C. Ryden. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1993. 326 pages, $39.95/$17.95.) Kent C. Ryden’s Mapping the Invisible Landscape, an ambitious and emi­ nently readable examination of place, writ large, in American culture and literature, could aptly claim as its epigraph Wendell Berry’sdictum that we can’t really know whowe are until we know wherewe are. Reviews 375 Place for Ryden is about far more than the objective geographical facts ofa given topography. Aswith Olson’s study of Melville, place (so similar to Olson’s “SPACE”) is here seen as among the most formative and significant facts in American cultural experience. What he calls “invisible landscape”points to the constellation of stories, memories, feelings, and imaginative responses with which that topography is imbued, and without which that topography remains in many ways unknowable. The first chapter establishes Ryden’s premise for “invisible landscape” by examining the representation of place in Colonial cartography. Seventeenth century map-making is a decidedly imaginative and interpretive act for Ryden, illustrative not just of property lines, but of the “ecology, economic base, settlement history, [and] architectural tastes” of the day. The work of such cultural geographers as E. V. Walter and D. W. Meinig assists Ryden’s project of reading the cultural significance ofnarratives derived from a response to place. The crux of Mapping comes from Ryden’s attempt to discern the signifi­ cance of invisible landscape in the regional folkloric narratives he gathered in the Coeur d’Alene mining district of Northern Idaho, and in the nonfiction essay of place as practiced by such familiar lights as Thoreau, Berry Lopez, Ivan Doig, and Gretel Ehrlich. In the former chapter...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 374-375
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.