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422 Western American Literature over to her friend, Mari Sandoz. Hinman told me she could not afford the time and expense required for further research.) It should be remembered that the interviews and non-interview took place in 1930, before Neihardt wrote Black Elk Speaks and made the man famous. Sandoz and Hinman knew Black Elk primarily as the considerably younger second cousin of Crazy Horse. They knew he was a holy man and that he would know a lot about his cousin, but I doubt if their knowledge went much beyond that. If Neihardt learned no more from Black Elk than the statement that he saw “a nice looking lady” but that he did not want to talk to her, Neihardt could well have supposed that itwas Sandoz. I wonder if, when they met later on occasion at friends’homes or when their paths crossed during lectures, they ever talked about that episode. As Hilda Neihardt pointed out in her note, this can, perhaps, be classed as trivia. But it does lead us to Sandoz's 1952 letter to D. H. Stroud, Jr., in which she seems to dismiss Black Elk’s importance for her research purposes and makes that unfortunate remark that “Black Elk was rather the find of Neihardt, and so out of courtesy I was against cutting into his territory.” She then refers to Neihardt and Black Elk as “vague, visionary mystics”before she goes on to praise BlackElk Speaksas a superb book. It was this remark that led Hilda Neihardt to draw a connection with the Black Elk interview refusal. Actually, I haven’t a clue as to why Sandoz spoke so disparagingly of the two men’s mysticism. She could be curt, abrupt, and harsh ifshe felt it necessary, but there seems no necessity for this. Nowhere else does she speak in anything but glowing terms ofNeihardt and his work; she depended heavily on parts of Black Elk Speaks as a source for her Crazy Horse. Although she stated, in the Stroud letter and elsewhere, that she did not know Black Elk himself when she was an adult, she knew his son and had high regard for the family. Perhaps she wasjealous, as Hilda Neihardt suggests, but it seems so unlikely. In 1952, Sandoz’s reputation was solid. Furthermore, it was she who suggested Black Elk Speaksas one of the first reprints when the University ofNebraska Press began their Bison Book publications in 1960.1don’t know what Stroud asked that brought about thisjejune response. Maybe it was a temporary fit of pique. It is a mystery. When I interviewed John Neihardt in 1972,1was anxious to know how he evalu­ ated Sandoz's work. I asked, with some trepidation, what he thought of her Crazy Horse; he said he thought it splendid, but, he added with a grin, her Crazy Horse was not as romantic and mystical as his. He told me also of several instances in which she had acted in his behalf, when his own literary reputation was at a low point. More than once, while he ruminated about the years they knew each other, he remarked, “She was a good scout—she was a good scout.” My thanks for allowing me tojoin the conversation about the Indian hero and two Nebraska writers. It is a great way to start Sandoz’s centennial year, 1996. HELEN WINTER STAUFFER Kearney, Nebraska A Response to Susan Rosowski’s “Willa Cather’s Ecology of Place” The enlightening first half of Professor Rosowski’s essay helps us read more carefully Cather’s descriptive style of writing. Rosowski convincingly links Cather’s devel­ oping stylistic use of direct natural observation in early short stories to her experiences at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. However, beginning with OPioneers!, the analysis ,shifts from style to form as she broadly asserts that “botanical and ecological principles helped shape Cather’s very idea of art” (42, emphasis added). Unfortunately, because the other princples are elided and these two become exclusive, Rosowski’s claim creates two significant problems. Notes 425 First, she supports it by accepting Cather’s explanation of her writing the novel as a transparent description of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 422-423
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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