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Reviews 237 Cervantes would have made plain the essential foolishness of the whole romantic notion which a Quijote (or a Lampassas) represents, Flynn not only makes it plainly heroic but reinforces the whole fundamental myth of the American frontier—that the civilization which followed it was the corrupter and destroyer of the natural men who embraced it. With such a collection of caricatures, it was, perhaps, inevitable. Too dumb to know the futility of their mission, and too ignorant to be pathetic, none of his crew rises to Quijote’s quixotic heroism. They are too far out classed. June’s dumb and ineffective loyalty to his gun is not enough for us to mourn his death by violence; it is about as empathic as a sawdust floor. The transformation of Pretty Shadow’s light of love from beautiful Diamond Annie to time-ravaged Retta is only what we would expect; and the Kid’s love for railroads is even more childish than Lampassas’ dream of the trail. Thus the whole staggering expedition is slapstick but not satiric, doomed but not tragic, and, in the end, iconoclastic but not icon-shattering. And yet it is one of the few novels I have read which recognizes the futility of clinging to romantic myths, whether they be those of fifteen or a hundred years ago. As Mr. Flynn has so ably made plain, to attempt to portray the historic past by re-creating a myth is to invite disaster. J o h n B arsness, Montana State University Beyond The Desert. By Eugene Manlove Rhodes. (Bison Books. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967. x+237 pages, $1.80.) Today, when all of Eugene Manlove Rhodes’ novels are out of print and first editions of his work are selling for a minimum of fifteen dollars (the price I recently paid in Santa Fe for a copy of The Proud Sheriff), the appearance of Rhodes’Beyond The Desert as part of the University of Nebraska Press Bison Books series is a significant event, not only for devotees of Rhodes but for students of Western American literature in general. Since Rhodes’ death in 1934, a small but vociferous cult (numbering among its members Bernard DeVoto, Conrad Richter, and J. Frank Dobie) has touted Rhodes as one of the few portrayers of the West-That-Was who was both true to its way of life as well as a first-rate fictionalist. Despite this praise, and the caliber of its bestowers, Rhodes’ work to this day has not achieved the critical reputation or attention it deserves. Too often it has 238 Western American Literature been passed off as being a half-way point between the popular cowboy westerns and the work of such critically acclaimed writers as Walter Van Tilburg Clark, A. B. Guthrie Jr., and Frederick Manfred. Reasons for this critical bias exist, and they demand attention, but a novel such as Beyond The Desert makes a valid case for considering Rhodes as a literary artist. For one thing there is the impressionistic sweep of the land itself, central to all of Rhodes’ work, a feeling in words for the vastness and loneliness of the Southwest which has been equalled since only by Tom Lea. There is as well the beautifully developed conflict between the older way of life, represented by La Huerta, “The Garden,” and the inevitable but necessary advance of civilization, represented by the coming of the Bee Line railroad and its search for pure boiler water. It is noteworthy that Rhodes denies the romantic tendency to align the forces of good and evil purely with respect to garden arid machine. Instead, the lines are drawn according to the motivation on the part of the characters involved in the conflict—individual greed versus benevolent fellowship. The characters, themselves, are probably Rhodes’ strong­ est point. Lithpin Sam and Bat Cremony, Bud Copeland and Jake Fowler—■ heroes and villains respectively—his heroes perhaps too sunny and bright in their unselfish fellowship, his villains perhaps too rigidly stereotyped by their appalling greed, but each, nonetheless, a memorable vignette. The blending together of these three elements—landscape, theme, and character—mark Rhodes as more than a teller of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 237-238
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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