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

Reviews 255 all the superfluous things which, as Jean-Jacques [Rousseau] says, turn man into a dull brute” (p. 40). For one his age, young Pourtal£s was an able observer. Conscious of the westward fever in American settlers, he made the following meaningful observation: Several settlers who came to make their homes in Missouri this year are leaving. T he year was a bad one in many places. Since these people do not have the romantic attachment to their homes that we Europeans have, the roads [in Missouri] are covered with their wagons. After a year’s effort and the expense of settling down, these fools risk dying of hunger, fatigue, and fever through their stupidity and the mad urge to move on. Most American settlers, originally from Virginia by way of Kentucky, keep fleeing civilization; they believe that only the wilderness is worthy of their industry (p. 33). The Count’s response to nature itself, to the “immense prairies,” appears in his description of them as being “oceans of enameled greenery with their enormous flowers and their flowing, expansive, monotonous grandeur” (p. 34). Pourtalcs’s diary and letters are valuable for what they add to our knowledge of Irving’s tour, and for his youthful and fresh reactions to a strange and exhilarating environment. This volume is an attractive book and is well printed and bound, as are all products of the University of Oklahoma Press. Pictures of members of Pourtales’s family as well as reproductions of paintings by Carl Bodmer, George Catlin, and others add to the physical attractiveness of the book. E d g eley W . T odd, Colorado State University W ill James: The G ilt Edged Cowboy. By Anthony Amaral. (Los Angeles: Westernlore Press, 1967. xvi + 206 pages, $7.50.) Anthony Amaral had first planned to write a short essay about W ill James. The discovery of a vague reference in James’ will, however, sent hmi on a jaunt of detective work to uncover the facts of James’ life. This short biographical volume is the product of his search. T he strongest sections of the book deal with disparities between what James said about himself and what Amaral found to be true from the material that he uncovered. T he author demonstrates persuasively that the facts of the Lone Cowboy, James’ autobiography, are “doctored” and cannot be trusted. 256 Western American Literature The chapters recounting James’ start as an artist and his unsuccessful bouts with alcohol are particularly lively. Amaral has evidently done much research. H e has used the pertinent manuscript materials and has also talked to and corresponded with people who knew James. These first-hand sources add authenticity to the book. But the serious student of western literature will be disappointed with Amaral’s biography of James. This dissatisfaction arises not because the subject lacks interest or value but because the author is unable to carry out the bio­ graphical-critical intentions of his volume and because he is an uncertain stylist. Most serious are the author’s limitations as a literary critic. On several occasions he comments on the worth of a piece of James’ writing without giving sufficient reason for his judgments. He attacks the grammatical weak­ nesses of Smoky, for example, without giving illustrative proofs for his point of view. Nor does he set up the critical standards by which he is making his judgments. A final chapter, intended to be a summary critical statement, suffers from vague generalizing. More careful editing should have eliminated the writing errors. Amaral is guilty of too many awkwardly constructed sentences. For example, “The desire to be an artist was within him, but he wasn’t so moved as yet to fight for its full-time devotion (p. 18). Adding to these problems of syntax are the numerous avoidable switches in tense (pp. xi, xii). It is surprising to find so many grammatical errors in a published book. Finally, the writings of James are discussed as if they were in a vacuum. In the 1920-40 period such writers as Zane Grey, Max Brand, Ernest Haycox, and Alan LeMay were turning out Western novels and short stories, and comparisons of their...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 255-256
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.