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

308 Western American Literature to commercialize the Garden. There is, then, no inheritance, no continuity. Kon is Adam in a world of crude Babbitts and rutting school children. Karen’s father has given her away, literally, with a proud handshake to sign the contract. Her foster parents are kind, but they represent hollow traditions (an artist should copy, not create) and Victorianism. Karen protests against their world and the doctor who represents it, insisting on her right to remain innocent, on the child’s side of puberty. Her language, however, is the language of Victorian melodrama and Horatio Alger Puritanism. A prim and comic fool, Karen is also an absurd steward of ancient values. From the factualist viewpoint—and the excellence of the novel consists in the power given to both viewpoints—the doctor is merely trying to help an eighteen year old girl move past puberty and into womanhood before she becomes incapacitated for a full and natural life. To Karen, it is rape, though she knows full well it is not the kind of rape recognized by the world of fact. The doctor is trying to rob her of honey, to exploit in the name of the world her innocent girlhood. Yet the world provides no proper ceremony: the doctor’s instruments are cold and cruel. In a similar way, the world wishes to rape the innocence of Kon, who is also reluctant to leave childhood and become an adult. Kon is caught, chiefly, by the memory of an Edenic afternoon, not with an Eve, but with his brother, Brant, a golden time of apples and naked delight when the two felt a power and a beauty they cannot transfer into what society calls the normal. Brant turns to magic, to the desperation of black-comedy actions, and, finally, to suicide. He is unable to stand the tension between Eden and prairie. For Kon and Karen, there is at least hope. Still puritanical in marriage, they have nonetheless exerted a strange type of will-power. They are, as it were, Puritanically loyal to an old innocence; and, Manfred concludes, they might grow up after all. M ax W estbrook, University of Texas The Eternal Adam and the New World Garden. By David W. Noble. (New York: George Braziller, 1968. 226 pages, $5.95.) The Brothers of Uterica. By Benjamin Capps. (New York: Meredith Press, 1967. 310 pages, $5.95.) The idea of America and of the American West as a Garden of Re­ demption for Old World men and sinners of the Eastern seaboard persists. Reviews 309 This notion has attracted more than its share of advocates and detractors. Without exception, all of our major and many of our lesser novelists have mined this theme. Most have warned us of dangers lurking in a geographical, communal, or personal transcendentalism which ignores or forgets the facts of human history. Two recent books (an historical study and an historical novel) further reject the American Eden and the American Adam as de­ fensible ideals. Professor Noble’s Eternal Adam and the New World Garden focuses on the “central myth” in the American novel since 1830 and crosses the traditional dividing line between history and literature. As such, it resembles Henry Nash Smith’s Virgin Land (1950) and R. W. B. Lewis’s American Adam (1955). As in his Historians Against History (1965), Professor Noble argues against the popular assumption that Americans are a chosen people. He contends that we never have been, are not now, and never will be free to live in timeless harmony with nature, free from European historical change and the human condition. To support his vigorous conviction of individual and social imperfectibility , Professor Noble draws upon literary artifacts from the canons of Hawthorne, Melville, Mark Twain, Howells, James, Norris, Crane, Dreiser, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Warren, Cozzens, Mailer, and Bellow. Churchill and Baldwin are included, but not Wharton, Glascow, Cather, Lewis, Wolfe, Dos Passos, Steinbeck, or Farrell. Were he to include in his readable but poorly proofread book (lacking an index) support from a contemporary Western writer, this historian could do no better than to select Benjamin Capps of Texas. As in his splendid Trail to Ogallala (1964...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 308-310
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.