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Reviews 307 amazingly gifted in that job. To oversimplify, the novel seems familiar because it deals with experience so substantive to our lives that we have touched it ourselves, with variations, and read of it before, often in power­ ful works; and yet the novel seems totally new because, like all successful art, it makes an archetypal story come alive as if for the first time and creates an impact that is not merely a new version of the old but, rather, a revision, a re-writing of our personal history. Horgan’s frame for Whitewater, with its recurrent theme of secrecy, is essential to that revision. Whitewater is a town, or was a town, now buried beneath water backed up by a new dam; Phil is, after the story, a professor of history, specializing in the world of Beckford and Vathek. Within this frame, the story begins, with Phil and Billy, two high school friends, swimming naked, at night, to an island over the now-buried town of Whitewater to see if they can hear and understand the voices—without words or sentences—that have come to their campsite on another island. They, like the townspeople, each with his own secret, never do manage to make out what is being said, but Horgan knows, and throughout the novel he tells us what it is. M ax W estb ro o k , The University of Texas at Austin The Gun and the Glory of Granite Hendley. By Ned Conquest. (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1969. 204 pages, $4.50.) Mark Twain used to say that Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels had been a pernicious influence on the American South. His belief, which came close to obsession, was that the planter class of the early nineteenth century had used Scott’s fiction as a model for their own behavior, and by so doing had perpetuated a false chivalric ideal which corrupted the southern mind and led, albeit perhaps obliquely, to secession and the Civil War. It is impossible to say for sure what Twain would have thought of The Gun and Glory of Granite Hendley, a Double-D Western by Dr. Ned Conquest, who recently earned his Ph.D. at Princeton with an excellent dis­ sertation on the early tales of Joseph Conrad. Chances are 50-50 that Twain might have liked the story of the penniless stranger who appeared one day in the town of Paco on the western frontier and before long had metamor­ phosed from lone gunfighter to Deputy Marshal. The author of The Adven­ tures of Huckleberry Finn might even have been flattered by the fact that Conquest’s narrator, a man named Sam McCallum, sometimes speaks in the rhythmic colloquial patterns of Huckleberry himself. But Old Man Twain’s twin-forested eyebrows would almost certainly go shooting skyward in dismay if he ever learned the truth about the origins of the Granite Hendley story. For it was a sketch by Sir Walter Scott, “The 308 Western American Literature Death of the Laird’s Jock,” that according to Conquest, “inspired the whole thing.” Back in the summer of 1831, Scott sent a letter to a magazine editor on the “ancient and undisputed axiom:” sicut pictura poesis. Generally speaking, said Sir Walter, the painter isn’t able to duplicate the work of the poet because “the single now is all he can present.” Where the poet can use detailed description and analysis, the painter is commonly limited to “one strong moment of agonizing passion,” something that the viewer can understand and sympathize with “at a single glance.” To illustrate what he meant by such a moment, Scott told, with evident relish, the story of John Armstrong, a redoubtable clansman in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was known throughout the border region as “The Laird’s Jock”—that is, the boy named Jack or Jock who is son to the leader of the clan. When Jock succeeded his father, he came into possession of a huge, two-handed sword, the gift of a border desperado, and distinguished himself by wielding it in many feats of derring-do. In due course, Jock’s only son became the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 307-308
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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