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70 Western American Literature one wonders how Niatum had the courage to write a villanelle in this poetic climate but one admires him for it. Here the form keeps him from sentimen­ tality, and, although there are obscurities that don’t always work, the poem does make us feel something intensely: “The years in the blood keep us naked to the bone. / Light breaks down the days to printless stone.” If those refrain lines seem to echo, in subject matter, a certain Dylan Thomas villanelle, they assert their own right in their imagery and their sound. In short, the usual mixed bag, but some of the mix is excellent — in any culture. L. L. LEE, Western Washington University Walt Whitman’s Western Jaunt. By Walter H. Eitner. (Lawrence: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1982. 123 pages, $18.00.) Because university professors and university presses have produced so many books that met no real scholarly need, it is a pleasure to encounter and read the rare exception. Walter H. Eitner, professor of English at Kansas State University, and the staff at The Regents Press of Kansas have created such a manmade gem. Walt Whitman’s Western Jaunt is a carefullyresearched , smoothly-written, and handsomely-printed reconstruction of a misunderstood and generally neglected part of the great poet’s life. To complete his study of Whitman’s 1879 sojourn, mostly in Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado, Eitner used hitherto neglected primary sources, espe­ cially contemporary newspapers and a unique collection of autograph notes in the Philip Ashton Rollins Collection of Western Americana at the Princeton University Library: the latter manuscript was overlooked during the compilation of New York University’s monumental Collected Writings of Walt Whitman. Twenty-three well-chosen contemporary engravings and photographs, two maps, and extensive notes supplement the text, enhancing its value. Just as Gay Wilson Allen did for other facets of Whitman’s life in The Solitary Singer, so Eitner corrects “adjustments in the facts” made by the poet, showing how Whitman altered the report of his western trip in Speci­ men Days to project a romantic picture of an aged and somewhat infirm artist, travelling alone across the Great Plains to the Rockies, and there finding the “law” of his own poems, confirmation of his longheld precon­ ceptions about “the grand interior” of the United States. (Incidentally, Whitman found the confirmation of his “law” in Platte Canyon, Colorado, to the southwest above Denver; by 1984 the Canyon, subject to the best poem Reviews 71 to result from his trip — “Spirit That Form’d This Scene,” will be under a lake, helping to quench the thirst of a city still booming a hundred years after he visited it.) Eitner’s text reflects a commendable research effort, one that shows the shortcomings of some of us who have worked on the same subject. His book does seem to have a minor note problem, with the first one to Chapter 3; Eitner references the Lawrence, Kansas, Daily Journal, 11 September 1879, for a report of Whitman’s arrival in that town on 14 September. However, given the meticulous effort everywhere else, I suspect Eitner has the correct date in his draft and this date conflict is simply a typographical error that detracts not at all from this fine addition to Whitman scholarship. JAMES R. NICHOLL Western Carolina University Ecotopia Emerging. By Ernest Callenbach. (Berkeley: Banyan Tree Books, 1981. 326 pages, $7.95.) Ernest Callenbach hates cars — in this novel, the word driver is an obscenity. His description of the air of a great city, in the early 1980s, is that every molecule has passed through at least one engine and exhaust system. It is a mad, unreal, almost totally alienated scene; rivers of cars, cars, cars are pouring, stopping, intertwining. But out on the Bolinas headlands, a teenage girl is working on a cheap, easily manufactured solar cell: in Sacramento, some calm, awakened poli­ tical people are forming the Survivalist party, and starting to spread the word of ecological sanity through cable-TV messages; in Washington and Oregon, victims of 2,4-D spraying and nuclear-plant meltdown suddenly realize their solidarity: in northern California again, an employee of a chemical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 70-71
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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