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Reviews 67 Part of the richness of this study is Stout’s demonstration of the different ways in which these four writers communicated beyond the limitations of their own particular time and proclivities. Characterizing Didion as the most aggres­ sive and Austen as the most ironic of the four, Stout’s individual analyses encourage the reader to rethink not only individual works and lives, but the larger meaning of style as indicative of context. Perhaps the main strength of the book is the step it takes toward explain­ ing the meaning of this “subversive feminist” style, an important critical foil for the overwhelming marginalizing attitude expressed by Hawthorne so early in his comment about those “damned scribbling women.” Even indirectly this book goes a long way toward accurately interpreting and assessing the mean­ ing, value, and purpose of women’s writing long categorized, due to the structures of gender, as “regional,” “local color,” or even, as in the case of Didion, unduly acerbic or cool. SHELLEY ARMITAGE University of Hawaii at Manoa The American Indian in American Literature. By Elizabeth I. Hanson. (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1988. 128 pages.) This slim study proposes to trace the manner in which the “master writers” of American literature have envisioned the American Indian in metaphoric terms. Heavily relying on a small number of standard critical works from the 1960s and 70s treating writers like Cooper, Hawthorne, Twain, Faulkner, and Hemingway, Hanson concludes that these writers’ depictions of Indian figures are “quite distinct from the actual Native American population.” While exploring the distinctions between historical fact and literary revisionism is an ongoing project of no little importance in Native and western American liter­ ary studies, this book, unfortunately, adds little to our understanding either about Native Americans or “master writers.” Too often we must provide our own meaning to a vague statement like, “The Indian’s presence in Mark Twain’s vision is both critical and reflective of the evolving desires and experi­ ences of white America” (79). And we are shown far too little of how the “actual” Native American population has contrasted with the writers’ pro­ jections. Hanson’s observations offer neither surprises nor complexity. Cooper’s Natty Bumppo occupies a middle ground between civilization and the wild— which is in itself a recurring and oversimplified binary opposition employed in the study that always pairs white Americans with the former and Native Americans with the latter. Longfellow romanticizes actual Indian experience, defining Hiawatha in “cosmic, heroic terms.” Twain’s Injun Joe in Tom Sawyer is destructive and feared as well as exploited. Hemingway’s Indians are not characters but only “ideas or symbols” of the imagination—a criticism 68 Western American Literature that may rightly be leveled at Hanson’s view of her own subject as well. The topic resonates with complexities that would surely benefit from much of the recent fruitful attention paid to the relationship between canonized writers and marginalized American culture, but this study is, unfortunately, plagued by an inattention to recent scholarship, overly short readings, typographical errors, and troubling generalizations. LAWRENCE R. RODGERS Kansas State University A Variable Harvest: Essays and Reviews of Film and Literature. By Jon Tuska. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., 1990. 384 pages, $35.00.) This collection features what some editors like to call “non-academic” prose. But, though it is plain, it is far from belletristic. All in all, it confirms Jon Tuska as a man very much engaged in his own discursive enterprise. And it links him with the characters one occasionally encounters in the novels of Thomas Savage—second-generation ranchers who are brilliant, self-taught, self-made, and rough hewn. They are men of independent, crystal clear vision who are, by their own accounts, deceived by nothing and know the value of everything. His style is flinty. It cuts against the grain at times; it flashes at others. The film studies are generally engaging. His swift, lean account of the western from 1903 to the present, for example, is as fine a synopsis as one is ever likely to find in 30 pages. Essay after essay contains seemingly gratuitous phrases, often parenthetical, which suddenly suggest...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 67-68
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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