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Note WALLACE STEGNER 1909-1993 Wallace Stegner died the evening of April 13, 1993 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a result of injuries suffered in an auto accident two weeks earlier. During a long and distinguished career he received just about every award an American writer might receive, including a Pulitzer Prize for the 1971 novel, Angle ofRepose, and a National Book Award in 1977 for The Spectator Bird. His most recent publication was a third collection of essays, WheretheBluebirdSings to theLemonade Springs (1992). Born in Iowa, he spent his childhood on the last homestead frontier in Saskatchewan and then the latter part of his life in the foothills of California— a remarkable span which ran from the horse-drawn plow to the information age. He was a man, to paraphrase what Robert Stone has said about one of his characters in a recent novel, who practiced the virtues that most of us used to believe in—kindness, courtesy, responsibility, and hard work. He had many roles—novelist, essayist, historian, lecturer, editor, and environmentalist—but perhaps all of them go back to one central role, that of being a teacher. As teacher in the formal sense, he is known for founding the creative writing program at Stanford Universitywhich he directed for twenty-five years, produc­ ing several dozen of our most accomplished writers. As teacher in a less formal sense, he had been all his life a truth-seekerwho tried to see himself, his history, his land, and his people as clearly as possible and pass on those discoveries to others. As a Westerner who frequendy wrote about western subjects, he worked to increase our understanding of the West—its history, its geography, and its social dynamics—and to expose the myths that all too often had contributed to its exploitation. His Mormon histories, for example, displayed the fallacy of aWest created by the lone horseman and demonstrated how important cooperation was to its actual development. His biography ofJohn Wesley Powell performed the invaluable service of reminding us that the West was not a New Eden, a paradise, but for the most part an arid, near desert. His biography of Bernard DeVoto did much to spread the DeVoto gospel concerning the need to preserve public lands and the need for constant public vigilance in their protection. 52 WesternAmerican Literature With these latter two works alone he made a substantial contribution to the emergence, development, and agenda of the environmental movement. For those who knew Wallace Stegner personally, his loss is particularly difficult to bear. In a way, his finest work of artwas himself—he often declared that his motive for writing was to examine himself, his roots, his motives and goals. Out of that self-examination, and a determination to grow, came one of the most remarkable persons of this or any other time. No man ever had more integrity. We in the West can take him, in death, to our hearts to cherish as one of ours, the best ofwhatwe can be. Butwe can also with some pride present him to the world, a great man and a great American writer. JACKSONJ. BENSON SanDiego State University ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 51-52
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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