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Reviews 91 Without denying harsh realties such as AIDS, drugs, and Alzheimer’s disease, McMillan manages to keep the tone optimistic. We rejoice in her characters’ small victories as each, while never giving up her search for the right man, learns to exhale on her own. DANA BRUNVAND WILLIAMS Utah State University Of Lizards and Angels: A Saga of Siouxland. By Frederick Manfred. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992. 617 pages, $22.95.) Is incest always wrong? TheNew CatholicEncyclopediaadmits God sanctioned it to start the human race, although he’s against it today. Is he? Suppose he lets a brother and sister fall in love. Are they sinners if they wed under false pretenses and have children, normal ones? Should we damn a novelist who admires such a marriage?—who points out that incest was mandatory for Egyptian royalty?—and that it made isolation endurable for pioneers? Can you imagine a reviewer defending Manfred? Well, you’re reading one. If you’re a professor, do you have enough guts to discuss this dangerous subject as tolerandy as Manfred? And are you enough ofa frank freethinker to talk about the marriage of the “sinners’”parents? Outwardly, it’s a Christian success; inwardly, it’s a Christian tragedy. The wife drives her husband to suicide by embracing the old-fashioned Christian doctrine that sex should be limited to procreation. She tells him to visit a whorehouse—not realizing that he might return with VD. When he reluctandy obeys, he brings a pistol to shoot himself afterwards. Their igno­ rance about contraception and alternatives to intercourse is pathetic. Manfred sees them as victims of time and place. Of course, the novel is about much more than sex. It’s about three genera­ tions of an Iowa family from the 1880s to the 1960s, mostly on farms but also in towns and cities. Students will find a wealth to write about: the prairie, growing right through the pages; Indians; farming; animals; remarkable secondary characters; their sexuality, including more incest; parallels and contrasts with biblical events and personages; Manfred’s criticisms of Christianity; the title, which means “Man’s animalism and spirituality,”viewed agnostically; and much else. Manfred offers the suppressed truth about the early settlers of his Siouxland. The novel should become a maverick classic. But readers wanting, or dreading, a conventional celebration of familyvalues are in for many surprises. In his SelectedLetters he calls himself a lawbreaker. Good! A reviewer has complained that he’s “too explicit” about sex. My only complaint is that he’s not explicit enough. DEXTER MARTIN Brookings, SouthDakota ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
p. 91
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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