In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

70 Western American Literature Although Lyon’s book is a useful introduction to Waters’ ideas, there are some things regrettably missing. The bibliography includes no reference to Waters’ work as a screenwriter and no list of his output as a government employee. And Lyon’s description of Waters’ “urge to documentary, statistical thoroughness” (p. 152) ignores some basic questions about his unorthodox literary methods. While Waters is thorough, he is often inaccurate in details, particularly in The Colorado. Ques­ tions of accuracy have been raised about the Indian books, and criticism has come from some respectable sources. It is frustrating and sad to see Frank Waters, only recently a solitary exponent of unromanticized appreciation of the depth and greatness of Southwestern Indian culture, with his place in Indian studies threatened even as he gains recognition among white readers; but the fact remains that questions raised about the reliability of his informants and scholarship and about the propriety of his conclusions should be answered. Another common criticism of Waters’ books, which Lyon treats only in a passing reference to “repetitiveness” (p. 150), regards his habit of shifting key passages from one book to another. The Colorado, for instance, contains passages also used in The Earp Brothers, Masked Gods, and The Man Who Killed the Deer. N. Scott Momaday shares this idiosyncrasy with Waters: he has published parts of The Way to Rainy Mountain in various contexts. These authors’ works challenge traditional concepts of literary economy and the obligation to be original. Lyon’s book is not intended to be exhaustive, of course; he closes by proposing some potential lines of development for Waters’ readers. Lyon’s study is an interest­ ing, informative guide to Waters’ work, a valuable introduction to an author whose reputation, even if he were to publish no more, would increase with passing years; whose work epitomizes what Lawrence meant by the “spirit of place”; a voice for visionary synthesis of the American experience. H. S. McALLISTER, University of North Dakota Democratic Humanism and American Literature, by Harold Kaplan. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1972. 298 pages, $12.00) Harold Kaplan’s Democratic Humanism and American Literature is based on the belief that personal inclination is the primary value in American democracy. Consciousness, specifically that finely sensitive type of consciousness associated with literary art, is the means by which inclination may combine “negatives and positives in order to safeguard freedom against the threat of order, and order against the threat of freedom.” Through the work of the imagination, “theory becomes sub­ ordinate to choice” and “the right becomes legitimate only when it acts through the consciousness and choice of men in the democratic consensus.” The minority, Kaplan states, must consent if this process is to be complete. The chief difficulty with Kaplan’s approach is that he uses the word freedom when what he means is license. Freedom and license, however, are two quite dif­ ferent concepts. Freedom is a belief in the objective reality of humanistic values, Reviews 71 the civil rights of all human beings for example. License is a denial of the rights of other human beings. Thus order is much more of a threat to license than to freedom. Kaplan is also in error in his belief that the right must be approved by the majority in order to be the right. Majority support of racism does not make racism right. The right of a minority — for equal protection under the law, for example — comes much closer to the essentials of democracy. Kaplan, in fact, believes that “liberal democracy” is incompatible with ethics. “Freedom,” he writes, again meaning license and not freedom, “is a most disturb­ ing premise, and in finding its own definition it moves at once into conflict with ideals of social order, or justice, or equality.” Ethics, for Kaplan, means didactic, which is to confuse the subject with the method, since license or Puritanism or anything may be taught by various methods, one of which is the didactic. Justice, for Kaplan, is something which interferes with the rights of the individual, which is to get it backwards, since the end of justice is to promote the rights of the individual...

pdf

Additional Information

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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.