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

b o o k R e v ie w s 2 2 3 Distant Horizon: Documents from the Nineteenth-Century American West. Edited by Gary Noy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. 467 pages, $22.00. Reviewed by Karen English San José State University Distant Horizon is an anthology of nineteenth-century documents, remi­ niscences, and accounts concerning the American West. While the texts are works dating predominantly from the last half of the nineteenth century, there are a few twentieth-century commentaries as well. Noy groups the texts the­ matically into eleven chapters ranging from “Westerners of Color” to “The Railroad in the American West.” Clearly conceived as a reader for a classroom, the anthology has a minimum of editorial material. Short thematic introduc­ tions begin each chapter, and sporadic general comments preface or follow some texts. For example, in his introduction to Walt Whitman’s “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” Noy explains in italics, “In selected stanzas of this poem Whitman embodies the driving impetus of westward expansionist thought" (12). The volume ends with a particularly useful chapter-by-chapter bibliography of sources and a brief index. The great strength of this anthology lies in the variety of the texts chosen for inclusion. Teachers ofhigh school and introductory college courses will ben­ efit from the gathering ofso many writers from such diverse backgrounds. Many of the documents that are included provide valuable texts for cultural studies as well. For example, a partial text of the Homestead Act of 1862 illuminates the chapter on “Farmers and Townsfolk”; and excerpts of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo strengthen the chapter on “Soldiers in the American West.” Combined with newspaper accounts and autobiographical reminiscences, these documents help round out the historical record for classroom study. The great strength of this anthology is related to its weakness as a collec­ tion. Because Noy emphasizes a range of texts, he is forced into the editorial position of relying on excerpts from longer texts. In cases where he includes an entire chapter or a complete portion of a journal or diary, the text retains its literary integrity. Often, however, Noy omits portions of chapters, documents, and accounts so that we do not have even the complete sections of a particu­ lar text. Why include only a few stanzas of Whitman’s poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” or selected portions of a chapter from Cather’s M;y Antonia? Selections from longer works, like Sarah Winnemucca’s autobiography, become merely a series of excerpts. This editorial practice compromises the effect of longer works by turning them into a series of digestible writing bites— akin to television’s sound bites. And without notes, the reader has no sense of what has been omitted or why. In his general introduction, Noy uses the phrase “unique American west­ ern mosaic” to describe his project; he also uses the model of the “sampler.” 2 2 4 WAL 3 5 .1 S u m m e r 2 0 0 0 Both ofthese ideas are carried out conscientiously inhis anthology. Overall, this is a useful resource to have for anyone who teaches American history or cultural studies and wishes to sample a variety of literary works in the classroom. The Lizard Speaks: Essays on the Writings of Frederick Manfred. Edited by Nancy Owen Nelson. Sioux Falls, S.Dak.: Center for Western Studies, 1998. 228 pages, $15.95. Reviewed by Gordon Johnston Three Rivers Community College According to the editor, the theme around which this collection is built is Manfred’s “innate connection to the primordial ‘lizard brain’ which is the center of the creative process” (vii). To Manfred, the “Old Lizard” (“intuition” is a useful but inadequate synonym) was the source of his voice as a writer; this theme also played out in his fiction in the actions of his characters. A master storyteller, Manfred wrote novels to explore our relationship to the land, our animal nature as a source of knowledge and power, our relationship to our ancestors and our cultural heritage, and the male/female duality of our inner selves. As Manfred’s voice developed, he explored all these themes as aspects of that primordial lizard brain. As is often the case...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 223-224
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.