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W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n L it e r a t u r e S p r in g 2 0 0 6 Goldthwaite’s aforementioned essay). While each of the first two essays in this section (Richard Hunt’s “Integrating Science and Faith” and Katherine R. Chandler’s “Potsherds and Petroglyphs”) deal with a topic that is common to Williams studies—her relationship to Mormonism—they do so with a freshness that is missing from many of the book’s earlier essays. The rest of the essays in this section provide compelling new perspectives for thinking about Williams’s work, especially Tina Richardson’s “Corporeal Testimony,” which discusses Refuge not only as a piece of environmental writing but also as an (exceptional) example of breast cancer writing. Ultimately, Surveying the Literary Landscapes of Terry Tempest Williams, offers a fine introduction to scholarship on Williams—something that was sorely needed. The introduction includes a concise and thorough description of Williams’s career up to this point, and the volume contains a bibliography of both primary and secondary materials—both of which are a valuable resource. The essays, though not always terribly original, do provide an admirable sampling of the central questions that have motivated most Williams scholarship. Critics looking for cutting edge work on Williams might be better served elsewhere, but this collection is an excellent starting point for those just coming to her work and will probably remain foundational in this regard for years to come. The Crux: A Novel. By Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Edited and with an introduction by Jennifer S. Tuttle. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2002. 242 pages, $42.50. The Crux. By Charlotte Perkins Gilman. With an introduction by Dana Seitler. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003. 171 pages, $16.95. Reviewed by Randi Tanglen University of Arizona, Tucson “Beware of a biological sin, my dear; for it there is no forgiveness,” warns Dr. Jane Bellair when advising Vivian Lane in The Crux, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1911 eugenically inspired novella about venereal disease on the frontier (Tuttle 193). Gilman is most known by feminist scholars and most studied for her works “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) and Herland (1915), but two recent reis­ sues of The Crux by the University of Delaware Press and Duke University Press expand Gilman’s relevance to scholars of the American West. In this caution­ ary tale that present-day readers may find painfully didactic (but still culturally and historically significant), Vivian Lane, along with a multigenerational group of women, leaves her New England hometown for Colorado at Dr. Bellair’s encouragement. The women use their domestic skills to open a boarding house in the frontier mining town of Bainville. They discover that in the West they B o o k R e v ie w s are admired and their skills are valued, leading to personal satisfaction and growth that the women never could have achieved in New England. Soon after the women’s arrival in Bainville, Morton Elder, Vivian’s longlost beau, reappears after nine years of sewing wild oats. Before they can marry, Dr. Bellair informs the sexually naïve Vivian that Morton has both syphilis and gonorrhea and that marrying him would prevent her from fulfilling her racial reproductive— and, thereby, maternal— duties. When Vivian laments that she loves Morton in spite of his diseases, Dr. Bellair sternly retorts, “Will you tell that to your crippled children?” (Tuttle 192). These words haunt the maternally oriented Vivian as she finds herself in the “crux” between romantic love and the “biological sin” of marrying the contaminated Morton. The novella’s frontier setting, according to editor Jennifer S. Tuttle in the University of Delaware Press reissue, unites Gilman’s previously articulated feminist and eugenic theories. Tuttle reads The Crux as a woman-centered Western that “uses the Tumerian script to justify women’s heroic quest to reform society” (41). She argues that Gilman’s novella works against the female rest cure exposed in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by appropriating for white women the male West cure popularized by Owen Wister in The Virginian (1902), thereby making women crucial participants in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 76-77
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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