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4 2 2 W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n L it e r a t u r e W i n t e r 2 0 0 9 as when the narrator carefully describes Corey’s route home in the opening pages, only to follow the ride with a scenic tableau that compresses memories with present action, even calling up “ghosts of the unborn and unknown” (15). Reflecting on that scene later, Corey ponders “Simultaneity” of sight and sound, past and present and possibility (80). Like her family memoir All But the Waltz (1991), Blew’s novel offers an Anglo, rural vision of the New West that draws its revisionist power from neither cityscapes nor ethnic interchange but from the daily interactions of homesteaders’ descendants and their new neighbors with landscape and myth. In answer to one of its heroine’s concerns, Jackalope Dreams is undeniably “Western enough” to make a fine gift for fans of fiction of the New and the Old West (270). Like much of Blew’s earlier work, it is also sophisticated enough to give feminist and regionalist literary critics plenty to “yip-yip” about (271). In Darkest Alaska: Travel and Empire along the Inside Passage. By Robert Campbell. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007. 348 pages, $45.00. Reviewed by Kevin Maier University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau In this erudite exploration of the convergence of tourism and colonialism in late nineteenth'Century Alaska, historian Robert Campbell turns to the experience of wealthy steamboat travelers to understand the American annexation of the “last frontier.” Breaking with the conventional understanding that the northern colonial project begins with gold, In Darkest Alaska presents the argument that the thirty years leading up to the Klondike were equally significant for the expansion of American empire. Noting that “Alaska was a scenic bonanza before it was a mining bonanza,” Campbell suggests that the common tourist practices of shopping for curios, barging in on Tlingit homes to see “authentic” indigenes, and recording natural and cultural history observations in travel journals did as much to claim this Alaska for the nation as grubstakes and placer mines (10). The imaginative and ideological claiming effected by tourists, Campbell argues, necessarily precedes immigration, settlement, and resource extraction. Organized spatially, each chapter focuses on a single figure situated in one of the places tourists encountered traveling up the 1,000-mile Inside Passage to Southeast Alaska. Additionally, each chapter charts the ways vari­ ous nineteenth-century discourses— of sexuality, capitalism, and science, for example—informed tourist perceptions of their encounters on shore and views from the steamship deck. Campbell notes the complex interactions of many of these discourses and places in single chapters, providing an effective structure for presenting this complicated history. B o o k R e v ie w s 4 2 3 Readers of WAL will be particularly interested in Campbell’s treatment of the travel narrative. As a storehouse for sublime set pieces, Franz Boasinformed anthropological observations, and careful geological interpretations, Campbell asserts that the travel journal became a way for wealthy tourists to justify their leisure as artistic and scientific labor while also affirming claims of ownership to these new lands. As a historian, Campbell deals with these narratives broadly; he does not offer a full sense of the scope of any single text. Though I would have liked more detailed analysis, this certainly suggests opportunities for further inquiry. Interested literary scholars might attend to the range of experiences contained within a single text, the organization patterns of the nanatives, or, simply, textual detail. WAL readers might also appreciate Campbell’s treatment of John Muir: the theories of glaciation Muir helped popularize serve Alaska travel writers well by making the landscape “legible” while also enabling a rhetoric of Native erasure. Despite the reliance upon Native labor to move through these land' scapes, scientific-oriented travelers focused on the geological at the expense of the cultural. As one follower of Muir put it, “Alaska has no history, ... except a geological history” (240). Although Campbell does not offer a history of Native culture here, he effectively writes humans back into the history of late nineteenth-century...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 422-423
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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