the Far West that these habits of enclosurenwere broken by the new kind ofnwriter which that settlement produced.n”Confronting an environment of extravagantnsize, weather, and configuration,nthe western imagination had tondiscard assumptions of imposing selfnand enclosing landscape, efforts that innthe West met inevitably with disaster.”nH avingnlaid the theoretical groundnof his argument, Bredahl proceedsnto demonstrate how Midwesternnand Western writers like Hemingway,nAnderson, Hamlin Garland, WillanGather, Gad Sandburg, and Ole Rolvaagndisplay in their works their fascinationnwith the space in which they grewnup and which they do not therefore findnintimidating: also how, like the writernand adventurer Lewis Garrard (Wahte-yahnand the Taos Trail, 1850), theynare open to the experience of a worldnthat they are prepared to accept on itsnown terms, without the interposition ofnOld World perceptions. If ErnestnHemingway is sneered at in the purviewsnof contemporary Eastern criticismnand of the academy, it is, Bredahlnsuggests, because he is (and has beennfor years) widely regarded as somethingnhe was not — namely, a writer of lossnand of the Lost Generation — rathernthan recognized for what he was: anwriter who explored, as Nick Adamsndoes in In Our Time, the possibility fornpossibilities beyond the old culturalnconfines, and whose A Farewell tonArms may (perhaps should) be read asnquite literally a pretext for the lastnparagraph, in which Frederic Henrynwalks away in the rain to begin a newnlife. In the works of Hemingway, as innthese of his regional confreres, there isnno tension between structure and wilderness,nbut a strong inclination tonmove away from, or beyond, that tension.nThe chapter on Anderson and MarynAustin, followed immediately by thatnon Hemingway, triggered the questionnfor me: are we talking about Westernismnhere, or about modernism? Didnthese Midwestern and Western writersnof the early 20th century invent annapproach to writing that seemed brieflynto be the inevitable future way but thatnwas shortly abandoned by their (mainlynEastern) successors in favor of a muchnmore self-consciously intellectual, cosmopolitan,nand politicized alternative?nIt seems to me that there is muchnevidence to support this conclusion.nAn important component of literarynmodernism was the determination toncut through the artificialities and encumbrancesnof civilization to morenprimitive values and states of mindnthan had (presumably) prevailed innWestern culture for some hundreds ofnyears; and thus to liberate the artistnfrom illusions of spirituality fostered bynorganized religion, while renewing hisnsense of himself as a creature whollynbelonging to the natural world. Similarly,n”In the western or midwesternnimagination” (according to Bredahl)n”one must begin with the physicalnbecause the body is not seen as ancorpus, a container for an essentialnspirit, but as a locus, the matrix of life.”nIn his brilliant discussion of GreennHills of Africa, Bredahl invites us tonobserve how “[t]he narrator cuts loosenfrom enclosures that separate an individualnfrom his environment and seeksnto grow with those patterns inherent innthe natural world.” And, after notingnthat “It is finished” is the book’s firstnspoken line of text, Bredahl remarksnsignificantly that these words are “generalnenough to permit reference tonmore than just the hunt or the enginenof Kandinsky’s truck. Also finished is anway of life, one that is intellectual,nEuropean, and Christian.” (My italics).nRepeatedly in his explication ofnthese selected Western stories, Bredahlninsists upon their essential paganism,ntheir uninterest in ideas, their essentialnmaterialism. “Breaking through artificial,nenclosing constructs and establishingncontact with the energy of” livingnprocesses is the story of western andnmid-western writers,” he says. “…nAn easterner might tell a similar storyn[similar, that is, to that of Guthrie’snThe Big Sky] but his would be one ofnconflicting ideas. . . . [Doig] is notnwriting a history, trying to get his factsncorrect; nor is he trying to transcendnthe physical wodd through the symbol.nInstead, Doig’s world has solidity,nas conveyed by verbs that appeal tonthe senses . . . and by descriptionsnthat make nature an’ active, physicalnforce …” while Harvey Fergusson’snThe Conquest of Don Pedro is centrallyninformed by “the discovery thatnspace and the rhythms of the naturalnworld are more demanding than thennndesire to enclose and seek protectionnfrom change.”nProfessor Bredahl, it seems to me,nhas done an admirable job in pointingnup the tremendous strengths inherentnin Western American literature, whilenparadoxically failing to recognize —nand, therefore, to suggest—how it hasnyet to fulfill its potential. The Southnachieved letters after losing a war, andndoubtless the future holds in storentragedies and dislocations for this newest,nfreshest, and most innocent portionnof the Republic’s anatomy that willneventually instill in it a commensuratensense of loss and thus serve to deepennits literary expression. More importantly,nthough, it is necessary for Westernnliterature to work itself out of thatnsuperficial naturalism inherited from itsnmodernist infancy. The AmericannWest, whose immense and surrealnlandforms are the geologic approximationnof eternity, provides the artist withnthe ideal backdrop to the puny butnspiritually significant activities of its fewnand sparsely arranged human groupings.nIt is possessed of an as yet largelynignored poetic structure that recedesnindefinitely before the viewer, as farnand farther than the farthest-seeing eyencan see. The South found its truestnpoet only decades ago, in the person ofnFlannery O’Gonnor; but then, as thenold woman remarks of the monks ofnold to Mr. Shiftlet in “The Life YounSave May Be Your Own,”. “Theynwasn’t as advanced as we are.” We innthe West will find, I venture to guess,nour own true poet soon enough.nLIBERAL ARTS-nGUESS WHO’S COMINGnTO DINNERnBONE APPETIT!nGourmet Cooking For Your Dognby Suzan Ansonn^>nMore than 100 delicious recipes toncook for your dog, heartily recommendednby Dog World magazine and Actorsn& Others for Animals. Excellent tipsnand fascinating historical tidbits; delightfulndrawings throughout.n—from the Independent PublishersnGroup’s fall 1989 catalognFEBRUARY 1990/31n