New Ground: Western AmericannNarrative and the Literary Canonnby A. Carl BredahlnChapel Hill: The University of NorthnCarolina Press; 192 pp., $24.95nCatholic readers of American literaturenhave always recognized thatnthe difference between Eastern andnWestern fiction is the difference betweennNew Canaan, Connecticut, andnTuba City, Arizona. A. Carf Bredahl’snbook is a comprehensive as well asnoriginal attempt at defining the nature.nof that difference, which has appearednso obvious as to require no definition atnall.nProfessor Bredahl states his thesisnforthrightly: “[M]y argument … isnthat the effort to stretch language, subject,nand form characterize many of thenworks created by America’s westernnwriters. As individuals who value surface,nthese writers create works thatnoffer a corrective and a balance tonChilton Williamson, ]r. is the seniorneditor for books at Chronicles. Hisnlatest novel. Homestead, will benpublished by Grove Weidenfeld innMarch.n30/CHRONlCLESnSpace Artnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.n’The land of the heart is the land of the West.’n^-*sj^^i._j4J;^MW^*’**« — :^^?^npostmodern despair, ff we mistakenlynassume that the traditional canon, asnmaintained in college reading lists andnanthologies from the major eastern publishers,nfully describes the Americannimagination, we miss a significant aspectnof our culture” — as represented bynsuch writers as Mary Austin, SherwoodnAndersen, Ernest Hemingway, A.B.nGuthrie, Jr., Walter Van Tilburg Clark,nHarvey Fergusson, Wright Morris, andnIvan Deig. The extent to which thesenartists have been neglected or condescendednto by the sodality exactly measuresnthe degree to which Americannacademics have yet to discover America.nThe American literary tradition —n”Edenic in the South, nationalistic innthe North” — is signally concernednwith questions of “enclosure” — that isnto say, with “the problems and possibilitiesninherent in the act of intellectuallynenclosing wilderness.” Charies Olsen,nin Call Me Ishmael (1947), began withnthe statement: “I take SPACE to be thencentral fact to man born in America,nfrom Folsom cave to now. I spell itnlarge because it comes large here.nLarge, and without mercy.” In spite —nor-^perhaps because of—that fact,nAmerican writers (Bredahl claims) historicallynhave been distrustful of space,nnnmade nervous by the continental wildernessnlying about and beyond them.nThe act of literary enclosure has servednas their defense against that wilderness,nusing mind to wall off ideas and socialninstitutions transplanted from the OldnWorld against threatening New Worldnforces: “While a troubled fascinationnwith enclosure generated many ofnAmerica’s greatest works, its assumptionsncame so to dominate our expectationsnthat we frequently fail to appreciatenliterary expressions that do notndefine themselves through enclosure.nThese other works, it seems to me,ndevelop out of fascination rather thanndiscomfort with space and thereforenpresent significantly different narrativenand structural demands.”nAlthough the Southern tradition innAmerican letters has usually been regardednas the representation of physicalitynover intellect, and nature overnurbanization, Bredahl makes the casenfor both Northern and Southern literaturenholding in common the idea ofnthe New World as a “physical andnspiritual haven” in which Old Worldnideas on the one hand, and gentility onnthe other, require defense against nativenchaos. It was only with the settlementnof the Great Plains and, later, ofn