The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction

The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction

The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction

The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction

Synopsis

The Great Plains has long been fertile ground for literature. The Nature of the Place is a comprehensive study of novels and stories by such Plains writers as Willa Cather, Wright Morris, Mari Sandoz, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frederick Manfred, Wallace Stegner, and Bess Streeter Aldrich. Throughout, Diane Dufva Quantic is aware of the region's collective social and cultural history- aware of the immensely fruitful clash between that complex history and Plains myth (such as "Garden of the World" and "Great American Desert"). In the vast and changeable Great Plains, as Wright Morris once remarked, "Many things would come to pass, but the nature of the place would remain a matter of opinion."

Excerpt

My mother grew up in Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the contiguous forty-eight states. My father’s parents arrived in Kansas from Sweden just before the turn of the century. My family tree includes oldstock American Bells, who were in the Ohio valley in 1797 and moved steadily westward, Scottish McKims, who came into Kansas from Canada, and Swedish Dufva grandparents, who paused in Chicago on their way west. All of these people were in Kansas by 1897. I grew up in northeastern Kansas, oblivious to the symbolic significance of my ancestry. I only knew that across the alley that ran along the back of our house was an alfalfa field, and beyond that a wooded hill where we played cowboys and Indians, uninterrupted by the civilized calls of parents. Our neighbors kept a cow that we could “milk.” In winter our sleds went two blocks beyond the bottom of the hill on the blocked-off street. The old quarry at the top of the hill yielded fossils and a pleasant view of the over valley where the town . . .

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