Out of the Midwest: A Collection of Present-Day Writing

Out of the Midwest: A Collection of Present-Day Writing

Out of the Midwest: A Collection of Present-Day Writing

Out of the Midwest: A Collection of Present-Day Writing

Excerpt

A good regional writer is a good writer who uses regional materials. His regionalism is an incident and condition, not a purpose or motive. It means simply that he uses the literary substance which he knows best, the life of his own neighborhood, of his own city or state the material about which he is most likely to be able to write with meaning. His work has literary importance only in so far as it meets the standards of good writing at all times and in all places. Yet in a country so vast and varied as ours the regional writer gives special service to the nation as a whole by revealing and interpreting the people of his own region to those of other regions. He serves most significantly if he can reveal and interpret the people of his region to themselves.

The literary production on which I have drawn for Out of the Midwest reaches every part of the region, from Ohio to Minnesota and the Dakotas, and from Michigan to Missouri and Kansas. It expresses experience of many occupations and social groups, of many kinds and conditions of men and women and children. The people of the Middle West are farmers, fishermen, lumbermen, cattlemen. They are also clerks, mill workers, miners, office workers, mechanics. They are also lawyers, clergymen, doctors, journalists, teachers--and painters, musicians, architects, sculptors, and writers. It is the rich and varied and earnest life of our region in our time that we midwesterners have written here: life that has sometimes been bare and hard, sometimes heavy and bitter, but for the most part life that we have liked, in which we have found meaning.

The written literature of the Middle West began three hundred years ago, with the Relations of the Jesuit missionaries. Fresh from the schools of France, these young men came to the lakes . . .

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