True West: Authenticity and the American West

By William R. Handley; Nathaniel Lewis | Go to book overview

13.
AUTHORING AN AUTHENTIC PLACE
Environmental and Literary Stewardship in Stegner and Kittredge
Bonney MacDonald

This essay attempts to come to terms with lines from Wallace Stegner that have puzzled me for some time. In This Is Dinosaur, he wrote that a “place is nothing in itself…. It has no meaning … except in terms of human perception, use and response.” In Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, he also remarked that “no place, not even a wild place is a place until it has had that human attention that at its highest reach we call poetry.” Wild places needing our use or our poetry? How could Stegner, author of “The Wilderness Letter” and so many works advocating land conservation in the West, say such things? Isn't the wilderness in the arid and fragile West, especially after all it has suffered from humans' extractive practices, better off without us? 1

The answer, from what Stegner suggests, is not so simple. Along with William Kittredge, Stegner mourns the irreversible damage done to western lands; and yet, with Wendell Berry, he insists on certain human responsibilities. For Stegner, as for Berry, places are intimately connected to humans' labor and language. In fact, Stegner's environmental ethic, stemming from his self-defined anthropocentrism, advocates responsible preservation and stewardship. 2

Further, Stegner's stewardship ethic parallels his—as well as Kittredge's —attempts to preserve the West's regional literature and sense of place. Just as western land was often destroyed by the carelessness born of an Old West myth of limitless resources and extractive practices, so too has western literature and the West's sense of place suffered from that frontier myth. Westerners, both authors tell us, cling to an outmoded myth because they lack an identity in the present. We not only await restored western ecosystems, we also await, as Kittredge puts it, a new regional literature to “inhabit.” 3 I want to suggest that the responsibility to enact careful land use, based in Stegner's model for stewardship and careful use, is linked to the responsibility of authorship and naming that Stegner and Kittredge advocate for western literature and place. If an older, frontier-based West is gone, both authors nonetheless find hope: authentic western places can emerge when we work the land responsibly with our hands as well as our words.

-275-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
True West: Authenticity and the American West
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 372

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.