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Perspective

Western Is as Western Does

"People first, place second," William Faulkner wrote; J. while Ford Madox Ford—whose last book was The March of Literature, described by its author as a survey of world literature from Confucius to Conrad—believed that great writing transcended not only national and cultural boundaries but those of time itself. There is, nevertheless, describably such a thing as English or Russian or French or American literature; and, within the last category. New England and Southern and Western literature, provided we do not attempt to define these according to preconceived notions but are willing to take them as we find them, while recognizing that they are marked by generalized characteristics shared by the individual works to a greater or lesser degree. For the most part, any debate concerning what is and what is not a "Southern" or a "Western" novel is almost certain to be as trivial as it is futile and boring, but that does not mean that the Southern or Western novel does not exist.

In the present number of Chronicles, the subject of which is Western writing, Gregory McNamee considers the question of the American West as a literary colony of the American East. He means by this the exploitation by Eastern publishers and readers of the Westerner's portion of the raw material of experience that is the literary capital of any literary tradition, but there is another sense as well...

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