America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 21-23.

 

Henry, Will. Chiricahua.  New York: Lippincott, 1972.

Henry Wilson Allen wrote Westerns under the pseudonyms Clay Fisher and Will Henry.  The novels written as Clay Fisher tend to be more like conventional Westerns, featuring heroes and villains confronting each other in somewhat generic Western settings, with a romance hanging in the balance and providing a subplot.  On the other hand, the novels written as Will Henry tend to focus on historical events and to reflect the author’s special interest in entering into the Native American point of view on those events.

For Chiricahua, Henry received one of several Spur Awards given to him by the Western Writers of America.  Focusing on the 1883 uprising of the Apaches under Chato. The novel has a very complex structure, focusing on a broad range of characters across a considerable geographic distance.  The characters are familiar types, but Henry gives each of them a complicated personal history and invests their misadventures with a great deal of harrowing immediacy.  Both the Apaches and the army seemingly compensate for their inept strategies and tactics by inciting each other to acts of increasingly terrible brutality.  The novel does not really have a central character, but its focal point of view may be provided by Peaches, an Apache scout for the army.  His loosely Anglicized Apache name is actually.Pa-nayo-tishn, meaning “the Coyote saw him.”  Straddling two cultures, Peaches is trusted by neither the soldiers or the Apaches and yet, in many ways, has a more complete sense of self than those with less ambiguous loyalties.

 

Horgan, Paul.  A Distant Trumpet.  New York: Farrar, Straus, 1960.

Paul Horgan had equal stature as a historian and a novelist.  He received the Pulitzer Prize for his nonfiction titles Great River (1954), treating the geography and history of the Rio Grande, and Lamy of Sante Fe (1975), a biography of the Spanish cleric fictionally portrayed in Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop.  A long-time resident of the Southwest, Horgan absorbed its history and landscape not just intellectually but viscerally.  In both his histories and novels, he was able to render settings and events not just with vivid immediacy but with something more, an intimate awareness of the subtleties of place and in the human behavior shaped by that place.

In A Distant Trumpet, Horgan focuses on the relations between the Apaches and Anglo-American soldiers and settlers in the Southwest, from the last years of the Civil War to late in the nineteenth century.  The focal point is the relationship between a young cavalry officer and his Eastern bride.  Through these characters, Horgan explores one of his major themes, both in this novel and others: the different ways in which Easterners and Westerners perceive the West.  Through the broader conflict, he explores a parallel issue: the different attitudes toward the land held by Native Americans (as well as Spanish settlers) and Anglo-Americans.

 

Hough, Emerson.  The Covered Wagon.  New York: Appleton, 1922.

Emerson Hough joined his journalistic interest in conservation with his novelistic interest in the forces that compelled Americans to move westward beyond one frontier after another until they had settled all corners of the American wilderness.  Hough’s synthesis of these interests created a tension in his writing between an appreciation of the terrible natural hazards that the Western wilderness presented to settlers and an awareness of how settlement was transforming the natural environment of the West, sometime irrevocably.

In The Covered Wagon, Hough created a new sub-genre of the Western in which the settlers gathered in a wagon train are characterized so as to provide a microcosm of motives that drove Western settlement.  Hough conceived of the passage West not just as the quest for “manifest destiny” but as an almost Biblical test of human faith and human endurance.  At each stage of the journey, the wagon train is faced with some potentially cataclysmic danger—from flood to desert, from stampede to starvation, and from Indian attack to terrible isolation.  Hough’s novel was adapted into an award-winning film, but both the novel and the film would eventually be overshadowed by imitators.  In the case of the novel, A. B. Guthrie’s The Way West is now much more widely known than Hough’s novel, to which it owes a considerable debt.

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Previous Posts in This Series:

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 1-2: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/10/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-1-2/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 3-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/16/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-3-5/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 6-8: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/20/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-6-8/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 9-11: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/04/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-9-11/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 12-14: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/12/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-12-14/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 15-17: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/21/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-15-17/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 18-20: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/02/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-18-20/

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Posts in the Previous Series:

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 1-3: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-1-3/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 4-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/31/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-4-5/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 6-7: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/01/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-6-7/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 8-10: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/04/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-8-10/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 11-13: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/06/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-11-13/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 14-16: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-14-16/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 17-19: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/18/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-17-19/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 20-22: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/25/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-20-22/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 23-25: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/07/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-23-25/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 26-29: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-26-29/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 30-32: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-30-32/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 33: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/29/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-33/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 34-36: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/10/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-34-36/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 37-39: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/15/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-37-39/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 40-42: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/21/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-40-42/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 43-45: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-43-45/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 46-48: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/26/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-46-48/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 49-50: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-49-50/

 

 

14 thoughts on “America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 21-23.

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