No Quarter Given: An Essay on Paul Horgan
IN A COUNTRY AS VAST AS THE UNITED STATES, SPRAWLING FROM ONE
ocean to another across mountains, rivers, and deserts, we find it neces-
sary to identify ourselves with distinct regions and places. They give us a
sense of self to assert against the massiveness. So we have been Easterners,
then New Englanders, then Mainers, and finally "someone from Bar
Harbor." We do not simply say the South, the Middle West, and the West.
We go on to express ourselves by saying the Deep South, the Great Plains,
the Southwest, the Northwest, for these refinements do explain something
important to us. We have found the same need with certain other aspects
of our life. Our politics, our architecture, our literature-we need to bring
these home, to make them closer to us. Our heroes may be national, but we
also think of the Adamses and New England, Frank Lloyd Wright and the
Middle West, William Faulkner and the South.
Once in a while a man or woman seems without place and this makes
the person difficult for us to comprehend. Henry James was born and
raised in New York City and Albany, New York, in Europe, and in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it is not easy for us to place him anywhere
in America. A similar case can be made for Gertrude Stein, who certainly
belongs in Paris, but who was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, raised in
Austria, in France, in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Oakland, California-
and, importantly, who was educated by Henry James's brother William,
the philosopher, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Paul Horgan is a contemporary writer who poses a similar problem.
It is not between the United States and Europe that he moves, but between
the East and the West of our country, between different types of landscapes,
between different kinds of writing, between different periods of history.
He represents in his pattern of movement and variety a distinctly twentieth-
century American phenomenon. Born in Buffalo, New York, in I903;
*James Kraft, a member of the staff of the National Endowment for the Humanities,
is the author of a book on Henry James and of many articles and reviews on American
and Canadian literature. He has taught at the University of Virginia, Universite Laval,
and Wesleyan University, and is now editing the letters of Witter Bynner and writing
'The biographical material in this essay and the personal quotations by Mr. Horgan
came from Paul Horgan's Approaches to Writing (New York, 1973), 3-24, 27-171,
175-233, and from several interviews between the author and Mr. Horgan.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101204/. Accessed January 26, 2015.