The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 430

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Texas Institute of Letters. Just as a flailing McMurtry has been taken
struggling into the maw of the establishment, a new gunfighter, Craig E.
Clifford, has appeared in town. He doesn't want to kill McMurtry off-
after all, he admits, "who would I have to fight with?" (p. 6) He'd just
like to muss his hair.
Clifford's case on McMurtry, which has to do with deeper issues con-
cerning the nature of Texas myth and Texas reality, apparently pre-
dates the publication of Lonesome Dove. Says Clifford, early on: "it is
the inexhaustibility of the cowboy myth, which distinguishes Texas
from other places and gives it the special character that it has. Does
McMurtry really want Texas writers to go whole-hog cosmopolitan? I've
spent a decade among the cosmopolitans ... and it strikes me that
McMurtry himself has fled the specter of cowboy idolatry only to run
amuck in the other form of romanticization-cosmopolitanism" (p. 19).
Later, he appeals for a Larry McMurtry "graduated from these first-
rate accounts of the remnants of the frontier spirit to a great novel on
the same themes. He's as capable as anyone of doing for the Texas fron-
tier tradition what Faulkner did for the South" (p. 21). Whether Lone-
some Dove is that book is for readers to say.
Clifford writes finely and insightfully about the notion of Texas and
Texan. He is equally fine when he writes about John Graves and Ronnie
Dugger; about the southern nature of Texas; about Lyndon Johnson,
Ronald Reagan, and the cowboy image; about Willie Nelson. He is at
his absolute best-although he may value his other material more-
when he writes very personally, whether delicately about the death of
his Aunt Trixie, or nostalgically about the generations of an oystershell
road and how it feels under your feet. For those who enjoy thinking
about things Texan, this is a fine piece of work.
Austin "American-Statesman" ARNOLD ROSENFELD
The Chief. Ernest Thompson Seton and the Changing West. By H. Allen An-
derson. (College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University Press, 1986.
Pp. xii+363. Preface, illustrations, epilogue, notes, bibliography,
index. $35.)
For those many to whom the name Ernest Thompson Seton recalls
vaguely the writer of books about animal life found in the juvenile col-
lection, this fine biography will be surprising in its broader dimensions.
Seton, English-born and Canadian-reared, developed through his early
work as a naturalist strong ideas as to the value of the West for Ameri-
cans, and he urged these views energetically through his writing, lec-
tures, and founding of youth groups.


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.