How Faulkner, Welty, Lytle, and Gordon reimagined and reconstructed the Native American past in their work.
In this book, Annette Trefzer argues that not only have Native Americans played an active role in the construction of the South’s cultural landscape—despite a history of colonization, dispossession, and removal aimed at rendering them invisible—but that their under-examined presence in southern literature also provides a crucial avenue for a post-regional understanding of the American South. William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Andrew Lytle, and Caroline Gordon created works about the Spanish conquest of the New World, the Cherokee frontier during the Revolution, the expansion into the Mississippi Territory, and the slaveholding societies of the American southeast. They wrote 100 years after the forceful removal of Native Americans from the southeast but consistently returned to the idea of an "Indian frontier," each articulating a different vision and discourse about Native Americans—wholesome and pure in the vision of some, symptomatic of hybridity and universality for others.
Trefzer contends that these writers engage in a double discourse about the region and nation: fabricating regional identity by invoking the South’s "native" heritage and pointing to issues of national guilt, colonization, westward expansion, and imperialism in a period that saw the US sphere of influence widen dramatically. In both cases, the "Indian" signifies regional and national self-definitions and contributes to the shaping of cultural, racial, and national "others." Trefzer employs the idea of archeology in two senses: quite literally the excavation of artifacts in the South during the New Deal administration of the 1930s (a surfacing of material culture to which each writer responded) and archeology as a method for exploring texts she addresses (literary digs into the textual strata of America’s literature and its cultural history).
“In addition to his accomplishments as a talented novelist, a thorough historian, and an excellent essayist, Frank Waters is that rare breed of man who has merged heart and mind early in his life and moved forward to confront ultimate questions. This dilemma of faith and heritage, religion and identity, and commitment and comfort has never been resolved intellectually. Even with profound faith and rigorous discipline of self, mystics have found it difficult to resolve through action and prayer…I look at the life and writing of Frank Waters…and find…a remarkable journey of inquiry spanning nearly a century and illuminating questions which I did not think possible to formulate.”
—Vine Deloria, Jr., editor
Contributors to this volume are Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., Bobby Bridger, Steven Wall, Will Wright, William Eastlake, Larry Evers, David Jongeward, Max Evans, Win Blevins, Barbara Waters, Rudolfo Anaya, Thomas J. Lyon, Joe Gordon, Robert Kostka, Charles Adams, Father Peter J. Powell, Quay Grigg, Alexander Blackburn, and T. N. Luther.
The novels and nonfiction work of writer Frank Waters stand as a monument to his genius and to his lifetime quest to plumb the spiritual depths that he found for himself in the landscape and people of his beloved Southwest. In a career spanning more than half a century, he shared, through his many books, his insights and discoveries with countless readers across the globe.
Now, drawn from rare editorials, speeches, and essays that Frank Waters authored over the years as a reflection and a formation of his life-long themes, Pure Waters provides a treasure trove of exciting new material from this giant of the American Southwest.
In celebration of the centenary of his birth, Swallow Press is pleased to offer this new collection by one of its bestselling and most inspiring authors.