Cover image for Spirit of place : the making of an American literary landscape
Spirit of place : the making of an American literary landscape
Turner, Frederick, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Sierra Club Books, [1989]

Physical Description:
xiii, 370 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS141 .T8 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Looks at nine American authors, and discusses the role of landscape in their work.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Turner surveys the winning of the American literary landscape, a subject he has staked out before in five celebrated books. Each chapter introduces readers to the life and writings of an American author--e.g., Twain, Thoreau, Cather, etc.--and then recounts Turner's pilgrimage to the place that was captured by the author. Turner's interviews with the residents of these locales show them to be ambivalent about the roles they may have played in the creation of the literature--though the Mississipians of Oxford/Yoknapatawpha display unbridled loathing for Mr. Faulkner. Cultural history at its finest. Bibliography; to be indexed. --Roland Wulbert

Publisher's Weekly Review

Turner combines literary history with travel writing as he explores the role of the American landscape in the work of nine American authors and in American culture generally. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Turner focuses on the importance of place in the development of an American literature, paying special attention to specific works by Thoreau, Twain, Cable, Cather, Sandoz, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Williams, and Silko. His ambition is to examine how particular places captured the lives and imaginations of these writers and how the locales insinuated themselves into the creation of literature, but he is not altogether successful. The result is more of a look at the individuals, without an extension to an identifiable American scene. As such it is moderately useful, but a better, more general work, is Alfred Kazin's A Writer's America ( LJ 10/1/88). Not a necessary acquisition.-- John Budd, Graduate Lib. Sch., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Since the voyages of discovery, the American landscape has received attention from the visual, musical, and literary arts. Accordingly, natural and urban setting has noticeably influenced writers in every region, especially the South and New England. Turner's book explores the relevant places in writings by Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, George Washingtion Cable, Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, William Carlos Williams, and Leslie Marmon Silko. In each section, Turner examines place and text while including a discussion with a "local expert." The method works, although unevenly: strong on Thoreau, Cable, and Faulkner; somewhat strong on Cather and the western writers; less so on Twain despite considerable detail. This study has some of the strength of Mary Durant and Michael Harwood's On the Road with John James Audubon (1980), but it lacks the coherence and understanding of Alfred Kazin's A Writer's America: Landscape in Literature (1988). Recommended for public libraries and undergraduate collections. -T. Bonner Jr., Xavier University of Louisiana