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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Humanities
Department History
Author Topping, Gary Rex
Title Zane Grey's West : essays in intellectual history and criticism
Date 1977
Description This is a series of essays on various aspects of Zane Grey's novels. Their goals are to evaluate Grey both as a writer and as a thinker and to place his books in the context of broader intellectual and literary movements. A brief introductory chapter reviews the recent interpretive literature on Grey and explains the nature of the gaps that the present collection aspires to fill. Also, it establishes a methodology based on traditional techniques of literary criticism and historiography, rejecting the formula analysis method and sociological interpretation of popular literature found in Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land. The next two essays outline the major features of Grey's craft as a writer and the main themes of his social thought, attempting to establish a basic perspective into which successive studies of more limited topics can be placed. The essay in literary criticism first reviews the checkered reception of Grey's books by reviewers and critics and suggests that some of the harsh criticisms resulted from improper critical standards. The essay then proceeds to evaluate Grey as a writer of romances, and shows that the standards of romance produce a more favorable assessment of his work. The essay on Grey's social thought shows an interesting, if somewhat inconsistent, blend of Darwinism, Calvinism, primitivism, and popular Victorian racial theories and sexual mores. The two essays that follow are explorations of more narrow themes in Grey's thought. The first is an examination of the ideas of chronological and cultural primitivism in several of Grey's most important novels. These ideas are placed into perspective by comparison with the attempts of Edgar Rice Burroughs to deal with similar themes. The other essay is a reexamination of Grey's thought regarding the Mormons. Several of his most popular and important novels present interpretations of Mormon culture, yet they have commonly been misinterpreted as indicating a basic misunderstanding or hostility to Mormons and Normonism. This essay does more than merely set that point straight; it uses Grey's views on Mormonism as a means of illustrating his religious thought and his views on the civilizing process on the frontier. The collection closes with a biographical essay that proposes possible sources for Grey's thought and literary style in the social environment of his youth and early adulthood. The main influences were the ideals of the Old South in his childhood environment in Zanesville, Ohio, the pressures to become a member of the new professional aristocracy that developed during the Gilded Age, and his rejection of those pressures in favor of ideals he found first in romance literature and later in his own experience of the American frontier West.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Grey, Zane, 1872-1939
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Gary Rex Topping
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s6cs0gck
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2019-09-23
Date Modified 2019-11-26
ID 1461718
Reference URL

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Title Page 46
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2019-09-23
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 1461764
Reference URL