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An infinitely attractive human being--a great lady, American-style--comes alive in Conrad Richter's wonderful new novel. She is Miss Alexandria Morley, and in her eighties--a doughty warrior against creeping modernity and mediocrity. She has the warmest of hearts. She is the coolest of strategists. It is a joy to see her do battle. Secure in her Victorian mansion, in "her" Pennsylvania town, flying her flag in defense of principle and old-time decorum, she takes on and outclasses the mighty coal company (she's caught them cheating on taxes); civilizes her roughhewn young doctor (good character is no license for crudity); copes patiently (family obligations are sacred) with the poor old cousin who is a tidal wave of garrulous idiocy; stands firm against the poisonous cousin who is a knot of destructive envy; puts herself gently at the service of a sweet young cousin who cannot decide among her eligible beaux. All around her, in her house, in her memories, the past swirls. But Miss Alexandria lives in the now. She hopes, out of courtesy to her heirs, to die when her stocks are up. She tells the truth to those who can bear it--most especially to herself. She has learned, from the Southern belle who was her mother, to love the graces of life--and, from the mining potentate who was her father, to give no quarter to foolish circumstances. Even on her deathbed, Miss Alexandria, who has warned the officious clergyman that she won't have anyone praying aloud over her, wins a gallant victory. Like her dear ones and her adversaries, her servants and her fellow townspeople, the reader will take his hat off to the Aristocrat. She is the last of her kind.
A "chronicle of a white girl captive of the Indians returned against her will to her white home . . . Her reception here, her rejection and that of her Indian son by her Caucasian father and sister . . . the conflicts of her Indian upbringing with the white way are related."
Of this second novel in Conrad Richter's great trilogy, Louis Bromfield wrote: "The Fields continues the life of Sayward after her strange marriage to the 'educated' New Englander Portious, through the raising of their family of eight children. But it is much more than that; it is also the tale of the slow battle and eventual victory over the Trees and that relentless forest which even today marches in and takes over an Ohio field that has been left untilled for a year or two. Bit by bit, through hard work and in hardship, the forest is conquered and the villages emerge into the light surrounded by fields of great fertility. . . . "The story is told with a feeling of poetry and the picturesque turn of language which characterized the speech of the frontier and can still be heard in the Ohio country districts . . . Sayward, the heroine, is the portrait of a simple, eternal woman dominating in an instinctive way a husband who is far more educated and subtle than herself. The children are real children, each with his own personality. . . . "It [The Fields] has beauty, form, historical significance, and at the same time reality and the magic which accompanies illusion."
Henry Free, they called him now, or Frey in the dialect; and they knew him well in all the Pennsylvania land his own Palatine fellow countrymen had settled. They had even sent him to represent them in the Congress at Washington. Captain Free, they said, when they thought how he had fought for the freedom of the colonies a year before the Declaration of Independence. But few of them remembered that he had been Henner Dellicker in the old country, where he was born beside the Neckar; or the tale of his voyage to the new land in the crowded and starved emigrant ship; or of his indentured service in the rich Bayley house in Philadelphia; or of the curel discipline that Miss Amity visited upon him; or how he fled the King's jailers to the wild frontier, and returned later to settle his accounts with Miss Amity in a way he had not expected. In this novel, the author of The Trees has written of those early Americans who were among his own forebears--the sturdy, courageous, hard-working, liberty-loving Palantine Germans who with the Alsatians and Swiss came to farm in Pennsylvania and stayed to win their collective freedom on the battlefields of the Revolution. As a footnote to history The Free Man is freshly revealing of an important but unfamiliar aspect of our growth to nationhood and the part played in it by the founding fathers of the Pennsylvania Dutch, their "little Declaration of Independence" as early as April and May 1775, and their introduction and development of that great American influence, the pioneer rifle.
"True Son," born John Butler in a little frontier town, was captured by the Lenni Lenape Indians when he was four years old, and adopted into the tribe by the great warrior Cuyloga who renamed him and reared him as his son. True Son grew up to think, feel and fight like an Indian, to reverence their God. Then the Indians made a treaty and agreed to return all white captives to their own people. But True Son had learned to hate all white men. Though reared as a Lenni Lenape Indian, fifteen-year-old True Son, once called John Camera Butler, was ordered back to the white man. It was impossible for True Son to believe that his people were white and not Indian. He had learned to hate the white man. And now he learned to hate his new father, his new house, his new family. He hated the name John Butler. Where did he belong now-and where could he go?|
The powerful story-telling voice that has carried so many readers back into the world of the American frontier is heard again in these eight tales of pioneers and pioneer days by the author of The Sea of Grass, The Light in the Forest, The Waters of Kronos and The Town. Each story captures the force and sweep of our past in all its fierce reality, bringing us the strong, vigorous, unforgettable men and women of a simpler, harsher, more heroic time. The title story gives the collection its unifying theme, that of the frontier marriage, the "rawhide knot"--the couple bound together by the rough exigencies of pioneer life. A young girl, Sayward Hewett, has walked with her family from Pennsylvania to a settlement in the Ohio wilderness, and she is afraid of nothing. One night the men of the settlement--drunk, bent on real devilment, hardly less wild after a day's carousing than the panthers lurking just beyond the handful of log cabins--decide to "hatch up a marryin'" between an old maid and a shy, outcast, book-learned young lawyer from back East. But the girl Sayward, facing the whole lot of them, determined that she will marry their scapegoat bridegroom, wins her own victory. In "Smoke Over the Prarie," a marriage seems to presage--indeed, to precipitate--the downfall of a great baron of the Old West. In "Early Americana," and eighteen-year-old boy, trapped in a Comanche uprising, finds himself ambushed by love. In all of these stories, love and violence are yoked together by the challenge of life on the frontier. Here is the physical and emotional landscape of that world, with its vast spaces, its elemental struggles, its quality both of legend and of history, brought to us with the power and breadth that have given Conrad Richter's work its enduring place in American fiction.
New Mexico in the late 19th century and the conflicts between the pioneering ranchers and the farmers.
This novel by one of America's foremost writers--and perhaps the most truly American of all--is rock-based in values and virtues which most of the time seem to have disappeared from our fiction, if not from American life itself. The story of a storekeeper turned minister, A Simple Honorable Man is the fictional record of a life spent in the service of others, a life bringing the power of simple goodnessto obscure, sometimes earthy and violent people. Harry Donner (the father in Mr. Richter's previous novel, The Waters of Kronos) stands in this novel as a man of integrity engaged in the day-by-day activities of son, husband, father, friend, and counselor in an age when home and family exerted moral conviction and social authority. Written with Conrad Richter's customary grace of style and purity of vision, A Simple Honorable Man joins the long list of his moving and evocative portrayals in fiction of American life.
In this superb novel--the longest Mr. Richter has written--Sayward, the eldest daughter of Worth and Jary Luckett, completes her mission and lives to see the transition of her family and her friends, American pioneers, from the ways of the wilderness to the ways of civilization. Here is the tumultuous story of the Lucketts, an American family born in the wilderness, grown to face the changing ways of America during the turmoil that was the first half of the nineteenth century. The Trees began the story of Worth and Jary, a wild and woodsfaring family who lived a roaming life, pushing ever westward as the frontier advanced and as new settlements threatened their isolation. How young Sayward and her family, facing the realization that the forests had become fields and settlements, took up the arduous task of tilling the Ohio soil was the story continued in The Fields. But The Town is a much bigger book in every way than its predecessors; it is in fact a major literary event and with them comprises a great American epic.
The Trees is a moving novel of the beginning of the American trek to the west. Toward the close of the eighteenth century, the land west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River was an unbroken sea of trees. Beneath them the forest trails were dark, silent, and lonely, brightened only by a few lost beams of sunlight.
From the time of its first publication in 1960, Conrad Richter's The Waters of Kronos sparked lively debate about the extent to which its story of a belated return to childhood scenes mirrored key events of Richter's own life. As was well known at the time, Richter had spent several years in the Southwest, where he collected the material for his first successful book, Early Americans and Other Stories, but by 1933, he had returned to live in his hometown, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. John Donner, the main protagonist in The Waters of Kronos, traces a similar route from west to east, although he finds that his family home and native town have been submerged under the deep waters of a lake formed by the construction of a hydroelectric dam. As Richter narrates his alter ego's efforts to salvage his past, he moves beyond "semi-autobiography" to offer what are widely recognized as his most haunting reflections upon the power of family history, the fragility of human memory, and art's role in structuring the communal ethos. <P><P> Winner of the National Book Award
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