Mary Austin’s Southwest

An Anthology of Her Literary Criticism

Edited by
Chelsea Blackbird
Barney Nelson

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Subjects: Western History

9780874808209 (paperback)

"If Nationality means anything—and in [the American] case it couldn’t mean race—it must mean the unconscious response of a people to their natural environment."—Mary Austin
Celebrated and controversial author Mary Austin (1866-1934) lived in and wrote about her beloved Southwest, a place that has shaped and been shaped by three distinctive groups: Indian, Spanish, and Anglo. Austin discovered in the Southwest that these cultures blended languages, races, and religions, creating what she believed were unique versions of Catholicism, nature worship, ceremonies, and visions. Those beliefs worked their way through her literary criticism, leading her to ground-breaking ideas of place-based influences, narrative techniques, and dramatic development.

In Mary Austin’s Southwest, editors Blackbird and Nelson shine light on Austin’s work, revealing her to be a significant trailblazer for literary diversity. With thoughtful introductions to selected writings on Austin’s prose, drama, and poetry as well as an annotated checklist of her published Southwestern literary criticism, this collection is a celebration of a rich mixed heritage as expressed through the written word.