Louis L'Amour American Literature Analysis
Western fiction may be divided into the formulary narrative, the romantic historical reconstruction, and the historical reconstruction. The typical formulary story is set in the Far West and features a tough, laconic hero, usually with a shadowy past, who is familiar with fists, guns, and horses and is obliged to save something or someone in trouble—for example, a disputed gold mine, rustled livestock, or a woman in distress. Shane (1949), by Jack Schaefer, is such a novel. The romantic historical novel treats characters and events in greater depth and includes figures from Western history—Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill, George Armstrong Custer, or a railroad or banking mogul, for example—either glamorized or vilified. Little Big Man (1964), by Thomas Berger, is an example. The historical reconstruction is more closely based on history, seeks realistic effects beyond the aim of popular formulary and romantic Western writers, and attempts to elucidate the Western past. From Where the Sun Now Stands (1960), by Will Henry, is an example.
L’Amour thought that he could write in all three subgroups, but he could successfully manage only the first two. One of his early formulary Westerns is Utah Blaine (1954). Its hero rescues an innocent old rancher from being lynched by villains greedy for his land, inherits the grateful man’s holdings when the man adopts him, but then is murdered, must fight to preserve his new...
(The entire section is 2859 words.)
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