Mari Sandoz Rose C. Feld - Essay

Rose C. Feld

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Slogum House"] is a book that none but Mari Sandoz could have written. No other woman would have dared attempt such a background and such a story and no man possesses the intimate knowledge of a feminine mind as strong and corrosive and ruthless as that of Gulla Slogum. "Slogum House" is a brutal book written for strong stomachs, and its author in her strength casts a shadow tall and deep.

Pioneer life—its trials, its hardships, its color—has been the magnet that has drawn the steel of many a novelist. It is an important part of the heritage of the nation, nearer to this generation, as this volume shows, than most persons realize. The years have cast a glamour about it, made up of covered wagons, of strong silent men, of splendid brave women who made fine mates and good mothers. There is truth in this picture but not the whole truth.

"Slogum House" tells the story of pioneer strength divorced from goodness, of greed for land that knows no law and no kindness, of motherhood that uses its power for evil and for gain. It is as though Mari Sandoz, incapable of longer retaining her impatience with the pretty stories of a life she has known and heard about at first hand, had come to the conclusion that the reading world is old enough and mature enough to face the facts of life. It is possible that in her devotion to integrity of fact and scene she has crowded the canvas beyond artistic proportions, but hers is a compulsion that knows no conventional measurements. Like the principal character she depicts, she is ruthless in attaining her desire and, like her, succeeds in becoming a person unique among her kind…....

(The entire section is 679 words.)