Elizabeth Johnson (review date 1948)
SOURCE: A review of Raintree County, in Commonweal, Vol. 47, February 13, 1948, p. 450.
[In the following review, Johnson finds Raintree County verbose, overrated, and “sophomoric.”]
Accolades of hysterical praise have greeted Raintree County since its publication. There have been boomings from some sagacious critics proclaiming it the turning point in American fiction, the renaissance of the American novel. True, the savants have more than once accused Mr. Lockridge of crying “Wolfe!” too often, not to mention the author's being hypnotized by Joyce and Faulkner. But that apparently does not detract from the broad panorama bulging with the humans and historical events that Mr. Lockridge has re-created.
By this time, the American reading public knows that Raintree County is the story of one day in the life of its Indiana hero, John Wickliff Shawnessy; that through a series of flash-backs, we learn of Shawnessy's boyhood, manhood, his physical as well as mental growth; that en route we are tossed a great chunk of American history, the 1839-1892 span. Interlarded amongst all this to-and-fro-ing is a plethora of “epic fragments” from newspapers, diaries and dreams. All this is executed with much patriotism and gusto on Mr. Lockridge's part. He has done handsomely by Johnny Shawnessy; the Raintree County boy holds one's interest and sympathy in a three-dimensional fashion. The author has done well with most of his other characters, too. His mob scenes,...
(The entire section is 642 words.)