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Far from the Pastoral Myth: Basque Sheepherders in Contemporary Western American Fiction

Far from the Pastoral Myth: Basque Sheepherders in Contemporary Western American Fiction Far from the Pastoral Myth Basque Sheepherders in Contemporary Western American Fiction No shepherd, no pastoral. --Leo Marx The central fiction of pastoral . . . is not the Golden Age or idyllic landscapes, but herdsmen and their lives. --Paul Alpers Sheep and sheepherders have been traditionally neglected in mainstream western US culture, often due to a long-established emphasis on cattle ranching and cowboy values and images. Despite the efforts of several authors to vindicate the role of woollies, with Mary Austin's The Flock (1906) a leading example, and to stress the contribution of the sheepherders to the history of the American West, as epitomized, for instance, by Robert Laxalt's Sweet Promised Land (1957), western stories have confined sheep and sheepmen to a minor role and often attributed to them negative connotations. We may remember John Muir's well-known depiction of the sheep and their herders in his 1894 book The Mountains of California--"the arch destroyers are the shepherds, with their flocks of hoofed locusts" (349)--or popular Westerns where the sheepmen are portrayed as villains in conflict with cattlemen.1 For example, in the film The Ballad of Josie (1967), when Josie Minick (Doris Day), after having accidentally killed her http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western American Literature The Western Literature Association

Far from the Pastoral Myth: Basque Sheepherders in Contemporary Western American Fiction

Western American Literature , Volume 49 (3) – Oct 8, 2014

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Publisher
The Western Literature Association
Copyright
Copyright © The Western Literature Association
ISSN
1948-7142
Publisher site
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Abstract

Far from the Pastoral Myth Basque Sheepherders in Contemporary Western American Fiction No shepherd, no pastoral. --Leo Marx The central fiction of pastoral . . . is not the Golden Age or idyllic landscapes, but herdsmen and their lives. --Paul Alpers Sheep and sheepherders have been traditionally neglected in mainstream western US culture, often due to a long-established emphasis on cattle ranching and cowboy values and images. Despite the efforts of several authors to vindicate the role of woollies, with Mary Austin's The Flock (1906) a leading example, and to stress the contribution of the sheepherders to the history of the American West, as epitomized, for instance, by Robert Laxalt's Sweet Promised Land (1957), western stories have confined sheep and sheepmen to a minor role and often attributed to them negative connotations. We may remember John Muir's well-known depiction of the sheep and their herders in his 1894 book The Mountains of California--"the arch destroyers are the shepherds, with their flocks of hoofed locusts" (349)--or popular Westerns where the sheepmen are portrayed as villains in conflict with cattlemen.1 For example, in the film The Ballad of Josie (1967), when Josie Minick (Doris Day), after having accidentally killed her

Journal

Western American LiteratureThe Western Literature Association

Published: Oct 8, 2014

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