The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner

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9781593761684: The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner

Wallace Stegner, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1972, was a great writer. As an author, historian, teacher, and environmentalist, he influenced countless prominent individuals during his long life. Showcasing some of those relationships, these letters (written between 1933 and 1993) cover a broad range of topics, including literature, history, conservation, and Stanford. Here are letters to colleagues, like Ansel Adams, friends and family, as well as many students who went on to become well-respected authors, among them Wendell Berry, John Daniel, Barry Lopez, William Kittredge, and Robert Stone.
In 1946 he founded the prestigious Stegner Fellowship Program. In 1961, his memos to then Secretary of the Interior Steward Udall set the tone and agenda for what would become the modern environmental movement. Here, in their entirety, are the letters that track it all. For a man who had no interest in writing an autobiography, they offer an inside look at his “unedited thoughts and opinions, and to a factual narrative untransformed by the literary imagination, to life lived before being lived,” writes his son Page Stegner in his introduction. Here is history as told through correspondence with people who helped shape literature, politics, and environmentalism in the twentieth century.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Throughout his life, Wallace Stegner (1909–1993)—a novelist, historian and environmental activist—maintained an active correspondence with family members, writers, critics, editors, biographers and conservationists. His son, Page (Grand Canyon: The Great Abyss), has assembled a representative selection of letters and arranged them by theme: origins, reflections on his works, the literary life, his tenure at Stanford University (where he started the creative writing program in 1945) and his dedication to wilderness conservation. Whether responding to questions from his biographers, engaging in literary controversy, chiding a grandson about his faulty spelling and grammar or, in 1982, turning down a medal from the National Endowment for the Arts (which he felt was subject to too many political controls), Stegner is always attentive to the niceties of the writing craft, gracious and generous in his assessment of the achievements of others. The letters reveal much about his personal life and innermost thoughts, thus acting as a substitute for the autobiography he never wrote. Particularly illuminating are passages that give insight into the background of some of his books, including Angel of Repose, which won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1972, and The Uneasy Chair, his biography of historian and conservationist Bernard De Voto. (Nov.)
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Review:

"[F]rames the portrait of an engaged man, a man with a sense of humor, thoughtful and extremely vulnerable."

"[A] collection of letters that are thoughtful, interesting, and peppered with delightful imagery that only a true writer would craft for his audience of one."

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