Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film

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University of Chicago Press, May 8, 1998 - Performing Arts - 348 pages
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Ranging from the novels of James Fenimore Cooper to Louis L'Amour, and from classic films like Stagecoach to spaghetti Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars, Mitchell shows how Westerns helped assuage a series of crises in American culture. This landmark study shows that the Western owes its perennial appeal not to unchanging conventions but to the deftness with which it responds to the obsessions and fears of its audience. And no obsession, Lee Mitchell argues, has figured more prominently in the Western than what it means to be a man.

"Elegantly written. . . . provocative . . . characterized by [Mitchell's] own tendency to shoot from the hip."—J. Hoberman, London Review of Books

"[Mitchell's] book would be worth reading just for the way he relates Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child to the postwar Western."—The Observer

"Integrating a careful handling of historical context with a keen eye for textual nuances, Mitchell reconstructs the Western's aesthetic tradition of the 19th century."—Aaron M. Wehner, San Francisco Review

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Westerns: making the man in fiction and film

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Though both these books are on the Western in film and fiction, they differ sharply in their approach. Mitchell's work has two basic premises. First, he argues that overwhelmingly popular pieces ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Mitchell is Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres and Chair of the Department of English at Princeton University.

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