Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest, with a Few Observations
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IN THE UNIVERSITY of Texas I teach a course called "Life and Literature of the Southwest." About 1929 I had a brief guide to books concerning the Southwest mimeographed; in 1931 it was included by John William Rogers in a booklet entitled Finding Literature on the Texas Plains. After that I revised and extended the guide three or four times, during the process distributing several thousand copies of the mimeographed forms. Now the guide has grown too long, and I trust that this printing of it will prevent my making further additions—though within a short time new books will come out that should be added.
Yet the guide is fragmentary, incomplete, and in no sense a bibliography. Its emphases vary according to my own indifferences and ignorance as well as according to my own sympathies and knowledge. It is strong on the character and ways of life of the early settlers, on the growth of the soil, and on everything pertaining to the range; it is weak on information concerning politicians and on citations to studies which, in the manner of orthodox Ph.D. theses, merely transfer bones from one graveyard to another.
It is designed primarily to help people of the Southwest see significances in the features of the land to which they belong, to make their environments more interesting to them, their past more alive, to bring them to a realization of the values of their own cultural inheritance, and to stimulate them to observe. It includes most of the books about the Southwest that people in general would agree on as making good reading.
I have never had any idea of writing or teaching about my own section of the country merely as a patriotic duty. Without apologies, I would interpret it because I love it, because it interests me, talks to me, appeals to my imagination, warms my emotions; also because it seems to me that other people living in the Southwest will lead fuller and richer lives if they become aware of what it holds. I once thought that, so far as reading goes, I could live forever on the supernal beauty of Shelley's "The Cloud" and his soaring lines "To a Skylark," on the rich melancholy of Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale," on Cyrano de Bergerac's ideal of a free man, on Wordsworth's philosophy of nature—a philosophy that has illuminated for me the mesquite flats and oak-studded hills of Texas—on the adventures in Robert Louis Stevenson, the flavor and wit of Lamb's essays, the eloquent wisdom of Hazlitt, the dark mysteries of Conrad, the gaieties of Barrie, the melody of Sir Thomas Browne, the urbanity of Addison, the dash in Kipling, the mobility, the mightiness, the lightness, the humor, the humanity, the everything of Shakespeare, and a world of other delicious, high, beautiful, and inspiring things that English literature has bestowed upon us. That literature is still the richest of heritages; but literature is not enough.