The Opal Desert: Explorations of Fantasy and Reality in the American Southwest by Peter WildThe Opal Desert: Explorations of Fantasy and Reality in the American Southwest by Peter Wild

The Opal Desert: Explorations of Fantasy and Reality in the American Southwest

byPeter Wild

Paperback | November 3, 1999

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The opalescent deserts of the American Southwest have become romantic icons in the public imagination through the words of writers, the images of artists and photographers, and the visual storytelling of filmmakers. In this spirited, personal, beautifully written book, Peter Wild explores the lives and works of sixteen writers whose words have shaped our visions of the opal desert.

Wild begins with Cabeza de Vaca, whose Relación of his desert wanderings sent treasure-hungry Spaniards searching for cities of gold. He goes on to discuss the works of both widely read and lesser-known nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors, including such luminaries as Mary Austin, Joseph Wood Krutch, Edward Abbey, Ann Zwinger, and Charles Bowden. He links all the writers as explorers of one kind or another, searching for tangible or intangible treasures, some finding and some losing their dreams in the opal desert.

About The Author

One of the foremost poets of the American West, Peter Wild has published over sixty volumes of history, literature, and poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize nominee Cochise. He is Professor of English at the University of Arizona.
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Details & Specs

Title:The Opal Desert: Explorations of Fantasy and Reality in the American SouthwestFormat:PaperbackDimensions:231 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.75 inPublished:November 3, 1999Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292791291

ISBN - 13:9780292791299

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Cabeza de Vaca: Flaming Entrails, Burning Trees
  • 2. William L. Manly: The Classic Account of Deserta Horribilis
  • 3. J. Ross Browne and Samuel W. Cozzens: Happy Travelers through Lost Lands
  • 4. Charles F. Lummis: The Showman with the Shining Right Hand
  • 5. Mary Austin: Beauty, Madness, Death, and God
  • 6. John C. Van Dyke and the Desert Aestheticians
  • 7. William T. Hornaday: The Happy Travelers--Part 2
  • 8. John Wesley Powell and William E. Smythe: God Smiles on the Irrigationists
  • 9. J. Smeaton Chase: Our Araby
  • 10. Joseph Wood Krutch: The Pronuba Moth and the Modern Dilemma
  • 11. Edward Abbey: Ned Ludd Arrives on the Desert
  • 12. Ann Zwinger and Charles Bowden: Pondering These Things in Her Heart; Tacitus Flips Out
  • 13. Peter Reyner Banham: Wheeled Voyeur from Overseas
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

From Our Editors

The deserts of the American Southwest have been the subject of many works of fiction, poetry, art and film. Author, historian and poet Peter Wild documents some of the works that have shaped the cultural icon it has become. The Opal Desert: Explorations of Fantasy and Reality in the American Southwest is a beautifully written and personal look at this region of the Southwestern United States.

Editorial Reviews

"This is the book I would recommend to anybody interested in finding out about the literature of the American desert lands.... I enjoyed reading The Opal Desert as I would a good novel-I had a hard time putting it aside." - John P. O'Grady, author of Grave Goods and Pilgrims to the Wild