November 20, 2015

Butcher's Crossing, John Williams - November 23, 2015

We'll meet November 23 at Karen's house to discuss Butcher's Crossing by John Williams.

Supplemental materials:
  • Guardian review
  • The Independent review - notes that Williams once said regarding the myth of the West, "The West' does not, did not ever, exist. It's a dream of the East."
  • The Conversation essay on the ideology of nature
  • Spectator review

Book club member questions:

1) (From Steph) I'm interested in the treatment of Nature as woman. The Conversation essay, linked above, describes a traditional (male) view of Nature like this:
Also linked to the ideology of nature is its representation in terms of femininity, with mankind attempting to dominate and oppress, ravage and romanticise nature and women as objects of conquest and penetration. No better example of the ideology of nature would be needed than Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Nature (1836) wherein it is stated: a nobler want of man is served by nature, namely, the love of Beauty. It is with these such phrases in his mind, delivered in a lecture room at Harvard College in Boston, that Will Andrews sets off for the rolling landscape, distant horizon, and the infinite space of the west to behold its beauty as part of his own “undiscovered nature”.
Is Williams invested in that viewpoint or is he just exposing it and inviting us to consider/reject it? How does Andrew's "relationship" with Francine parallel the hunting party's relationship to Nature? Compare/contrast Andrew's relationship with Francine to Stoner's relationship with his wife and the woman he had the affair with.

2) (From Steph) I haven't read Moby Dick, but I see some parallels in Butcher's Crossing to what little I know of it. (And Williams offers a Melville quote in the Foreword.) Obsessed leader set upon the destruction of great beast(s), a journey into a remote natural environment to accomplish this destruction, a crew including a newbie, struggle against Nature to survive, destruction of humanity that accompanies successful destruction of Nature. I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of anyone who's read Moby Dick. (Suzanne, I'm betting on you, for one.)

3) (From Katherine) We're accustomed to coming of age stories for boys.  What are some coming of age stories about girls?

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