Spring 1991, Volume 8.1
Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and
Literature Reviewed by Robert C. Steensma
Unregulated Chicken Butts and Other Stories Reviewed by Eve Shelnutt
For Earth's Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower Reviewed by Mikel Vause
Day's Work Reviewed by Lee McKenzie
The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith Reviewed by Ann Ronald
The Question of Rationality and the Basic Grammar of Intercultural Texts Reviewed by Yukio Kachi
Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature, Rev. ed., by Wallace Stegner and Richard W. Etulain. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990, 207 pp., $10.95.
Reviewed by Robert C. Steensma, Department of English, University of Utah
For over half a century Stegner has been a significant figure in American letters as a novelist, a historian, a teacher of writing, and an interpreter of the American West. And as much of American fiction has degenerated into narcissistic nit-picking and its criticism into intellectual gymnastics, Stegner's own work has become a standard against which many younger writers can be measured and often found wanting.
Stegner first appeared on the national literary scene in 1937, when his novelette, Remembering Laughter, was published and awarded the Little-Brown prize. Since then he has gone on to publish a dozen more novels, three volumes of short stories, and twelve nonfiction works on topics as diverse as John Wesley Powell, the Mormons, the history of the American West, and Bernard DeVoto. Along the way his merit has been recognized by a national Book Award for The Spectator Bird, Pulitzer for Angle of Repose, and a Guggenheim fellowship. His most recent novel, Crossing to Safety, came out in 1987, and he published his Collected Stories just last year.
Having taught at Utah, Wisconsin, and Harvard, and having established at Stanford the creative-writing program which nurtured the talents of writers like Edward Abbey, Tom McGuane, Larry McMurtry, Tillie Olsen, Wendell Berry, Nancy Packer, Philip Levine, Ivan Doig, and Ken Kesey, Stegner has probably had more influence on late twentieth-century American fiction than any other writer.
Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature first appeared in 1983. This new volume is not as much a revision as it appears to be. Except for a new opening chapter ("After Ten Years," pp. ix-xix) and revisions of the lists of publications by Stegner and Etulain, it is the same book as its predecessor, even for the unrevised index.
The volume consists of eleven conversations at Stegner's home in Los Altos Hills, California, in August 1980 (five), March 1981 (five), and December 1989. The subjects range over a wide area: his life and career as writer and teacher, his early works, the Mormons, the literature of the American West, western history and historians, the western wilderness, the late twentieth-century West, and chapter-long discussions of his two best-known novels, The Big Rock Candy Mountain (1943) and Angle of Repose (1971).
The total effect of these eleven interviews is to serve as a gloss on Stegner's work and career. His replies to Etulain's inquiries add dimension and perspective to things he has said in his earlier works.
Throughout these exchanges, we see what Stegner, in One Way to Spell Man, calls "an affirmation of life," of which fiction is an integral part: "Fiction ought to be concerned with the perception of truth, an attempt to get at the concerns of the human heart. It has to do with human relations, and human feelings, and human character." And what he said about modern fiction in an Atlantic article in 1964 still holds:
. . .I am pretty sure that some part of our most advertised recent fiction is sick, out of its mind, and out of the moral world, worshipful of Moloch, in love with decay and death. Another part is simply the corrupt answer to a corrupt demand, which in turn is cynically promoted. I do not mean "dirty" words or forthright scenes, sexual or otherwise; I speak of a necrophilic playing with despair, which is nothing to be played with.
But there is also plenty here for readers interested in American history and culture. He has a lot to say, for example, about the contemporary American West, which he describes as an "oasis" civilization, an area made up of large urban areas surrounded by wilderness. He is not hopeful about its future: "It seems to me that the oases will get bigger, noisier, dirtier, and more crowded, and the spaces will get all torn up by mining, overgrazing, by reckless recreationers, by off-road vehicles, and so on unless the BLM gets smart and stops them."
As Etulain and Stegner move back and forth across the literary, historical, and social landscapes of the American West, Stegner's comments, as always, are marked by insight, grace, honesty, and tolerance. Despite his doubts about the future of American society, he hasn't given up hope. The book concludes with his guarded optimism regarding his own work:
I'd like to think that I have a small place in the development of the civilization of western America, and hence, in a much smaller way, in the furthering of civilization in the world.
In his own way Stegner has had more than just a small place in the civilizing of the American West. Although his work is often ignored by the newer generations of zit-pickers and gymnasts, he continues to have something of value to say to us as we write the final chapter of twentieth-century American cultural and literary history.
Unregulated Chicken Butts and Other Stories by Ilyas Halil. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990, 181 pp., $14.95 (paper).
Reviewed by Eve Shelnutt, Department of English Language and Literature, Ohio University(Return to top of page)
Mediterranean irony blows hot across Canada in 1500-word gusts when Turkish-emigrZ writer Ilyas Halil moves in with his stories. One of Turkey's most famous contemporary writers, Halil presents, in this collection, 35 stories, all ably translated by Joseph Jacobson, Professor Emeritus of Languages at the University of Utah. Halil, who has lived in Canada since 1964, writes satirically of culture clash as Mideastern and Western values collide. His characters, with few exceptions, are Turkish men with boundless energy, living in the New World.
"Strikes" is typical of Halil's strategy in this collection. His Turkish emigrant characters adapt with wonderfully good cheer exposing the tension of East meeting West, a conflict Halil knows well. In this story, the narrator tells us:
Free countries accept strikes as natural . . . . Mondays the bus drivers strike, Tuesdays the firemen, Wednesdays the doctors, Thursdays the elevator repairmen, nurses, and gravediggers. Fridays the strikes of the newspaper and restaurant workers . . . . The only day left for the police to strike was Sunday.
So of course the citizens of Montreal adjust: "Now we even like it." What follows is a catalog of accommodations geared even to the Soviet leadership:
Due to the ground force units going on strike Saturdays, our Minister of State has requested Russia not to attack on Saturdays and the Russians have accepted our proposal. When it's Saturdays, the city is wrapped in a delightful silence. Priests also being on strike, city church bells allow pigeons and people who are not deaf to take a deep breath.
The irony resonates, allowing us to see the Russian threat through different eyes.
Halil's strange vision is further extended in "Modest Livelihood." When Hasan Aktas, from a Montreal jail, writes to his brother in Turkey, his purpose is to ask him to finance a get-rich scheme that will merchandise the growing air pollution in Canada. Hasan Aktas writes:
I made an air filter. It filtered the air by changing the sulfur to nicotine.
. . . Due to citizens no longer smoking smuggled American cigarettes, the outflow of foreign exchange will be prevented.
He signs off: "Dear Brother, if you're truly interested in my proposition, write me immediately at the Montreal jail." Does the brother invest? Read a "Modest Livelihood" to see.
From the get-rich scheme of a "Modest Livelihood" to the excess wealth of "Anyone Want a Million Dollars?" is but a short leap. Halil's vision encompasses a wide range of activities, but nowhere is his vision more acute than when he focuses on "normal" life. Such titles as "Computers," "Three Drunks in a Park," "Discontent," "No One to Yell At," and "Morning Traffic" accurately suggest how Halil keeps his focus on the mundane life, the most fertile ground for his satire.
In "Computers," a man discovers that if the computer "places his hand on your shoulder and says, 'You died!' just don't try to go on living. . .because when the machine decides you're dead, believe me, you are dead." So ubiquitous are the machines that accompany the "natural" heartbeat of our lives that Halil's character in "Ingratitude" begins his story simply: "Outside, the machines continued rattling and clicking. For four days the city had been out of adjustment and unregulated." But what follows is a compendium of woes and suggestions on how to adjust when the story reveals: "No machine is perfect."
Halil's stories charm not only for their irreverence but also because of their style: each takes an unexpected turn. The narrator of "Fat Tom" leads us to believe that his only problem is learning how to adjust to taking annual vacations in the sun: "We used to fear getting burned and avoided the sun. Obviously times have changed." So he takes his family to a resort where they all learn—and conform to—its rituals. But the well-regulated resort doesn't have anyone on its staff to clean the toilets. Since the narrator himself was once a toilet cleaner, he now cleans the toilets because all must run smoothly.
In spite of Halil's relentless satirizing, these amusing stories, packed with details, are quite different one from another. They are most delicious when savored slowly over time, like good bitter-sweet chocolate mints.
For Earth's Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower by David Brower. Layton, UT: Gibbs-Smith, 1990, 576 pp., $24.95 (cloth).
Reviewed by Mikel Vause, Department of English, Weber State University(Return to top of page)
Had John Muir been able to hand-pick his successor, one to whom he could bestow his mantle of wilderness prophet and defender, David Brower would have been his choice. For the past thirty years, Brower has led the fight to preserve the American wilderness; he has been—and still is—as John Oakes of the New York Times says, "the most effective conservation activist in the world today."
For Earth's Sake, though not the best of autobiographies, is an important compilation of both old and new writings of America's "no. 1 working conservationist." The material found in this book illustrates a life dedicated to dealing responsibly with the Earth and its inhabitants. Much of the writing comes from past Sierra Club publications; coupled with short segments from Brower's autobiography, this book becomes a powerful testament of how one human being can inspire others to love and preserve the living Earth, rather than merely to use it up.
Politically many have disagreed with Brower on how the United States should use its wilderness resources. In the 1950s Brower argued openly against damming up canyons and destroying scenic valleys in the West. Congressman Wayne Aspinall of Colorado supported Brower in his opposition to the Glen Canyon Dam, but both were overridden, and even the Sierra Club (the most powerful lobby of nature organizations) focused its efforts on other areas. The dam was built.
Though Brower was unable to block construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, he was successful in his efforts to save the Grand Canyon. As Director of the Sierra Club, Brower effectively defeated those who wanted to build the Echo Park Dam, preserving the river, the canyon itself, and the boundaries of the national park. But, of course, the battle is never really over, especially if the demand for water in the Los Angeles area continues to increase.
For Earth's Sake is particularly engaging because it details not only Brower's political battles but also his enduring personal relationships. Throughout his career, he met and associated with many of the world's greatest environmental thinkers: mountaineer Norman Clyde; photographers Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter; scientists Loren Eiseley and Rachel Carson; naturalist Aldo Leopold; and Supreme Court Justice and mountaineer William O. Douglas.
Of these notable environmentalists, Ansel Adams was most influential, teaching Brower to see the wilderness as more than a place of adventure, but as an important part of (and a crucial influence on) human consciousness. Brower reflects:
I was not quite twenty-one and Ansel was already thirty-one, when we met in the mountains . . . . Three months after I met Ansel, I had joined the Sierra Club—to read the Bulletin, climb rocks, and check out the unclimbed peaks in the Sierras Nevada—bearing in mind Ansel's caveat that the Sierra was more than an outdoor gymnasium. (187)
With his expanding awareness of the meaning and value of the American wilderness, Brower became one of its most ardent defenders. As Thoreau put into practice the philosophies Emerson laid out in Nature, so too did Brower and his associates apply Thoreau's ideas. In a reflective mood, Brower stated:
To me it seems that much of what Henry David Thoreau wrote, more than a century ago, was less timely in his day than it is in ours: we can now prove that the natural and civilized worlds must live together or perish separately. We hope that the attitude of Thoreau and [Eliot] Porter toward unspoiled countryside will be pervasive. For there is no science and no art of greater importance than that which teaches seeing, which builds sensitivity and respect for the natural world. . . . (184)
One of the ways Brower helped popularize the "art that teaches seeing" was through his efforts to publish the "coffee table" books of photographer-naturalist Eliot Porter, books such as In Wilderness is the Preservation of the World (1962), matching Porter's wilderness photographs with passages from Thoreau, a book influential in the resurgence of Walden studies in the United States.
For Earth's Sake may not be the best autobiography in the strictest sense, but it certainly is a very important addition to the canon of environmental literature and is a worthy read. That this book contains many of Brower's most profound thoughts and utterances—statements that have influenced both environmental thinking and concerted action for the Earth's sake—is reason enough to shout its praises.
Day's Work by David Lee. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1990, 144 pp., $10.00 (paper).
Reviewed by Lee McKenzie, Department of English, Weber State University(Return to top of page)
The pigfarmer is back. In David Lee's latest book of poems, John Sims recounts new stories about the people of Paragonah, Utah: meddlesome Old Man Benson, so crippled he "cain't hardly move," yet who runs like a deer when a loose sawblade heads his way; Ardell Talbert's wife, who hooks up a garden hose to put out a grass fire after the volunteer firemen prove too numerous to get the job done; Edna Garner, the undertaker's wife, who wears gold high-heels and a mink stole to all the town's funerals and who writes out her own service in advance, leading off with "Oh, Them Golden Slippers."
Even Ellis Britton is back, the "meanest man ever"—so mean he teaches his boy Melvin the game of baseball by setting up batting practice on live sparrows—in three poems which first appeared in one of Lee's earlier collections, The Porcine Canticles.
Day's Work relives a typical day in the friendship between John and his educated friend Dave. It starts with John's unwelcome five a.m. wake-up call for Dave to come have breakfast and help with "some things I gotta get done." It moves through chores like "Unloading Feed," "Building Pigpens," and "Digging Postholes." It ends with a furious rush to finish roofing the barn before John's supper grows too cold and his wife's temper too hot.
The book is also the story of a typical year. The early poems usher in a cold January day; baseball practice comes later, before repairing mowing machinery; a young sow farrows on an August midnight; and John, Dave, and the new hired man, Norman, round out the year working late to provide shelter for the sheep against the first snow.
Throughout this mythical day and year, the men's work is accompanied by John's stories. And just as the stories are an inseparable part of the men's work, so neither punctuation nor spaces separate the stories from the work-talk. John begins the story of Robert Milton hitching a ride on a manure spreader, stops to petulantly demand a screwdriver
no not a dam Phillipson head
a real one gimme
the woodenhandle one
and continues by recounting how Robert lost an eye that day.
Lee's poetry can be earthy and bawdy: one poem concerns Bill Wilkins, Chant Lee, Gideon Clark, and John's brother, who all suffer remarkable accidents to the same crucial part of their anatomy. But tragedy often underlies the humor: Faith Tittle has a "hystericalectomy for women," when her "kinfolk" urge her to trust the doctor because
and Babtists wasn't all bad
they might not go to heaven
but they could do operations
on earth okay
Faith is "ruint" when the town thinks the devil has visited her. But the real tragedy is the doctor telling her
she ought to have it all took out
she wasn't married anyway
and was arredy over thirty
wasn't doing her no good
David Lee reminds us of Twain, who created a humble, seemingly ignorant persona to deliver often profound ideas. John is as human and funny as Huck, and while he's not as honest—one memorable day he confronts the law and his insurance agent and wins four hundred dollars by suing himself—we like him almost as much. He loves his hogs and treats them like people, deciding it's rude to watch them while they eat, and he stalls when it's his turn to castrate his pigs until he can manipulate Dave into doing all the surgery.
Readers may suspect that John is merely the other side of college-teacher Dave, and that conversations with him are a way of keeping in touch with ordinary life. Certainly John has little respect for book learning, as he scolds Dave,
this ain't no classroom
don't stand there studying
with your hands on your hips
pick up a hammer and hit it
Like Twain, Lee sometimes grows tired of his Huck, and writes less successful poems in his own voice: "After an All-Night Farrow," or "Sonnet on the Sun, Rising." We can sympathize with an author who creates a fictional character so strong he threatens to take over the author's work; we still prefer The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Life on the Mississippi.
"Roofing the Barn," probably the strongest poem in the book, suggests that Lee may be reaching for a compromise. Here he orchestrates three stories by John, Dave, and Norman, each telling simultaneously about a separate fire. John remembers Don Baker, a pyromaniac who began by burning trashbarrels, then built his business up to barns. Dave grieves for a friend recently run over by a firetruck. Norman's story is the best, about Clovis Bowen who—to kill a cat—burns down his own barn.
The three tales are interwoven with conversation about the job at hand and with frantic calls for the men to come to supper. It has the contrapuntal harmony of a comic opera trio, where everyone sings at once and nobody—except the audience—understands all the connections. Perhaps this poem signals David Lee's next move—a blending of John's voice with others equally rich, to achieve a texture even thicker than John's drawl, a stew even tastier than his talk.
The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith, edited by David L. Bigler. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990, 159 pp., $17.50 (cloth).
Reviewed by Ann Ronald, Dean, College of Arts and Science, University of Nevada, Reno(Return to top of page)
Azariah Smith was a Mormon teenager who watched history being made. While he watched, he kept a pocket diary. His August 1846 to September 1848 notations form the basic text of this fine new addition to our understanding of the pre gold-rush West, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith.
Young Smith's adventures began at the same time so many other Mormons were leaving Illinois and Missouri. Along with his father and several hundred other Mormon recruits, the seventeen-year-old volunteered to follow Captain James Allen to the Pacific Ocean. Their mission was "to secure California for the United States."
Their route took them first from Council Bluffs to Fort Leavenworth, then across the the Cimarron Cutoff to Santa Fe. From Santa Fe they headed south to Albuquerque and Socorro, turning west again to follow Cookes' Wagon Road and then the Gila Trail to Yuma. Finally, on 21 January 1847, the company arrived at Warner's Ranch, a settlement just north of Santa Ysabel in present-day San Diego County.
But their adventures along the trail turned out to be more exciting than their military stint in California. "After marching steadily for five months and 2,000 miles, often on short rations and little water, Azariah Smith would now find a time of relative abundance and tranquility," David Bigler explains. Securing California was apparently unnecessary. Six months later, the Mormon troops mustered out of the army, yearning toward a home they had never seen.
Young Smith and some of his companions decided to get to Utah by heading north through the San Joaquin Valley to Sutter's Fort. Once there, they found work in the Sierra foothills at Sutter's mill. Here, Azariah Smith continued to keep step with history. On Sunday, 30 January 1848, he wrote, "Mr. Marshall found some pieces of (as we all suppose) Gold, and he has gone to the Fort, for the Purpose of finding out. It is found in the raceway in small pieces; some have been found that would weigh five dollars."
The boy wasn't interested, though. He just wanted to go home. As soon as he could, he joined an assemblage of coreligionists and turned his back on California. Even then, however, history dogged his footsteps, for on their trek east he and his companions ironically opened the way that would become one of the most popular westward routes to the goldfields, the Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail.
So, in just two short years, Azariah Smith took part in some of the most important events in western settlement. To read his diary, however, is to find those events masked. The teenager was less interested in history than in home, less concerned with wealth than with welfare. As he himself explained later, "I was home-sick as well as physically sick. I wanted to see my mother and I did not care whether there was gold in the locality or not."
Given the excitement of the times, Smith's notations often border on the mundane. On the move, a typical misspelled entry reads: "We travailed ten miles having a [bad] sandy road." Once in California, he wrote at Sutter's mill: "Last Sunday I with three others went [down] the river on the other side and picked up considerable Gold. Yesterday] I recieved [sic] a letter from Father, which pleases me much." Though he saw the gold, he was not strongly attracted to it.
Why, then, is The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith utterly fascinating? The footnotes! David Bigler has done such an excellent job of editing that the footnotes are more interesting than the text itself. I say this as a compliment, not as a complaint. Any aficionado who loves the details of historical fact will like this book immensely, for every page contains additional details and explanations, further references and relevant asides. The footnotes provide a veritable glossary of information about the places Smith went and the sights he saw during those two key years.
For example, when Smith notes, "[We] passed a pile of huge rocks covered with engravings pecked on the rocks in all shapes and forms," Bigler explains:
Increasingly defaced by vandals, these petroglyphs of animals, men, and mystic figures can be seen today at Painted Rocks Historic State Park, located about fourteen miles west of Gila Bend, Ariz., between Interstate 8 and the river. The rock pile covers less than an acre and possibly marks a prehistoric boundary between Indian tribes.
Or when Smith reports, "we travailed [sic] 17 miles and encamped on Goose Creek," Bigler tells us:
Following the Fort Hall road, the company crossed the line of today's U.S. Highway 93 fourteen miles north of Wells, Nev., and moved up Thousand Springs Valley to cross the rim of the Great Basin to Goose Creek which flows northward across the northwest corner of Utah to enter the Snake River at Burley, Idaho. See Emigrant Trails West, 39.
Obviously The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith is not a book for those who want a thrilling account. But for anyone interested in the day-to-day life of an ordinary young man swept along by the currents of historical change, Bigler's edition is well worth reading. Indeed, this journal and its footnotes comprise a genuine contribution to the way we look at history. Together, they remind us how very ordinary the historic moment can be.
The Question of Rationality and the Basic Grammar of Intercultural Texts by Hwa Yol Jung. Tokyo: International University of Japan, 1989, 195 pp., $15.40 (paper).
Reviewed by Yukio Kachi, Department of Philosophy, University of Utah(Return to top of page)
How can we understand other cultures? How can we talk and write about them without ethnocentric prejudice? These questions are as difficult as they are urgent. To begin with, we may say that to understand other cultures we must be objective. But if objectivity involves epistemological independence from all cultures, it seems out of reach for us culture-bound creatures. Are we not then condemned to viewing other cultures from the perspective of our own—and treating them in accordance with our parochial interests? In the last analysis can we escape from ethnocentric prejudice? Can we reshape our own culture in the light of another?
Faced with these questions, Merleau-Ponty, in Signs, proposed the idea of a "lateral universal." By experiencing other cultures as much as possible from inside, we as ethnologists try to construct a comprehensive system of reference in which each culture, including our own, has its place. In this proposal, ethnology is not a science ascending to "the overarching universal of a strictly objective method" but a way of thinking which requires us to transform ourselves as we experience different cultures.
In The Question of Rationality and the Basic Grammar of Intercultural Texts, Hwa Yol Jung embraces and elaborates on this model of the lateral universal in ethnology. (By "intercultural texts" he presumably means what we write while trying to understand other cultures.) Those well versed in the hermeneutical tradition, beginning with Hegel, probably will not find much new in Hwa Yol Jung's elaboration except when he draws on his knowledge of Chinese culture. But students of Sinology ignorant of Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty will find in his book a stimulating introduction to the hermeneutic tradition of recent Europe. For Jung as it is for Merleau-Ponty, to work out a "basic grammar of intercultural texts" is a way to engage in the human project of evaluating and re-creating culture.
Christening the "lateral universal" in ethnology "diatactics," Jung elaborates on it by considering the following themes: (1) the incarnate logic of correlation with a focus on heterology (III.1), (2) thinking itself as embodied (III.2), (3) banality defined as socially disembodied and anesthetic (III.3), (4) carnival or the life of the festive body as the nonviolent way of deconstructing the world (III.4), and (5) technology as disembodied and at best as visual, a condition which has serious social implications and consequences (III.5).
To paraphrase some of these themes in diatactics, different cultures talk together, each attending to others. Such talking involves a plurality of minds which are embodied metaphysically, aesthetically, and socially. These communing minds are tactile and tangible, olfactory and odoriferous, as well as listening and speaking. Disparate cultural voices can be juxtaposed to a comical or bizarre effect, jolting people from their ethnocentric slumber.
As is appropriate to a consideration of "intercultural texts," Jung's book is both cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary. In addition to the recent writers in hermeneutics, his references range from Homer to Mao Tse-Tung, Clifford Geertz to A.C. Graham, Giobanni Battista Vico to Nishida Kitaro, Hannah Arendt to Charles Taylor. The administrative wall separating academic departments, we are glad to note, has not prevented the author from drawing on philosophy, Sinology, cultural anthropology and hermeneutics.
As I read and re-read Jung's text, the intrinsic interest of the subject matter carried me through and stimulated my thinking. Unfortunately, Jung's discussion is often spoiled by weak writing. His lack of clarity and precision makes critical appreciation of his conceptual moves difficult. For example, in the essay titled "The Anatomy of Language: Vico, Joyce, and Etymosinology," Jung begins with this sentence:
Vico's "Civic humanism" with its accent on the vita activa, I submit, would be quite at home with the Sinitic mindset, especially with the "practical humanism" of Confucius embodied in the concept of jen (humanity) based on the sensus communis if one dares to thumb through the weighty leaves of the Chinese classics—including the Analects—which edify the "moral sciences" (politics, ethics, and jurisprudence) crowned by the ancient "art of rulership" (wang shu) as the symbol of a cosmic unity.
This sentence is symptomatic of his overall writing style: his sentences are often long and needlessly complex, filled with jargon and, at times, incomplete thinking. Though Jung's topic is of crucial importance—how we understand and think about other cultures—the author fails to express those ideas in clear, effective, and understandable prose.