Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Muse: Wallace Stegner Documentary

. . . Something will have gone out of us as a people if we
ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; . . .
~ Wallace Stegner, "Wilderness Letter" (1960)

. . . What impresses me after 20 years is how far
the spoiling of that superb country has already gone, and how
few are the local supporters of the federal agencies which
are the only protection against it. . . .
~Wallace Stegner, "The Geography of Hope" (1980)

American novelist Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) won both a Pulitzer Prize (1972, for Angle of Repose) and a National Book Award (1977, for The Spectator Bird). During his long writing career, he published scores of fiction and nonfiction books, including novels and collections of short stories and essays. He also started Stanford University's creative writing program and taught at Stanford and Harvard, the University of Utah, and the University of Wisconsin.

Stegner was, however, more than the "Dean of Western Writers"; a historian, he also was a strong environmental activist and conservationist who, in 1961, during the John F. Kennedy administration, traveled with interior secretary Stewart Udall to advocate and plan for the preservation of national parks and wilderness areas in the United States. (President Lyndon Johnson signed into law "The Wilderness Act" in 1964.) Stegner was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation's Conservation Hall of Fame in 2002. 

Below is the documentary Wallace Stegner: A Writer's Life (Stephen Fisher Productions); narrated by actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, the film examines Stegner's life and writings and especially his efforts on behalf of the environment. What Stegner advocated for remains as critical today as it was when the writer was alive.

Philip L. Fradkin, Wallace Stegner and the American West (University of California Press, 2009)

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