Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Beckenwirth family; woman with three boys. Click to enlarge.

     Beckenwirth family


Treeless plains. Click to enlarge.

     High plains—treeless



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The passionate vision of Willa Cather's Alexandra Bergson wresting wealth from the land in "the Divide" of southeastern Nebraska; the bitter struggle of Mari Sandoz with her tyrannical pioneer father in western Nebraska's Sandhills; the brooding figure of Beret Hansa in O. E. Rölvaag's Giants of the Earth; and the proud fortitude of Milt Dunne in Babb's Whose Names are Unknown—reveal a compassionate understanding of a people shaped by hardship and resilience. These four Great Plains writers all present a unique socio-cultural landscape, distinct in its historical and geographical diversity, in which individual memory is linked to broader humanistic concerns and the relations between humans and nature are revealed as both conflicted and life-affirming.

Book cover. Click to enlarge.

Babb's 1939 novel, finally published in 2004