Copyright 1998 by the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

Myth, Memory, and the American Earth:
The Durability of Raintree County
a Collection of Critical Essays

Edited by
David D. Anderson

Michigan State University



From a 1994 (pre-publication) Collection

Between its celebrated publication on January 5, 1948, with 50,000 pre-publication copies already sold, and its simultaneous re-publication with Larry Lockridge's biography of his father, Shade of the Raintree, in 1994, Ross Lockridge, Jr's massive novel, Raintree County has endured nearly half a century of obscurity, during which it was remembered and read only by a handful of the throngs who hailed or condemned its publication and the relatively few who have discovered and read and returned to it in the intervening years.

Whether because of its length, its complexity, its poetic quality, or the perhaps predicable controversy that resulted from its relatively frank--for the time--treatment of sex; whether because of the sudden and shocking suicide of its young author three months after publication, or its initial association with Hollywood as the winner of the $150,000 MGM Prize and the ultimate failure of the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Eva Marie Saint, Raintree County has been as neglected by scholars and critics as it has been by the general reading public. Nevertheless, among scholars and critics, too, a handful have returned to it over the years and have produced perceptive essays that explore the many ramification of a novel as rich as it is complex.

With its re-publication, reviewers and critics of 1994 echo the reviewers and critics of 1948 as they reiterate its greatness, its complexity, its universality, its timelessness, even, in some cases asserting that its true audience was not the mid-century America of its publication but that of the last years of this century, those in which we know that the greatness and permanence aspired to by both the nation and the novel that celebrates it continue to elude us.

Yet Raintree County and the nation of which it is the microcosm continue to endure, fused together in a myth and reality that each of the essays in this collection explores with the depth and understanding that both deserve. They are gathered here that they may contribute to a new life for a novel that has much yet to say about the American past and its people in terms at once epic and eternal.

--David D. Anderson



David D. Anderson

Raintree County and the "dark fields of the republic"
David D. Anderson

Raintree County and the Critics of '48
Ray Lewis White

Ross Lockridge, Raintree County, and the Epic of Irony
Gerald C. Nemanic

The Presence of the Past in the Heartland: Raintree County Revisited
Joel M. Jones

Habits of the Heart in Raintree County
Park Dixon Goist

Blurred Boundaries and the Desire for Nationalism in Ross Lockridge's Raintree County
Dean Rehberger

Memory, the Divided Self, and Revelatory Resolution in Ross Lockridge, Jr.'s Raintree County
Douglas A. Noverr

Author in the Epic: Ross Lockridge, Jr. and Raintree County
Larry Lockridge



Back to Essays Page

Raintree County

Back to Table of Contents

The Novel Essays Other Writings RL Jr. Writer's Award Complete Contents Book Orders
The Biography Photos / Postcards RC Source & Facsimiles Suicide & Prevention Movie & Score

Site managed by RIII
Page last updated: March 2009