The Compassionate Seer

Wallace Stegner’s Literary Artist



The primary aim of literary art, Stegner believes, is to celebrate the human spirit. Wallace Stegner, who comes from the West and has “incorrigible hope,” does not espouse the Man as Victim attitude. He advises the western writer to keep his values, “to hang on to his basic hopefulness, instead of giving it up for a fashionable disgust.” Stegner advises, “The West’s own problems are likely to be more to the western writer’s purpose than any that he can borrow, especially when in borrowing he must deny his own gods.”

Stegner’s ideal artist is a person of sensibility, intelligence, but most important of all, a person of artistic and personal control. The artist is essentially a common man, but a man who has uncommonly developed humility, patience, and impartiality. He forgives easily; and because he is compassionate, rebukes softly.


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