Essays & Reviews

This archive contains examples of the myriad essays and reviews that Neihardt wrote over his long career as a literary book review editor, cultural critic and social observer. Through the “short forms” of the essay and review, Neihardt directly and seriously engaged an amazing array of cultural, historical, social, political, philosophical, aesthetic, spiritual and scientific ideas and debates. Regularly reading and reviewing at the rate of one book per day (occasionally more!), he took on subjects that ranged from ancient civilizations to atomic theory and emergent astrophysics (Einstein, Eddington, Jeans), human nature and psychology (Freud, behaviorism) to evolutionary theories and social Darwinism (Darwin, Wallace, Spencer, Malthus), as well as new technological developments and possibilities (from telegraphs to rocketry).

Collectively, these materials provide new interpretative frameworks and insights into the sophistication and scope of Neihardt’s intellectual interests, aesthetic philosophy, literary work, professional and personal relationships and life itself, the medium in which he most sought to create a grand synthesis of thought and action, the ideal and the real.

By making readily available as many examples of Neihardt’s correspondence, critical essays and reviews as possible, we hope that this archive will provide fresh content and new contexts for past and current scholarly analyses of Neihardt’s life and work. Through these materials, both new readers and those long-devoted to Neihardt’s creative literary works should discover much information previously unknown to them and many surprising interconnections that will enrich their understanding of his many “voices and visions.”

As these collections of letters and essays clearly evidence, whether reading and writing in small-town Nebraska or Missouri, the burgeoning cities of Minneapolis or St. Louis, Neihardt traveled far afield, physically, intellectually and philosophically.

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