Discussion Threads:
Sources on Hunting
as Sport

Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996
From: Judy Hakola
Subject: sources on hunting as sport?

I recently agreed to work with one of our (University of Maine) English graduate students on hunting as sport in 20th century American literature. I've set him to reading Hemingway and Faulkner, of course, as well as Pam Houston's amazing anthology WOMEN ON HUNTING (which seems to cover almost very conceivable theme involving hunting), but I know he should first do some background reading both in the nature and theory of sport and in "nature." Any suggestions? Any leads on recent American lit which deals with hunting as sport would also be appreciated by both of us. I've already given him a copy of Tobias Wolff's disturbing "Hunters in the Snow" and Richard Connell's classic "The Most Dangerous Game."

Judy Hakola

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 96
From: John Morefield

To Judy Hakola et al:

In reply to your enquiry about hunting in 20th century American literature, Caroline Gordon is simply not to be missed. Maybe you have already put your student onto her. If not, the novel Alexander Maury, Sportsman is fundamental, as are wonderful stories like "Old Red" and "Last Day in the Field," about the same character, who is based on Gordon's father. Wonderful stuff, from an undeservedly neglected writer.

Thomas McGuane, who has produced some fine hungintg stories himself, once said something to the effect that certain passages from Gordon's novel are as though "written by God."

John Morefield
East Tenn. St. Univ.

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996
From: David Vanderwerken


Check out Robert Stone's story, "Helping," from the NEW YORKER (1987). Colllected in Litz, MAJOR AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, 3rd. ed., 1994. Interesting Vietnam cum hunting cum mental breakdown cum alcoholism story that questions whether anyone can really help anyone. Disturbing story for social work majors!


Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996
From: Prof. Neil Berman

I'd strongly suggest looking at James Dickey's DELIVERANCE for two reasons: first, the novel makes use of bow hunting with important philosophical ideas about the sport and indirect references to Herrigel's Zen and the Art of Archery; second, the drama of the novel is itself a hunt and the importance of bow hunting, rock climbing, and survival are central. I'd also second the recommendation on Caroline Gordon. Her work is magnificent.

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996
From: Michael Oriard

Judy: For background I'd include MEDITATIONS ON HUNTING by Ortega y Gasset (the Spanish philosopher best known for The Revolt of the Masses)--particularly useful for reading alongside Hemingway.

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996
From: Mike Clark

On the subject of hunting/fishing/outdoors literature, I would suggest that your student find a source for Gray's Sporting Journal. This publication is a super-slick, upper end publication that regularly publishes contemporary fiction/semi-fiction as well as non-fiction pieces dealing with these subjects.

Mike Clark

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996
From: Kevin Lewis

I've forgotten exactly what it was that Judy was looking for, but now that James Dickey has been mentioned I want to jump in--to recommend perhaps his most imaginative, most strange and bizarre poem of all, "Approaching Prayer." He has said something to this effect himself in one of his critical essays. I think it's my favorite of his poems from the 1967 collection, his best. It includes the imagined voice of a boar in the moments between being shot by bow and arrow and its death. The poet/speaker becomes the boar by donning a hollowed, trophy boar's head found in his attic. But then he speaks in his own voice, as well. You can imagine a presentation/reading of this poem in which the poet alternately puts on the boar's head and takes it off, as he changes voices. No one but Dickey could have pulled off this freak, and he he certainly gets the "glory" into it.

Kevin Lewis
Univ of South Carolina

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996
From: Gena Caponi

With regard to hunting literature, George Ward of the American Civilization program at the University of Texas, Austin wrote his dissertation on hunting in America. I don't know whether it was ever published, but it would surely be available on microfilm. As I remember, there is a good review of hunting in literature here. George is now at the Texas Historical Association in austin, if you want first-hand information. Hope this is helpful.

Gena Caponi
University of Texas, San Antonio

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