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"Mr. Sauer" and the Writers

James J. Parsons
Geographical Review
Vol. 86, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 22-41
DOI: 10.2307/215139
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/215139
Page Count: 20
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"Mr. Sauer" and the Writers
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Abstract

The geographer Carl Sauer was an articulate figure within the larger field of American scholarship. His distinctive worldview and his emphasis on the historical past in the shaping of the cultural landscape drew enthusiastic response from a significant group of avant-garde poets associated with Black Mountain College, North Carolina, and their iconoclastic mentor, Charles Olson (1910-1970). Olson was a central figure in the postmodern revolution that energized and transformed the appearance and substance of poetry in the United States in the years following World War II. Olson was strongly attracted to the originality and insightfulness of Sauer's writings, his sensitivity to the aesthetic values in the cultural landscape, his insistence on the immutable link between history and geography, his identification with people living close to the land, and the vigor and authenticity of his writing style. Today, more than twenty years after Olson's death, his literary heirs are reaching back to the maestro's roots, seeking to learn more about the man Sauer and his geography.

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