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Definition: Sandoz, Mari(e Susette) (1901–1966) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US writer and historian. Sandoz researched the history of the Sioux Indians, and was an editor of historical periodicals. She is noted as a biographer, novelist, and historian whose work usually drew on the life of the Great Plains. Her best-known non-fiction work is Cheyenne Autumn (1953).

Summary Article: Sandoz, Mari [Marie Susette]
from Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature

Although generally neglected by critics because of the unorthodox nature of her best work, which combines the research techniques of the historian and the narrative voice of fiction, S. has a firm niche in the growing body of distinguished plains writing.

Her formative years in northwestern Nebraska, in the family homestead on the banks of the Niobrara River and later on her father's ranch among the sand hills, influenced her six-volume Great Plains Series, a human history of the plains from the Stone Age to the present. Three volumes of this series represent her best work. Old Jules (1935), winner of the 1935 Atlantic nonfiction contest, tells the story of her father, a violent but charismatic pioneer whose friends, fascinating to Mari, included Native Americans, trappers, prospectors, and settlers. Crazy Horse, the Strange Man of the Oglalas (1942) carefully plots through Native American voice the inevitable betrayal and death of the classically heroic Sioux leader. Sympathy for the Native American and the implication that the U.S. was guilty of genocide continue in Cheyenne Autumn (1953), depicting the journey of a band of Cheyennes from the Oklahoma reservation to their Montana homeland in 1878–79.

S.'s extended works of fiction, of which Slogum House (1937) is the most successful, never got beyond the experimental stage. Her best fiction works are three novellas: Winter Thunder (1954) relates the adventures of a country schoolteacher and her pupils in a Nebraska blizzard; The Horsecatcher (1957) and The Story Catcher (1963) trace the growth of a Native American boy and his relationship to his tribe.

Bibliography Faulkner, V., ed., Hostiles and Friendlies: Selected Short Stories of M. S. (1976) Rippey, B., “Toward a New Paradigm: M. S.'s Study of Red and White Myth in Cheyenne Autumn,” in Stauffer, H., and S. Rosowski, eds., Women and Western American Literature (1982): 257–66 Stauffer, H. W., M. S.: Story Catcher of the Plains (1982) Stauffer, H. W., Letters of M. S. (1992) Whitaker, R., “An Examination of Violence as Theme in Old Jules and Slogum House,” Western American Literature 16 (Fall 1981): 82–91

John J. Murphy

© 2005 The Continuum International Publishing Group, Ltd

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