University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)

Book reviews,   pp. 32 ff.



Night Country Connections
THE WORKS OF LOVE by
Wright Morris; University of Ne-
braska Press, Lincoln, 1972. 269
pp. $1.95. (A Bison Book edition
reproduced from the first (1952)
edition published by Alfred A.
Knopf.)
  A character in The Works of
Love stops frying hamburgers to
say: "You start out all alone, and
that's how you end up."
  The novel begins with a man,
Will Brady, alone in the wilder-
ness and ends with him alone in
the wasteland. The time in between,
in the clearing, in the moonlight,
in the lobby, and even in the
cloudland, deals with man's at-
tempt to escape loneliness, to make
a connection he cannot bear. Love
is at the heart of the work.
  Wright Morris dedicates The
Works of Love to Loren Eiseley
and Sherwood Anderson. It is
interesting to note the dedication
because Morris shares in the won-
der Eiseley has for the human
species s till evolving, traveling
through the night country. Equal-
ly, Morris realizes with Anderson
that woman is the loser when man
connects with woman.
  Morris reveals something about
Will Brady, about man:
  It was in that house he had
  erysipelas, a painful, conta-
  gious disease, and a woman,
  his wife at the time, had taken
  care of him. Lovingly, as the
  doctor had said. A very
  strange word, he thought,
  and he had marveled at it.
  She had made him well, she
  had kept him clean, and
  when he was fit to be seen
  again, he had made love to a
  plump cigar-counter girl.
  Morris details quite sensitively
the fear and loneliness of woman:
the woman who is closed and
afraid wrapped in her bedsheets
like a mummy and the woman
who is open, vulnerable and there-
fore hurt by the insensitivities of
man. Either way the connection
is no good. The author also per-
ceives man's sense of ownership;
the woman is his, but she is "just
my wife. "
  Sherwood Anderson di d not
know the answer to the problem
of connection. He realized man
used woman as an escape from
loneliness and that woman was
ultimately left with nothing. He
urged woman: "Dare to be strong.
Dare to love." He hoped the dare
would be met. After all, the only
other choice is defeat.
  Morris describes the defeat: re-
lationships devoid of honesty and
dignity, hollow actions and resig-
nation. The moments of wanting
to look, to reach out, stifled.
  Will Brady stumbles into one
significant realization:
  He couldn't really do much
  for her, somehow, but one
  thing he could do was wake
  up in the morning, roll on his
  back, and lie there listening
  to her. Sometimes he won-
  dered if this might be another
  form of loving, one that
  women needed, just as men
  seemed to need the more ob-
  vious kind.
  If man would listen and under-
stand the woman who met the
dare, men and women would not
have to wish like William Blake:
  Grown old in Love from Sev-
    en till Seven times Seven
  I oft have wished for Hell for
    Ease from Heaven.
    -Mark E. Lefebvre, Madison
Vis-A-Vis (Cont. from page 27)
   in charge of the Academy of-
   fices and shall manage the
   affairs of the Academy in ac-
   cordance with procedures de-
   termined by the Council. He
   shall have responsibility for
   employment and dismissal of
   Academy staff, shall oversee
   the work of the Junior Acade-
   my Director and shall have
   custody of the Academy's Op-
   erating Fund.... The Exec-
   utive Director shall pay from
   the Operating Fund all legit-
   imate expenses incurred by
   the Academy . .. and shall
   periodically prepare reports
   and recommendations
   regarding Academy matters
   for consideration by the
   Council. He shall serve as a
   non-voting me m b e r of the
   Council and as an ex officio
   member of all Academy
   committees.
   Well, yes -it is all that. But
 to the natural born probers it
 must be admitted that there are
 the less-impressive-but-equally-es-
 sential functions. As a staff, we
 may be wiry, but we're also thin.
 At this stage, that is as it should
 be. But, regardless of the occupant
 of the position, it means an execu-
 tive director who isn't above cart-
 ing down the bulk mail once in
 awhile, or changing a bulb now
 and then, or drafting a proposal
 for funding, working up an estate
 planning brochure, setting up and
 servicing a dozen or more com-
 mittees, and locking up at the end
 of the day.
   So you end the day and you
 end the week not at all safe in the
 knowledge that all that was to be
 done was indeed accomplished.
 Maybe it's sufficient to know that
 the Academy's J. W. Hoyts of
 today-the president, fellow offi-
 cers, committees and membership
 in general-have been relieved of
 much of the detail and are freer to
 concentrate on policy formation,
 that along the way you've prompt-
 ed them to that end.
   Maybe that's more important
than terminology and bylaws. And
maybe that's what J. W. Hoyt
himself really wanted.
Coming in the December REVIEW...
   * "Raw Data" by Daniel P. Kunene
   * 'Horicon Marsh Shooting Clubs" by Robert G. Personius
   * 'Madness and Creativity" by Kenneth J. Fleurant
   * 'The Wisconsin Idea" by Paul J. Grogan
   * "Tall Grasses of Search" by Robert E. Gard
   * "The Winter Comes on" Photos by Herman Taylor
   * "National Humanities Series: Midwestern Center"
      by Robert E. Najem


Go up to Top of Page