America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 9-11.


Clark, Walter van Tilburg.  The Track of the Cat.  New York: Random House, 1949.

Walter van Tilburg Clark had one of the more puzzling careers in recent American letters.  His first novel, The Ox-Bow Incident, was widely praised, and its successful adaptation to film brought even more attention to it.  His second novel, The City of Trembling Leaves (1945), is a thick, largely autobiographical, coming of age story that did nothing to damage his reputation, even if it did not much enhance it.  Then, with The Track of the Cat, he produced a Western version of the prototypically American, allegorical quest depicted in Melville’s Moby Dick.  Very different from The Ox-Bow Incident, The Track of the Cat seemed to confirm that Clark was not a one-book wonder but genuinely a major new voice in American fiction.  When his stories, published throughout the 1940s in many…

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