Although many readers throughout the world know and love the novel Shane (1949), or the award-winning film based on it, few recognize the name
of its author, Jack Schaefer (1907-1991).
Review of new Monte Walsh film
Still less well known is the fact that, following the spectacular success of Shane, his first work of fiction, Schaefer created many more short stories and novels of high quality. Although that body of work ought to have ensured him a prominent place in the annals of American literature, most of it is now, sadly, out of print. And, except for articles in studies and reference works on "western literature"--some of which relegate him to the lowly status of a writer of "Westerns"--Schaefer has been ignored by scholars and critics.
To the best of our knowledge, this page is the only source of information on Schaefer on the Internet. Additional material and links will be added, time permitting, as new information becomes available. Suggestions and questions are welcome from general readers and students, as well as from literature specialists.
Students (high school & below): When writing, please include the name, address, telephone number, and website
or e-mail address of your school, as well as the name and e-mail address (if available) of your classroom or
"Jack Schaefer, Teller of Tales" by Louis Torres, which was serialized in Aristos, October and December 1996, offers a fresh perspective on Schaefer's work. It is the first step toward reversing the unjust neglect of one of America's best fiction writers. The article published in Aristos is abridged from a much longer, more fully annotated version (as yet unpublished).
A substantial collection of Schaefer's papers is housed in the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, in Laramie. In addition to manuscripts of published and unpublished fiction, it includes numerous newspaper editorials, articles, and book reviews. Also included are foreign editions of his fiction, especially Shane, in Arabic, French, Burmese, Swedish, Czech, and Japanese, among other languages. The collection also contains manuscripts of unpublished plays, including a dramatization of Shane; stories published in such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post but never gathered in book form; and one biographical sketch left out of his nonfiction work, Heroes Without Glory. To date, it appears that none of the western specialists who have written about Schaefer have cited this archive. A copy of the inventory for the Schaefer archive (Accession #430) is available for the cost of photocopying and mailing from the American Heritage Center.
Following the death of Schaefer (Oberlin '29) in 1991, the alumni office of the college placed a small collection of his correspondence, along with newspaper clippings about him, in the alumni records of the Oberlin College Archives. The archives also include copies of The Shaft, the student magazine of which Schaefer was literary editor. Among the literary figures he wrote on were Edward Arlington Robinson and Daniel Defoe. Schaefer's piece on Robinson ends: "Edward Arlington Robinson is a strange figure in modern poetry. In the crowd of 'modernists' he appears as a welcome change, for he seeks to express an intellectual content in his poetry. He has a gentle commiseration for the follies of the world. . . . --J. W. S." (Thanks to Sid Comings, Oberlin '69, for this information about Schaefer's activities on The Shaft.)
The Oberlin College library holdings include multiple editions (some foreign) of Schaefer's books, as well as books for which he wrote introductions, and relevant secondary sources. For a complete listing of some 200 entries, search under Schaefer's name in OBIS, the library's on-line catalog.
Located in the Center for Southwest Research (the University of New Mexico General Library's special collections department), the Schaefer collection consists of correspondence between the author and librarian Arthur DeVolder of the university library regarding research materials Schaefer used as background information for his fiction and other writings. The collection of 40 items is said to shed light on what Schaefer was interested in while writing, as well as on background sources he used. Item 28, for example, is in part about his attitude toward work, and item 31 is about camping in New Mexico. The Center's well-organized website includes a brief biography of Schaefer.
Louis Torres, who founded and maintains this page, is an independent scholar and critic specializing in the life
and work of Jack Schaefer, as well as the philosophy of art. He is co-author of What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory
of Ayn Rand (Open Court, 2000).
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