Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Charles Woodard


James Welch's combining of poetry and prose has given him a unique language with which to record his impression of life. In addition, welch has an excellent sense of reality that gives life to his writing. His rendition of lonely rural Montana is valid for much of interior America, and he is a master at tracing the implications of life in similar situations for all people who live with distance and harshness. one of the qualities I respect most about Riding the Earthboy 40, Winter in the Blood, and The Death of Jim Loney is that they communicate movingly about a dark situation without apologizing, or lapsing into what James Welch has termed “an easy romanticism.” The writing has a gritty, hard quality tempered by the use of a sophisticated, ready humor that pops up to entertain as well as teach. In his essay “The Art of Fiction,” Henry James said “A novel is in its broadest definition a personal, a direct impression of life: which is greater or less according to the intensity of the impression.” James Welch's reality is intrinsically intense, but it is made more so by his unique perception as well as his poetic way of writing about it. The closeness of the relationship between life and the way James Welch writes about it makes his work valid as history and also gives it more artistic value. Welch's technique of using literature as a spiritual history can serve as a guideline. A literary artist's discoveries can become our own--in a sense they can become ROOTS for small town and rural dwellers. Combine this with skillful craftsmanship that artfully describes the rural environment and that closely defines its people, and the result is highly readable writing that contains a variety of recognizable human experiences.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Welch, James, 1940-2003. Riding the earthboy 40
Welch, James, 1940-2003. Winter in the blood
Prose poems, American



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University