Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Norman Maclean  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction Other

Born: 1902 in Clarinda, Iowa

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Maclean taught at the University of Chicago from 1940 until his retirement in 1973.

Biographical and Professional Information

Norman Maclean grew up in and around Missoula, Montana. He received his BA from Dartmouth College, where he served as editor-in-chief of the humor magazine the ''Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern''. He began graduate studies in English at the University of Chicago in 1928. Three years later he was hired as a professor at University of Chicago. In 1940, Maclean earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago. During his last decade on the Chicago faculty, Maclean held an endowed chair as William Rainey Harper Professor of English. After his retirement, he began to write down the stories he liked to tell. His most acclaimed story, ''A River Runs Through It and Other Stories'' was published in 1976. ''A River Runs Through It'' was later adapted into a motion picture directed by Robert Redford.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories
ISBN: 0226500578

University of Chicago Press. 1992

From its first magnificent sentence, "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing", to the last, "I am haunted by waters", A River Runs Through It is an American classic.

Based on Norman Maclean's childhood experiences, the title novella has established itself as one of the most moving stories of our time

it captivates readers with vivid descriptions of life along Montana's Big Blackfoot River and its near magical blend of fly fishing with the troubling affections of the heart.

The paperback edition is now available with an evocative new cover by acclaimed Montana painter Russell Chatham.

"A masterpiece. . . . This is more than stunning fiction: It is a lyric record of a time and a life, shining with Maclean's special gift for calling the reader's attention to arts of all kinds—the arts that work in nature, in personality, in social intercourse, in fly-fishing."—Kenneth M. Pierce, Village Voice

Norman Maclean (1902-90), woodsman, scholar, teacher, and storyteller, grew up in the Western Rocky Mountains of Montana and worked for many years in logging camps and for the United States Forestry Service before beginning his academic career. He retired from the University of Chicago in 1973.

Young Men and Fire
ISBN: 0226500624

University Of Chicago Press. 1992

On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the United States Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or mortally burned. Haunted by these deaths for forty years, Norman Maclean puts back together the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy.

Young Men and Fire won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.

"A magnificent drama of writing, a tragedy that pays tribute to the dead and offers rescue to the living.... Maclean's search for the truth, which becomes an exploration of his own mortality, is more compelling even than his journey into the heart of the fire. His description of the conflagration terrifies, but it is his battle with words, his effort to turn the story of the 13 men into tragedy that makes this book a classic."—from New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, Best Books of 1992

"A treasure: part detective story, part western, part tragedy, part elegy and wholly eloquent ghost story in which the dead and the living join ranks cheerfully, if sometimes eerily, in a search for truth and the rest it brings."—Joseph Coates, Chicago Tribune

"An astonishing book. In compelling language, both homely and elegant, Young Men and Fire miraculously combines a fascinating primer on fires and firefighting, a powerful, breathtakingly real reconstruction of a tragedy, and a meditation on writing, grief and human character.... Maclean's last book will stir your heart and haunt your memory."—Timothy Foote, USA Today

"Beautiful.... A dark American idyll of which the language can be proud."—Robert M. Adams, The New York Review of Books

"Young Men and Fire is redolent of Melville. Just as the reader of Moby Dick comes to comprehend the monstrous entirety of the great white whale, so the reader of Young Men and Fire goes into the heart of the great red fire and comes out thoroughly informed. Don't hesitate to take the plunge."—Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

"Young Men and Fire is a somber and poetic retelling of a tragic event. It is the pinnacle of smokejumping literature and a classic work of 20th-century nonfiction."—John Holkeboer, The Wall Street Journal

"Maclean is always with the brave young dead. . . . They could not have found a storyteller with a better claim to represent their honor. . . . A great book."—James R. Kincaid, New York Times Book Review