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MAJOR AND RECURRING THEMES IN THE LITERATURE OF CALIFORNIA The following five themes (and their obverse forms) recur in the literature of California, from Native American beginnings to the twenty-first century. They constitute the conceptual backbone of The Literature of California, Volumes I and II , edited by Jack Hicks, James D. Houston, Maxine Hong Kingston & Al Young California as a fabulous island “near to the terrestrial paradise,” a new Eden, a mythic heaven on earth vs . California as a hell on the Pacific Slope, a treacherous and cunning land that cruelly denies its promises; The Golden State as a miraculous natural world with stunning vistas previously unwitnessed by man vs . a ferocious land of earthquakes, torrential rains and floods, volcanoes and steam vents, Santa Ana winds, forest fires and searing droughts; California as a dynamic confederation of distinct areas and bioregions (Elna Bakker identifies eleven ), each unique and worthy of celebration in literary/artistic forms vs . a political fiction yoked together from balkanized
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