Auel, Jean M.: The Mammoth Hunters
(researched by Michele Petersen)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
The book was first published in New York, New York, by Crown Publishing Inc. in 1985. In London, England, the book was published by Hodder and Staughton, 1985. General Publishing Company Limited simultaneously published the book in Canada. The first edition, mass market paperback, was released by Bantam Books Inc. in 1986. The copyright is held by Jean M. Auel. Sources: Inspection of the first edition. http://www.barnesandnoble.com RLIN Bibliographic file found at http://eureka.rlg.org
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
325 leaves, pp. [i-vi], vi-ix, [x], 1-645. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The book was edited by Betty Prashker. Source: Page ix of the first edition, in Acknowledgements.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There is a black and white illustrated map on the inside of the front cover and the front page. It is made from heavy paper stock. An identical illustrated map is located on the back of the last page and the inside of the back cover. The map is titled Terrority of the Mamutoi| Winter Camps. Five places on the map are identified: Mammoth Hunt, Amber Camp, Mammoth Camp, Wolf Camp, Lion Camp. The following text describes the map: Earth's Children TM| Prehistoric Europe| During The Ice Age| Extent of ice and change in coastlines during| 10,000 year interstadial| a warming trend during the wurm glaciation| of the late Pleisticene Epoch extending| from 35,000 to 25,000 years before prestent. Five individual illustrations surround the map, and they are identified as follows: Drum| mammoth skull| Mezhirich (Ukraine), Musical Instrument| with distinctive tones| mamoth shoulder blade,| Mezin (Ukraine), Horse Sculpture| mammoth ivory, Lourdes, Two Bird-Woman figures| mammoth ivory, Mezin, Mother Figure| mammoth ivory | Kostienki (ukraine). The copyrighted map is by Palacios after Jean Auel. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The pages are 9 and º inches high, and 5 and æ inches wide. The text is 7 and æ inches high and 4 and Ω inches wide. The size of the type is 90R. There are no visible signs of type wear or cracking, as this book is relatively new. The print is clear and very readable. The first letter of each chapter is 5/8 of an inch high and is very bold. The spine, and one inch of the front and back covers of the book are bound in gray cloth, and the cover is brown, with the author's signature imprinted on the front. The front cover reads Jean M. Auel. The spine of the book is as follows, The| Mammoth| Hunters| Jean M.| Auel| Earth's| Children| Crown. There is a book jacket in excellent condition. It depicts the four main characters in the novel hunting wooly mammoths. They are pictured in the distance. The title of the book is in large, brown letters, and at the top of the jacket. The author's name is in smaller, white letters at the bottom of the jacket. The back cover is a continuation of the hunting scene, with more mammoths, and a landscape. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is smooth, but not slick. Its color is off-white. The paper is not yellowed, but there are some stains on individual pages from the previous reader. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
11 Description of binding(s)
The front and back colors are covered in stiff, brown paper. The binding, which extends one inch over the front and the back, is a gray cloth. On the front cover the author's name is etched in script. On the spine of the book the title the author's name, the name of the series, and the publisher are stamped in gold print. A double line, which is also stamped in gold print is above and below the author's name, and the series name. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
12 Transcription of title page
THE| MAMMOTH| HUNTERS| JEAN M. AUEL| [double rule line]| EARTH'S CHILDREN TM| Crown Publishers, Inc. New York. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Aimee Boone, a researcher for the bestseller The Valley of Horses, also by Auel, discovered the whereabouts of the author's manuscript holdings. She writes, "Auel has the manuscript in her home in Sherwood, Oregon".
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The dust jacket illustration is by Hiroko. The jacket typography is by Paul Bacon. Source: Inspection of the first edition.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
N/A Source: World Cat.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The first printing was touted in an advertisement as the largest hardcover advance ever, with 1 million copies. There were at least six subsequent printings. Source: Publisher's Weekly, November 29, 1985. World Cat http://www.barnesandnoble.com
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Large Print Editions released by other publishers: Thorndike Press, 1985. Macmillan Library Reference, 1991 Source: International Books in Print, RLIN Bibliographic File. In England: Seven Oaks, Hodder and Stoughton, 1985, 1986.
6 Last date in print?
As of 1999, The Mammoth Hunters is still in print. Source: International Books in Print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
As of October 23 1990, USA Today reported that 19 million books had been sold in the Earth's Children Series. At the time it consisted of The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, and The Mammoth Hunters. Newsweek estimated that as of October 29, 1990, about 5 million copies of the Mammoth Hunters had been sold. Source: USA Today, October 23, 1990. Newsweek, October 29, 1990.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
The sales figures by year are unknown.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
An advertisement appeared in the November 29, 1985 edition of Publisher's Weekly. It was mainly targeted towards booksellers. It covered two pages. Across the top of the two pages in bold print: "Thanks for the largest and most deserved hardcover| advance ever- 1,000,000 copies! For Jean M. Auel's". The second page displayed the title, The Mammoth Hunters, written in all capital letters. Under the title, written in a smaller size and plainer font: "A NOVEL BY THE AUTHOR OF| The Clan of the Cave Bear| and The Valley of Horses| For toll-free telephone| orders, call 800-526-4266| Crown Publishers Inc.| One Park Ave, New York, N Y 10016. On the bottom of the page the author's name and the series title is written: "Jean M. Auel| EARTH'S CHILDREN." The left-hand page includes text about the promotion of Auel's novel. The first column reads: "To help you get the books into the hands of your waiting customers- 1. Books will be arriving in| stores all over the coun|try this week, so everyone gets| Mammoth at exactly the same time!| 2. We're launching Mammoth| with an enormous pro|motional blitz including national| advertising in all the top| markets-and| 3. We're shipping beautiful| Mammoth posters now!| 4. We're sending Jean M.| Auel on a mammoth tour| of American cities, beginning in| November, and, after a Christmas| break, continuing in January 1986.| This winter Jean M. Auel and The| Mammoth Hunters will be everywhere!" The second and third columns read: The Saga Continues| The Jean M. Auel| Phenomenon-| She leapt to fame when she| began her career as the author| who received the then highest| amount ever paid for a hard-| cover first novel. That was for| The Clan of the Cave Bear where| we met and loved the irre-|pressible Ayla. No one was surprised when Clan became| a bestseller!| Jean M. Auel became a reality to you and moved into your| hearts when she publicized| Clan and met many of you on| her tour.| When The Valley of Horses was| published Auel and Ayla| gathered even more fans.| Sales of Valley more than doubled those of Clan| And now with the publi|cation of The Mammoth Hunters| the third novel in the series| the saga and the phenomenon become a legend. And why it| becomes a legend most?| A 1,000,000 copy first printing.| A main Selection of the Literary Guild| 19.95 (0-517-55627-8)| Jacket Painting by HIROKO." The bottom of the advertisement is illustrated with the scene from the cover of the book. A photograph of the book is depicted in the bottom left corner. Source: Publisher's Weekly, November 29, 1985.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
$300,000 was allocated for advertising and promotion. Jean Auel went on a promotional tour from November of 1985 through January of 1986. The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club included The Mammoth Hunters as one of their selections. Auel has a large fan base. This is evident on the Internet. She is included in many homepages as a favorite author. One excellent site about Jean Auel is found at www.geocities.com/Athens/6293/auel.html. America Online also has a site called the Jean AOL mirror, where fans write their own Earth's Children series stories. Sources: Publisher's Weekly, November 1, 1985. Publisher's Weekly, November 29, 1985. www.geocities.com/Athens/6293/auel.html.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
There were two recordings on audiotapes. Sandra Burr, narrator, The Mammoth Hunters, Brilliance, 1986,1987,1989, 1991, and 1999. Donada Peters, narrator, The Mammoth Hunters, Books on Tape Inc. 1986. Source: Worldcat.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
There were multiple translations of The Mammoth Hunters. German: Mammutjager- Roman Munchen, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1994. Stuttgart, Deutschen Burcherbundes, 1986 Spanish: Los Cazadores de Mamuts Madrid, Maeva, 1993, 1994, and 1996. Buenos Aires, J Vergara, 1988. Mexico, D.F., J Vergara 1988. Italian: Gli Elletti de Mut: romanzo Milano, Longanesi, 1987. French: Les Chasseurs de Mammouths: Roman Paris, Balland, 1986. Danish: Mammutjaegerne Kobenhaun, Samlerens Paperbacks, 1968, 1988. English: Seven Oaks, Hodder and Stoughton, 1985, 1986. Source: Worldcat
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A Source: Worldcat RLIN Bibliographic File
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
The third book in the Earth's Children series is The Mammoth Hunters. It is preceded by The Clan of the Cave Bear, New York, Crown Publishing Inc., 1980 and The Valley of Horses, New York, Crown Publishing Inc., 1982. The Mammoth Hunters is followed by The Plains of Passage, New York, Crown Publishing Inc., 1990. There are two more books expected in the series. Source: WorldCat RLIN Bibliographic File
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Jean Marie Untien was born on February 18, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. She married Ray Bernard Auel in 1954, and they raised five children. Auel attained a MBA in business management after attending night school for 12 years. She worked as a computer programmer until at the age of 40, when she was inspired to write a story about a young woman in prehistoric times that had attained higher mental powers.(Publisher's Weekly, Nov 29. 1985) Auel is to be admired for such a complicated and risky undertaking. She quit her job in order to write full time. In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, Auel described her initial motivation to write: "I was looking for something to do. I had had five kids before I was 25, then I started going to college when I was 28?I had been spending practically every minute of my life raising my family, working?and going to school, and now suddenly I had my degree?My kids were grown up." It appears Auel had reached a time in her life where she wanted a change. She could have never expected her worldwide success. Auel's success has much to do with the extraordinary, believable, research she has put into her books. Auel feels that it is not enough to simply state the facts. She is interested in answering the questions behind such issues as prehistoric flint knapping, food preparation, and hunting rituals. (Publisher's Weekly, Nov 29. 1985) She is able to take literary license with much of the information in her series. As an author of fiction, Auel presents her story as truth, even though much of it is conjecture. The Mammoth Hunters is told with much emotion and interpersonal conflict. It is less of a scientific work, and more of a love story. John R. Alden felt that The Mammoth Hunters connects the past with the present. He remarks, "[the book] is successful because it presents prehistoric people as human beings, with the same kinds of emotional conflicts we contemporary earthlings have today." In that way, Auel has made an important contribution to literature. The completion of The Mammoth Hunters turns her series into a trilogy. Her large first printing of 1.1 million copies was unprecedented. She has helped establish a successful genre. The Gale Literary database states, " 'Caveman' fiction has heretofore not been considered a prime prospect for blockbuster books. But Auel's novels appeared at a time when longstanding notions of prehistoric life were being reassessed." The success of The Mammoth Hunters cemented a genre which many other authors have since embraced. With the success of her third book, Auel has begun to live the life of a successful author. She purchased a seaside mansion on the Pacific. The top floor of her home is her studio. Auel's husband quit his job, to become her business manager. Publisher's Weekly quotes her as saying, "We raised five kids in a one bathroom house, now we've got no kids in a five bathroom house." Publisher's Weekly, Nov 29. 1985 www.geocities.com/Athens/629/JeanAuel.html www.galenet.com
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The release of Jean Auel's novel, The Mammoth Hunters, third in the Earth's Children series, was greatly anticipated by readers and critics alike. It was expected that the continuation of the love story between the main characters, Jondalar and Ayla, would merit best-selling status. Most reviews of The Mammoth Hunters were mainly complimentary. The criticisms of her novel were over gratuitous sex, and unrealistic portrayals of prehistoric individuals. An early review by Publishers Weekly sets the stage for criticism on The Mammoth Hunters. The consensus is positive, "The authenticity of background detail, the lilting prose rhythms and the appealing conceptual audacity that won many fans for The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Valley of Horses continue to work their spell in this third installment of Auel's projected six-volume Earth's Children sage set in Ice Age Europe" (Publishers Weekly, Nov 1, 1985). Jean Auel is well known for in depth research in her writing, in order to bring to life an ancient people. Sandy Rovner hails her as a "prodigious researcher" in a 1985 Washington Post Book World article. Rovner also feels "the book is strongest when [Auel] is describing the lives and the believably complex tribal and cultural mores of these ancient peoples" (Washington Post Book World, Dec 15, 1985). The Washington Post's review was of much importance because of its extensive circulation. The LA Times also compliments Auel for her thoroughness in research. Judy Bass writes, "Every integral aspect of Ice Age life is discussed here: garb, ceremonial rituals, recreation, superstitions, food preservation, hygiene and communication. Auel smoothly integrates this information into the plot, always offering pertinent facts without undue pedantry" (The LA Times, November 24, 1985). The novel is seen as informative. This is interesting, considering that many aspiring best sellers pander to the lowest common denominator. An example of this would be Victoria Holt's numerous romance novels. Auel is criticized for the increase in romance in her third novel. It is a commonly mentioned issue by the critics. Her love scenes are described by the Library Journal as "fatuous". Sandy Rovner of The Washington Post did not see the added sex as a strong contribution. She writes, "nevertheless, these adventures are a bit too self- conscious to be erotic, and are somehow more intrusive than titillating" (The Washington Post, December 14, 1985). A review by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt sees Auel's style of romance as one that "one would be more likely to encounter in a teen-age romance magazine" (The New York Times, November 28, 1985). Auel's love scenes do not receive high praise. The LA Times finds fault that occasionally Auel's characters take on an unrealistically modern dialogue. Judy Bass writes, "Glaring incongruities occasionally mar this story. Jondalar uses the word "bifacially" as if it were common Neanderthal parlance. Even worse, some of Aylas's medical expertise sounds absurdly contemporary" (The LA Times, November 24, 1985). On the whole, Auel was only criticized when she took too much liberty in the area of relationships, or made her characters appear to be overly modern.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The release of Jean Auel's novel, The Mammoth Hunters, third in the Earth's Children series, was greatly anticipated by readers and critics alike. It was expected that the continuation of the love story between the main characters, Jondalar and Ayla, would merit best-selling status. Most reviews of The Mammoth Hunters were mainly complimentary. The criticisms of her novel were over gratuitous sex, and unrealistic portrayals of prehistoric individuals. An early review by Publishers Weekly sets the stage for criticism on The Mammoth Hunters. The consensus is positive, "The authenticity of background detail, the lilting prose rhythms and the appealing conceptual audacity that won many fans for The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Valley of Horses continue to work their spell in this third installment of Auel's projected six-volume Earth's Children sage set in Ice Age Europe" (Publishers Weekly, Nov 1, 1985). Jean Auel is well known for in depth research in her writing, in order to bring to life an ancient people. Sandy Rovner hails her as a "prodigious researcher" in a 1985 Washington Post Book World article. Rovner also feels "the book is strongest when [Auel] is describing the lives and the believably complex tribal and cultural mores of these ancient peoples" (Washington Post Book World, Dec 15, 1985). The Washington Post's review was of much importance because of its extensive circulation. The LA Times also compliments Auel for her thoroughness in research. Judy Bass writes, "Every integral aspect of Ice Age life is discussed here: garb, ceremonial rituals, recreation, superstitions, food preservation, hygiene and communication. Auel smoothly integrates this information into the plot, always offering pertinent facts without undue pedantry" (The LA Times, November 24, 1985). The novel is seen as informative. This is interesting, considering that many aspiring best sellers pander to the lowest common denominator. An example of this would be Victoria Holt's numerous romance novels. Auel is criticized for the increase in romance in her third novel. It is a commonly mentioned issue by the critics. Her love scenes are described by the Library Journal as "fatuous". Sandy Rovner of The Washington Post did not see the added sex as a strong contribution. She writes, "nevertheless, these adventures are a bit too self- conscious to be erotic, and are somehow more intrusive than titillating" (The Washington Post, December 14, 1985). A review by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt sees Auel's style of romance as one that "one would be more likely to encounter in a teen-age romance magazine" (The New York Times, November 28, 1985). Auel's love scenes do not receive high praise. The LA Times finds fault that occasionally Auel's characters take on an unrealistically modern dialogue. Judy Bass writes, "Glaring incongruities occasionally mar this story. Jondalar uses the word "bifacially" as if it were common Neanderthal parlance. Even worse, some of Aylas's medical expertise sounds absurdly contemporary" (The LA Times, November 24, 1985). On the whole, Auel was only criticized when she took too much liberty in the area of relationships, or made her characters appear to be overly modern.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Jean Auel has inspired wonder about prehistoric times in her readers, since the success of her first novel, The Clan of the Cave Bear. The subsequent books in her series, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, and The Plains of Passages have enjoyed similar acclaim. In The Mammoth Hunters, Auel continues her saga of Jondalar and Ayla. This book was marked for success. It was the third novel in a popular, well-received series. It was printed at a time when prehistoric fiction was popular, and had been made popular by Auel's previous books. Another factor that is an asset to its status as a bestseller was the book's genre. The Mammoth Hunters contains many aspects of a romance novel, which is appealing to women readers. Examples of these are the love story between Ayla and Jondalar, Ayla's physical perfection, the jealousy that Ranec and Jondalar have of each other, and the happy ending. The success of romance stories, and the appeal that they have, can be seen in the case of authors such as Victoria Holt, Danielle Steele, and Judith McNaught. Romance is not the only factor that contributed to the book's success. There are many aspects of the novel that also appeal to men. Examples of these are hunting, tool making, and dominant leaders. Michael Crichton is an author who appeals to male readership, and deals with similar, if futuristic issues in his novels. The Mammoth Hunters is a two-layered novel. There is scientific research, as well as a good romance. Her readership audience is therefore made up of individuals who like to read romance stories, prehistoric fiction, or historical fiction. Because of the several different genres to which The Mammoth Hunters appeals, there is no particular age group that prefers the novel. The book has a broad appeal. Upon examination of other prehistoric novels, such as those written by Michael W. Gear, it becomes apparent that this formula, combining fairly accurate research with a simple, but rewarding plot, creates a successful novel on the subject of prehistoric fiction. The Mammoth Hunters is a classic example of successful prehistoric fiction. Criticism of the book fell into two categories. Many critics praised the novel for its intensive research and in depth explanations. Jane Spitzer of The Christian Science Monitor was one such critic. She writes, "Besides her extensive library research, Auel has taken courses in plant identification, wilderness survival, and aboriginal life skills. She has made stone tools, tanned a hide with deer brains, and spent the night with Ray [Auel's husband] in a snow cave on Mt. Hood. Auel puts her research and firsthand knowledge into her complex and detailed descriptions of everything from making a stone tool to hunting with a slingshot" (The Christian Science Monitor 12/30/85). Auel's intensive research has earned her much renown. Not all areas of Auel's novel were praised. The Mammoth Hunters received harsh criticism due to Auel's introduction of the romance novel aspect into her book. Romance was first brought into her novels in The Valley of Horses. Scenes of a sexual nature, involving Ayla, were a frequent target of critics. Sandy Rovner of The Washington Post was especially harsh. He writes, "Somebody must have told Auel to get a little spice into Ayla's life, so now Ayla stirs genuine passion in every Cro-Magnon male who catches sight of her, and once she is awakened (in the previous book) to the joys of sex, or as Auel calls them "the Pleasures," we are made privy -- on almost every other page -- to Ayla's erotic exploits. Sometimes these are with her own true love Jondalar and sometimes with her new playmate Ranec. Nevertheless, these adventures are a bit too self-conscious to be erotic and are somehow more intrusive than titillating" (The Washington Post 12/15/85). Auel's sex scenes have also been called childish and repetitive, as well as gratuitous. Whether they truly are some, all, or none of the above, they definitely occur frequently. This shows that the author was targeting a readership that enjoyed novels with a certain kind of sex scenes, and that the critics were tired of them. The two layers of The Mammoth Hunters can be perhaps best defined as the serious vs. the ridiculous. Serious aspects of her novel included the social structure of a nomadic society, herbal medicines, the spread of language, hunting techniques, the construction of tools and dwellings, food preparation and preservation. Auel also did a magnificent job of describing the flora and fauna of the European setting, as well as the ancient climate and weather. Ridiculous aspects of Auel's novel include Ayla's individual perfection and high mental capacities. The "ideal" ending to most situations, combined with flat, stereotypical characters turns her book into more of a romance novel than a work of literature. She also takes liberties with the role of females in ancient society, giving them more respect by males, and social mobility than they probably had. While this is a matter of debate, history shows a consistent trend of treating women as inferior to men. On one hand, the romance novel element in The Mammoth Hunters takes away from some of the credibility of Auel's research. On the other hand, a scientifically researched, accurate, detailed depiction of many aspects of prehistoric life adds depth to a simple plot and a typical romance. Ken Ringle of The Washington Post described the complexities in plot as such. He writes, "It may be the least probable setting for a best-selling novel since "Watership Down": a mind-teasing blend of archeology, paleontological botany, Outward Bound survivalism, geophysics and "Flame-and-the-Flower" romance" (The Washington Post, 2/21/86). The novel became a best seller because of Auel's unique blend of seriousness and entertainment. Along with the in depth research that is present in Auel's book there are also several social and cultural controversies. There is an emphasis on different cultures and customs. This is seen in Jondalar's comparison of his people, the Zelandonii, and the Mamutoi, with whom Ayla and Jondalar were wintering. The focus is on acceptance and finding common ground. This attempt to understand the differences in culture is also made when comparing customs of the Clan to customs of the Others. When Ayla gives a Clan burial to a child of mixed heritage, she draws comparisons between the two burial rituals. At the close of the burial rites, Ayla looks around. Volcanic ash falls from the sky, from a recent eruption. Auel writes, "The fine light dust covered everything, the stones of the cairn, the grass, even the brown dust of the path. Logs and bush alike took on the same hue. It covered the people standing by the grave as well, and to Ayla, they all began to look the same. Differences were lost in the face of such awesome powers as movements of the earth, and death" (Auel 700). Ayla saw through the grief of her friends, that beneath the apparent differences they all had, they all shared similar emotions. This idea of transcending color and culture is similar to the idea of 1980s political correctness. Along with the issue of finding common ground, The Mammoth Hunters also took on the issue of fidelity. Jondalar was enraged when Ayla decided to sleep with Ranec, a member of the Mamutoi camp. Jondalar's jealousy stemmed from Ayla's fidelity. All members of the Lion camp noticed their problems. Auel describes, "The feelings of Jondalar and Ranec for Ayla, and the problem that was developing because of them, was apparent to all, though most people did not acknowledge is. They didn't want to interfere, hoping to give the three of them room to work it out for themselves" (Auel 346). The main problem was that Ayla could not decide which individual she was going to be faithful to. Fidelity was an important cultural issue of the 1980s. Family values and the Christian right championed the nuclear family, and abstinence from sex until marriage. The themes in The Mammoth Hunters of true love and fidelity provided grounds for discussion. There are several apparent flaws in the construction of Auel's novel that various critics have pointed out. If Ayla was the first feminist, then why was she an unreasonable picture of physical perfection? If Auel is going to examine the social structure of a nomadic society in depth then why are her plot predictable and formulaic? Ayla makes an unrealistic number of discoveries during the course of the novel. It is too much weight for one character to bear. Among many other discoveries, Ayla is given credit with the discovery of fire, how conception is related to sexual intercourse, advanced methods of hunting, the creation of a calendar, and the domestication of dogs and horses. Along with her intellectual prowess, Ayla is one lucky individual. Almost all situations she encounters have predictable outcomes, and usually have positive outcomes. For example, hunting is always successful, Ayla narrowly escapes danger numerous times. Conflicts are always resolved, with a lesson learned. The end of the book neatly ties up all loose ends in the conflict of fidelity. Ayla realizes that Jondalar is her true love. She tells her former fiancée, Ranec, that she cannot marry him, and that she is leaving with Jondalar. Ranec is of course devastated. All through the book it is assumed that Jondalar and Ayla will be reunited in the end. There couldn't be a sequel otherwise. Impossible intellect and a predictable plot may take away from a book's literary quality, but not from its best-selling status. Most novels are purchased as pleasure reading, and the reader expects to be entertained. Fortunate escapes from danger, physical perfection, and a happy ending are escapes from the ordinary world, and bring enjoyment to the reader. An individual who has read the first books of the Earth's Children series is likely to want to read the following installations in the series. Each book ends with a cliffhanger. The Clan of the Cave Bear ended with Ayla discovering a valley to call her own. The Valley of Horses ended with Ayla finding Jondalar, and people of her own kind. The Mammoth Hunters ended with Ayla deciding to journey home with Jondalar, and her acceptance of his love. The Plains of Passage ended with Ayla arriving at Jondalar's home, and discovering she was going to bear his child. The end of the previous book creates interest in the next. This makes individuals more likely to purchase Auel's novels than if all questions were answered at the end of each novel. Another romance author who employs a similar technique is Diana Gabaldon in her Outlander series. Auel's books have staying power. They were successful at their first edition of publication, and have undergone many reprintings. The series spurs readers to continue with Auel's books, and that has helped with sales. They remain popular, and will most likely undergo a resurgence of popularity when Auel's fifth book in the series is finally released. Auel, like many authors, weaves an aura of mystery around her persona. She lives in a remote area of Oregon State. She writes her books in seclusion. At the same time, she tries to appear as a scholarly researcher. Her book jacket photo shows Auel surrounded by her books, appearing as a severe and austere researcher. She has traveled to Europe to do hands on research for her novels. She has learned to do many of the crafts, such as flint knapping, and leather preparation that are described in The Mammoth Hunters. This is a possible reflection of Ayla's character. Ayla was extremely industrious and creative, and it is evident that Auel also wants to appear as such. Although Auel was not the first to write about prehistoric peoples, she received great acclaim and public attention when she did so. Her novels helped to establish a new genre in American literature. Her success has inspired others to write about the subject. Many authors have since followed in her footsteps: Mary Mackey has written about prehistoric Europe. As with Auel, a woman is her main character. Outside of ancient Europe, there has been a myriad of writings about prehistoric Americans. Examples of such authors are William Sarabande, Michael W. Gear, and Linda Lay Schuler. Each of these authors has written several books on the subject. The Mammoth Hunters is a strong example of what a classic prehistoric novel should entail. It is multi-layered with a broad appeal. The Mammoth Hunters is an interesting work of prehistoric fiction that had a focus on both romance and ancient societies and their way of life. It became a bestseller because of its broad appeal to many fiction readers. A wide variety of individuals were able to enjoy the book, because it contained several different genres: romance, research, and prehistory. Its place in a series helped it receive attention on the onset of its publishing. Its discussion of modern day issues helped the readers connect with the story line. All in all, The Earth's Children Series, and The Mammoth Hunters is a bestseller that fits the definition of prehistoric fiction.
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