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Frontier in American Literature

Frontier in American Literature

Copyright Date: 1965
Pages: 466
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  • Book Info
    Frontier in American Literature
    Book Description:

    Contents: Preface; Introduction; Chapter 1: Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper; Chapter 2: Nathaniel Hawthorne; Sketches of Western Adventure;The Scarlet Letter; Neutral Territory; Chapter 3: Edgar Allan Poe; South and West; Narratives of Exploration and Discovery; Chapter 4: Henry David Thoreau; The Essential West;Walden: The Pioneer;Walden: The Frontier; Chapter 5: Herman Melville; Early Western Travels;Moby-Dick; The Disputed Frontier;The Confidence-Man; Chapter 6: Indian Summer of the Literary West; Thoreau's Unwritten Epic; Hawthorne's Last Stand; Melville as Poet; Chapter 7: Walt Whitman'sLeaves of Grass; Index

    Originally published in 1970.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7220-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Edwin Fussell
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-26)

    For an understanding of early American literature, the word West, with all its derivatives and variants, is the all but inevitable key. Yet no word commonly associated with the American identity and destiny has been, and continues to be, more frequently misused and sentimentalized. As Caroline Kirkland asked well over a century ago about “the ‘West’ ”: “How much does that expression mean to include? I never have been able to discover its limits.” (The superficial retort would be that an expression which includes everything means nothing.) Mrs. Kirkland’s near contemporary George Catlin still more pointedly observed: “Few people even...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper
    (pp. 27-68)

    “It was completely an american scene,” wrote James Fenimore Cooper inNotions of the Americans, “embracing all that admixture of civilization, and of the forest, of the works of man, and of the reign of nature, that one can so easily imagine to belong to this country.”¹ For all the campaigns and nostrums urged on behalf of a native American literature, an indigenous expression could hardly have originated elsewhere. Perhaps it began so easily and naturally with Cooper—son of an entrepreneurial land-settler who in 1810 had written a do-it-yourself book calledA Guide in the Wilderness—because he grew...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Nathaniel Hawthorne
    (pp. 69-131)

    Like Cooper, Hawthorne was at heart a Western writer; and even more persistently than Cooper, he was determined to see himself in a Western light. As early as 1820 (age 15), he wrote his sister in Maine: “How often do I long for my gun and wish that I could again savagize with you. But I shall never again run wild in Raymond, and I shall never be so happy as when I did.”¹ As late as 1853, he was still describing in idyllic terms those happy Leatherstocking years: “I ran quite wild, and would, I doubt not, have willingly...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Edgar Allan Poe
    (pp. 132-174)

    “Many of these poems are old friends,” Poe wrote in a review of William D. Gallagher’sErato, Number I1835), a modestly regional volume dedicated to Timothy Flint, “in whose communion we have been cheered with bright hopes for the Literature of the West.”¹ This was not platitude. No important American writer was more realistically concerned with, and more accurately informed about, that literature of the West which in the mid-1830’s flooded the country.² At theSouthern Literary Messenger, Western poems, sketches, and fictions poured over Poe’s desk.³ In his first issue as editor (December 1835), Poe reviewed James Hall’s...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Henry David Thoreau
    (pp. 175-231)

    InA Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers(1849), Thoreau said of Sir Walter Raleigh’s prose: “There is a natural emphasis in his style, like a man’s tread, and a breathing space between the sentences…. His chapters are like English parks, or say rather like a Western forest, where the larger growth keeps down the underwood, and one may ride on horseback through the openings.”¹ The final sentence, especially, suggests Thoreau’s idealized conception of the West—spacious and free from clutter—almost as if he had in the back of his mind his prospective isolation in Concord. For the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Herman Melville
    (pp. 232-326)

    “And I am specially delighted at the thought, that those strange, congenial feelings, with which after my first voyage, I for the first time read ‘Two Years Before the Mast,’ and while so engaged was, as it were, tied & welded to you by a sort of Siamese link of affectionate sympathy—that these feelings should be reciprocated by you, in your turn, and be called out by any White Jackets or Redburns of mine—this is indeed delightful to me.”¹ So Melville, in a style anticipatory of his passionate epistles to Hawthorne, unburdened himself to Richard Henry Dana, Jr., in...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Indian Summer of the Literary West
    (pp. 327-396)

    According to legend and Ellery Channing, Thoreau’s last words were “moose” and “Indian.” Perhaps he was only delirious, and his mind wandered backward along the trail of his beloved excursions to the Maine woods; or perhaps, as has also been conjectured, and as I should naturally prefer to believe, his mind wandered forward, and thus bore final witness to his long-standing determination to write a great book about the natives of America. The book itself, unquestionably, remained unwritten at his early death, though he had labored toward its composition for at least twelve years, collecting in the process over 2800...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
    (pp. 397-442)

    D. H. Lawrence called Whitman “a very great poet, of the end of life. A very great post mortem poet, of the transitions of the soul as it loses its integrity. The poet of the soul’s last shout and shriek, on the confines of death.” Whitman was “the one pioneer…. Ahead of Whitman, nothing. Ahead of all poets, pioneering into the wilderness of unopened life, Whitman…. It is a dead end.” Yet Lawrence also felt that Whitman had “the true rhythm of the American continent speaking out in him. He is the first white aboriginal.”¹ The bewildering multiple paradoxes are...

  12. Index
    (pp. 443-450)