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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 21

and not infrequently by the descendants of the very Americans who had hated him so bitterly a century before.
   The Indian was a link connecting the matter of the Settlement with the matter of the Frontier, the only one which had a contemporary aspect. It was the frontier not as remembered from the beginnings but as reported from the more distant territories where it still lay in the early years of the new century. Even before the Revolution not a few imaginations had turned inland. The settlement of Kentucky had excited the seaboard, and Daniel Boone, though not the greatest of the pioneers, before 1800 was already beginning to be the most famous of all of them, a true folk-hero. Literature unquestionably did him this service, in the person of the eccentric schoolmaster John Filson, who wrote for Boone his Adventures in 1784. Later the Louisiana Purchase drew still more eyes to the West, while the government expedition conducted by Lewis and Clark, rather less through its reports than through busy rumor, had an influence upon the popular imagination perhaps larger than that ever produced by any other American exploring venture. As contrasted with the tradition of the Settlement or of the Revolution, the reports concerning the contemporary frontier came as news, but there was still about them the haze of distance—distance in miles if not in years. The Great Lakes, the prairies, the plains and mountains beyond, the fever lands of the lower Mississippi, and especially the broad rivers and bluegrass of Kentucky, all of these constituted a sort of hinterland for the national imagination which writers of fiction were not slow to take advantage of. Nor did the frontier



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