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


Page 228

to high caste Mexicans in color and nurture that their wrongs as Indians seem hardly typical of the real grievances of their unfortunate race. They suffer little more from the invading Yankees than do the proudest Mexicans. Indeed, the true conflict and injustice occur between the old Californians, Indian or Spanish, and the predacious vanguard of the Anglo-Saxon conquest. For Mrs. Jackson California had been a splendid paradise of patriarchal estates, in vast fertile valleys, steeped in a drowsy antiquity, and cherished by fine, unworldly priests. Against this rich background she set a story which begins in peace, blackens to hard and ugly tragedy, and then grows at the end to peace again. The pomp of the setting, the strength of the contrasts, the eloquence, the intensity, the passionate color—these dominate, almost submerge, the problem with which the narrative is concerned; but they also tend to lift it above controversy, into those higher regions of the imagination in which particular acts of injustice take on a universal significance, in which blunders become tragedies not temporary accidents.
  Ramona was a local color novel which had a passionate aim and a large historical background as well as quaint surfaces. Two novels of the Mississippi Valley, G. W. Cable’s The Grandissimes (1880) and E. W. Howe’s The Story of a Country Town (1883), illustrate the range which the type permitted. The Grandissimes is to New Orleans what Irving’s Knickerbocker History might have been to New York had Irving given himself less to comic history and more to witty romance. For his period Cable chose the year of the purchase of Louisiana by the United States, but the entire history of the old province



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