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


Page 250

Flower or the French fifteenth century of Joan of Arc. The bulk of the romancers, however, as in Cooper’s time, kept their imaginations ordinarily at home. Red Rock and Deliverance chronicled on a large if rather melodramatic scale the process of Reconstruction in Virginia; The Crisis, The Cavalier, and The Battleground are all transacted during the Civil War in the regions respectively of the middle and lower Mississippi and of Virginia; Lazarre revived the old tradition that the Dauphin had been brought to America to grow up among the Indians; and Kate Bonnet made its heroine a mythical daughter of that very authentic buccaneer of the early eighteenth century, Stede Bonnet. And yet these belong but to the fringes of the historical fiction of their day. Much as with Cooper’s contemporaries, these American romancers exploited the American matters of the Settlement, the Revolution, and the Frontier. As the frontier, of course, no longer meant to Americans what it had meant when it still occupied a great portion of the continent, the romancers made less of it than of the other standard matters. The Virginian, which is really an older dime novel somewhat glorified, accurately if sentimentally preserves in its pictures of cowboy life in Wyoming the habits and speech of those amazing Centaurs of the last frontier who, though now practically banished from reality, are still firmly fixed in the national memory. Other records of that phase were racier and crisper but no one has been quite so well remembered. The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, as well as earlier and later novels by the same hand, portrayed the backward mountaineers of Kentucky whose manner of life in 1900 still



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