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


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to prose. By his own confession, he followed the style of Hume, Swift, and Fielding—like Swift in A Tale of a Tub alternating chapters of narrative with ironical essays on all manner of subjects. Captain Farrago, the hero, is a new Don Quixote, who whimsically takes it into his head to leave his farm in western Pennsylvania “and ride about the world a little, with his man Teague at his heels, to see how things were going on here and there, and to observe human nature.” As a description of manners in the early days of the Republic the book is unapproached by any other. Races, elections, rural conjurors, village “philosophers” or pseudo-scientists, inns, duels and challenges, treaties with Indians, the Society of the Cincinnati, hedge parsons, brothels, colleges, Congress, Quakers, lawyers, theaters, law courts, Presidential levees, dancing masters, excise officers, tar and feathers, insurrections—all these are displayed in the first part of the book with obvious verisimilitude and unflagging spirit. Much of the action of this part is furnished by the doings of Teague, a grotesque and witless Sancho Panza, whose impudent ambition survives the most ludicrous and painful misadventures. Brackenridge regards him as typical of the political upstarts of the period, and his triumphs as an accusation properly to be brought against the public which followed such sorry leaders. In Part II Captain Farrago, after a brief hiatus spent on his farm, resumes his travels, which at first do not take him beyond the limits of the nearest village, with its newspaper, academy, lunatic asylum, and fair, but which eventually bring him to a settlement in the back country of which he becomes governor. The remainder of the book, ostensibly a chronicle



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