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


Page 58

record of frontier life, but The Green Mountain Boys (1839) is the classic of Vermont. It is concerned with the struggles of the Vermonters for independence first from New York and second from Great Britain; its hero is the famous Ethan Allen. Thompson had none of Cooper’s poetry and was little concerned with the magic of nature; he took over most of the tricks of the older novelists and their stock types and sentiments. But he made little effort to preach, he could tell a straight story plainly and rapidly, and he touched action with rhetoric in just the proportion needed to sell fifty editions of the book by 1860 and to make it in the twentieth century a standard book for boys—by far the most popular romance of the immediate school of Cooper.
  There was a school of Irving, too, which touched the novel. James Kirke Paulding, Irving’s friend, had considerable merit as a novelist, particularly in the matter of comedy. He enjoyed burlesque and he laughed at what he called “Blood-Pudding Literature.” He was too facile in lending his pen, as parodist or follower, to whatever fashion prevailed at any given moment to do any very individual work, but The Dutchman’s Fireside (1831), his masterpiece, deserves to be mentioned with Cooper’s Satanstoe, considerably its superior, as a worthy record of the Settlement along the Hudson; and his Westward Ho! (1832) significantly reveals the charm which the West—especially Kentucky, in which the scene of this novel is chiefly laid—had for the natives of the older states. Other writers of Eastern birth, resident for a time in the new settlements, cheerfully or romantically undertook the representation of manners not known to the seaboard.



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