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


Page 62

frontier. His concern with colonial South Carolina bore fruit in The Yemassee, a moving tale of the Yemassee War of 1715 which has been on the whole his most famous, and which is without much doubt his best, work. Once again Simms took hints from current romances, but when he set himself to describing the rich landscape of South Carolina or to recounting its annals, he was more fully master of his material than in Guy Rivers and more admirable in proportion as his subject was more congenial to him. He gave his Indians the dignity and courage which he said they must have had at an earlier period; he invented for them a mythology. But his triumph comes from the bold and truthful variation he here plays upon the theme used by Cooper in The Last of the Mohicans. Occonestoga, the Uncas of this drama, has been corrupted by contact with the whites and has betrayed his people; Sanutee, his father, like another Brutus, denounces the renegade; Matiwan, his mother, with a more than Roman fortitude, kills him with her own hands to save him from the dishonor which his tribe could inflict only upon a living man. The older American romance has no more dramatic moment. The various white and black characters in The Yemassee have somewhat less heroic dimensions than the red, but they are done with great vigor and some realism.
  Having succeeded with the matters of the Frontier and the Settlement, Simms now turned to the Revolution and wrote The Partisan (1835), designed as the first member of a trilogy which should properly celebrate those valorous times. He later wavered in his scheme, and though he finally called Mellichampe (1836) and Katherine Walton



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