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


Page 63

(1851) the other members of his trilogy, he grouped round them four more novels that have obvious marks of kinship. The Partisan traces events from the fall of Charleston to Gates’s defeat at Camden; the action of Mellichampe, which is nearly parallel to that of Katherine Walton, the proper sequel of The Partisan, takes place in the interval between Camden and the coming of Greene; The Scout, originally called The Kinsmen (1841), illustrates the period of Greene’s first victories; The Sword and the Distaff (1853), later known as Woodcraft, furnishes a kind of comic afterpiece to the series. Simms subsequently returned to the body of his theme and produced The Forayers (1855) and its sequel Eutaw (1856), to do honor to the American successes of the year 1781. Of these The Scout is perhaps the poorest, because of the large admixture of Simms’s cardinal defect, horrible melodrama; Woodcraft is on many grounds the best, by reason of its close-built plot and the high spirits with which it tells of the pranks and courtship, after the war, of Captain Porgy, the most truly comic character ever produced by this school of American romance. But neither of these works is quite representative of the series; neither has quite the dignity which, lacking in his sensational tales of the border, Simms always imparted to his work when he was most under the spell of the Carolina tradition. That always warmed him; at times he seems drunk with history. He had a tendency to overload his tales with solid blocks of fact derived from his wide researches, forgetting, in his passionate antiquarianism, his own belief that “the chief value of history consists in its proper employment for the purposes of art”; or, rather, he was too much thrilled



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