Nonfiction > Carl Van Doren > The American Novel > Subject Index > Page 12
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD · SUBJECT INDEX

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


Page 12

to the Philadelphia of 1793, as he did in Arthur Mervyn, perhaps for some gain in perspective; but in both he wrote with an eye on the fact as nowhere else in his books. With unsparing, not to say sickening, veracity, he reproduced the physical horrors of the plague—its loathsome symptoms and its fearful stenches; he was even more veracious in his account of the mental and spiritual horrors which accompanied it: the superstitious dread and foolhardy courage which sprang in different people from the current ignorance with regard to infection; the pusillanimous flight of many who were deeply needed; the brutal callousness of certain wretches who stayed to nurse the sick and then neglected them; the general moral collapse. Less successful than these experiments was that in Edgar Huntly (1799), wherein he turned to the material which beyond any other was to be celebrated in American fiction for half a century: frontier adventure. Brown claimed for this book the merit “of calling forth the passions and engaging the sympathy of the reader by means hitherto unemployed by preceding authors. Puerile superstition and exploded manners, Gothic castles and chimeras, are the materials usually employed for this end. The incidents of Indian hostility, and the perils of the Western wilderness, are far more suitable; and for a native of America to overlook these would admit of no apology.” As far as his knowledge and his prepossessions allowed him, Brown succeeded in his experiment. But he knew little of the frontier, either its scenery or its customs, and no more of the Indians than he could have picked up from books or casual meetings in the towns. What he did was to substitute new devices for calling forth



CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD · SUBJECT INDEX
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors