The Yemassee

By William Gilmore Simms; Alexander Cowie | Go to book overview
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CRITICS may cavil and sophisticates may yawn, but the historical romance (in one form or another) goes on forever. In every generation there are thousands of readers who delight to lose themselves in a glamorous tale of the faraway and long ago. But not every generation produces writers capable of finding the formula for the magic of romance. The historical romance in English acknowledges only two masters, Scott and Cooper. In the next rank the highest honors would probably go, in America at least, to William Gilmore Simms, author of The Yemassee. Written almost precisely a hundred years ago, The Yemassee now wears its faults more conspicuously than it once did, but it retains much of that subtle spell which is the sine qua non of romance. Although it had many popular reprints, however, it is no longer easily accessible. Hence this volume, which is intended for the student and for the general reader. The introduction attempts to provide the reader with some idea of the range and variety of Simms's work as a whole. The text is that of the 1853 edition, in which Simms corrected a number of small errors, altered the paragraphing, and made extensive additions to his famous preface.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge my indebtedness to Professor Harry Hayden Clark, general editor of this series, who has been (as always) ready in fruitful suggestions. Professor Frank Edgar Farley has kindly provided me with useful bibliographical information regarding the American Indians. My wife, Elspeth Cowie, has rendered valuable assistance throughout the preparation of the volume.

A. C.



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