The Yemassee

By William Gilmore Simms; Alexander Cowie | Go to book overview
Save to active project


AFTER Walter Scott inaugurated his brilliant series of Waverley novels in 1814, it was only a matter of time until American novelists should begin to capitalize the rich resources of history, legend, and romantic scenery in the new world. Native writers had already imitated the sentimental, Gothic, and satirical novels of eighteenth-century British writers. But for a number of reasons (among them the Puritan prejudice against art divorced from ethics) their success had been only moderate. When Cooper rose meteorically to fame in 1821 by writing The Spy, however, it was instantly perceived that the historical romance was a universally acceptable type of fiction: it was full enough of fast adventure to entertain the reader and sufficiently wholesome in tone to disarm moral critics who had long looked askance at the novel. The Spy was a prodigious success both at home and abroad, and it did much to dispel that feeling of inferiority with respect to the arts which had lingered in America even after two victorious wars with the British. Immediately after the appearance of the "American Scott," there arose a school of writers of the historical romance among them Neal, Paulding, and Sedgwick —but none of his followers equaled Cooper, who for many years was by far the leading American novelist. Inevitably there came a reaction, however, and by the end of a decade Cooper himself had begun to feel the paucity of native materials for romance. 1. By 1833 the first great wave of the historical romance had pretty well run its course. 2. But it was not long before a new writer appeared who revivified the genre in the 1830's and who achieved a celebrity only little less than that of Cooper. That writer was William

G. Harrison Orians, " The Romance Ferment after Waverley,"American Literature, III, 425-26 ( January, 1932). It should be recalled, of course, that at least two of Cooper best romances, The Pathfinder ( 1840) and The Deerslayer ( 1841), remained to be written. Among American writers of the historical romance whose first work appeared later than that of Simms, probably the most important was J. E. Cooke, author of The Virginia Comedians ( 1854).
Orians, loc. cit., p. 431.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Yemassee


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 406

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?