The Canoe and the Saddle: A Critical Edition

The Canoe and the Saddle: A Critical Edition

The Canoe and the Saddle: A Critical Edition

The Canoe and the Saddle: A Critical Edition

Synopsis

In 1853, with money in his pocket and elegant clothes in his saddlebags, a twenty-four-year-old New Englander of aristocratic Yankee stock toured the territories of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The Canoe and the Saddle recounts Theodore Winthrop's Northwest tour. A novelized memoir of his travels, it became a bestseller when it was published shortly after the author's untimely death in the Civil War.

This critical edition of Winthrop's work, the first in over half a century, offers readers the original text with a narrative overview of the nature and culture of the Pacific Northwest and reflections on the ecological and racial turmoil that gripped the region at the time. It also provides a fresh perspective on the aesthetic, historical, cultural, anthropological, social, and environmental contexts in which Winthrop wrote his sometimes disturbing, sometimes enlightening, and always riveting account. Whether offering portraits of Native American culture-in particular, commenting on the Chinook Jargon-making keen and often prescient observations on nature, or deploying transcendental, animist, or Hudson River School aesthetics (likely learned from his friend Frederick Church), Winthrop develops a clear and compelling picture of a time and place still resonant and relevant today.

Excerpt

In 1853, carrying money in his pocket and elegant attire in his saddlebags, a twenty-four-year-old New Englander named Theodore Winthrop toured the territories of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia after his job as a clerk in the Panama jungle proved too taxing for his delicate health. His tour of the Northwest yielded two adventure books: a novel, John Brent, and a nonfiction travel account, The Canoe and the Saddle. Both books appeared posthumously in the 1860s and blazed through many printings. in 1890, the town of Winthrop in Washington’s North Cascades would be named for him, as would the Winthrop Glacier on Mount Rainier that he described so vividly.

The Washington Territory, where he spent most time during his six-month tour of the Pacific Northwest, was a place of ecological and racial turmoil. Indians on both sides of the Cascades were dying from diseases, bullets, and drink; their economies had been transformed by white contact and their ancestral lands usurped and . . .

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