Minor Knickerbockers: Representative Selections, with Introduction, Bibliography, and Notes

Minor Knickerbockers: Representative Selections, with Introduction, Bibliography, and Notes

Minor Knickerbockers: Representative Selections, with Introduction, Bibliography, and Notes

Minor Knickerbockers: Representative Selections, with Introduction, Bibliography, and Notes

Excerpt

For a period of about thirty years -- approximately from 1807 to 1837 -- certain conditions and personalities gave rise to a distinctive New York City literature. This literature, loosely termed "Knickerbocker," was at once local and national: local in that it reflected the tastes, interests, and preoccupations of a relatively small community; national, in that its place of origin happened to be the commercial and literary center of the United States. The writers and publishers of New York provided the larger part of the nation's literary fare; the nation, in turn, looked to these writers and publishers for its provision, and honored them for supplying the sustenance, such as it was. Toward the end of the era, the literature became more selfconsciously national in its appeal (as well as its authorship), and lost something of its distinctive quality.

The term Knickerbocker, at first applied to Washington Irving and his immediate coterie in the days following the publication of Knickerbocker's History of New York, was soon extended to include almost anyone or anything connected with New York, especially those persons and those things associated with the Dutch tradition of the city. About the middle of the nineteenth century, in accounts of Irving, Cooper, Bryant, and their New York contemporaries, various critics began to speak of a "Knickerbocker School" of writers and of a "Knickerbocker Literature." It is in this rather broad sense -- as applied to a distinctive New York literature produced mainly in the first four decades of the past century -- that the term Knickerbocker is used in the present volume.

The major figures of the Knickerbocker group are discussed and represented in separate volumes in this series: Irving . . .

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