Rob Nixon, the Old White Trapper

Rob Nixon, the Old White Trapper

Rob Nixon, the Old White Trapper

Rob Nixon, the Old White Trapper

Excerpt

When Rob Nixon first appears on W. H. G. Kingston's romantic plains -- alone, unhorsed, beset by an enraged buffalo and a pack of ravenous wolves -- he resembles the aged frontiersman Natty Bumppo in James Fenimore Cooper's The Prairie. Kingston has at least one more thing in common with the earlier American adventure writer: neither had ever seen the prairies. The importance of Rob Nixon, then, is not "historical" in the sense of preserving authentic knowledge of the early plains, nor is it "literary" in the sense of achieving literary excellence or exerting a powerful influence on subsequent fiction. Rather, the book is important to literary history because of its time of publication and the literary approach to the prairies it typifies.

Published in 1865, Rob Nixon is the earliest known book of non-juvenile fiction to have a substantial part of its action set on the Canadian prairies. It was the forerunner of a host of books by British adventure writers exploiting the romantic appeal of the Northwest. Many of these writers, like R. M. Ballantyne, could use the setting more or less interchangeably with India, darkest Africa, the Orinoco, or the Australian outback, but their importance should not . . .

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