BEEKMAN W. COTTRELL
AMERICA IS A COUNTRY which fosters legends and loves legendary people. This has been true for hundreds of years. No doubt the size and extent of the land have helped create these legends. The extremes of climates and topography, the heterogeneous population, the mixtures of language, the maze of cultures and customs--all have encouraged myth. And surely what others often term immaturity and naivete and what we Americans like to call youthful vitality and imagination have been factors.
The results of this American love of legend range from the myth of Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox to the half-fact of Johnny Appleseed. In between are Billy the Kid, Lotta Crabtree, Will Rogers, Carrie Nation, Sacagawea, Davy Crockett, Barbara Allen, W. C. Fields, Osceola, Tallulah Bankhead, and Li'l Abner.
In literature, America has given its heart--and a fierce desire to believe--to such figures as Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman. To them have been attributed stories, witticisms, jokes, mottoes, and philosophies beyond all power of probability. Yet something catches the public imagination in such figures and they become the fountains of wit and wisdom which we know.
The present century has seen at least two such striking literary-