Article

Crèvecoeur's <i>Letters from an American Farmer</i>

David J. Carlson

in The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195187274
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195187274.013.0025

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer

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The basis of this article is the letters from an American farmer. First published in London in 1782, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer represents something of an odd case in the canon of early American writing. A work that appears to straddle the line between fiction and non fiction, written by a transplanted Frenchman of ambiguous political leanings, Letters has been variously ignored, challenged, and embraced as a vital cornerstone of the national literature of the United States. DH Lawrence's archetypal reading of Farmer James is perhaps best appreciated for its canny anticipation of the political considerations that would drive the renaissance of Crèvecoeur's literary reputation during the middle decades of the century. The emergence of American studies as a field during the 1940s and 1950s provided the vital context in which Letters was finally established as a classic formulation of the ideal of the ethnic melting pot.

Keywords: letters; political leanings; renaissance; J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur; American writing

Article.  10841 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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