Letters from an American Farmer and Other Essays

Hardcover (Print)
Rent
Rent from BN.com
$8.71
(Save 75%)
Est. Return Date: 10/28/2014
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$25.20
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $25.19
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 28%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $25.19   
  • New (12) from $25.19   
  • Used (1) from $25.19   

Overview

Letters from an American Farmer was published in London in 1782, just as the idea of an “American” was becoming a reality. Those epistolary essays introduced the European public to America’s landscape and customs and have since served as the iconic description of a then-new people. Dennis D. Moore’s convenient, up-to-date reader’s edition situates those twelve pieces from the 1782 Letters in the context of thirteen other essays representative of Crèvecoeur’s writings in English.

The “American Farmer” of the title is Crèvecoeur’s fictional persona Farmer James, a bumpkin from rural Pennsylvania. In his Introduction to this edition, Moore places this self-effacing pose in perspective and charts Crèvecoeur’s enterprising approach to self-promotion, which involved repackaging and adapting his writings for French and English audiences.

Born in Normandy, Crèvecoeur came to New York in the 1750s by way of England and then Canada, traveled throughout the colonies as a surveyor and trader, and was naturalized in 1765. The pieces he included in the 1782 Letters map a shift from hopefulness to disillusionment: its opening selections offer America as a utopian haven from European restrictions on personal liberty and material advancement but give way to portrayals of a land plagued by the horrors of slavery, the threat of Indian raids, and revolutionary unrest. This new edition opens up a broader perspective on this artful, ambitious writer and cosmopolitan thinker who coined America’s most enduring metaphor: a place where “individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men.”

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Ralph Bauer
Dennis Moore's new edition of the writings of J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur makes available, for the first time to the wider public, both canonical and less well-known archival materials by this classic and foundational early American author. The result is a Crèvecoeur who is notable less for his provincial agrarianism and more for a cosmopolitanism that is deeply engaged with the global implications of the American hemisphere in world history and literature. Moore's introduction and edition are both scholastically impeccable and immensely readable, making this book useful for teaching and invaluable to scholarship.
Duncan Faherty
Moore's edition supplants earlier versions of this foundational early American text. Moore's graceful introduction deftly weaves together both traditional and emergent interpretations of Crèvecoeur, and his selection of an additional 13 essays further serves to open up new interpretive horizons and critical possibilities. Scholars of early American culture will find much to admire in this thought-provoking edition, and--without question--their students will find it an engaging and invaluable resource.
Cristobal Silva
With the help of Moore's clear, insightful introduction and the inclusion of 13 additional letters, we find in this new edition a Crèvecoeur who is deeply enmeshed in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, and who is self-conscious about his literary aspirations; we find a Farmer James whose voice becomes more distinctive and more compelling alongside a larger set of narrators; and we find a text that is far more ambitious, more poignant, and more complex than we have been reading to date. This edition will quickly become a standard for both students and scholars of early America.
New Republic - Alan Taylor
No one has better stated what Americans have most wanted to believe about themselves and their society. Crèvecoeur seems especially persuasive because he claimed to be a common American farmer--a pose rendered plausible by his richly detailed and affectionate descriptions of nature and rural work. But Crèvecoeur was no mere celebrator of American materialism. He understood that abundance could corrupt as well as liberate. Nor was he any champion of rugged individualism. He regarded social bonds as essential to sustained prosperity in the new land... No champion of competitive individualism, Crèvecoeur regarded unity, mutuality, sociability, and equality as essential to healthy communities and their families... Crèvecoeur concluded that American abundance did not automatically lead to American freedom and equality... Most readers know Crèvecoeur only from his famous third letter with its sunny optimism. That selective reading creates a misleading impression of his entire work, which ripens into a long expose of the American Revolution as brutal, divisive, and hypocritical. Often misread as a champion of American independence and democracy, Crèvecoeur instead mourned the demise of British America. In its full arc, Letters reveals a descent into political madness: it better resembles Heart of Darkness than Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
Choice - G. D. Macdonald
Moore has compiled a more complete, authoritative collection of the works of French-born, naturalized American writer J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur than has heretofore been available...This collection offers the 12 letters originally included in the 1782 and 1783 London editions of Letters from an American Farmer, five of Crèvecoeur's essays that were never published until1995, and eight other short works. Moore provides a wide-ranging introduction in which he describes in broad strokes the ways in which the newly appended essays may affect an understanding of Crèvecoeur and his literary goals. Overall, the additional essays provide an illuminating context in which to read Crèvecoeur's major work.
Choice - G. D. MacDonald
Moore has compiled a more complete, authoritative collection of the works of French-born, naturalized American writer J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur than has heretofore been available...This collection offers the 12 letters originally included in the 1782 and 1783 London editions of Letters from an American Farmer, five of Crèvecoeur's essays that were never published until1995, and eight other short works. Moore provides a wide-ranging introduction in which he describes in broad strokes the ways in which the newly appended essays may affect an understanding of Crèvecoeur and his literary goals. Overall, the additional essays provide an illuminating context in which to read Crèvecoeur's major work.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674051812
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/14/2013
  • Series: John Harvard Library Series , #49
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,043,683
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Dennis D. Moore is University Distinguished Teaching Professor in the English Department at Florida State University.

Dennis D. Moore is University Distinguished Teaching Professor in the English Department at Florida State University.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

From Letter Three: What is an American?



I wish I could be acquainted with the feelings and thoughts which must agitate the heart and present themselves to the mind of an enlightened Englishman when he first lands on this continent. He must greatly rejoice that he lived at a time to see this fair country discovered and settled; he must necessarily feel a share of national pride when he views the chain of settlements which embellish these extended shores. When he says to himself, “This is the work of my countrymen, who, when convulsed by factions, afflicted by a variety of miseries and wants, restless and impatient, took refuge here. They brought along with them their national genius, to which they principally owe what liberty they enjoy and what substance they possess.” Here he sees the industry of his native country displayed in a new manner and traces in their works the embryos of all the arts, sciences, and ingenuity which flourish in Europe. Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, an immense country filled with decent houses, good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges where, a hundred years ago, all was wild, woody and uncultivated! What a train of pleasing ideas this fair spectacle must suggest; it is a prospect which must inspire a good citizen with the most heartfelt pleasure. The difficulty consists in the manner of viewing so extensive a scene. He is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess everything and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very visible one, no great manufactures employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. We are a people of cultivators scattered over an immense territory, communicating with each other by means of good roads and navigable rivers, united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We are all animated with the spirit of an industry which is unfettered and unrestrained, because each person works for himself. If he travels through our rural districts, he views not the hostile castle and the haughty mansion, contrasted with the clay-built hut and miserable cabin, where cattle and men help to keep each other warm and dwell in meanness, smoke, and indigence. A pleasing uniformity of decent competence appears throughout our habitations. The meanest of our log houses is a dry and comfortable habitation. Lawyer or merchant are the fairest titles our towns afford; that of a farmer is the only appellation of the rural inhabitants of our country. It must take some time ’ere he can reconcile himself to our dictionary, which is but short in words of dignity and names of honour. There, on a Sunday, he sees a congregation of respectable farmers and their wives, all clad in neat homespun, well mounted or riding in their own humble wagons. There is not among them an esquire, saving the unlettered magistrate. There he sees a parson as simple as his flock, a farmer who does not riot on the labour of others. We have no princes for whom we toil, starve, and bleed; we are the most perfect society now existing in the world. Here man is free as he ought to be, nor is this pleasing equality so transitory as many others are. Many ages will not see the shores of our great lakes replenished with inland nations, nor the unknown bounds of North America entirely peopled. Who can tell how far it extends? Who can tell the millions of men whom it will feed and contain? For no European foot has as yet travelled half the extent of this mighty continent.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: Moving Beyond "The Farmer of Feelings" ix

A Note on Crèvecoeur's Text and on Emendations xxxiii

Letter I Introductory Letter 3

Letter II Thoughts, Feelings and Pleasures of an American Farmer 14

Letter III What Is an American? 28

Letter IV Description of the Island of Nantucket, with the Manners, Customs, Policy and Trade of the Inhabitants 66

Letter V Customary Education and Employment of the Inhabitants of Nantucket 85

Letter VI Description of the Island of Martha's Vineyard and of the Whale-Fishery 90

Letter VII Manners and Customs at Nantucket 99

Letter VIII Peculiar Customs at Nantucket 109

Letter IX Description of Charles-Town; Thoughts on Slavery; on Physical Evil; a Melancholy Scene 119

Letter X On Snakes; and on the Humming-Bird 131

Letter XI From Mr. Iw-n-Al-z, a Russian Gentleman; Describing the Visit He Paid at My Request to Mr. John Bertram, the Celebrated Pennsylvanian Botanist 137

Letter XII Distresses of a Frontier Man 149

A Happy Family Disunited by the Spirit of Civil War 174

Rock of Lisbon 192

Sketches of Jamaica and Bermudas and Other Subjects 206

The Commissioners 215

Ingratitude Rewarded 231

Susquehannah 240

The Grotto 285

Hospitals 294

A Sketch of the Contrast between the Spanish and the English Colonies 302

A Snow-Storm as It Affects the American Farmer 310

The Frontier Woman 322

History of Mrs. B. 333

The Man of Sorrow 343

Suggestions for Further Reading 357

Acknowledgments 365

Index 367

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)