Washington Irving: Three Western Narratives

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Overview

America's first internationally acclaimed author, Washington Irving, was also one of the first to write about its then far-western frontier. After seventeen years in Europe, the famous author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” returned to America and undertook an extensive three-month journey through present-day Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Describing scenery and inhabitants with an eye to romantic sublimity and celebrating the frontiersman's “secret of personal freedom,” Irving published his account ...
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Overview

America's first internationally acclaimed author, Washington Irving, was also one of the first to write about its then far-western frontier. After seventeen years in Europe, the famous author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” returned to America and undertook an extensive three-month journey through present-day Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Describing scenery and inhabitants with an eye to romantic sublimity and celebrating the frontiersman's “secret of personal freedom,” Irving published his account of that journey in 1835 as A Tour on the Prairies, an early and distinctly American depiction of the young nation's borderland and its native inhabitants.

Irving followed up this eyewitness account with two works that chart the dramatic and tumultuous history of the early American fur trade, very much in the spirit of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales. Astoria (1836) recounts John Jacob Astor's attempt to establish a commercial empire in the Pacific Northwest. The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837) is a lively saga of exploration among the mountains, rivers, and deserts of the Far West. While working closely from original documents, Irving wrote also as a mythologist of the vast spaces traversed by “Sindbads of the wilderness.” In these three compelling narratives he opened up a crucial region of the American literary imagination influencing such authors as Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author's name immediately conjures visions of headless riders and long-sleeping hunters, but in his day Irving was a noted travel writer. This latest offering from the Library of America collects three of his book-length portraits of the American frontier: A Tour of the Prairie, Astoria, and The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, which date back to 1835, 1836, and 1837, respectively. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931082532
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 1/26/2004
  • Series: Library of America Series
  • Pages: 1024
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Washington Irving, one of the first American authors to earn his living from writing, was born in 1783 and died in 1859.

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Table of Contents

A Tour on the Prairies 1
Astoria: Or Anecdotes of an Enterprize Beyond the Rocky Mountains 163
The Adventures of Captain Bonneville 617
Chronology 959
Note on the Texts 984
Notes 988
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Northwest History

    Irving does an erudite job of describing historic Pacific Northwest culture within the narrow areas he bore witness. A good companion book to other in-depth studies and stories of early exploration in this region.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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