Plotting the Golden West: American Literature and the Rhetoric of the California Trail

Plotting the Golden West: American Literature and the Rhetoric of the California Trail

by Stephen Fender


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This book focuses on the experience of the Californian Gold Rush of 1849-1850, not in terms of what happened (a subject much covered by historians) but in terms of how people of various levels of sophistication wrote about it. Drawing on a variety of sources - diaries, journals, letters, and contemporary journalism - Dr Fender explores how both amateur and professional writers attempted to come to terms with the physical wilderness of the transcontinental landscape and the social wilderness of early California. Dr Fender has produced an intriguing and highly readable book, which should prove fascinating not only to a wide range of students in the field of American studies but also to non-specialists who are interested in nineteenth-century American literary and cultural history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521135719
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 02/25/2010
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The West and the man of letters: confidence and anxiety; 2. Fremont and the humble bee; 3. The forty-niners: the stylistic pathology of the Overland Trail; 4. The unofficial Gold Rush; 5. The journalists' California; 6. Mark Twain's West: the stillbirth of satire; 7. The perennial critique and the poem of fact; Notes to the text; List of primary sources treated at length; An essay on further reading; Index.

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