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The Development of the American Novel

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  • The most interesting study connected with the development of the American novel is the accompanying feature of the growth of the country itself. In a certain way the changes seem peculiar, but in another way they are exactly what we might be led to expect. In tracing the development from "Wieland," the first novel written in America, which imitated almost exactly the mystery novel of the "nightmare school," so popular in the mother country at that time, through "Bracebridge Hall," in which an American tells of travels and customs in England, to the realistic Sea Tales with such books as "The Pilot" or "Red Rover" for examples, on to the pioneer adventures, like "The Yemassee," then to the simple love stories, such as "A Modern Instance;" and through the novels which have no conclusion, we come at last to the novels of today with F. Marion Crawford's "Saracinesca" as an example of what is probably one of the most perfect novels yet written by an American pen, as well as one which ranks among the best in the world. Thus we see that the American novel has grown from an imitation of the mother country's ideas to strong, independent composition full of innate vigor, often instructive as well as entertaining, and characterized by beauty of expression; a creation, taken altogether, that holds its own with anything produced in the Old World.
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