A Growing Nation 1820-1865. Before 1800 American writers were not widely read. \ This began to change as American writers began to define the American voice. As America grew as a nation, people called for a national literature.
At 21 visited Europe—wrote accounts re: his travels. Loved the “Old World.”
“Rip” and “Legend” were published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon (Crayon was another comic voice.)
“Rip Van Winkle”
-Set in a rural town in New York.
-Rip escapes his abusive wife, and on his journey into the countryside, he falls asleep for 20 years.
-He awakens after the Revolutionary War, a “free” man in more ways than one.
-His awakening parallels America’s awakening as a new nation.
-He is a comic “counterhero,”anunambitious
do-nothing who makes success out of failure.
Consists of 5 novels. They tell story of frontiersman Natty Bumppo (Hawkeye) and his Indian friend Chingachgook.
Common plot elements: guiding women through wilderness, threat of Indian attack, Chingachgook and Natty’s prowess, treacherous characters, etc.