By Sacvan Bercovitch
The narratives during this quantity make for a four-fold point of view on literature: social, cultural, highbrow, and aesthetic; they represent a simple reassessment of yank prose-writing among 1820 and 1865. those narratives position the yankee literature in a global context, whereas by no means wasting sight of its targeted American features, no matter if colonial, provincial, or nationwide. jointly, they provide a compelling and entire revision of the literary significance of early American background and the old price of early American literature.
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Additional resources for The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 2: Prose Writing, 1820-1865
In the United States, Van Winkle produced the same number of editions between 1819 and 1826. In the next sixteen years there were nine more American reprints, and since he was living in England, Irving was able to reap returns from both American and British sales. He had indeed found "solid credit with the public," and he rapidly sought additional returns. Bracebridge Hall, also attributed to Geoffrey Crayon, appeared in 1822. Although it did not achieve the huge popularity of The Sketch Book, of which it was an obvious imitation, it came close, and Murray paid 1,200 guineas for the right to publish it in England.
The Prairie would sell steadily over time, but by the beginning of 1828, his American publisher, Carey and Lee, had not yet completely sold their first edition of 5,000 copies. Three more adventure stories followed, American books written in Europe: The Red Rover (1827), another sea tale, which sold 6,500 copies in America; The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish (1829), set in seventeenth-century New England at the time of King Phillip's War; and The Water-Witch (1829), a nautical romance set in New York Bay in the early eighteenth century.
In 1824 Irving issued his last effort to work the vein of The Sketch Book — Tales of a Traveller, by Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. — but here there were important differences. The influence of German gothic fiction, to which Scott had introduced Irving, was far more overt, and unlike The Sketch Book and Bracebridge Hall, Tales of a Traveller consisted entirely of short stories — works of fiction, generally considered the lowest of current literary modes. Irving apparently knew that he was taking a risk; many of the Tales deal quite selfconsciously with the fictionality of fiction, and a quarter of the book, "Buckthorne and His Friends," takes the insubstantiality of the literary life as its subject.