American independence was inevitable by 1780, but British writers spent the several decades following the American Revolution transforming their former colonists into something other than estranged British subjects. Christopher Flynn's engaging and timely book systematically examines for the first time the ways in which British writers depicted America and Americans in the decades immediately following the revolutionary war. Flynn documents the evolution of what he regards as an essentially anthropological, if also in some ways familial, interest in the former colonies and their citizens on the part of British writers. Whether Americans are idealized as the embodiments of sincerity and virtue or anathematized as intolerable and ungrateful louts, Flynn argues that the intervals between the acts of observing and writing, and between writing and reading, have the effect of distancing Britain and America temporally as well as geographically. Flynn examines a range of canonical and noncanonical works-sentimental novels of the 1780s and 1790s, prose and poetry by Wollstonecraft, Blake, Coleridge, and Wordsworth; and novels and travel accounts by Smollett, Lennox, Frances Trollope, and Basil Hall. Together, they offer a complex and revealing portrait of Americans as a breed apart, which still resonates today.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: America and the question of time; English novels on the American Revolution; English reforms in American settings: Utopian scenes and the idea of America; Savagery and civility: states of nature and the quest for natural man; A breed apart: the traveler as ethnographer; Conclusion; Bibliographer; Index.
Christopher Flynn is an assistant professor of English literature at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, USA.
'Original and theoretically sophisticated...Christopher Flynn's engaging and timely book is an important contribution to scholarship on Anglo-American literary relations in the Colonial and post-Colonial periods.' Stephen Behrendt, University of Nebraska, USA 'Christopher Flynn's Americans in British Literature, 1770-1832: A Breed Apart is a powerful discussion of complex texts. It is most unusual to find Hall and Trollope placed so confidently in so rich a literary, historical, philosophical and political context...' Studies in Travel Writing 'Flynn's unique and timely study gives a history to seemingly timeless stereotypes and helps us to understand their purpose and origin.' Zeitschrift fÃ¼r Anglistik und Amerikanistik 'Americans in British Literature is very much worth the read for anyone interested in British Romanticism or the long-eighteenth-century Atlantic World more broadly. Flynn’s concise and compelling study thankfully fills a gap in scholarship on the relationship between Britain and early America.' BARS Bulletin