FRANCIS PARKMAN by Howard Doughty


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Howard Doughty's well-ordered and well-taken critical study is essentially a resuscitative one, since its subject, Francis Parkman, probably our greatest stylist-historian of the North American Indian and the early West, has in the last forty years fallen into a state of curious neglect. Fortunately, author Doughty has now set things right: his is a deft in-depth reappreciation and evaluation of the man who penned The Oregon Trail and the massive France and England in the New World. It is also a perceptive portrait of Parkman himself, of sickly youth haunted by lure of the backwoods, of Harvard student days and New Hampshire explorations, of a deeply impressive European odyssey and finally a rugged manhood amidst the Ogillalah band of Sioux. Doughty has wisely let excerpts from the journals, diaries and letters accent the tale; he has depicted persuasively the New England literary world, the evolving democratic ethos of Melville, Hawthorne and Whitman, and shown Parkman's relationship to it; lastly he has illuminated the muted love affairs, the friendship with Quincy Shaw and the nervous exhaustion which ultimately affected Parkman's eyesight and made his creative work such an heroic struggle. And of the latter Doughty offers a textual analysis culturally referrent and socially precise. A valuable job.

Publisher: Macmillan