The literary criticism of William Howard Gardiner

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lee W. Kinard (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Donald Darnell

Abstract: William Howard Gardiner (1796-1882) wrote the first critical notice of an American novel to appear in the North American Review (July 1822). This review of James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy, A Tale of the Neutral Ground, includes a number of ideas and theories which comprise a major statement about the modern American historical romance. At the conclusion of the review Gardiner named Cooper America's first distinguished novel writer. With a view toward isolating Gardiner's critical theories, this study unites his reviews of Cooper, James McHenry (1785-1845), and William Hickling Prescott (1796-1859), all of which appeared in the North American Review. Since many of Gardiner's critical remarks, particularly those about Cooper, are as valid in the twentieth century as they were in the nineteenth, this discussion will provide an analysis of the influences that shaped his conception first of America, and then of the kind of fiction he wanted writers to develop during the second decade of the nineteenth century. This analysis of Gardiner's literary criticism will disclose that his ideas about the modern American historical romance found their way into the mainstream of American literature and contributed to the development of many of the major American fictional characters; therefore indicating that William Howard Gardiner exerted a major influence on the birth, direction and promotion of American literature.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1976
Gardiner, William Howard, $d 1797-1882

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