The Farm Novel in North America

The Farm Novel in North America

Genre and Nation in the United States, English Canada, and French Canada, 1845-1945

Florian Freitag


Camden House



Provides the first history of the North American farm novel, a genre which includes John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Sheila Watson's The Double Hook, and Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine.
From John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Martha Ostenso's Wild Geese to Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine, some of the most famous works of American, English Canadian, and French Canadian literature belong to the genre of the farm novel. In this volume, Florian Freitag provides the first history of the genre in North America from its beginnings in the middle of the nineteenth century to its apogee in French Canada around the middle of the twentieth. Through surveys and selected detailed analyses of a large number of farm novels written in French and English, Freitag examines how North American farm novels draw on the history of farming in nineteenth-century North America as well as on the national self-conceptions of the United States, English Canada, and French Canada, portraying farmers as national icons and the farm as a symbolic space of the American, English Canadian, and French Canadian nations. Turning away from traditional readings of farm novels within the frameworks of regionalism and pastoralism, Freitag takes a comparative look at a genre that helped to spatialize North American national dreams.

Florian Freitag is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Mainz, Germany.

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December 2013
372 pages
9x6 in
European Studies in North American Literature and Culture
ISBN: 9781571135377
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004020, LIT004080
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Table of Contents

Surveying the Fields
Early Sowings: St. John de Crèvecour's "History of Andrew, the Hebridean," Patrice Lacombe's La terre paternelle, and Susanna Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush
Laws of Nature: Frank Norris's The Octopus, Albert Laberge's La Scouine, and Frederick Philip Grove's Settlers of the Marsh
New World Demeters: Willa Cather's O Pioneers!, Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine, and Martha Ostenso's Wild Geese
Rich Harvests: Joseph Kirkland's Zury, the Meanest Man in Spring County, Claude-Henri Grignon's Un homme et son péché, and Frederick Philip Grove's Fruits of the Earth
Fields of Crisis: John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Félix-Antoine Savard's Menaud, maître-draveur, and Robert Stead's Grain
The Cycle of Seasons: Louis Bromfield's The Farm, Ringuet's Trente arpents, and Grace Campbell's The Higher Hill
Works Cited


[B]rings into sharp focus the significance of the farm novel as a genre which helped to both shape and give voice to the consciousness of the three national/cultural groups [American, English Canadian, French Canadian]. . . . [O]pen[s] vistas for further explorations . . . . Freitag brings back to critical awareness many completely forgotten novels . . . [that] beg to be reread today and reconsidered from the ecocritical perspective. POLISH JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES

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