Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Letters from an American Farmer by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur


Letters from an American Farmer by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur

'to the European, the American is first and foremost a dollar-fiend. We tend to forget the emotional heritage of Hector St John de Crevecoeur' When D.H. Lawrence made this statement in his Studies in Classic American Literature, he was thinking of the Letters from an American Farmer. First published in England in 1782, the Letters came at a timely moment as attention was focused on America in the closing year of the Revolutionary War of Independence. Crevecoeur's famous question 'What, then, is the American, this new man?' was a matter of great interest, as it became evident that America, that new nation, was taking shape before the eyes of the world. Some of American literature's most pressing and recurrent concerns are adumbrated in the substance and style of the Letters: in addition to the question of American identity, they celebrate the largeness and fertility of the land, personal determination, and freedom from institutional oppression. Darker and more symbolic elements complicate the initially sunny picture, however: the issue of slavery is raised in a particularly disturbing episode, and the final Letter, 'Distresses of a Frontier Man,' dramatizes the disintegration of the rational enlightened society of agrarian America into a nightmare of confusion, incomprehension and premonitions of unspeakable evil. Written by an emigrant French aristocrat turned farmer, the Letters from an American Farmer has a good claim to be regarded as the first work of American literature, at once intensely interesting in its own right, and casting a long shadow of influence on both subsequent American writers and European travel accounts of the moral, spiritual and material topography of the new nation. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


if no masterpiece, the Letters are full of interest and charm, and are thoroughly welcome in this new edition * Times Literary Supplement *

About the Author

Susan Manning is University Lecturer in English and Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. She edited Washington Irving's The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent and Scott's Quentin Durward - both in World's Classics.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

23rd April 2009


J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur

More books by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
Author 'Like for Like'


Oxford University Press


288 pages


Diaries, letters & journals
History of the Americas



At Lovereading there are fabulous books available in every genre, with great reviews to help you pick the right book for you.

Teresa O'Halloran

The books for review are always great reads, brilliantly written, and introduces me to a huge variety of, established and new, authors.

Lesley Hart

I recommend Lovereading because you get honest reviews on a whole range of genres-there's something for everyone. It's the only site I need.

Sian Spinney

I 'Lovereading' because it lets me see what new books are around with a detailed synopsis and readers' reviews.

Judith Sharp

Lovereading is pitched at just the right level for all the various types of people who enjoy reading in its many forms.

Pam Woodburn

Lovereading are lovely people who send me lovely books. What's not to love?

Gavin Dimmock

The best new books on the market, reviewed honestly, to give your readers the best choices.

Julie Cook

As for why I'd recommend Lovereading, it's simple - it's a great place to get information and reviews about new books!

Margaret Freeman