"the Great American Novel" 1852

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sat May 24 14:55:00 UTC 2014

Maybe so, Jon, to some extent. I will merely note that it is in quotes and capitals. And that the 1868 nation article that further popularized the phrase was written by someone who was in Europe at the time Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in an 1852 edition as Uncle Tom's cabin, the great American Novel....(London: Vickers). And that the Nation author did select, as the closest candidate, well, Uncle Tom's Cabin.


Jonathan Lighter wrote:

Good find, but it seems to mean something quite different from later usage.

_UTC_ in 1852 is "the American novel of stature that you've probably heard

It isn't "the greatest, most all-encompassing novel of American life

Which is how I interpret the lexicalized phrase.


On Sat, May 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> Lawrence Buell, The Dream of the Great American Novel (Harvard UP 2014)
> 23,=
>  471 traces the phrase to 1866.
> Nov. 18, 1852, Pennsylvania Freeman [Phil.] v.IX iss. 47 page 187 col. 2,
> [=
> America's Hist. N.] Foreign Correspondence of the Pa. Freeman,
> G=F6ttingen,=
>  10th mo. 17, 1852
> ....In England...."Uncle Tom's Cabin"....At the bookstore you see large
> pla=
> cards announcing "the Great American Novel," as it is called....
> Stephen Goranson
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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