In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

365 I t was in the winter of 1892, when on a visit to French Canada, that I made up my mind I would write the volume which the public knows as The Seats of the Mighty, but I did not begin the composition until early in 1894. It was finished by the beginning of February, 1895, and began to appear in The Atlantic Monthly in March of that year. It was not my first attempt at historical fiction, because I had written The Trail of the Sword in the year 1893, but it was the first effort on an ambitious scale, and the writing of it was attended with as much searching of heart as enthusiasm. I had long been saturated by the early history of French Canada, as perhaps The Trail of the Sword bore witness, and particularly of the period of the Conquest, and I longed for a subject which would, in effect, compel me to write; for I have strong views upon this business of compulsion in the mind of the writer. Unless a thing has seized a man, has obsessed him, and he feels that it excludes all other temptations to his talent or his genius, his book will not convince. Before all else he must himself be overpowered by the insistence of his subject, then intoxicated with his idea, and, being still possessed, become master of his material while remaining the slave of his subject. I believe that every book which has taken hold of the public has represented a kind of self-hypnotism on the part of the writer. I am further convinced Appendix Gilbert Parker’s Introduction to the Imperial Edition of The Seats of the Mighty 366 that the book which absorbs the author, which possesses him as he writes it, has the effect of isolating him into an atmosphere which is not sleep, and which is not absolute wakefulness, but a place between the two, where the working world is indistinct and the mind is swept along a flood submerging the self-conscious but not drowning into unconsciousness. Such, at any rate, is my own experience. I am convinced that the books of mine which have had so many friends as this book, The Seats of the Mighty, has had in the English-speaking world were written in just such conditions of temperamental isolation or absorption. First the subject, which must of itself have driving power, then the main character , which becomes a law working out its own destiny; and the subject in my own work has always been translatable into a phrase. Nearly every one of my books has always been reducible to its title. For years I had wished to write an historical novel of the conquest of Canada or the settlement of the United Empire loyalists and the subsequent War of 1812, but the central idea and the central character had not come to me; and without both and the driving power of a big idea and of a big character, a book did not seem to me possible. The human thing with the grip of real life was necessary. At last, as pointed out in the prefatory note of the first edition, published in the spring of 1896 by Messrs. D. Appleton & Co., of New York, and Messrs. Methuen & Co., of London, I ran across a tiny little volume in the library of Mr. George M. Fairchild, Jr., of Quebec, called the Memoirs of Major Robert Stobo. It was published by John S. Davidson, of Market Street, Pittsburgh, with an introduction by an editor who signed himself “N.B.C.” The Memoirs proper contained about seventeen thousand words, the remaining three thousand words being made up of abstracts and appendices collected by the editor. The narrative was written in a very ornate and grandiloquent style, but the hero of the memoirs was so evidently a man of remarkable character, enterprise and adventure, 367 that I saw in the few scattered bones of the story which he unfolded the skeleton of an ample historical romance. There was necessary to offset this buoyant and courageous Scotsman, adventurous and experienced, a character of the race which captured him and held him in leash till just before the taking of Quebec. I therefore found in the character of Doltaire—which was the character of Voltaire spelled with a big D—purely a creature of the imagination, one who, as the son of a peasant woman and Louis XV, should be an effective...

pdf

Additional Information

ISBN
9781771120456
Related ISBN
9781771120449
MARC Record
OCLC
966771243
Pages
408
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.