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Appendix: Prefaces The Song of Hugh Glass, 1915 The following narrative is based upon an episode taken from that much neglected portion of our history, the era of the American Fur Trade. My interest in that period may be said to have begun at the age of six when, clinging to the forefinger of my father, I discovered the Missouri River from a bluff top at Kansas City. It was flood time, and the impression I received was deep and lasting. Even now I cannot think of that stream without a thrill of awe and something of the reverence one feels for mighty things. It was for me that the sea must have been to the Greek boys of antiquity . And as those ancient boys must have been eager to hear of perils nobly encountered on the deep and in the lands adjacent, so was I eager to learn of the heroes who had travelled my river as an imperial road. Nor was I disappointed in what I learned of them; for they seemed to me in every way equal to the heroes of old. I came to think of them with a sense of personal ownership, for any one of many of them might have been my grandfather—and so a little of their purple fell on me. As I grew older and came to possess more of my inheritance, I began to see that what had enthralled me was, in fact, of the stuff of sages, a genuine epic cycle in the rough. Furthermore, I realized that this raw material had been undergoing a process of digestion in my consciousness, corresponding in a way to the process of infinite repetition and fond elaboration which, as certain scholars tell us, foreran the heroic narratives of old time. I decided that some day I would begin to tell these hero tales in verse; and in 1908, as a preparation for what I had in mind, I descended the Missouri in an open boat, and also ascended the Yellowstone for a considerable distance. On the upper river the country was practically unchanged; and for one familiar with what had taken place there, it was no difficult feat of the imagination to revive the details of that time—the men, the trails, the boats, the trading posts where veritable satraps once ruled under the sway of the American Fur Company. The Hugh Glass episode is to be found in Chittenden’s “History of the American Fur Trade” where it is quoted from its three printed sources: the Missouri Intelligencer, Sage’s “Scenes in the Rocky Mountains,” and Cooke’s “Scenes in the United States Army.” The present narrative begins after that military fiasco known as the Leavenworth Campaign against the Aricaras, which took place at the mouth of the Grand River in what is now South Dakota. J.G.N. 586 appendix The Song of Three Friends, 1919 The following narrative, though complete in itself, is designed to be the first piece in a cycle of poems dealing with the fur trade period of the Trans-Missouri region. “The Song of Hugh Glass,” which was published in the fall of 1915, is the second in the series. The four decades during which the fur trade flourished west of the Missouri River many be regarded as a typical heroic period, differing in no essential from the many other great heroic periods that have made glorious the story of the Aryan migration. Jane Harrison says that heroic characters do not arise from any peculiarity of race or even of geographical surroundings; but that, given certain social conditions, they may and do appear anywhere and at any time. The heroic spirit, as seen in heroic poetry, we are told, is the outcome of a society cut loose from its roots, of a time of migrations , of the shifting of populations. Such conditions are to be found during the time of the Spanish conquests of Central and South America; and they are to be found also in those wonderful years of our own West, when wandering bands of trappers were exploring the rivers and the mountains and the plains and the deserts from the British possessions to Mexico, and from the Missouri to the Pacific. As a result of our individualistic tendencies, our numerous jostling nationalities, and our materialistic temper, we Americans are prone to regard the Past as being separated from us as by an insurmountable wall. We lack the sense of racial continuity . For...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781496207388
Print ISBN
9781496206374
MARC Record
OCLC
1039702821
Pages
726
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-13
Language
English
Open Access
N
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