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Additional info for American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne
The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish (1829), a brutal tale of frontier struggles between vengeful puritans and Indians, was succeeded by the ethereal, highly glamorised adventures of The Water-Witch (1830). Susan Fenimore Cooper has suggested that Cooper got the idea of writing a novel of the sea from Sir Walter Scott's The Pirate, which had been recently published; but the influences on Cooper were more extensive, and it must be doubted if Cooper would have written this or any other piratical romance if it had not been for the influence ofByron's The Corsair.
Language could be symbolically true and factually false simultaneously. Indeed to lie was scarcely a concept, since even the most preposterous of allegations might be nothing more than a pious celebration of the frontier spirit. Even the biggest liar might seem strangely sincere if you travelled with him to his own visionary Shangri-La. The man who seemed above all to epitomise the spirit of the times - and who was certainly a liar on the grandest scale - was the showman ex-newspaperman P. T. Barnum.
In American writing such limitations are effectively removed. In the Transcendentalist celebration of the divine man the way was opened towards the development of an unlimited human potential, while in Jacksonian democracy the excessive hero, instead of standing against the crowd, would most likely be carried along on their shoulders. So it would seem that the excessive hero can be taken to express everything that is present in American society, instead of everything that is absent. And yet there is a social critique in the American writers, even if it is often somewhat obliquely expressed.