Caroline M. Kirkland Criticism - Essay

John C. McCloskey (essay date 1956)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Back-Country Folkways in Mrs. Kirkland's A New Home—Who'll Follow?,” Michigan History, Vol. 40, No. 3, September, 1956, pp. 297-308.

[In the following essay, McCloskey examines Kirkland's depiction of western settlers in A New Home. Paying special attention to her realistic style and use of satire, McCloskey notes the manner in which Kirkland differed from other writers of the era who typically chose a more sentimental approach to their subject matter.]

Backwoods life in Michigan from 1835-1836 Mrs. Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland1 observed with an accuracy and a freshness which make her book of sketches A New...

(The entire section is 5036 words.)

John C. McCloskey (essay date 1958)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: ‘Land Speculation in Michigan in 1835-36 as Described in Mrs. Kirkland's A New Home—Who'll Follow?,” in Michigan History, Vol. 42, No. 1, March, 1958, pp. 26-34.

[In the following essay, McCloskey examines Kirkland's depiction of the Michigan land rush of the mid 1830s in A New Home.]

Mrs. Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland1 in her book of sketches, A New Home—Who'll Follow? Or, Glimpses of Western Life (1839),2 gave a contemporary, circumstantial account based on personal experience of the fever of land speculation in Michigan Territory in 1835-36.3

A woman of sharp observation, keen...

(The entire section is 3403 words.)

William S. Osborne (essay date 1972)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “‘Valuable Only for Its Truth’: An Appraisal” in Caroline M. Kirkland, Twayne, 1972, pp. 130-37.

[In the following essay, Osborne provides a general assessment of Kirkland's work. Praising her for the realism of A New Home, Osborne argues that her later work is a “disappointment” to modern readers, as it lacks much of the uninhibited honesty that made A New Home such a success.]

… My life has been one of much sorrow and it would be painful to me to have it dragged before the public. I would rather be known by my writings only—except to my friends—who can do as they like after my death—If I knew which of my...

(The entire section is 4115 words.)

Henry Golemba (essay date 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Caroline and Will,” Midwestern Miscellany, Vol. 3, October, 1974, pp. 6-10.

[In the following essay, Golemba explores in Kirkland's work what he defines as “the clash of wills” between men and women on the Western frontier.]

The particular bead I wish to draw is not on local color, American culture or universal issues of ontology, time or art. Instead I would like to uncover the woman behind the pen, to investigate the personality, problems, ambitions and frustrations of this, Michigan's first accomplished writer. I call this paper “Caroline and Will” and I mean “will” in a two-fold sense—literally as the name of her husband and also...

(The entire section is 2377 words.)

Robert Bray (essay date 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Art of Caroline Kirkland: The Structure of A New Home—Who'll Follow?,Midwestern Miscellany, Vol. 3, October, 1974, pp. 11-17.

[In the following essay, Bray presents a detailed analysis of the structure of A New Home, arguing that if the work is to be worthy of the importance “occasionally attributed to it, then the reasons for this importance ought to be specified as carefully as possible.”]

In the myriad game of literary status, at least as it is played with American literature, there is a certain ploy of categorization which results in a few books' being designated “minor classics.” Now the one thing that can surely be said...

(The entire section is 3681 words.)

Audrey Roberts (essay date 1983-85)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Caroline M. Kirkland: Additions to the Canon” in Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, Vol. 86, No. 3, 1983-85, pp. 338-46.

[In the following essay, Roberts discusses Kirkland's letters and the value they add to understanding her as an author and an individual.]

During the heyday of the sentimental scribblers Caroline Kirkland pioneered as a literary realist. Kirkland, eschewing tears, idle tears, recorded with humor and candor America's achievements and shortcomings in mid-nineteenth century.1 Now with the help of Kirkland's letters, several additions to her canon have come to light: a clever poem, “An Intercepted Letter to Dickens,” in...

(The entire section is 2874 words.)

Annette Kolodny (essay date 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Literary Legacy of Caroline Kirkland: Emigrants' Guide to a Failed Eden” in The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860, University of North Carolina Press, 1984, pp. 131-58.

[In the following essay, Kolodny argues that even though Kirkland's success was in large part due to the element of realism in her depiction of the West, her most immediate impact on literature was the fact that her work made the West “available for literary treatment by women.”]

Among those whom Margaret Fuller read in order to prepare herself for her summer in Illinois and Wisconsin was Caroline Kirkland. Like Fuller, Caroline Kirkland...

(The entire section is 13186 words.)

David Leverenz (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Two Genteel Women Look at Men: Sarah Hale and Caroline Kirkland” in Manhood and the American Renaissance, Cornell University Press, 1989, pp. 135-70.

[In the following excerpt, Leverenz explores the manner in which Kirkland utilized class conflict to generate humor in A New Home. Leverenz argues that “Kirkland's voice and wit depend on a clash between traditional pastoral and antipastoral.”]

… Dress constitutes no small part of the social comedy in A New Home—Who'll Follow? (1839), Caroline Kirkland's witty, often acerbic account of life on the Michigan frontier in the 1830s. Her opening chapter, which she intends as a parable for all...

(The entire section is 5929 words.)

Kelli A. Larson (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Kirkland's Myth of the American Eve: Re-Visioning the Frontier Experience,” Midwestern Miscellany, Vol. 20, 1992, pp. 9-14.

[In the following essay, Larson discusses Kirkland's subversion of the romantic myth of western settlement and her exploration of the significant role women played in establishing homes in the wilderness.]

Though Caroline Kirkland's early Western sketches charted the course for American literary realism, she has only recently begun to attract the close critical scrutiny she deserves as an artistic innovator in her own right rather than as merely the background from which major figures of the movement emerged. Familiar with...

(The entire section is 1928 words.)

Caroline Gebhard (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Caroline M. Kirkland's Satire of Frontier Democracy in A New Home—Who'll Follow?” in Women, America, and Movement: Narratives of Relocation, edited by Susan L. Roberson, University of Missouri Press, 1998, pp. 157-75.

[In the following essay, Gebhard discusses Kirkland's use of humor and the manner in which it “relates both to the author's own life and to the book's ‘realism' of social type.”]

In her groundbreaking work on diaries of frontier women, Lillian Schlissel argued for the need to read “the obscured patterns” in such women's writing, yet ironically only recently have critics begun to value the complex literary form of Caroline...

(The entire section is 8391 words.)