John Richardson Criticism - Essay

John Richardson (essay date 1851)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Wacousta; or, The Prophecy: An Indian Tale, Robert M. De Witt, Publisher, 1851, pp. iii-viii.

[In the following introduction to the revised edition of his novel, Richardson comments on the sources for Wacousta and answers charges of improbability and geographical error.]

This chapter, written eighteen years subsequent to the original publication of Wacousta in London, will be found unavoidably replete with egotism. By none will it be more readily pronounced such than by those who are most open to the charge themselves. Without its exercise, however, the object of this introduction would not be gained.


(The entire section is 2682 words.)

Alexander Clark Casselman (essay date 1902)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to Richardson's War of 1812: With Notes and a Life of the Author, Historical Publishing Co., 1902, pp. xi-xlv.

[Casselman was highly regarded for his extensive studies of Richardson's works. In the following excerpt from his authoritative introduction to the War of 1812, he provides a detailed and well-documented account of the Canadian author's life and writings.]

On the Canadian side of the Niagara river, just where its foaming and turbulent waters issue from the narrow, rocky gorge, stands the straggling village of Queenston. The place at the present time is of very little importance except as a terminal port for a magnificent fleet of...

(The entire section is 13764 words.)

Ida Burwash (essay date 1912)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Young Volunteer of 1812: A Sketch of Major John Richardson, One of the Earliest Canadian Novelists," Canadian Magazine, Vol. 34, No. 3, July, 1912, pp. 218-25.

[In the following essay, Burwash discusses how Richardson used his military experiences as a youth volunteer to compose his history War of 1812.]

As a century turns with the turning of the year, it recalls a memorable date to Canadians. It recalls at the same time an interesting figure in the person of Major John Richardson, one of the earliest Canadian novelists, and one of the first historians of the war of 1812, whose border strife he shared. To the present generation Richardson's memory is...

(The entire section is 4804 words.)

William Renwick Riddell (essay date 1930)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "An Appreciation," in John Richardson, The Ryerson Press, 1930, pp. 197-208.

[In the following excerpt, Riddell argues that Richardson's historical works are superior to his imaginative writings.]

The status of Major John Richardson as a maker of Canadian literature is perhaps at the present time, not definitely and finally fixed. Very much a mythical figure, he does not belong even to the class of writers, honored but unread; he is not only unread but he is also unknown. It is probable that his great wish, besides his desire for recognition by those whom he so unreservedly served with pen and sword and who always disappointed him, was to be remembered and...

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Leslie Monkman (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Richardson's Indians," in Canadian Literature, No. 81, Summer, 1979, pp. 86-94.

[In the following essay, Monkman discusses Richardson's portrayal of Native Americans and identifies similar patterns of characterization in the works of James Fenimore Cooper.]

No writer of nineteenth-century Canada more fully explored the literary potential of the Indian than Major John Richardson. In novels such as Wacousta (1832) and The Canadian Brothers (1840), Richardson's interest is in the conflict between red man and white man on the Canadian-American frontier. In later formula novels such as Hardscrabble (1851) and...

(The entire section is 3737 words.)

David Beasley (review date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Rereading Richardson's Wacousta," American Review of Canadian Studies, Vol. XVIII, No. 3, Autumn, 1988, pp. 381-86.

[In the following review of the 1987 edition of Wacousta edited by Douglas Cronk, Beasley comments on the publication history of Wacousta and suggests Richardson's sources of inspiration for the novel's chief characters.]

In 1965, while I was researching my biography of Richardson, The Canadian Don Quixote, I found a first edition of Wacousta in an antiquarian bookstore in New York City for $17.50. It was a rare three volumes at a low price, but Richardson then was unknown. Now he is regarded as one of...

(The entire section is 3663 words.)

Michael Hurley (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Double Entendre: Rebel Angels & Beautiful Losers in John Richardson's The Monk Knight of St. John," Canadian Literature, No. 128, Spring, 1991, pp. 107-17.

[In the essay below, Hurley offers a reappraisal of Richardson's The Monk Knight of St. John, focusing on themes of identity, passion, and religion. He also illustrates the novel's parallels with other Gothic and Romantic works.]

Variously described as lurid, sensational, grotesque, and bizarre, John Richardson's complex and intriguing novel The Monk Knight of St. John. A Tale of The Crusades (1850) was the Beautiful Losers of its day. Response to the work evokes comparison...

(The entire section is 5144 words.)

Donald Stephens (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Canadian Brothers; or, The Prophecy Fulfilled. A Tale of the Late American War, by John Richardson, edited by Donald Stephens, Carleton University Press, 1992, pp. xvii-lxxxii.

[In the following excerpt, Stephens surveys Richardson's career and discusses the themes, sources, and publication history of The Canadian Brothers.]

Early in 1840 the publishing firm of A. H. Armour and H. Ramsay of Montreal issued The Canadian Brothers; Or, The Prophecy Fulfilled. A Tale Of The Late American War. Printed by John Lovell of Montreal, this two-volume novel was the work of John Richardson (1796-1852), or, as he was described on the...

(The entire section is 17595 words.)

Michael Hurley (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Border Doubles: Twin Poles of the Canadian Psyche," in The Borders of Nightmare: The Fiction of John Richardson, University of Toronto Press, 1992, pp. 69-109.

[In the following excerpt, Hurley discusses family relationships and the doppelgänger theme in Wacousta.]

In Canada, the wilderness, symbolized by the north, creates a kind of doppelganger figure who is oneself and yet the opposite of oneself . . . The Canadian recurring themes of self-conflict, of the violating of nature, of individuals uncertain of their social context, of dark, repressed oracular doubles concealed within each of us, are now more communicable outside Canada in the...

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Dennis Duffy (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Present at the Creation: John Richardson and Souwesto," in Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3, Autumn, 1993, pp. 75-91.

[In the following essay, Duffy focuses his discussion on Richardson's last novel, Westbrook the Outlaw, contending that the novelist led the way in establishing the imaginative tradition of Southwestern Ontario in Canadian literature.]

"Souwesto" designates one of English Canada's most thickly populated countries of the mind. On the map where Thoreau's true countries never are, Southwestern Ontario covers the peninsula created by Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The painterly imagination has dotted it with the views...

(The entire section is 6855 words.)

Manina Jones (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Beyond the Pale: Gender, 'Savagery,' and the Colonial Project in Richardson's Wacousta," in Essays on Canadian Writing, No. 54, Winter, 1994, pp. 46-59.

[In the essay below, Jones discusses themes of assimilation, imperialism, gender, and savagery in Wacousta.]

She has perchance wrestled with her engagement, as the aboriginals of a land newly discovered by a crew of adventurous colonists do battle with the garments imposed on them by our considerate civilization;—ultimately to rejoice with excessive dignity in the wearing of a battered cocked-hat and trowsers not extending to the shanks: but she did not break her engagement, sir;...

(The entire section is 4902 words.)