Literature of the California Gold Rush Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Albert E. Reynolds II (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The California Gold Rush as a Basis for Literature,” in Americana-Austriaca: Beitrage zur Amerikakunde, Vol. 2, 1970, pp. 61-80.

[In the following essay, Reynolds presents an overview of the literature of the gold rush era in California, offering a detailed history of the period and examining how the literature reflected the times.]

The discovery of gold on the banks of the American River in 1848 was the signal for one of the most unique mass migrations since the Völkerwanderung of the Germanic tribes. Some 100,000 adventurers are estimated to have converged on the gold fields of California within the twelve months following James Marshall's sensational...

(The entire section is 7701 words.)

Lawrence I. Berkove and Michael Kowalewski (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Literature of the Mining Camps,” in Updating the Literary West, Texas Christian University Press, 1997, pp. 99-116.

[In the following excerpt, Berkove and Kowalewski survey the work of writers John Rollin Ridge, Alonzo Delano, Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe, and George Horatio Derby, maintaining that these individuals were the first to introduce the California gold rush to the American public and that they paved the way for later literary talents including Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, and Bret Harte.]

For the world as well as America, the thrilling news that gold and silver were to be had for the taking in the West fired the imagination. The West's...

(The entire section is 3160 words.)