By David Morse
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Extra resources for American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne
The coach ... stopped at every town, large or small, everybody eager to tell and receive news. I always got out to warm myself at the stoves in the bar, and heard all the remarks made upon what I do really believe were the most extravagant lies ever circulatedlies which the very people who uttered them knew to be such, but which produced the momentary effect intended. 43 This type of hyperbole had a rather different source: the tendency of people in a still predominantly oral culture to spread tall stories, especially of areas remote from the main centres of population and communications - in other words, the frontier and the West.
While she is seated on a rock to 'rest and admire', her eye is caught by a 'solitary gleam' which strikes the mountain at which she is gazing and throws the concealed hut into prominence: With a feeling of awe at being thus unexpectedly admitted, as it were into the secrets of that desert place, Frances gazed intently, until, among the scattered trees and fantastic rocks, something like a rude structure was seen. It was low, and so obscured by the colour of the materials, that but for its roof, and the glittering of a window, it must have escaped her notice.
Still more paradoxically, the 'Skinners', the American irregular forces, appear in a most unfavourable light, while their British equivalents, the Cowboys, escape relatively untarnished. ' (p. 13), Cooper is at pains to comment that the Cowboys have escaped his censure, and yet this same inverted partisanship characterises the whole novel. So, when WarrenS. Walker says, 'Here was the first major work to burst the bonds of the "colonial complex" and appeal openly to the patriotic sentiments of Americans', 1 the reader may well be puzzled that The Spy seems to lack the transparency that such a characterisation would seem to suggest.