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Letters from an American Farmer

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . misery, when viewed in others, should become to us a sort of real good, though I am far from rejoicing to hear that there are in the world men so thoroughly wretched; they are no doubt as harmless, industrious, and willing to work as we are. Hard is their fate to be thus condemned to a slavery worse than that of our negroes. Yet when young I entertained some thoughts of selling my farm. I thought it afforded but a dull repetition of the same labours and pleasures. I thought the former tedious and heavy, the latter few and insipid; but when I came to consider myself as divested of my farm, I then found the world so wide, and every place so full, that I began to fear lest there would be no room for me. My farm, my house, my barn, presented to my imagination objects from which I adduced quite new ideas; they were more forcible than before. Why should not I find myself happy, said I, where my father was before? He left me no good books it is true, he gave me no other education than the ar. . . Read More

Community Reviews

No, I would never have read Letters From An American Farmer had it not been assigned reading for an English class. No, I never plan on reading it again. But I might as well be pleased that I did read it. I just need a few minutes to figure out why.

The historical significance of this book is much...more

As this is widely considered to be the first work of what could be termed American Literature, I am appalled that I have not heard of it before a month ago. Is this my failing or the failure of my education? I don't know. Let's blame my education. I'm juggling enough regret and self-loathing righ...more

I am amazed at the low rating many readers have given this. I love the how these letters illustrate what it meant to be American, what private property meant to people in a with roots in feudalism. Simply beautiful.

Let no one lie and say that Crevecoeur ever used 50 words to say what could be said with 5000.

It might sound odd to call such a ubiquitous text underrated, but I think Letters from an American Farmer is just that. While most people who have taken a course in American literature or possibly even history have probably encountered this 1782 book's third chapter, which provides a utopian answ...more

I began this book on a whim, recalling that I had taught an excerpt from it--the third letter--in an American literature course that focused on rural writings a few years ago. I had enjoyed that letter immensely, but had always heard that the book had some dark overtures, and was curious to see w...more

"Men are like plants. The goodness and flavor of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow. We are nothing but what we derive from the air we breathe, the climate we inhabit, the government we obey, the system of religion we profess, and the nature of our employm...more

I don't remember how I fell over this book but I had never heard of it despite it's apparent fame and historical import.

It is painful to read both for its language and its topic. The last 26 pages are the equivalent of "Can't stay here. Leaving soon to live with the Indians. Revolution imminent....more

April 26, 2015

A few weeks ago, I began reading an Everyman edition of this book that's almost 90 years old as background information for a piece of fiction I hope to write,

I was surprised at how clearly and economically Crevecoeur wrote this book -- like a good text from the present day. It's li...more

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