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The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930$
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Kate Flint

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691203188

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691203188.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022

The Romantic Indian

The Romantic Indian

Chapter:
(p.26) Chapter Two The Romantic Indian
Source:
The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930
Author(s):

Kate Flint

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691203188.003.0002

This chapter looks at the image of the Indian that the nineteenth century inherited from Romantic writing, one that emphasized the trope of the “dying Indian” as a member of a race associated with positive connotations of bravery, loyalty, dignity, and so on. It shows how it provided an opportunity for poets to exploit their fondness for the melancholic or to explore the qualities of supposedly primitive people. The chapter then traces the shift from the way in which the Indian was seen as a vehicle of rhetorical eloquence to being a figure of pathos. How did this transition come about? The answer lies in a combination of factors. Taken together, these illustrate the interdependency of poetic traditions on either side of the Atlantic during this period and the adaptability of the idea of the dying Indian to serve a range of aesthetic, political, and emotional ends. In both Britain and the United States, there was a growing and increasingly compassionately expressed knowledge about what was happening to native peoples. Indians in North America, however numerous they might appear to those who still saw them as formidable military allies or opponents, were becoming increasingly vulnerable: not just to diseases, but to displacement.

Keywords:   Indian, Romantic writing, dying Indian, British poets, British poetry, poetic traditions, Britain, United States, native peoples, North America

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