Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XVIII: Pretty, but Pernicious Prattle

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Chapter XVIII: Pretty, but Pernicious Prattle

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976

Introduction

          Although written and published last among his eight Revolutionary novels in 1867, Joscelyn should be placed first in the series chronologically, for it lays out the preliminaries and “origins of this partisan conflict.”[1]  Set in the final six months of 1775, the romance depicts the beginnings of the Revolutionary conflict between patriots and loyalists in the backcountries of Georgia and South Carolina. Simms mixed historical figures, such as William Henry Drayton and Thomas Browne, with fictional ones to illustrate the dramatic tensions and implications of the early partisan conflict.  The narrative centers upon a loyalist Georgia family, the Dunbars, whose son, Walter, is drawn into conflict with the title character, Stephen Joscelyn, a crippled teacher from South Carolina, over a misunderstanding compounded by their shared passion for Angelica Kirkland.  Simms’s story is commendable for its accurate portrayal of the complex loyalties and conflicting interests that divided families in the early stages of the Revolution; John C. Guilds maintains that while “Simms’s sympathies clearly lie with the revolutionaries, the effectiveness of Joscelyn rests largely upon the author’s ability to present with sensitive insight the conflicting loyalties of the Dunbar family.”[2]  Guilds estimates the work to be “remarkably good, a worthy addition to the Revolutionary Romances series.”[3] 

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