was a typical Elizabethan adventurer, with a gift, like so many of his class, for picturesque narrative.
In what sense, if at all, may his writings on American topics be classified as “American” literary productions?
It is clear that his experiences in the New World were only one phase of the variegated life of this English soldier of fortune.
But the American
imagination has persistently claimed him as representing something peculiarly ours, namely, a kind of pioneer hardihood, resourcefulness, leadership, which was essential to the exploration and conquest of the wilderness.
Most of Smith
's companions were unfitted for the ordeal which he survived.
They perished miserably in the “starving time.”
But he was of the stuff from which triumphant immigrants have ever been made, and it is our recognition of the presence of these qualities in the Captain
which makes us think of his books dealing with America
as if they were “American books.”
There are other narratives by colonists temporarily residing in the Virginia plantations
which gratify our historical curiosity, but which we no more consider a part of American literature than the books written by Stevenson
, and Wells
during their casual visits to this country.