In his day, Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892) was a
well-known figure in American arts and letters, with close ties to
the New England Transcendentalists. His most enduring achievements
are his novels for children. Collected here for the first time in
one volume, these three works--"The Last of the Huggermuggers,"
"Kobboltozo: A Sequel to the Last of the Huggermuggers," and "The
Legend of Dr. Theophilus; or, The Enchanted Clothes"--establish
Cranch as a pioneer in American fantasy fiction.
"Huggermuggers" (1856) and "Kobboltozo" (1857) went through
several printings during the last half of the nineteenth century
but were not reissued until the initial publication of this volume
in 1993. These novels relate the escapades of a shipwrecked
American boy, Jacky Cable, and the gentle giants and evil dwarfs
who inhabit the island on which he is marooned. The manuscript of
Cranch's last unpublished novel, "The Legend of Dr. Theophilus,"
disappeared around 1870 and did not resurface until the early
1980s. The story revolves around a faraway place where the sun
cannot penetrate the fog and where a suit of enchanted clothes can
cause mayhem and grief.
As the editors explain in their introduction, Cranch was the
first American author to write novel-length works solely for
children, and to fuse elements of fantasy and adventure. In an era
when most juvenile books emphasized moral rectitude and
acquiescence to adult authority, Cranch put a higher premium on
humor and the imaginative aspects of storytelling. Written during
an important transition in the history of American children's
literature, these three novels are of special interest to scholars
of American Romanticism. Perhaps most important of all, they have
not lost their attraction for young readers.
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