Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Crevecoeur, Hector St John de. (1735 - 1813).

L i f e

- introduced the psychosocial phenomenon of the American identity: ‘What then is the American, this new man?’

- himself an amalgam of identities: served as a commander of the French army under General Montcalm in Canada x but: adopted physically and philosophically the role of ‘a simple American farmer’

- despite his attempts to remain neutral suspected by both sides during the Revolution

W o r k

Letters from an American Farmer (1782):

- a series of epistolary essays, published in London

- sentimental on the values of agricultural life, rather mythical than real

=> lured many people into the frontier conditions

Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America:

- the 2nd series, unpublished x but: rediscovered

- shows also rural hardship and the ordinary tasks of agricultural life

“What is an American”:

- an essay investigating the American character

- an American = a sober, honest, and industrious new man

- a motivating force is self-interest x B. Franklin

- introduced the idea of American as a ‘melting point’

- claims the motto of American settlers is "ubi panis ibi patria" ("where there is bread, there is my country")

- concludes with a case study of a single immigrant’s history as an answer to the central question: could have appended his own biography of a versatile, pragmatic, self-reliant, and self-inventive man of multiple loyalties

- the question remains still intriguing


"Men are like plants; the goodness and flavor of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow".

From Letters from an American Farmer (1782).


(Crevecoeur in 1784. Source: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Born Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur in France. Naturalized John Hector St John in America. (1735 - 1813). French-American.
  • Work

    Prose writer. Author of "What is an American"?
  • Genre

    Essays. Instructive writing.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


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