Thomas Nelson Page: Contribution to American Literature

Also Read

      THOMAS NELSON PAGE, 1853- Thomas Nelson Page was born on Oakland Plantation in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1853. He graduated at Washington and Lee University in 1872, and took a degree in law at the University of Virginia in 1874. He practiced law in Richmond, wrote stories and essays upon the old South, and later moved to Washington to live.

Thomas Nelson Page Literary Contribution to American Literature
Thomas Nelson Page

      His best stories are the short ones, like Marse Chan and Meh Lady, in which life on the Virginia plantations during the war is presented. Page is a natural story-teller. He wastes no time in analyzing, describing, and explaining, but sets his simple plots into immediate motion and makes us acquainted with his characters through their actions and speech. The regal mistresses of the plantations, the lordly but kind-hearted masters, the loving, simple-minded slaves, and handsome young men and maidens are far from complex personalities. They have a primitive simplicity and ingenuousness which belong to a bygone civilization. The strongest appeal in the stories is made by the negroes, whose faith in their masters is unquestioning, and sometimes pathetic.

      Some old negro who had been a former slave usually tells the story, and paints his "marster," his "missus," and his "white folks," as the finest in the region. He looks back upon the bygone days as a time when "nuthin' warn too good for niggers," and is sure that if his young "marster" did not get the brush "twuz cause twuz a bob-tailed fox." In Meh Lady the negro relating the tale is the true but unconscious hero. This kindly presentation of the finest traits of slave days, the idealizing of the characters, and the sympathetic portrayal of the warm affection existing between master and slave give to Page's books a strong note of romanticism. The humor is mild, quaint, and subtle, and it often lies next to tears. Page is preeminently a short-story writer. He possesses the restraint, the compression, the art, the unity of idea necessary to the production of a good short story.

Previous Post Next Post

Search Your Questions