National Stereotypes: The English Character as Portrayed by Sealsfield
In Sealsfield’s treatment of European nations, he tends to present national characteristics rather than specific details of the nation in question or its social or political structure — reference to social or political matters is generally made in passing, and frequently in relation to what he perceives as the national character of a particular people. This was probably due in part to the fact that he had relatively little first hand knowledge of European countries outside of the German-speaking states — his residence in England was much shorter than that in the United States, as was his stay in France, and he certainly had much less knowledge of these two nations than of the United States. We find a considerable contrast between his very detailed work on America and Austria/Germany, and the sketchy, rather stereotyped image he presents of the British and the French, the exception being his ‚journalistic’ work in which he is actually reporting what he sees. Although he produced only one work on Austria, it contains, in much the same way as his works on America, much more fine detail on the political structures of the states concerned than is the case with his presentation of France and Great Britain. Sealsfield had a much better knowledge of the French Creoles in Louisiana, where he spent a considerable amount of time, than of the French nationals, and his comments on the character of the French tend, in works written after Austria as it is, to be based on what he perceives as the characteristics of the French settlers in Louisiana.
KeywordsExpansionist Policy Racial Hierarchy American Character British Character French Settler
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