À propos du Great American Novel:
July 10 1907
As yet no author has preserved on paper the drama of this great midwestern country, the hurly-burly energy of the builders who caught the vision os Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the prophet who nearly a century ago stood on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri rivers and predicted that here one of America's greatest industrial and commercial communities would be build.
I can see the possibilities of a novel written alone on the history of this district. There would be the movement of the pionners westward in wagon trains. There would be the first steamboats chuffing up the broad Missouri and coming to grief on sand bars and snags. There would be the turbulent times before and during the Civil War with John Brown and Osawatomie. There would be the Red Legs and the Jayhawks and the battle of Westport Landing. There would be Jesse and Frank James. There would be the indomitable courage of the city builders, cutting down the hills and filling the valleys. There would be the increasing movement of the long trains across the great plains, bringing cattle and sheep and grain to the growing clearinghouse which must feed a nation. The swelling symphony of all these could be woven into a fine story. But, as I feel now, this is only a part of my story.
I want my novel to be all-inclusive. I want my novel to be America. I want it to hold the high purpose and sufferings of the Pilgrim fathers. I want it to hold the romance of the Spanish conquistadores and of the French padres who plunged through the terrors of an unknown land for king and church.
I want it to picture the pushing westward from the eastern seabord of the adventurous souls who sought to build an empire in the wilderness. I want it to hold the California gold rush and the bones of pioneers bleaching on the desert. I want in it the building of the railroads. I want to picture the drama of the cattle kings and the cowboys as drawn by Owen Wister. I want the gold miners and the venturesome farmers and the growth of the iniquitous trusts which treatens destruction of the founding father's work. And I want to write of the final dissolution of this last and most potent menace, which, I hope, will come soon with the election of Mr. Bryan next year.
On the surface this all appears to be too ambitious a program for one man. Certainly it would be too broad a canvas for me to paint now.