Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thomas Paine

I have two things to say about the Great Propagandist. At least, that's what I'm planning on right now. It may very well turn into a lot more than two things.

First I'll start with the item that sounds like complaining but isn't - or at least, it's no one's fault but my own. For my American Lit class, we have to write a research paper on an American pre-Civil War author. My first choice was James Fennimore Cooper, author of Last of the Mohicans. Then I read an excerpt from one of his other stories, which is in my Lit book. And... no. I don't like his style of writing at all. So my second choice was Thomas Paine. Cool choice, right? I mean, COME ON - not only did he write eloquently with "lofty language," but he wasn't a-freaking-fraid of offending people!! Then, right after I got my request for Thomas Paine approved by my professor, a thought comes to me. Lewis and Clark are authors. They wrote their exploration journals. That's literature! That's definitely pre-Civil War! Moreover, they were the first people to map my dear Pacific Northwest. They're right up my alley. Nobody else is doing Lewis and Clark. I wish I'd thought of this before the due date...

As I said, no one's fault but mine.

My second thing is this. Ironically, we covered Thomas Paine in my Lit class this morning, and while I had known a bit about what the guy wrote, I learned a lot about him. He was a loser in England - divorced, jailed, drunk a lot, no reputation, and almost broke. When he met Benjamin Franklin (my professor speculates they met in a bar) and Franklin wrote him a letter of recommendation, he turned his life around, sailed to America, and went on to be an inspiration behind the whole war. That's the kind of story novels are made of. Does anybody know about a historical fiction novel focusing on Thomas Paine? I might just have to read it.

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