Item #1076 The Quest of Canaan; A Poem in Eleven Books. Timothy Dwight.
The Quest of Canaan; A Poem in Eleven Books.

The Quest of Canaan; A Poem in Eleven Books.

Hartford: Elisha Babcock, 1785. Item #1076

8vo.  170 x 100 mm., [6 ¾ x 4 inches].  [8], 304, [2] pp., including errata leaf at end of text.  Bound in contemporary brown sheep skin, red leather label.  Stamped “Ex Libris Wilson H. Kimnach” on front pastedown.  A very good copy in an original American binding.

First edition.  Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, educated first by his mother, daughter of Jonathan Edwards, and at Yale College graduating in 1769.  He became famous as an educator but was first a chaplain in the Connecticut Brigade during the Revolution, where he served with distinction and rallied his troops with his poetry and songs.  He began writing his epic poem in 1771 while acting as a tutor at the Hopkins School in New Haven and worked on it for the next fourteen years before it was published in Hartford.  After his father’s death in 1779 he returned to Northampton where he established a school for both sexes, which featured rigorous course work in reading and writing for both boys and girls.  In 1795 Dwight was called to Yale as President, a position he held until his death in 1817.  Known for his reforms to both the curriculum and the culture of the school, he turned Yale into one of the leading educational institutions in America.  Dwight also took a leading role in the Second Great Awakening and preached about the ‘rechurching” of American religion. 

The Conquest of Canaan, an epic poem in 11 books, is an allegory written as a story from the Bible that recounts the battle for Connecticut against the British invaders.  It is not only the first epic poem written by an American author, but it is also one of the foundational works in the creation of a national literature for this country.  Although not as well received as his poem, “Columbia” (1777), his epic poem is now considered a classic of American literature.

Sowerby, E.M. Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 4304.  Sabin, Joseph, Dictionary of Books Relating to America, 21548.  Evans, Charles. American Bibliography, 18996.  Blanck, Jacob, Bibliography of American Literature, 5040.  English Short Title Catalogue, W30488.

Price: $275.00

See all items in Americana, Classics, Literature, Poetry
See all items by