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|46. JACKSON, Helen
[Maria Fiske Hunt] (1830-1885). Ramona. A Story. By Helen Jackson
(H. H.).... Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1884.  490 [4, ads] pp.
12mo, original slate green cloth decorated in gilt and brown, spine
gilt-lettered, floral endpapers. Binding with a few stains and moderate
shelf wear (spine tips frayed), four small stains and abrasions on front
pastedown where a bookplate was removed, front hinge weak, thin diagonal
strip (approximately 5.5 x 2 cm) of lower corner of rear endpaper torn
away, overall a good to very good copy.
First edition. BAL 10456. Baird-Greenwood 1296. Bennett, American Book Collecting, pp. 157-58. Cowan I, pp. 119-20. Cowan II, p. 306n. Edwards, Enduring Desert, p. 126. Howell 50, California 547. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 46. Johnson, High Spots of American Literature, pp. 46-47. LC, California Centennial 291. Powell, California Classics, pp. 268-78; Land of Fiction: Thirty-Two Novels and Stories about Southern California from “Ramona” to “The Loved One” #1. Streeter Sale 2987. Walker, Literary History of Southern California, pp. 123-24: “The construction of a synthetic Spanish California past was neither more reprehensible nor unnatural than the manufacturing of legends about the Pilgrim Fathers or the building of a tradition of an ideal Southern chivalry. In Southern California, however, the process of creating a past was perhaps more rapidly achieved and can be more clearly traced than elsewhere. The literary document most important in its influence on the growth of the Spanish tradition in Southern California was the immensely popular Ramona.... Appearing in 1884, just before the spectacular boom, it created a nation-wide interest in Southern California, and it served as a sort of romantic guidebook during the tourist rush. There was a great deal of the ironic in the influence of Ramona: written as a fictionalized sermon to elicit help for the American Indians, it was accepted as an idealization of all things Spanish; presented as an attack on contemporary conditions in the Ramona country, it was accepted as idealization of the past.... In writing Ramona [Jackson] was motivated not by a desire to create a romantic past or to make money but to point out what she considered to be a disgraceful injustice.” Wright III:2901. Zamorano 80 #46. See Notable American Women II, pp. 259-61. ($300-600)
In summarizing the importance of Jackson’s novel, Lawrence Clark
Powell wrote: “Ramona was the first novel about Southern California.
Today, nearly a century after its publication, it remains the best
California book of its kind—an historical romance of a vanished way
of life.” Over the decades it has been praised as one of the best American
historical novels, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle,
“It is the greatest story of California ever written.” If ever a book
gave California a sense of nostalgia, it was Ramona.
——Gary F. Kurutz
Additional sources consulted: Valerie Sherer Mathes, Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), pp. 79-83; Antoinette May, The Annotated Ramona (San Carlos, California: Wide World Publishing, 1989); Lawrence Clark Powell, California Classics (Los Angeles: The Ward Ritchie Press, 1971), pp. 268-78; Kevin Starr, Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 55-63; Franklin Walker, A Literary History of Southern California (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1950), pp. 123-32.