Pioneer spirit: A critical preface for Bess Streeter Aldrich's "Song of Years"

Karen E Schmidt, Purdue University


This research project was conducted for the purpose of writing a critical preface for the author Bess Streeter Aldrich's 1939 novel Song of Years. Aldrich began receiving mainstream critical success in 1911 when The Ladies Home Journal published the first of many of her stories. Over the next forty years, Aldrich wrote over one hundred short stories and eight novels, all of which were published and celebrated worldwide. Yet many factors have kept Aldrich out of the established literary canon and have contributed to her being relegated to the lesser tiers of American literature. Her style of writing, considered sentimental by some critics, her choice of hopeful and positive story lines, as well as her designation as a regionalist author have all played significant roles in her being shunned or forgotten by critics and in causing many of her books, including Song of Years, to fall out of print. This research, in the form of a critical preface, argues that Bess Streeter Aldrich's works are representative of the true nature of the lives of the pioneers who settled the Midwest of the United States and that the pedagogical value of her novels warrants a justifiable place for her among the respected authors of the American modern literary canon.




Barbour, Purdue University.

Subject Area

American literature

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server