Wednesday, 13 June 2018

One Of America's First Novels: The Algerine Captive By Royall Tyler

The Algerine Captive tells the story of the upbringing, early career, and later enslavement of fictional Boston native, narrator Updike Underhill. It chronicles Updike Underhill's youth and early adulthood in America. After detailing his family history, Underhill describes his birth, childhood, and early education. Upon the encouragement of a local minister, Underhill's parents agree to prepare the narrator for college by placing him under the minister's tutelage.

Underhill's classical education, through which he learns Greek and Latin, provides him with the ability to recite copious lines of poetry, which his countrymen ridicule. Not only is he mocked for his spouting of Greek poetry, which is unintelligible to all but himself, but he is actually challenged to a duel after writing an unintentionally insulting Greek-inspired ode to a young lady. Luckily for Underhill, the duel is discovered and pre-empted by the local sheriffs and constables before it can take place.  Find this satiric look at a variety of American types at Vidicus.

It also gives an account of Underhill's failed attempt to serve as a teacher in a village school, follows his travels through the Northern and Southern states as a physician, and discusses his service as a surgeon aboard a slave ship that heads to Africa by way of London. In the final chapter, while Updike is on the African coast nursing five sick slaves back to health, he is captured and taken as a slave to Algiers. Read this entertaining romp through eighteenth-century society at Vidicus.

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