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A collection of the poems of Jonathan Odell with a biographical and critical introduction Anderson, Joan (Johnston)

Abstract

This thesis makes available, in as complete a collection as it has been possible to assemble, the poetry of Jonathan Odell, the first Provincial Secretary of New Brunswick, who was also a clergyman, doctor, and worker for the Loyalist cause during the American Revolution. Until now, Odell has been known almost wholly as a writer of political satire, comparable to Philip Freneau on the Revolutionary side. Further investigation, however, proves that Odell’s literary activity continued long after the Revolutionary period and besides satire, included patriotic verse, occasional pieces, and descriptive and reflective poems. It was also confirmed that he wrote an essay on prosody which was published in England in 1805. The manuscripts from which Odell’s work has been transcribed are located at Saint John in the New Brunswick Museum, where they were made available for research for the purpose of this thesis. The Odell Collection consists of more than 870 items which include newspapers, books, portraits, and about two hundred pieces of manuscript material. This material comprises such documents as land transfers, grants, deeds, business letters, and miscellaneous correspondence, appointments, genealogical information, and poetry written by Odell. The collection is not confined only to material relating to Jonathan Odell, but includes also material relating to his son, the Honorable William F. Odell, and other members of the family. The thesis includes a biographical sketch of Odell, a brief commentary on his work, and the complete poems. The biographical and critical remarks are compiled from items in the Odell Collection as well as from references in published material. The poems are represented chronologically according to the stages of Odell’s literary activity: The Pre-Revolutionary Period (1759-1775), the Revolutionary Period (1776-1783), and the New Brunswick Period (1784-1818). In addition to the poems from the Odell Collection, a number of others have been included which were not found in manuscript form, but which were taken from contemporary newspapers and later publications. All the poems given are presumed to be by Odell, although there is sane question about "The American Times," "To Sir James Wallace,” and "The Old Year and the New: a Prophecy." These have been placed, therefore, in an appendix. The thesis shows that the scope of Odell’s work is far wider than the revolutionary satire which literary historians have so far recognised. That Odell had done same writing before the war began and that he continued to write after hostilities ended are clearly demonstrated. The greatest body of his poetry, moreover, revealing the most variety in subject matter and style, and having direct reference to the Canadian scene, was written during the thirty-three years of his residence in New Brunswick.

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