The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986 Page: 36
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36 Soutihwestern Historical Quarterly
notice of our Diversions and Amusements; tho' these may perhaps be
called the best Characteristics of a People. They are, indeed, the truest
The distinction between popular art and high or elitist art must be
understood before proceeding to look more closely at how the Texas
Revolution has been treated in fiction, drama, poetry, and film and tele-
vision. This distinction is easily sensed when one thinks of writers as
different as James Joyce and James Michener. James Joyce was pro-
foundly interested in popular culture and used songs, advertisements,
and pulp-romance genres in Ulysses (1922), yet nobody has ever felt
that Ulysses itself belongs to popular art. Ulysses is a book written by a
great writer and aimed at a small, highly educated audience. Michener,
on the other hand, is a commerical popular writer who adjusts his
informational fiction to reach the largest general audience he can
find. The era of the Texas Revolution has produced no Ulysses and ex-
tremely few original artistic attempts; it has produced instead scores of
budding Micheners and of late, of course, has attracted even Michener
The output of popular materials about the Texas Revolution began
almost concurrently with the events taking place in San Antonio, Gon-
zales, and Washington-on-the-Brazos. The first Texas novel to treat
these events was Mexico versus Texas (1838), which, with slight changes,
was reissued in 1842 under a new title, Ambrosio de Letinez. The author
is presumed to be one Anthony Ganilh. Mexico versus Texas, which cen-
tered its action in the conflict between progressive Anglo-American civ-
ilization and a retrograde Spanish-Mexican civilization, used historic
events, such as the massacre at Goliad and the battle at San Jacinto, as
background for its twin themes of romance and theological debate.'
In the dedication to the 1842 edition, the author of Ambrosio de Leti-
nez elucidates the overriding meaning of the historical epoch under ex-
"See, for example, Lenihan's analysis of how Western movies reflect contemporary social con-
cerns: John H. Lenihan, Showdown: Confronting Modern America in the Western Film (Urbana,
1980); The Champion, Apr. 1, 1740 (quotation).
"A. T. Myrthe [Anthony Ganilh], Mexico versus Texas: A Descrptive Novel ... (Philadelphia,
1838); A. T. Myrthe [Anthony Ganilh], Ambrosio de Letinez; or, The Firt Texian Novel... (2nd ed.,
1842; reprint, Austin, 1967). For a history of Ganilh's novel, see Edwin W. Gaston, Jr., The Early
Novel of the Southwest (Albuquerque, 1961), 35. The pioneering study of Ganilh and his novel is
Sister M. Agatha Sheehan, "A Study of the First Four Novels of Texas" (M.A. thesis, Catholic
University of America, 1939), 91-114. Three novels about Texas preceded Ganilh's: L'Hiroine
du Texas; ou, Voyage de Madame * * * aux Etats-Unis et au Mexique (Paris, 1819); Timothy Flint,
Francis Berrian; or, The Mexican Patriot (2 vols.; Boston, 1826); Joseph Holt Ingraham, Lafitte, the
Pirate of the Gulf (1836; reprint, New York, 1970).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986, periodical, 1985/1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/m1/62/: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.