London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1873. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding with slight sunning to spine and lower corners gently bumped. Rear hinge strengthened. Text block tight and square. First signature roughly opened, resulting in small loss to top of title page not affecting text; small snag toward inner margin of pages 159-60 affecting two words of text. Offsetting to front and rear end papers, else internally clean and fresh. An important work featured in the Zamorano 80, scarce in the original cloth.
Joaquin Miller, popularly known as the Poet of the Sierras, mingles autobiography and fiction in this memoir-inflected novel. For Life Amongst the Modocs, Miller drew on his years in the mountains, mines, and communities of northern California and the Pacific Northwest as inspiration. The work also sought to shape the legacy of the last significant battle of the California Indian Wars, a period of violence that officially started when California was granted statehood in 1850.
Masquerading as a story of his romance with Paquita, a Modoc woman, Life Amongst the Modocs is a provocative portrait of conflict and romance set against the backdrop of California's Modoc War. Waged between the U.S. Army and Modoc people, the Modoc War generated significant national press from 1872-1873 as the fighting reached its zenith. By titling his novel Life Amongst the Modocs, Joaquin Miller hoped to capitalize on nation-wide attention to news and stories about the conflict. While Miller's novel does publicize how violence and injustice defined the relationship between the Modocs and the federal government and white settlers, Life Amongst the Modocs also traffics in damaging tropes and misrepresentations of indigenous peoples. An important window into how contemporary white writers sought to shape the legacy of California's wars against its indigenous peoples.
Zamorano 80, no. 55. Near Fine (Item #3382)