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Father Bombo’s Pilgrimage to Mecca, 1770
This book was written in 1770, and might thus plausibly claim the distinction of being the “first American novel.” It is an early work of two men who later came to rank among the most important literary figures of the American Revolution and early Republic. Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748-1816) was a distinguished Pennsylvania jurist and politician. Philip Freneau (1752-1832) was the author of anti-British satires during the Revolution, and an anti-Federalist editor working for Jefferson in the early 1790s. This is a humorous work which contrasts East and West, Bombo’s exotic mission and the mundane world in which he travels. It was actually written to mock members of the Cliosophic Society at Princeton Univ. and the tradition of oriental romance. Illus.