The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

IV. Irving.

§ 18. Life of Mahomet.

The Life of Mahomet and the supplementary volume on the successors of Mahomet followed in 1849–50. The biographies consitute good narrative and give futher examples of the author’s exceptional power of characterization. If they fail to reach the high standard of the Columbus, it is doubtless because Irving possessed no such close familiarity with the environment of his subjects. In Spain he had made long sojourns and had become imbued with the atmosphere of the Spanish legends and ideals. He knew his Italy, in like manner, from personal observation and from sympathetic relations with the peasants no less than the scholards, but Arabia was to him a distant land.   33