David M. Parker


Florida and California have from their entry into American culture been considered by writers to be enchanted states, the places to which Americans can escape to a more exotic reality than is represented by the colder North and East. As early as the American Revolution, then-Spanish Florida was known for its unspoiled terrain and its lush beauty. Harriet Beecher Stowe extolled its exotic qualities, while Stephen Crane wrote of the contrast between the harsh outside world and the escapist qualities of the state. California, by contrast, has been seen as a paradise, a found Eden, and like Florida, a place whose beauty never palls since the Gold Rush brought Americans west in the 1840s. While Florida was tropical, writers saw California as Mediterranean. Still, other writers found that even the natural beauty could not mask the American civilization that intruded on it, and this began a debunking discourse in reference to these two exotic regions. 1