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else is clearness of presentation; and the history of literature in a big country like ours, where diversity of interest and tradition only serves to give a spice of variety to our essential national unity, cannot be clearly and truthfully presented except along the lines of its natural growth. This is not sectionalism, but diversified Americanism. The contribution of New England, with its strong moral and didactic flavor; of the Middle States, with their more metropolitan tendencies; of the South, with its romantic sentiment; of the West, with its fresh and vigorous realism;—each of these contributions is set forth as a significant element in our national development. Perhaps the most striking thing in our literary history is the picturesqueness of these several contributions, merging into a larger union of common interests. To lose sight of this characteristic of American literature is to fail to apprehend its deeper meaning.
A fuller treatment of Southern writers is to be found in this work than in other volumes of similar size on American literature. In the last decade or two the recognition of the literary contribution of the South has steadily grown, until the space allotted to the subject has assumed respectable proportions. In recent histories it covers many pages. Even yet, however, we have only imperfectly come to understand the far-reaching consequence in our literary development of the writings of men and women in the South since 1870; while the sterling worth of a few older authors is just now becoming more apparent as we are getting far enough away from the adverse conditions under which they wrote to see things in right perspective. In this account of American literature more space has been given to this group in the conviction that its variety and peculiar quality should have wider recognition.
The same general method of treatment is followed in this work as in the author's English Literature. Each chapter is introduced with a brief discussion of the historical, social, and literary movements which have been most conspicuous in the making of that period or that group. Here, as in the other
volume, a special feature of the estimates of individual authors is a paragraph on the personality of each prominent writer, following the biographical sketch. Since literature is so largely a matter of personality, the stressing of this spiritual factor in the creation of artistic prose and poetry is desirable. But as far as possible the writings themselves must be read and enjoyed. It is assumed of course that a volume of representative selections or separate editions of American classics will be used with this book. For those who wish to read more widely, special reference lists have been provided at the ends of the chapters.
An effort has been made to present the history of American literature in a readable account free from the congestion of unimportant details. As far as the limits of the work have permitted, illustrative extracts have been introduced; especially is this true in the case of authors, as in the Colonial Period, whose works are not generally accessible. The main thing, after all, in a history of literature is such a vital approach to the writers through the setting, the statement of a few salient details in their lives and works, and certain suggestive comments, that the student will eagerly desire to make the further acquaintance of these literary heroes. If the author of this guidebook shall have succeeded in making his readers want to know at first hand what American poets, essayists, and story-tellers have done, he will not have labored in vain.
J. C. M. Richmond, Va.
SOME USEFUL BOOKS OF A GENERAL NATURE
Literary History and Biography.—Richardson's History of American Literature (Houghton); Wendell's Literary History of America (Scribner); Cairns's History of American Literature (Oxford); Trent’s History of American Literature (Appleton); Whitcomb's Chronological Outlines of American Literature (Macmillan); American Men of Letters Series (Houghton); Beacon Biographies (Merrill); Great Writers Series (Scribner); Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography (6 vols.); National Cyclopedia of American Biography (2 vols.); Adams's Dictionary of American Authors; Stedman's Poets of America; Woodberry's America in Literature; Cambridge History of American Literature.
Selections Covering the Field of American Literature.-Stedman & Hutchinson's Library of American Literature (11 vols.); Stedman's American Anthology (Houghton); Carpenter's American Prose (Macmillan); Page's Chief American Poets (Houghton); Bronson's American Poems (Chicago University Press); Long's American Poems (American Book Co.); Simonds's American Song (Putnam); Stevenson's Poems of American History (Houghton); Knowles's Golden Treasury of American Songs and Lyrics (Page).
A stimulating and suggestive little volume is C. Alphonso Smith's What Can Literature Do for Me? (Doubleday, Page & Co.).
References for special periods will be found at the end of each of the chapters.