Page images
PDF
EPUB

AMERICAN LITERATURE

SPIR

THE
SPIRIT OF AMERICAN

LITERATURE,

BY

JOHN MACY

FOLIA

GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

PREFACE

IN THIS BOOK something is said about most, if not quite all, of the emergent figures in American literature; an attempt is made to survey the four corners of the national library and to give an impression of its shape and size. It is hoped that the attempt may have resulted in a fairly adequate review or introduction for the student, and that it may be not uninteresting to those who, students or not, like to listen to talk about books. If its purpose is approximately realized, this volume will be found to be a little nearer to a collection of appreciative essays than to a formal history or bibliographic manual, and to be at the same time inclusive to a degree that the genuine essayist would instinctively avoid.

The true essayist is a privileged person. He may write fifty pages about Hawthorne and not write about Longfellow at all; he wilfully elects whom he will discuss. Such liberty is here subdued to the general consensus of opinion as to what men of letters are important. Some privilege, however, is assumed. Individual preference, rather than the impersonal judgment of critical Authority, accounts for the fact that Bryant, Mrs. Stowe, and Bret Harte are not signalized by separate chapters, whereas there are chapters on William James and Mr. Henry James. If this be a disproportion, it

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »