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We are so near to even the beginning of our American literature that to write its history is an especially difficult undertaking. Too little time has passed to trace influences and tendencies, perhaps even to estimate justly the value of the work whose strongest appeal is not to the present. During the last century, our world has moved so swiftly that the light has flashed now upon one writer, now upon another. Who can foretell upon which the noontide of to-morrow will shine most brilliantly? Who can say whether our realism will not seem unworthy triviality, whether the closely connected sentences of our best prose may not present the repellent formality of conscious art? In every decade many writers have come forward whose names it seems ungracious to omit. Wherever the lines are drawn, they will appear to some one an arbitrary and unreasonable barrier. A single slender volume can make no pretensions to completeness; but if this one only leads its readers to feel a friendship for the authors mentioned on its pages, and a wish to know more of them and their writings, its object will have been accomplished.

A word must be said in regard to the second part of the book, the specimens of our earlier literature. Except to the fortunate student who is able to consult one of our larger historical libraries, most of these writings are inaccessible. Even if they are within reach for individual reading, it is seldom possible to put a copy of any specimen of an author's work into the hands of each pupil for class-room study and discussion. For this

reason, the extracts from the earlier American writings have been added.

Not only with a view to accuracy and the exhibition of personal peculiarities, but also with the object of illustrating the changes in manner of expression, I have copied the text, without change, from the earliest editions obtainable, many of the books being those precious little leather-bound “first editions” that are counted among the choicest of our literary treasures.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge my obligations to the libraries of Providence and Boston, and to express my special gratitude for the courteous helpfulness and continued interest shown by the librarians of the American Antiquarian Society and the Free Public Library of Worcester.


March 5, 1907

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Transcendentalism ; its influence upon literature - Ralph Waldo

Emerson : enters the ministry ; friendship with Carlyle ; The
American Scholar; literary style; how to enjoy Emerson; Em-
erson's Poems Henry David Thoreau: home at Walden
Pond; A Week on Concord and Merrimack Rivers; Walden

– Nathaniel Hawthorne : Brook Farm ; Hawthorne's early life;
Twice-Told Tales; Mosses from an Old Manse; The Scarlet
Letter; The House of the Seven Gables; The Wonder Book ;
Blithedale Romance ; Life of Franklin Pierce ; Tanglewood
Tales; The Marble Faun; Hawthorne compared with other
writers of fiction; Hawthorne's power


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