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Educ T 198.96.672


NOV 1 1940



Norwood Press

J. S. Cushing & Co. - Berwick & Smith

Norwood Mass. U.S.A.


In the preparation of this history of the rise and development of American literature the author has had clearly in mind the limitations to which every textbook on literature must be subject. Such a work can be at best only directive. It can trace the influences of race, environment, and epoch, and indicate causes and results; it can insist that the student follow the logical order, rejecting everything not worthy of his attention and emphasizing sufficiently the emphatic points; it can furnish him with a plan for estimating the personality and influence of each individual author; but more it cannot do. No one ever learned literature from a text-book, not even when it was supplemented by copious extracts from the authors considered. Fragments of an author's writings, like fragments of any work of art, give only vague ideas of the whole. He who has studied merely "Thanatopsis" or "Evangeline" knows very little of Bryant or Longfellow. A knowledge of "Rip Van Winkle" provides the key to only a very small part of Irving's domain. Actual contact with all of the important writings of the leading

authors is imperative if one would understand a literature. The text-book that does not emphasize this and aim merely to guide the student and supplement his efforts is superfluous. The conning of names and dates, of details and characteristics, of criticisms of books that the pupil has never seen, if not supplemented by copious draughts from the living fountain heads, can but result in mental stagnation and a loathing of the entire subject.

Throughout this work the author has endeavored to follow the development of the American spirit and of American thought under the agencies of race, environment, epoch, and personality. He has recognized that the literature of a nation is closely entwined with its history, both civil and religious. As far as possible he has made the authors speak for themselves, and he has supplemented his own estimates by frequent criticisms from the highest authorities; but in presenting these criticisms he has not aimed to do the student's work for him, nor to furnish ready-made estimates for him to commit to memory without having examined the works criticised; but, rather, to provide information that should lead to an intelligent study of the author or book in hand.

This book implies other books. It should not be taught without them. If the school library is deficient, they may be had from some private or public collection. Some of the more important works, as those of Irving,

Bryant, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and the like, may surely be procured by any class. The amount of reading done must, necessarily, depend upon the length of the course and the nature of the class. The directions as to what books shall be read are largely suggestive. Much must be left to the judgment of the teacher, with whom, indeed, it rests whether the study shall be helpful and stimulating or dry and lifeless.

The author gratefully acknowledges his obligations to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Messrs. Flood & Vincent, and Messrs. Lee & Shepard, who have permitted the use of extracts from their copyrighted works, and to all others who have in any way aided in the preparation of the volume.

January, 1896.

F. L. P.

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