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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

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