The American Novel, 1789-1939

The American Novel, 1789-1939

The American Novel, 1789-1939

The American Novel, 1789-1939

Excerpt

The first edition of this book in 1921 announced a further volume, which appeared the next year as Contemporary American Novelists: 1900-1920. That volume, parts of which have been absorbed in the present work, is no longer either contemporary or satisfactory and now goes out of print. In the revised edition, which is nearly double the length of the original, an effort has been made to present the history of the American novel for a hundred and fifty years on the same scale throughout. If some later novelists have been given less space than some of the earlier ones it is because the biographies of the later are not available and their work is not complete. If later novels appear in much greater number than the earlier it is not only because many more have been written, but also because more later ones, however likely to be some day forgotten, have not yet been. The revised edition, like the first, is meant to serve as a record of the national imagination as exhibited in the progress of native fiction. Though it incidentally takes into account poems and plays and short stories, as well as national myths and legends and traditions and aspirations, it concerns itself primarily with novels: here defined simply as long prose narratives in which the element of fact is on the whole less than the element of fiction.

In general outline The American Novel in its first edition followed the chapters on fiction which I had contributed to The Cambridge History of American Literature. With the permission of the publishers, The Macmillan Company, this larger version is still considerably indebted to those chapters. I have in other sections, also with the permission of the various publishers, made some use of other writings of mine: Stephen Crane in The American Mercury for January 1924 . . .

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