Literary Culture in Early New England, 1620-1730

Literary Culture in Early New England, 1620-1730

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Literary Culture in Early New England, 1620-1730

Literary Culture in Early New England, 1620-1730

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Most students of our colonial literature devote themselves primarily to the appraisal of its value as literature. The pages which follow will not attempt to weigh colonial literature, either to condemn or defend it (although at times they may endeavor to correct impressions which, to the writer, seem erroneous), but rather will attempt to determine that which lies back of any literature, the culture of the people themselves, and to study the relation between their culture and the literature which they produced. In the attempt to determine the culture of the people of New England the writer has made a study of their education, their libraries, their ability to obtain books, their use and appreciation of books, their relations with political and literary life in England, and their literature. In the course of the study certain generally accepted notions of the low estate of colonial culture will be shown to be incorrect or exaggerated. There were in New England as in Old England many people who were without culture and even illiterate; but the general state of culture in the colonies will be shown to be higher than it has usually been rated.

This study has been limited approximately to the first one hundred years of colonial life, and to the New England colonies with Boston as their center. These colonies form a distinct unit, akin to each other, and differing from any other colony, or group of colonies, in both antecedents and interests. That much more is said of those who settled on Massachusetts Bay than of those elsewhere in New England is due partly to the greater comprehensiveness and accessibility of the extant records of that region, and partly to the fact that Boston was the literary and cultural center as well as the chief city of these colonies. It must have a predominant . . .

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