Cavalcade of the American Novel: From the Birth of the Nation to the Middle of the Twentieth Century

Cavalcade of the American Novel: From the Birth of the Nation to the Middle of the Twentieth Century

Cavalcade of the American Novel: From the Birth of the Nation to the Middle of the Twentieth Century

Cavalcade of the American Novel: From the Birth of the Nation to the Middle of the Twentieth Century

Excerpt

Cavalcade of the English Novel was published by Henry Holt and Company in the spring of 1943. Though it displeased the adherents of certain isms and ologies, it enjoyed in general a remarkably favorable press. It has also found widespread and continuous use in American colleges and universities ever since its publication. These circumstances have naturally proved gratifying to the author, and I much regret that my preparation and publication of a baker's dozen of anthologies since 1944 has so long delayed the appearance of this promised companion volume. To the many kind persons who have been solicitously inquiring about the book, and above all to my very patient and co-operative publishers, I can only offer my apologies. I hope that my work is better for the extended reading and living that have gone into it.

The aims and ideals of the new book are substantially those of the earlier volume, and it seems unnecessary to repeat here what I wrote nine years ago. Some changes in the intellectual climate have, to be sure, taken place. In 1943 I thought it necessary to explain why I was not writing sociological criticism and why I did not wish to permit the frame to take the place of the picture. It would be less necessary to labor this point today. But as old heresies die, new heresies are born, and now we have critics who reject historical scholarship altogether and assure us that every work of art contains within itself everything that the reader needs to understand it. I have no more sympathy with this point of view than I have with the attitude of mind against which it came into being as an extreme reaction.

There have also, perhaps, been some changes in me. Though I have exercised as much care in evaluating the achievements of the American novelists as ever I brought to the British novelists, I have found myself even more interested in setting them forth upon their . . .

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