The New American Literature, 1890-1930

The New American Literature, 1890-1930

The New American Literature, 1890-1930

The New American Literature, 1890-1930

Excerpt

My "History of American Literature since 1870" covered the years from the Civil War decade to the beginning of the 1890's. It concerned itself for the most part with one single generation--the later Victorians, to speak in British terms--the immediate successors of the Emerson- Longfellow-Holmes-Lowell-Whittier group of writers. The present study, taking up the story where the earlier volume ended, carries the history on to the present day, though, with a few exceptions, it deals with no writer whose first book appeared after 1920. The volume is built upon the general thesis that the thirty or forty years since the 1890 decade constitute a distinct and well-rounded period in American literary history, that literature during this single generation of marvelous change departed so widely from all that had gone before that it stands alone and unique, that the soul of it and the driving power of it were born in the new areas beyond the Alleghenies, and that during its thirty or forty years was produced the greater bulk of those writings that we may call distinctively our own, work peculiarly to be called American literature.

In the opening chapters I have trespassed a little upon the areas of the earlier volume by reconsidering with more perspective and richer materials certain works and workers on the border line between the two periods, notably Garland, Norris, Crane, Davis, Wilkins. I have minimized too one feature prominent in the earlier volume, the bibliographical summaries at the ending of chapters. With such a work as Manly and Rickert's "Contemporary American Literature: Bibliographies and Study Outlines," 1929, exhaustive and accurate, within easy reach of everybody, why du-

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