The Training of an American: The Earlier Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, 1855-1913

By Burton J. Hendrick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
BOSTON AND THE "ATLANTIC"

I

PAGE had one characteristic purpose in his editorship of the Atlantic Monthly. "I wish to get the magazine out of the New England rut," he wrote his old Randolph- Macon friend, "Bob" Sharp, at that time Professor of English at Tulane University. "It would be an interesting experience for you to come up here and look these thrifty Puritans over. There's lots of fun in it, whether there be instruction or not. Now I live right among them."

The Atlantic Monthly had long prided itself upon a succession of editors almost as distinguished as the American Ambassadors to Great Britain. Practically all these men, in ancestry and traditions, had been New Englanders. For nearly half a century the magazine had represented New England in its writers, its point of view, its literary tone, and conspicuously in its subscription list. This was perhaps inevitable for the first forty years of its existence. American literature, during that era, with one or two important exceptions, was almost exclusively a New England product. The first number of the Atlantic contained contributions by Emerson, Hawthorne, Holmes, Whittier, Prescott, Harriet Beecher Stowe -- and these names, and the ideas and attitudes they stood for, gave the magazine its New England bent throughout its subsequent career. While the Atlantic, and perhaps intellectual New England, were living this secluded life, the nation was somewhat inconsiderately enlarging its frontiers. Millions of hardy Americans -- a vast number from New England it-

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